NSA Director Gen. Alexander Retires: What Will Be His Legacy?
NEWS ANALYSIS: The Snowden disclosures have completely changed the way the world looks at the NSA—and perhaps the legacy of Gen. Keith Alexander.It wasn't all that long ago that the U.S National Security Agency (NSA) was often referred to as "No Such Agency." The super-secret intelligence division of the U.S. has long lived in the shadows, but that changed dramatically during the era of Gen. Keith Alexander. Alexander's last day as the head of the NSA was Friday, March 28. He had served as the director of the NSA since 2005 and had been in the U.S. Army since 1974. After a life spent in the service of the U.S., Alexander is heading into retirement. However, I suspect given the current climate of continued disclosures about NSA practices, Alexander's retirement might not be the quiet respite he deserves. In 2012, Alexander himself stepped into the limelight to help bring awareness to the NSA and to recruit security professionals. At the 2012 DefCon security conference, Alexander was the keynote speaker. I was in the front row for that keynote, no more than 20 feet away from the general. DefCon doesn't give any preferential seating to the press, so I had staked out my seat hours in advance, waiting, like so many others, to hear Alexander speak. Alexander's 2012 message was an aspirational one, praising the DefCon Kids effort of that year that helped provide information security education training to children. That keynote was also a recruiting effort for Alexander.
"This is all about our future; we can't sit on the sidelines or let others that don't understand this space tell us what to do," said Alexander, who appeared on stage not in his military uniform, but instead opting for a more casual DefCon T-shirt. "That's why I came here, to solicit your help."