Saturday, April 11, 2009

Second Security Head Quits on Short Notice


The head of the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. spy satellite agency, announced his resignation. Scott Large, a career government servant, gave NRO employees a ten day notice that he was stepping down. The timing of his announcement is interesting for three reasons.

One, he is the second security head to quit on relatively short notice. The head of America's cybersecurity quit in early March. Rod Beckstrom specifically mentioned the long arm of the National Security Agency as a factor. Mr. Large gave an interview on the future of the NRO in late March. He mentioned the NSA's leveraging the NRO's capabilities.

Two, a report recently recommended America's National Labs be taken from the Energy Department and placed under the National Security structure. Frances Townsend chaired the study group. After leaving the White House, Ms. Townsend worked alongside President Obama's new NSA Chief General James L. Jones at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Three, Scott Large's announcement came just a day after the U.S. government said it would buy expensive new spy satellites and order more imagery from two commercial providers. A Reuters piece implied embattled Boeing would not get the order. Funny, General James L. Jones served on the Boeing board of directors. Will Boeing keep the work after all?

The rumor is General Jones is building a national security powerhouse. The General wants to be the one-stop shop for security information for President Obama. Are the changes part of his consolidation of power? "State secret" turf needs defending, often at the expense of liberty. Of course, only spooks know for sure. They're not talking. But pattern recognition is still available for the attentive.