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Obama’s Fair Words and Foul Deeds on the National Security Transition

When President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama met after the Election, they made a point of being cordial and Obama promised a smooth transition. 

That, of course, was on Obama’s part all for the cameras. 

NSA SignBarack Obama has done nothing to quell the riots in which his erstwhile supporters have engaged since the election and he has moved rapidly to advance last minute environmental regulations that Trump long-ago promised to unwind should he win. 

Now, Obama is also trying to tie President-elect Trump’s hands by implementing a last-minute reshuffle of key national security and cybersecurity responsibilities in the Department of Defense. 

Our old friend House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry (TX-13) has now expressed concern about reports that the Obama administration is looking to change the leadership and function of the National Security Agency in the Obama administration's final days. 

According to The Washington Post, the heads of the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed. 

Ostensibly, this recommendation was delivered to the White House last month by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. 

According to The Washington Post, the action was delayed because relieving Rogers of his duties is tied to another controversial recommendation: to create separate chains of command at the NSA and the military’s cyberwarfare unit, a recommendation by Clapper and Carter that has been stalled because of other issues. 

The news comes as Rogers is being considered by President-elect Donald Trump to be his nominee for director of national intelligence to replace Clapper as the official who oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies.  

In a move allegedly unprecedented for a serving military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower.  

That caused consternation at senior levels of the administration, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal personnel matters. 

Now here are some dots to connect. 

"I am concerned by press reports that the Obama Administration is considering changing the relationship between U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, as well as their leadership, on its way out the door," Thornberry said in a statement. "The new administration should have the opportunity to review the situation and to make any decisions. Military cyber and intelligence are too serious to be treated in such a manner." 

Chairman Thornberry is one of the acknowledged experts on cyberwarfare and defense, having served on both the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees and leading congressional studies and legislation on the topic for a decade or more. 

According to The Washington Post, Rep. Devin Nunes (CA-22), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Saturday sent Clapper and Carter a letter defending Rogers. “I have been consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments,” said Nunes, who is also a member of Trump’s transition team. “His professionalism, expertise and deckplate leadership have been remarkable during an extremely challenging period for NSA. I know other members of Congress hold him in similarly high esteem.” 

Saxby Chambliss, a former Republican senator from Georgia who served on the Select Committee on Intelligence, said that he thinks highly of Rogers reports The Washington Post. “When it comes to the world of cyber, there’s nobody more capable than Mike Rogers in the military world today,” he said. 

Even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, opposed the White House plan to split the leadership at the NSA and Cyber Command. 

Nunes said he will call a hearing on the matter. 

Thornberry’s committee would normally also have a lot to say about whether such a momentous reorganization of the military’s cyber and intelligence functions should take place and how the chain-of-command should be structured. 

In an administration where the Nation’s national security was the paramount consideration, such a reorganization proposal would engender congressional briefings and hearings and the House and Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees would weigh-in. 

But the Obama administration isn’t a normal administration, particularly regarding national security. 

And here’s another dot, James Clapper, Jr. Obama’s controversial Director of National Intelligence has already resigned.  

Clapper has had a very troubled relationship with the Republican-led Congress. Clapper had his nomination put on hold by Senator Rand Paul over statements he made about the extra-judicial killing of Americans, he has been caught lying to Congress on a number of occasions, and is suspected of being part of the cover-up of Hillary Clinton’s role in what went on in Benghazi, Libya that got four Americans killed in the Islamist assault on our consulate and CIA outpost. 

The last thing Clapper wants is to be replaced by someone who might be prepared to have a close working relationship with Congress and who could be expected to cooperate with oversight hearings on the intelligence and cyberwarfare failures of the Obama administration, and in particular the lies and failures of one James R. Clapper, Jr.   

The last-minute plan to reorganize the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency looks a whole lot more like retromincturation by Clapper, Carter and Obama than it does a well-thought-out plan intended to improve our national security in an age of increasingly sophisticated cyberwarfare attacks. 

Like the last-minute EPA regulations and other Obama initiatives sprung upon the public in the waning days of a discredited administration, the reorganization of the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency should be stopped by congressional Republicans like Chairman Thornberry, Nunes and McCain.

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