However, Hayden said that after an interagency review, the administration decided that keeping the positions of NSA director and Cyber Command commander together as one was the most effective way to run both agencies.
“NSA plays a unique role in supporting Cyber Command’s mission, providing critical support for target access and development, including linguists, analysts, cryptanalytic capabilities and sophisticated technological infrastructure,” Hayden said.
In practice, the decision means that the NSA will continue to be headed by a military officer — as the head of Cyber Command will of necessity be a senior member of the armed services.
The current head of the two agencies, four-star US General Keith Alexander, retires early next year.
Civil rights groups have decried the NSA’s activities as the actions of a Big Brother-like government, trampling on the rights of individuals with little oversight.
The American Civil Liberties Union said that “nothing short of stopping the mass, suspicionless surveillance of Americans is acceptable.”
The New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute said the reports indicated some reforms were in the pipeline, but expressed disappointment at the expected wider findings for the panel.