NSA Director Offered to Resign After Snowden Leak

Image: NSA Director Offered to Resign After Snowden Leak

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 01:44 PM

By Melanie Batley

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The director of the National Security Agency offered to resign after Edward Snowden admitted to leaking details of the agency's top-secret phone and Internet surveillance program, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to an unnamed senior U.S. official, the Obama administration rejected Gen. Keith Alexander's offer. But the agency still faces an uncertain future as it struggles to redefine the scope of its operations without hampering its effectiveness to combat terrorism.

"This is the hardest problem we've had to face in 62 years of existence," Richard Ledgett, head of a special NSA Snowden response team, told the Journal. He described the Snowden disclosures as "cataclysmic" for the agency.

The White House already has terminated some of the NSA's surveillance programs, which included the electronic monitoring of roughly 35 world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who expressed outrage that she was being bugged.

The legislation that supported the surveillance programs also is likely to change when the Patriot Act expires in about 18 months and lawmakers push to ban the mass collection of records.

The administration also is expected to put in place a system that would evaluate surveillance operations against the possibility of disclosure, introducing political calculations into intelligence work, according to the Journal.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the NSA scandal continues to reverberate abroad. Germany is pushing for a "no-spy" agreement and for a U.S.-European trade pact that would include strict new data-privacy measures. Some in the international community believe the Internet should no longer be global, but instead divided up by country.

"This is threatening the existence of the World Wide Web," Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency, told the Journal.

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