NSA Rick Ledgett: ‘Claim that GCHQ carried out surveillance on Donald Trump during the election campaign is arrant nonsense’

“Cyber war is going to look very different – you are going to see massive failures of key infrastructure systems in the countries that are being targeted in a way we have not seen yet.”

Richard Ledgett — Deputy Director of the National Security Agency

Richard Ledgett — Deputy Director of the National Security Agency


Richard H. “Rick” Ledgett, Jr. became the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency in 2014. In a rare interview — and perhaps his last as a NSA official — Ledgett speaks about Trump’s recent allegation about the GCHQ, the alleged hacking from Russia and the ‘current environment’. Follow us on twitter: @Intel_Today

Last week Judge Napolitano — a commentator on Fox News — made the claim that GCHQ had spied on Trump.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer quoted judge Napolitano as saying:

“Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command.”

“He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice, he used GCHQ.”

The GCHQ has issued an official statement to deny the allegations.

“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

RELATED POST: UK: GCHQ denies wiretapping Donald Trump

Ledgett said that the claim showed:

“a complete lack of understanding in how the relationship works”.

“Each side is prohibited from asking the other partner to carry out acts that they were prohibited from doing.”

Ledgett argues that the huge risks to the UK in carrying out such an act would completely outweigh any benefits.

“Of course they wouldn’t do it. It would be epically stupid.”

RELATED POST: UK: GCHQ denies wiretapping Donald Trump


Mr. Ledgett began his NSA career in 1988 and has served in operational, management, and technical leadership positions at the branch, division, office, and group levels. From 2012 to 2013 he was the Director of the NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center, responsible for round-the-clock cryptologic activities to discover and counter adversary cyber efforts. Prior to NTOC he served in several positions from 2010 to 2012 in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in both the collection and cyber mission areas.

He was the first National Intelligence Manager for Cyber, serving as principal advisor to the Director of National Intelligence on all cyber matters, leading development of the Unified Intelligence Strategy for Cyber, and coordinating cyber activities across the Intelligence Community (IC).

Previous positions at NSA include Deputy Director for Analysis and Production (2009-2010), Deputy Director for Data Acquisition (2006-2009), Assistant Deputy Director for Data Acquisition (2005-2006), and Chief, NSA/CSS Pacific (2002-2005). He also served in a joint IC operational activity, and as an instructor and course developer at the National Cryptologic School. Mr. Ledgett spent nearly 11 years in the U.S. Army as a SIGINTer and, between the Army and NSA, has completed six field tours. [NSA Official Website]


Mr Ledgett said the evidence of Russian involvement was “extraordinarily strong” and “irrefutable” and that the NSA had played a key role in establishing the case.

Mr Ledgett said he was “dead solid 100% confident” that the Russian state was behind the attempts – although he said it was not for the intelligence community to evaluate the actual impact of those attempts on the vote itself.

RELATED POST: FRANCE — DGSE: ‘Kremlin Hackers trying to distort the presidential campaign’

RELATED POST: UK Boris Johnson: ‘No Evidence Russia trying to disrupt UK democracy’

RELATED POST: German Intel Agencies first accuse Russia, then investigate and now report: ‘No evidence of Russian disinformation campaign’.

Politization of Intelligence

Ledgett acknowledged that the current environment – with the intelligence agencies drawn into political debate – was unprecedented.

“It is an uncomfortable place to be. Intelligence needs to not be politicized to be at its best.”

[NOTE: The US intelligence community believes with moderate to high confidence that Russia has interfered in the presidential election, probably to disadvantage Clinton and favour Trump. Donald Trump has — initially at least — strongly rejected these conclusions.]


From June 2013 to his appointment as Deputy Director in January 2014, Ledgett headed the investigation of leaks regarding NSA surveillance programs made by Edward Snowden.

During this time he argued for amnesty for Snowden in exchange for the return of the remaining classified documents still in his possession. [Wikipedia]

He acknowledged that the debate around the NSA’s power was healthy, but said the way it came about was bad, referring to the Edward Snowden revelations.

While he would not point to specific terrorist attacks or deaths as a result of disclosures, Ledgett claims that the NSA had seen one thousand “entities” (such as terrorist groups or foreign military units) which had tried to change behaviour to avoid NSA surveillance.


Mr Ledgett is due to step down in the coming months after a 40-year career in national security. Twenty-nine of those years were spent at the NSA, where he ended up as its most senior civilian.

On February 3, 2017, Ledgett announced that he would be retiring in the spring. His replacement was reported to be George Barnes.

Richard Ledgett: The NSA responds to Edward Snowden’s TED Talk

After a surprise appearance by Edward Snowden at TED2014, Chris Anderson said: “If the NSA wants to respond, please do.” And yes, they did. Appearing by video, NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett answers Anderson’s questions about the balance between security and protecting privacy.


Claims GCHQ wiretapped Trump ‘nonsense’ – NSA’s Ledgett — BBCNEWS March 18 2017

Biography – Deputy Director, National Security Agency — NSA Website


NSA Rick Ledgett: ‘Claim that GCHQ carried out surveillance on Donald Trump during the election campaign is arrant nonsense’

This entry was posted in Cyber Warfare, GCHQ, NSA, Snowden, Trump, UK, US and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s