Army general appointed to key NSA post

Quirk is new director of signals intelligence

April 22, 2003|By Ariel Sabar | Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF

The National Security Agency has named an Army general to a senior post responsible for all of the spy agency's eavesdropping and codebreaking activities.

Maj. Gen. Richard J. Quirk III took over yesterday as director of signals intelligence, replacing Maureen A. Baginski, who left this month to become executive assistant director for intelligence at the FBI. Quirk, who joined the agency in October 2001, had served since August as deputy director for signals intelligence, or SIGINT.

"Maj. Gen. Quirk has helped define the agency's SIGINT transformation during such world events as the global war on terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom," NSA director Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden said in a statement.

Quirk had previously worked as the director of intelligence for the U.S. Southern Command, in Panama and Miami. He has also served in combat support positions in Vietnam, Haiti and Operation Desert Storm.

Eavesdropping on and decoding electronic messages from foreign countries represents half of NSA's mission; the other half is protecting and encrypting communications among U.S. officials.

Baginski, viewed for many years as one of the agency's leading lights, joined the NSA in 1979 - during the Cold War - as a Russian language instructor. In early 2001, she was hand-picked by Hayden to lead the newly formed signals intelligence directorate, a position that put her at the forefront of efforts to streamline and modernize the agency.

On April 3, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III announced that he was appointing her to a newly created post meant to strengthen collection of intelligence on suspected terrorists.

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