McCain: Keith Alexander should quit

The Arizona senator said that NSA chief should resign, not because of agency actions, but because leaks got out

By Natasha Lennard

Published November 10, 2013 3:58PM (EST)

In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called for NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander to step down.

The former presidential hopeful was not objecting to the sprawling, privacy abrogating NSA surveillance programs made public this year by Edward Snowden's leaks. No, McCain took issue with the fact that the leaks were able to get out in the first place. His contention is that Alexander be held accountable for the fact that a contract worker like Snowden could access so much classified information. Via HuffPo:

"Now we have a contractor employee, not a government employee, who has access to information which is, when revealed, most damaging to the standing prestige of the United States and our relations with some of our best friends," McCain said. "Why did Edward Snowden have that information? And what are we doing as far as screening people who have access to this information? It's outrageous, and someone ought to be held accountable."

McCain was then asked if he believed Alexander should resign over the security issues.

"Of course, he should resign, or be fired," McCain said. "We no longer hold anybody accountable in Washington."

The Arizona Republican also commented that, following revelations that the NSA had for a number of years been tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, Obama should have apologized to his German counterpart.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

MORE FROM Natasha LennardFOLLOW natashalennardLIKE Natasha Lennard