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The new NSA director downplays damage from the Snowden leaks

The new NSA director downplays damage from the Snowden leaks

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The National Security Agency is putting on a charm offensive. The agency's new director, Admiral Michael S. Rogers, sat down for an interview with The New York Times on Friday, offering his opinion on the current state of the agency. "I understand where we are," Rogers told the paper, saying that while the agency retains much of its previous corporate support, many companies and specialists have turned their backs on the agency in recent months. "I don't waste a lot of time saying, 'Why wouldn't you want to work with us?'"

"I don't waste a lot of time saying, 'why wouldn't you want to work with us?'"

The agency is also facing new restrictions. In addition to President Obama's plan to dismantle the agency's phone-records database, Rogers also said certain targets were now officially off-limits, presumably a response to the targeting of Angela Merkel. The director said the total number of restricted targets was "probably more than half a dozen, but not in the hundreds by any means." At the same time, Rogers was careful not to overstate the problem. "You have not heard me as the director say, 'Oh my God, the sky is falling,'" Rogers told the Times. "I am trying to be very specific and very measured in my characterizations." He said the agency was already compensating for any damage caused by the Snowden leaks, as well as tightening its security to prevent similar leaks in the future.

Rogers was appointed NSA director in April, after General Keith Alexander stepped down from the post. He's the first career cryptoanalyst to hold the position, and so far Rogers has taken a notably softer line on Snowden than his predecessor. Speaking on a Bloomberg panel earlier this month, he conceded that Snowden was "probably not" in the pay of a foreign government, an idea that had been aggressively pushed by Alexander. "A broad dialogue of what we’re doing and why it is a good thing for us as a nation," Rogers told the panel. "I don’t question that for one minute."

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