Army Gen. Keith Alexander will step down in the spring of 2014 from his positions as the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the head of U.S. Cyber Command, which could give the Obama administration a chance to revamp the image of the U.S. intelligence community.
Alexander became director of the NSA in 2005 and assumed an additional position as the chief of U.S. Cyber Command in 2010. During that time the NSA has been rocked by media disclosures about its domestic surveillance programs, most recently through the publication of classified agency documents published by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Alexander's tenure has been extended three times, and his retirement is part of a decision made in March 2013 with the Department of Defense about whether he would serve for another extension, NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines said in an email.
"He's served well beyond a normal rotation," Vines said. "This has nothing to do with media leaks."
A candidate to replace Alexander is Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, who serves as commander of the U.S. Navy's 10th Fleet and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, which are both in Fort Meade, Md., near NSA headquarters, government officials told Reuters.
Having Alexander lead both the NSA and Cyber Command, which engages in cybersecurity operations, could limit emphasis given to the spy agency's intelligence gathering work, so the selection process could leave room to improve both public perception and functionality of U.S. intelligence operations.
"The process for selecting his successor is ongoing," Vines said.