Top United States military and intelligence leaders are pushing President Barack Obama to fire National Security Agency (NSA) Chief Admiral Michael Rogers, US media reported on Saturday, even as Mr Rogers is apparently being considered for a senior position in the Donald Trump administration.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — the two reportedly behind the push to testify before the end of the year.
President-elect Donald Trump was said to be considering Mr Rogers as Director of National Intelligence in his incoming administration.
If Donald Trump nominates Mr Rogers, and he is confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed James Clapper as the official who oversees all 16 US intelligence agencies coordinated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Mr Rogers, who also heads US Cyber Command, has been at the helm of the NSA and its Central Security Service since 2014, in the wake of a massive leak by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden linked to broad surveillance methods.
His decision to meet with Mr Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower shocked senior administration officials, according to The Washington Post, which first reported that Mr Clapper and Mr Carter were seeking his ouster.
Mr Carter has been dissatisfied with Mr Rogers’ performance at the NSA during a time that saw major security breaches, including that revealed last month by Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Harold Martin III, who is accused of having orchestrated the largest theft of classified government material.
The Post said there was also a second, previously undisclosed breach that was uncovered in 2015 by an employee of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations. The suspect has been arrested.
Mr Clapper, meanwhile, is seeking a separation of leadership roles at the NSA and US Cyber Command, and wants the NSA to be headed by a civilian.
In his letter to Mr Clapper and Mr Carter, Mr Nunes — who is from Donald Trump’s Republican Party — defended Mr Rogers, saying he has been “consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments.”
“His professionalism, expertise and deckplate leadership have been remarkable during an extremely challenging period for NSA. I know other members of Congress hold him in similarly high esteem,” Mr Rogers added.
He expressed concern that the Post article may contain “unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”
And “any decision to end the dual-hatting relationship between NSA and USCYBERCOM should prompt a further review of NSA’s organization,” Mr Nunes added.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook declined to comment on the reports.