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US Pentagon seeks NSA chief’s removal, Donald Trump wants him

Washington: The Defense Department and broader US government intelligence community have urged President Barack Obama to fire National Security Agency chief Admiral Michael Rogers, US media reported on Saturday.

The reports came even as President-elect Donald Trump, currently in New York, was said to be considering Rogers as director of national intelligence himself.

“The recommendation, delivered to the White House last month, was made by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.,” The Washington Post reported citing multiple US officials familiar with the case.

Action has been delayed, the paper said, since removing Rogers is linked to pending creation of “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.”

If selected by Trump, Rogers would succeed Clapper as the official who oversees all 17 US intelligence services.

“In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower,” the Post said. “That caused consternation at senior levels of the administration.”.

The New York Times on Saturday confirmed that Rogers’ position in the Obama administration was in potential jeopardy.

“Obama is considering removing Admiral Michael S. Rogers from his posts as leader of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command after top officials expressed frustration over the speed at which Admiral Rogers had moved to combat the Islamic State and over the agency’s repeated loss of closely guarded secrets,” the Times said citing unnamed administration and intelligence officials.

Earlier, Trump, who spent his first weekend outside Manhattan since his election, met for about 90 minutes with moderate US Republican Mitt Romney, known for his harsh criticism of the president-elect during the campaign.

Romney is believed to be interested in the US secretary of state position. There was no official word on whether he was offered the job.

Romney would bring a more orthodox Republican worldview to foreign policy. He described Russia in 2012 as the main American geopolitical threat — a sharp contrast to Trump, who has exchanged compliments with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

PTI