WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama declined to confirm reports Sunday that top national security figures have asked him to fire the head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command Admiral Mike Rogers.
Obama called Rogers a “terrific patriot.”
On Saturday, citing unnamed U.S. officials, The Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary Ash Carter and outgoing Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recommended last month that Obama remove Rogers.
Carter reportedly had concerns about Rogers’ performance. Clapper reportedly wanted Rodgers removed because he, and Carter, would like to see the leadership of CYBERCOM and the NSA be split. Clapper also reportedly prefers that the NSA be led by a civilian.
“I generally don’t comment on personnel matters here,” Obama told reporters during a press conference at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru. “I can say generally that we’ve spent a lot of time over the last several years looking at how we can organize our cyber efforts to keep pace with how rapidly the environment is changing.”
The Post reported that Rodgers was going to be removed from his position before the Nov. 8 election.
Rogers, who has held the post since April 2014, has advocated for splitting the two agencies. Such a move would likely be pursued in the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Rogers was not available for comment.
Rogers reportedly met with President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday over a potential appointment in his administration as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the intelligence arm of the Pentagon. The meeting caused “consternation” for the Obama administration, the Post reported, because it is unprecedented for an officer to conduct such a meeting without informing his or her superiors.