WASHINGTON — Some U.S. intelligence agencies are undergoing changes in leadership. The director of the National Security Agency and his deputy are resigning, and President Barack Obama has nominated a new secretary of Homeland Security.
Army General Keith Alexander will step down next year as NSA director and commander of the military Cyber Command, according to U.S. officials.
Alexander has led the spy agency for eight years, making him the longest-serving director in NSA history.
In the last few months, he has dealt with leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency's broad collection of telephone and email data.
White House press secretary Jay Carney denied Thursday that Alexander's departure is related to the Snowden leaks.
"The answer is no. We can confirm that several weeks ago, General Alexander affirmed to the president that he intends to depart his post in the spring of 2014," said Carney. "When he was extended for the third time as the director of the NSA and head of Cyber Command in March of 2013, General Alexander indicated his interest in retiring next spring."
The NSA leader's plan to leave was first reported in June.
Alexander's civilian deputy also is reported to be leaving. Chris Inglis is said to be retiring at the end of this year.
Alexander's exit will give Obama a chance to appoint a new leader for both the spy agency and Cyber Command, or, as some have suggested, to install separate leaders for the two agencies.
Meanwhile, Snowden, in a New York Times interview published Thursday, said he gave all classified NSA documents in his possession to journalists in Hong Kong, not to Russian or Chinese authorities.
In addition, Obama has announced that he is appointing former Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security. If confirmed by the Senate, Johnson would succeed Janet Napolitano, who recently resigned.