Why Did Team Obama Try to Take Down Its NSA Chief?

At a recent town hall meeting at a National Security Agency facility in Texas, employees at the U.S. government’s biggest and most secretive intelligence bureau told their boss, Adm. Michael Rogers, that they were concerned about how the agency’s reorganization was upending their work lives.

“His response was that employees should ‘stop bitching’ and do their jobs,” a recently-retired NSA analyst told The Daily Beast. That remark produced a “small outcry” that was discussed on an internal NSA blogging site where employees are encouraged to share their views. And it became symbolic to some of the tensions that have grown in the two-and-a-half years Rogers has been in charge of NSA.

Major policy disagreements between Rogers and top Obama administration officials—including ones about how hard to go after ISIS—have exacerbated long-standing grievances among NSA rank-and-file employees about Rogers’s brusque and aloof management style. Now, those complaints are erupting on the surface in a manner that has surprised current and former officials.

Most recently, The Washington Post reported an effort by the Secretary of Defense and the nation’s top intelligence official to remove Rogers from his post, as well as from the command of U.S. Cyber Command, which conducts cyber warfare operations.

It’s highly unusual for these sorts of internal struggles to emerge into the open press. But it’s even more unusual for a serving officer to do what Rogers recently did—meet with the president-elect about a job without notifying the current secretary of defense or the White House. Rogers huddled with Donald Trump last Thursday and could be in line to be named director of national intelligence in the next administration, if the reports out of Trump Tower are to be believed...

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