WASHINGTON — The GOP chairman of a top committee in Congress on Saturday asked the nation’s intelligence chief and defense secretary to appear and answer questions about reports that they recommended the ouster of the director of the National Security Agency.
In a statement issued late Saturday, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper asking them to appear before the committee to “discuss the veracity of press reports” that they recommended the removal of Adm. Mike Rogers, who oversees NSA and the new U.S. Cyber Command.
Nunes referred to a report in The Washington Post, saying that Carter and Clapper wrote a letter to President Barack Obama last month recommending Rogers’ removal. It’s unclear why they would recommend dismissal. The Defense Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the news report.
Rogers has been mentioned as a candidate for a position in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, an idea that gained traction when Trump met with Rogers, whose tenure at the NSA has been tainted by breaches of classified material from the agency.
Rogers took the helm at NSA in 2014 after former contractor Edward Snowden stole massive amounts of classified documents and shared then with journalists, who disclosed widespread surveillance. Reforms to prevent future thefts were imposed, but more recently, the FBI arrested NSA contractor Harold Martin III, who they say had stolen enough classified material to fill roughly 200 laptop computers.
He has also been in the middle of a debate over whether the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command should be run by two people, not one.
Nunes defended Rogers.
“Since Adm. Rogers was appointed as NSA director in April 2014, I have been consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments,” Nunes said in the letter.
Nunes asked Carter and Clapper to provide the committee with times and dates the two could testify by 5 p.m. Monday. He also said he planned to hold an open hearing soon to discuss how the intelligence community would be affected by a proposed separation of the NSA and Cyber Command.