New NSA chief vows more transparency for embattled agency

WASHINGTON Tue May 13, 2014 4:30am IST

Chairman U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) (C) listens to testimony at the House Intelligence Committee on ''Worldwide Threats'', in Washington February 4, 2014.        REUTERS/Gary Cameron/Files

Chairman U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) (C) listens to testimony at the House Intelligence Committee on ''Worldwide Threats'', in Washington February 4, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The new head of the National Security Agency vowed on Monday to lead the embattled spy agency with greater transparency as it balances individual rights against the rising risk of a destructive cyber attack against the United States.

In his first interview since taking the helm of both the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command in April, Admiral Mike Rogers said he would be more candid with the public about much of the NSA's work after nearly a year of damaging revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

But he also staunchly defended the NSA's controversial electronic surveillance programs, emphasizing that they were legal and needed better explanation rather than an overhaul.

"It is by design that I have tried to start a series of engagements with a broader and perhaps more different groups than we have traditionally done," Rogers told the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington.

"The dialogue to date that we have had for much of the last nine months or so from my perspective, I wish was a little bit broader, had a little more context to it, and was a little bit more balanced."

Last year, Snowden leaked details of numerous top-secret NSA surveillance programs to media, damaging U.S. ties with key allies such as Germany and triggering a worldwide debate about whether the agency had trampled over privacy rights in the name of national security.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Jim Loney)

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