New N.S.A. Chief Calls Damage From Snowden Leaks Manageable
The newly installed director of the National Security Agency says that while he has seen some terrorist groups alter their communications to avoid surveillance techniques revealed by Edward J. Snowden, the damage done over all by a year of revelations does not lead him to the conclusion that “the sky is falling.”
In an hourlong interview Friday in his office here at the heart of the country’s electronic eavesdropping and cyberoperations, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who has now run the beleaguered spy agency and the military’s Cyber Command for just short of three months, described the series of steps he was taking to ensure that no one could download the trove of data that Mr. Snowden gathered — more than a million documents.
But he cautioned that there was no perfect protection against a dedicated insider with access to the agency’s networks.
“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?” he asked. “Nope. Because I don’t believe that in the long run.”
The crucial change, he said, is to “ensure that the volume” of data taken by Mr. Snowden, a former agency contractor, “can’t be stolen again.” But the Defense Department, of which the security agency and Cyber Command are a part, made the same vow in 2010 after an Army private, Chelsea Manning, downloaded hundreds of thousands of secret State Department and Pentagon files and released them to WikiLeaks.
Notable in his comments was an absence of alarm about the long-term effects of the Snowden revelations. Like former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who urged colleagues in the Obama administration to calm down about the WikiLeaks revelations in 2010, Admiral Rogers seemed to suggest that, as technology progressed, the agency would find new ways to compensate for the damage done, however regrettable the leaks.