Yesterday, Ellen Nakashima reported that James Clapper supports splitting CyberCommand off of NSA. To understand whether this would represent real change or not, consider that they’re considering John Inglis — currently Keith Alexander’s Deputy — to lead NSA.
At a White House meeting of senior national security officials last week, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said he was in favor of ending the current policy of having one official in charge of both the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, said the individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Also, officials appear inclined to install a civilian as director of the NSA for the first time in the agency’s 61-year history. Among those said to be potential successors to the current director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, is his deputy, John C. “Chris” Inglis.
Frankly, I think splitting off Cyber is the wrong solution in any case. The problem, as I see it, is that both the cyberoffensive and the information collecting missions favor a policy of creating vulnerabilities that both US hackers and collectors can exploit in the future. That leaves the third NSA mission — protecting US networks — stuck with an approach of finding those entities that are exploiting vulnerabilities, rather than working on a resilience strategy that not only might work better, but also would provide Americans greater privacy. I think splitting off the defensive side, potentially creating a champion for real security, would do more than splitting off Cyber, which probably only leaves two competing champions for creating and exploiting vulnerabilities.
In any case, though, if John Inglis is in charge of one of those champions of creating vulnerabilities, chances are negligible the NSA will change its approach.