New NSA Chief: Sky Not Falling Over Snowden Revelations

Image: New NSA Chief: Sky Not Falling Over Snowden Revelations National Security Agency (NSA) Director Admiral Michael Rogers.

Monday, 30 Jun 2014 08:31 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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There is no guarantee that there won't be another Edward Snowden to steal documents from the National Security Agency, its new director, Adm. Michael Rogers says, but he also refuses to say "the sky is falling" over one of the nation's largest security breaches in history.

"Am I ever going to sit here and say as the director that with 100 percent certainty no one can compromise our systems from the inside?" Rogers, who was installed to run the NSA and the military's Cyber Command almost three months ago, told The New York Times.  "Nope. Because I don't believe that in the long run."

While admitting that there have been some terror groups that have changed their communications methods after Snowden's revelations about the NSA's surveillance practices, Rogers told the Times the agency has been taking action to ensure nobody else will download the data the NSA leaker stole.

Instead, Rogers told the Times, the NSA will find a way to make up for the damage Snowden caused, including tipping off terrorist groups that he says are "specifically referencing data detailed" in his revelations.

"I have seen groups not only talk about making changes, I have seen them make changes," Rogers told the Times. But still, "you have not heard me as the director say, 'Oh, my God, the sky is falling.' I am trying to be very specific and very measured in my characterizations."

His predecessor, Gen. Keith Alexander, called Snowden's revelations "the greatest damage to our combined nations’ intelligence systems that we have ever suffered."

Rogers said he expects there will come a day when cyber weapons are used during war as part of ordinary military operations, but meanwhile, he acknowledges the days are gone when the NSA and the nation's telecommunications and technology companies cooperated secretly.

The telecommunications industry now insists the NSA compel companies to turn over data and are more reluctant to provide information about foreigners using their networks. As a result of the NSA revelations, some of those companies are losing lucrative overseas contracts.

Just last week, Verizon Communications Inc. lost its contract to run the German government's telecommunications services, with German officials saying the "ties revealed between foreign intelligence agencies and firms" show it needs to rely on domestic companies.

In addition, Google Inc. said it is closing its system's gaps that the NSA used to access databases, and Microsoft Corp. is in court challenging warrants issued demanding it turn over data stored outside the country.

Rogers said he understands the positions of the companies and doesn't waste much time trying to woo them back.

Most companies are still working with the NSA, even though they don't make it public, he said.

Rogers refused to say if he's embraced any of the recommendations a presidential commission made in a report in December on the agency's operations, including enacting a two-man rule to require two operators to enter codes in order to get access to sensitive data.

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