Reports indicate Gen. Paul Nakasone, head of NSA and Cyber Command, plans to leave administration soon

May 13, 2023
Ben Marquis

Another prominent top official is reportedly set to depart from President Joe Biden's administration shortly and the president's team is likely now scrambling to quickly find a replacement.

U.S. Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, who serves as head of both the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, will reportedly step down from those critical roles in the coming months, according to Breitbart.

The 59-year-old general has served in both of those positions for five years since he was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2018.

Nakasone reportedly preparing to leave

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that unnamed sources have said that Gen. Nakasone has been discussing his plans to leave before the end of this year, potentially as soon as August or September.

That said, the sources also noted that it was unclear if the general planned to retire altogether or instead was headed toward another prominent role in the federal government, possibly including the job of vice chairman of the military's joint chiefs of staff.

Those plans could be complicated -- or add complications of their own -- because Nakasone's chief deputy at the NSA, George Barnes, is also said to be planning an imminent retirement.

Several complicating factors

Another probable wrinkle in all of this is the fact that Congress must soon reauthorize a particularly controversial law that is purportedly aimed at conducting surveillance on foreign threats -- Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- but has been credibly accused of also spying domestically on American citizens.

Nakasone is reportedly one of the biggest advocates for the reauthorization of the surveillance tool and, as such, would have played a leading role in convincing skeptical members of Congress to not scrap the program.

The Hill reported that the news of Gen. Nakasone's allegedly impending departure from the Biden administration is also occurring while the "Pentagon is still reeling" from the embarrassing and revealing leak online of hundreds of classified military documents earlier this year, allegedly by a low-level intelligence analyst in the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

Further, his exit would also follow that in February of the former head of the Office of the National Cyber Director, Chris Inglis, who was appointed in 2021 as the first to serve in that top advisory role to the president.

Along those lines, The Washington Post reported Friday that two members of Congress focused on cybersecurity issues, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), have been urging Biden to swiftly named a permanent replacement for Inglis in that critical position.

As it relates to Nakasone, King told The Post, "If you add Nakasone to an empty national cyber director, it’s a big gap" that poses a problem -- one that could be compounded even more by the fact that Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has imposed a total hold on all Pentagon promotions over his concerns about various leftist policies inside the military.

No official comment or confirmation

The Hill noted that, about the reports about Gen. Nakasone, spokespersons for U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA said, "General Nakasone serves at the pleasure of the President. He remains focused on leading U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, and Central Security Service in their critical missions to safeguard the nation."

Breitbart noted that the White House National Security Council declined to respond to a request for comment on the reports about the general.

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