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Democrats cry alarm over proposal to split up NSA, Cyber Command amid hacking crisis

Published on December 20, 2020 11:35 PM
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NSA, Cyber Command Hacking
Pentagon officials are making an 11th-hour push to potentially break up the joint leadership of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, a move that would raise inevitable questions about Army Gen. Paul Nakasone's future as head of the country's largest spy agency.

Five people familiar with the matter told POLITICO that senior Defense Department leaders are reviewing a plan to separate the two agencies, a move lawmakers and DoD had contemplated for years but had largely fallen by the wayside since Nakasone assumed command of both organizations in 2018. The Wall Street Journal reported that a meeting about the proposal is scheduled for this week. Defense One first reported the effort was afoot.

If successful, the move could create major upheaval just as national security officials try to determine the full scope of a monthslong hack of several major U.S. agencies — including Homeland Security Department and the nuclear weapons branch of the Energy Department — by Russia's elite spy agency.

Trump "talking about trying to split up the cyber command from the national security agency, in the midst of a crisis to be talking about that type of disruption makes us vulnerable again," House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Saturday night during an interview with CNN.

On Friday, Smith sent letters to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, warning them against severing the leadership of NSA and Cyber Command. The two agencies have shared leadership under a so-called dual-hat arrangement since the Pentagon stood up Cyber Command in 2009.

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