Defense department officials push proposal to separate NSA, Cyber Command

The proposal would split control of the two giant agencies in the final weeks of the Trump administration and comes amid revelations of a suspected Russian hack of U.S. agencies. It appears to be a dusted-off version of one that was previously floated inside the Pentagon by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, according to another U.S. official. “This is very preliminary,” the official said, adding that a meeting was scheduled for this coming week to discuss the proposal.

Many current and former officials say the partnership between the two spy entities is vital to sharing intelligence and resources, but critics have said the arrangement can lead to bureaucratic headaches. Some officials also say the two agencies have dueling missions that are in conflict with one another because Cyber Command focuses on offensive operations while the NSA’s chief goal is intelligence collection. Some supporters of separation think that the two agencies are simply too critical and vast for one leader to manage…

Formally separating the NSA and Cyber Command has been considered by officials and lawmakers for years and was repeatedly weighed during the Obama administration. It is controversial because it could lead to the politicization of intelligence produced by the NSA, one of the primary feeders of highly sensitive information to the nation’s military. It also would amount to a sweeping bureaucratic restructuring of intelligence and cybersecurity agencies during a change in presidential administrations.