The No. 2 official at the NSA will soon leave his post, the agency confirmed today.
NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett has announced his plans to retire in the spring, an NSA spokesman told POLITICO.
“It has been anticipated years of service to the nation,” spokesman Michael Halbig said in an email.
The agency did not explain the timing of Ledgett’s decision, including whether it is related to the advent of the Trump administration.
George Barnes will replace Ledgett, according to several people familiar with the decision. Barnes has worked in several capacities at the the NSA, including as director of Workforce and Support Activities.
Ledgett became deputy director in 2014 after spending a year leading the investigation of Edward Snowden’s surveillance leaks. Prior to that, he headed the agency’s Threat Operations Center from 2012 to 2013.
Ledgett joined the NSA in 1988.
April Doss, who served as associate general counsel for intelligence law at the NSA from 2003 to 2016, said Ledgett’s departure would be keenly felt at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., and throughout Washington.
“I am surprised to hear that he’s stepping down,” she said. “It’s going to be a huge loss for the intelligence community.”
After Snowden’s leaks sent the NSA scrambling to respond, Ledgett became one of the public faces of its public-relations operation.
He granted a rare interview to CBS’s “60 Minutes” to discuss the secretive agency’s mission and even appeared remotely at a TED conference a few days after Snowden did the same.
Susan Hennessey, a former NSA attorney, “it’s hard to know what to make” of Ledgett’s departure.
“Certainly, Ledgett has been a sort of ‘canary in the coal mine’ for people concerned about NSA under [President] Donald Trump,” she told POLITICO in an email. “He is universally recognized as someone who has served with a great deal of integrity. So the fact that he was the deputy director was some reassurance; nothing bad was going to happen on his watch.”