NSA

White House Considers Civilian NSA Chief

Would a change be more than cosmetic?

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In the first likely structural reform of the National Security Agency since the Guardian began publishing Edward Snowden's revelations, the Obama administration is giving strong consideration to appointing a civilian to run the surveillance apparatus and splitting it from the military command that has been its institutional twin since 2010.

But skeptics say those plans appear more cosmetic than substantive, leaving alone the central questions of bulk surveillance and potentially leaving the military with diminished capacity to safeguard its data from foreign attacks.

General Keith Alexander is scheduled to retire from the agency in the spring of 2014. The White House is reportedly compiling a list of civilians to replace the embattled director, giving a new and potentially reassuring face to a surveillance agency now infamous for bulk spying.

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