U.S. NSA Director Stepping Down After 8 year Tenure

Following an eight-year stint as the man in charge of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), Army General Keith Alexander has decided to step down effective next March or April. So will his civilian deputy, John "Chris" Inglis, who is planning to retire by the end of the year.

The NSA came under heavy media and public scrutiny after former contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the agency's extensive spying campaign, which entails intercepting all forms of digital media like email and instant messages. However, the NSA claims Alexander's departure is completely unrelated.

Keith Alexander

"This has nothing to do with media leaks, the decision for his retirement was made prior; an agreement was made with the (Secretary of Defense) and the Chairman for one more year -- to March 2014," NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told Reuters in an emailed statement.

The NSA is a highly secretive organization that routinely spies on electronic communications while protecting the U.S. government's communication. While all this is supposed to be for the greater good, the NSA's reach, as revealed by leaked documents, came a shock to many, giving the agency a black eye.

With Alexander and Inglis both stepping down, President Barack Obama has an opportunity to reshape the NSA and, if he chooses, install separate leaders in it and Cyber Command, a related military unit that Alexander leads.