Chris Inglis, the deputy director of the National Security Agency and its highest-ranking civilian leader, stepped down from his post this week and will formally retire at the end of the year, Foreign Policy has learned. The move comes at one of the most tumultuous moments in the history of the United States' biggest intelligence agency. Former officials and sources close to the NSA leadership have said that Alexander, Inglis, and other top agency officials were angry and dispirited by what they saw as the Obama administration's failure to defend the agency against criticism of its surveillance programs sparked by the cascade of documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.
Fran Fleisch, the agency's executive director and third highest-ranking official, has assumed Inglis' duties as the acting deputy director, the agency said. As Foreign Policy previously reported, Fleisch has been effectively running the NSA on a day-to-day basis, while Inglis and his boss, Gen. Keith Alexander, prepared to step down and devoted much of their time to congressional testimony and public speeches in the wake of an unprecedented wave of leaks.