Military Wiki

Keith B. Alexander
16th Director of the National Security Agency
Assumed office
August 1, 2005
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Michael Hayden
Personal details
Born Keith Brian Alexander
December 2, 1951(1951-12-02) (age 70)
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
Alma mater West Point, Boston University, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, National War College, Naval Postgraduate School, National Defense University
Profession Intelligence officer
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch U.S. Army
Years of service 1974–present
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands National Security Agency
Battles/wars Persian Gulf War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (6)
Bronze Star
Meritorious Service Medal (2)

Keith Brian Alexander (born December 2, 1951) is a four-star general in the United States Army[1] who currently serves as Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command. He previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, U.S. Army from 2003 to 2005. He assumed the positions of Director, National Security Agency and Chief, Central Security Service on August 1, 2005[2] and the additional duties as Commander, United States Cyber Command on May 21, 2010.[3]

On 16 October 2013, it was announced that General Alexander and his Deputy, Chris Inglis were leaving the NSA.[4] This announcement came on the heels of four months of NSA spying revelations spawned by press-leaks made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Early life and education[]

Alexander was born in Syracuse, New York on December 2, 1951, He was raised in Onondaga Hill, New York, a suburb of Syracuse. He was a paperboy for The Post-Standard and attended Westhill Senior High School where he ran track.[1]

He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and in his class were three other future four-star generals, David Petraeus, Martin Dempsey and Walter L. Sharp. Just before graduation in April 1974, Alexander married Deborah Lynn Douglas, who was a classmate in high school and who grew up near his family in Onondaga Hill.[1] They had one son before their divorce on January 25, 2007.[5]

He entered active duty at West Point, intending to serve for only five years.[6] Alexander's military education includes the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College.

Alexander worked on signals intelligence at a number of secret National Security Agency bases in the United States and Germany.[1] He earned an MS in business administration in 1978 from Boston University, an MS in systems technology (electronic warfare) and an MS in physics in 1983 from the Naval Postgraduate School, and an MS in national security strategy from the National Defense University.[1][6][7] He rose quickly up the military ranks, due to his expertise in advanced technology and his competency at administration.[1]


Alexander's assignments include the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS, G-2), Headquarters, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C. from 2003 to 2005; Commanding General of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia from 2001 to 2003; Director of Intelligence (J-2), United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida from 1998 to 2001; and Deputy Director for Intelligence (J-2) for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 1998. Alexander served in a variety of command assignments in Germany and the United States. These include tours as Commander of Border Field Office, 511th MI Battalion, 66th MI Group; 336th Army Security Agency Company, 525th MI Group; 204th MI Battalion; and 525th Military Intelligence Brigade.

Additionally, Alexander held key staff assignments as Deputy Director and Operations Officer,Executive Officer, 522nd MI Battalion, 2nd Armored Division; G-2 for the 1st Armored Division both in Germany and during the Persian Gulf War, in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, in Saudi Arabia. Currently in Afghanistan on a peace keeping mission as the Army Intelligence Master Plan, for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence;

Alexander headed the Army Intelligence and Security Command, where in 2001 he was in charge of 10,700 spies and eavesdroppers worldwide. In the words of James Bamford who wrote his biography for Wired magazine, "Alexander and the rest of the American intelligence community suffered a devastating defeat when they were surprised by the attacks on 9/11." Alexander's reaction was to order his intercept operators to begin to monitor the email and phone calls of American citizens who were unrelated to terrorist threats, including the personal calls of journalists.[1]

In 2003, he was named deputy chief of staff for intelligence for the U.S. Army. Under his command were the units responsible for Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse in Baghdad, Iraq. Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Alexander called the abuse "totally reprehensible" and described the perpetrators as a "group of undisciplined MP soldiers".[8] Mary Louise Kelly, who interviewed him later for NPR, said that because he was "outside the chain of command that oversaw interrogations in Iraq", Alexander was able to survive with his "reputation intact".[5]

In June 2013, the National Security Agency was revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden to be secretly spying on the American people with FISA approved surveillance programs such as PRISM and XKeyscore.

On 16 October 2013, it was publicly announced that Keith Alexander and his Deputy, Chris Inglis were leaving the NSA.[4]

NSA appointment[]

Alexander became a three-star general. In 2005, Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, named him Director of the National Security Agency. There, according to Bamford, Alexander deceived the House Intelligence Committee when his agency was involved in NSA warrantless wiretapping.[1]

Cyber command[]

Alexander was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for appointment to the rank of general on May 7, 2010[9] and was officially promoted to that rank in a ceremony on May 21, 2010. General Alexander assumed command of United States Cyber Command in the same ceremony that made him a four-star general.[10]

He will deliver the keynote address at Black Hat USA in July 2013. The organizers describe Alexander as an "advocate of battlefield visualization and 'data fusion' for more useful intelligence". He provided them with this quote: "As our dependence on information networks increases, it will take a team to eliminate vulnerabilities and counter the ever-growing threats to the network. We can succeed in securing it by building strong partnerships between and within the private and public sectors, encouraging information sharing and collaboration, and creating and leveraging the technology that affords us the opportunity to secure cyberspace...." [11]

A key component of Alexander's use of modern technology was the expenditure of several hundred million dollars to redesign his office and command center to mimic the bridge of the Star Ship Enterprise from Star Trek The Next Generation. Many of Alexander's critics pointed to the project as a massive waste of resources and tax dollars whose only conceivable purpose was to boost the ego of those who head the NSA. However, Alexander defended the project as vital towards NSA funding by pandering to VIP visitors.[12]

Statements to the public regarding NSA operations[]

In July 2012, in response to a question from DefCon founder Jeff Moss asking “does the NSA really keep a file on everyone?,” Alexander replied, “No, we don’t. Absolutely no. And anybody who would tell you that we’re keeping files or dossiers on the American people knows that’s not true.”[13]

In March 2012, in response to questions during a U.S. congressional hearing from Representative Hank Johnson about allegations made by former NSA officials that the NSA engages in collection of voice and digital information of U.S. citizens Alexander was asked in a number of ways, and replied that, despite the allegations of "James Bashford" [sic] in Wired magazine, the NSA does not collect that data.[14]

On July 9, 2012, when asked by a member of the press if a large data center in Utah was used to store data on American citizens, Alexander stated, "No. While I can't go into all the details on the Utah data center, we don't hold data on U.S. citizens."[15]

At DEF CON 2012, Alexander was the keynote speaker; during the question and answers session, in response to the question "Does the NSA really keep a file on everyone, and if so, how can I see mine?" Alexander replied "Our job is foreign intelligence" and that "Those who would want to weave the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people, is absolutely false...From my perspective, this is absolute nonsense."[14]

On June 6, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released a statement admitting the NSA collects telephony metadata on millions of Americans telephone calls.[16] This metadata information included originating and terminating telephone number, telephone calling card number, IMEI number, time and duration of phone calls.[17]

Andy Greenberg of Forbes said that NSA officials, including Alexander, in the years 2012 and 2013 "publicly denied–often with carefully hedged words–participating in the kind of snooping on Americans that has since become nearly undeniable."[14] In September 2013, Alexander was asked by Senator Mark Udall if it is the goal of the NSA to "collect the phone records of all Americans", to which Alexander replied:

"Yes, I believe it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox that we could search."

—Keith B. Alexander, September 2013[18]

Awards and decorations[]

Medals and ribbons[]

Defense Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with five Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Silver oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Width-44 ribbon with the following stripes, arranged symmetrically from the edges to the center: width-2 black, width-4 chamois, width-2 Old Glory blue, width-2 white, width-2 Old Glory red, width-6 chamouis, width-3 myrtle green up to a central width-2 black stripe
Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 bronze service stars
Humanitarian Service ribbon.svg Humanitarian Service Medal
Us sa-kwlib rib.png Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Us kw-kwlib rib.png Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Den kongelige norske fortjenstorden kommandør med stjerne stripe.svg Royal Norwegian Order of Merit (Grand Officer)[19]
US Army Airborne senior parachutist badge.gif Senior Parachutist Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
GeneralStaffID.gif Army Staff Identification Badge
Fallschirmspringerabzeichen der Bundeswehr in Bronze.jpg Parachutist Badge (Germany) in bronze


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Bamford, James (June 12, 2013). "The Secret War". Condé Nast. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  2. "NSA/CSS Welcomes LTG Keith B. Alexander, USA". 2005. 
  3. Garamone, Jim. "Lynn Notes Cyber Command’s Significance". American Forces Press. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 U.S. eavesdropping agency chief, top deputy expected to depart soon, Reuters, 16 October 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kelly, Mary Louise (August 17, 2005). "New NSA Chief Sees Tough Choices Ahead". NPR Morning Edition. National Public Radio. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Gen. Keith B. Alexander". Washington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  7. "Biography – Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service". National Security Agency. 
  8. Banusiewicz, John D. (May 11, 2004). "More Specifics Needed to Find Source of Abuse, Intel Chief Says". American Forces Press Service. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  9. U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Nominations Confirmed (Non-Civilian). Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  10. Gates establishes U.S. Cyber Command, names first commander. Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  11. "Commander of U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency Director, General Keith Alexander, To Keynote Day One of Black Hat USA 2013". WWBT-TV NBC 12, WorldNow (Gannaway). May 14, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  12. "The Cowboy of the NSA".,2. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Greenberg, Andy. "Watch Top U.S. Intelligence Officials Repeatedly Deny NSA Spying On Americans Over The Last Year (Videos)." Forbes. June 6, 2013. Retrieved on June 11, 2013.
  15. Cyber Security And American Power, see 50:50. (July 9, 2012). Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  16. "DNI Statement on Recent Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information". June 6, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  17. In Re: Application of the FBI For an Order Requiring the Production of Tangible Things From Verizon Business Network Services. Verizon forced to hand over telephone data – full court ruling. (June 6, 2013)
  18. "Senators: Limit NSA snooping into US phone records". Associated Press. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  19. Tildeling av ordener og medaljer: Søk i arkivet, website for the Monarchy of Norway

External links[]

Government offices
Preceded by
Michael Hayden
Director of the National Security Agency
Succeeded by
Current director

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