Keith Alexander Offered To Resign, But White House Said No Because It Didn't Want Snowden To Win

from the petty-petty-petty dept

One of the really big questions many of us have had throughout the revelations of the NSA's scandals is how the hell have Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and NSA boss Keith Alexander kept their jobs through all of this. Clapper has been caught directly lying to Congress. Alexander has been shown to have been extraordinarily misleading, if he hasn't outright lied. Furthermore, it's been revealed that both have overseen massive levels of dysfunction and abuse within the NSA (even as they try to spin them as no big deal). And, even among NSA supporters, there's an argument to be made that Alexander should be fired for having system security so weak it allowed Snowden to do what he did undetected, even months after the basics were revealed. So now it's come out, via a report by Siobhan Gorman in the Wall Street Journal, that Alexander did, in fact, offer to resign but that the White House rejected the request, because they didn't want to hand Snowden a victory.
Shortly after former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed himself in June as the source of leaked National Security Agency documents, the agency's director, Gen. Keith Alexander, offered to resign, according to a senior U.S. official. The offer, which hasn't previously been reported, was declined by the Obama administration....

[....] When the leaks began, some top administration officials found their confidence in Gen. Alexander shaken because he presided over a grave security lapse, a former senior defense official said. But the officials also didn't think his resignation would solve the security problem and were concerned that letting him leave would wrongly hand Mr. Snowden a win, the former defense official said.
That's a ridiculous reason, if true. And, unfortunately, it shows the ridiculous anti-whistleblower mindset of the White House. It's not about correcting actual problems, it's all about making sure that we punish the whistleblower, and don't let him get any "victory." That's a huge mistake that makes the White House look out of touch, out of control and unable to recognize where the real problems are.

President Obama has stated repeatedly that these revelations have resulted in a necessary discussion and that he needs to earn the trust of the American public on the NSA spying. Getting rid of Alexander and Clapper, and starting fresh, would have been a good start to doing that. Playing defense and trying to avoid Snowden "winning" just looks... childish.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Guardian, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    obama and hollywood need to spy too

    think of the "actors"

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    anonymouse, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:02pm

    Congress

    Hopefully congress will do something but i doubt it. The leaders of both parties have been using the power of secrecy to get away with crimes and one side is not going to rat the other out if they feel they could be ratted out.

    This is one time where the republican right wing could have really casued trouble for the governemetn but alas they are now quiet and not really doing much but sitting back and licking their wounds from the gov shutdown.

    Maybe that what why they were allowed to do what they did, to make it harder for them to reveal real problems.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Whew!

    Good thing they prevented Snowden's revelations from having any kind of impact on the NSA, AMIRITE?

     

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  4.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    I'd say this mindset isn't just childish, it's very foolish. Who is a bigger fool: the fool who keeps Alexander in power or the fools who (re)elected him?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    The famous 'we dont negotiate with terrorists' bullshit which always has a bad ending. 'Less democratic' nations have had their presidents replaced because of smaller missteps. Surprising how obamo is still in power.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    The strength of our republic is that we don't topple our leaders left and right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    So Alexander screws up, but gets to keep his job cause they don't want the person who showed them he screwed up to feel good?

    God bless America...

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    seriously they are like little babies. I question their definition of winning.

    Snowden winning = everyone wins except the NSA, most of them probably should be in prison for this and anyone who authorized them should be in prison too. That would be winning.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    Instead of offering to resign

    He should have just done it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

    It's a bittersweet symphony that's life...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

    What exactly would be the legal ramifications for Alexander if he'd said "Fuck this" and simply not shown up for work the next day?
    I do know the question is pointless given how little the US government cares for the law at the moment, but still...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    Response to: Rikuo on Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

    I don't know but William Colby might.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    MM_Dandy, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    I wouldn't have been surprised if he would have been charged with treason in that case. Not sure if it applies, but it would fit with the tactic of 'throw the book at them, and let them plead down to a lesser charge.'

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Bob, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    He didn't just win, he continues winning...

    Snowden won. Period.

    They should accept this, and move into the world with the rest of us where this is an undeniable fact of life.

    They were doing something that the majority of people would not support, without justification or oversight.

    Snowden exposed them to the world. The world got pissed. That all happened.

    Continuing to live in the delusional alternate reality where Snowden is a traitor, and they are going to get to go back to business as usual is only going to drive more people away from the American tech industry.

    They need to sack-up, pardon him and bring him home, initiate a national debate on the use and abuse of the programs, and start restoring our credibility as a nation committed to essential, universal, civil liberties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:38pm

    that shows how right Snowden is, how wrong the NSA is and how absolutely arrogant the White House is! when it is more important to not allow a whistleblower to win, and remember the assurances Obama gave to whistleblowers, it shows the sorry state the nation is in, and how equally sorry a state the leader is in too!

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    That kind of a mindset is a problem with ALL politicians

    That kind of a mindset is a problem with ALL politicians. Look at Republicans, who are trying to undermine Obamacare in any way they possibly can, even though it's their OWN idea from the 1990's.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Me, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:44pm

    The fact they don't want to hand Snowden a "win" is so indicative of the very problem. FIX the problems. Quit trying to attach the messenger(s).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Nov 25th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re:

    .

    ...even when they -clearly- deserve it.

    .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    Let's look past the whistle-blowing for a minute, and instead look at the mentality of the security at play here:

    "We can't cover the possibility damning security holes in our system! That would mean our political opponents would 'win'!"

    How this administration is able to keep any secrets at all is a marvel.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    Re:

    Fixing the problem means relinquishing some power, and admitting error. No politicians will do either voluntarily.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Whew!

    Yeah. I'm glad the US avoided THAT embarrassment.

    Can you imagine the impact that would have in the people's confidence in the government?

    /sarcasm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    Saying what people want to hear

    "President Obama has stated repeatedly that these revelations have resulted in a necessary discussion and that he needs to earn the trust of the American public on the NSA spying."

    Yes, he has said that. I don't think he really means it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Prajo Etach, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 1:35pm

    To quote Obi-Wan Kenobi:

    "Who's the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Ruben, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re: He didn't just win, he continues winning...

    It'll never happen.

    The hubris too strong.

    The leadership too arrogant.

    Until there's some semblance of human behavior in Washington, this is just a dream.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    I say NO to resignation too. It's not enough. Arrest, trial, prosecution, and prison are the only things that will satisfy my outrage at this point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

    President Obama has stated repeatedly that these revelations have resulted in a necessary discussion and that he needs to earn the trust of the American public on the NSA spying.

    Here, let me fix that for you;

    President Obama has stated repeatedly that these revelations have resulted in a necessary discussion about how to better hide the NSA'a activities and that he needs to fool the American public about the NSA spying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Votre (profile), Nov 25th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

    Well there's a certain wisdom in keeping your friends close, your enemies closer, and an employee who could cause you major embarrassment closest of all.

    At least if he remains a government employee they can enforce his silence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Saying what people want to hear

    President Obama stated that yes. Notice there has been no debate from his end on the rights and wrongs, merely support it should continue.

    Before Gen. Alexander was put into the position of head of the NSA it was stated that one of the concerns was Alexander tended to ignore laws to get it done and then work on the justification afterwards and this is the mentality now shown to the public from the NSA, who has pretty much broken every law it felt it needed to.

    The administration is hell bent on charging the whistle blowers to keep it's skeletons locked in the closet, not to fix obviously glaring problems. Hide not reveal so as to avoid embarrassment.

    It's a bit late to worry about Snowden's win, for win he has. He has focused the worlds' attention on the total ignoring of what the US says it stands for and then what it does. Regaining the public's trust in government is going to take more than a few words saying so; it's actually going to have to take action in concrete form addressing these totally outrageous acts by the NSA. Failing to do so shows the public they are correct in the belief their government does not act in their best interests and is corrupt to the core.

    There is an election coming and people are saying they don't want the GOP to win nor the Democrats. Take that for what it is worth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    Re: He didn't just win, he continues winning...

    Continuing to live in the delusional alternate reality where Snowden is a traitor...

    Snowden is a traitor, he's a traitor to those in power - who is making these claims.. To everyone else he's a hero.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 4:04pm

    Unlikely

    Or General Alexander just put out that story to seem less power grabbing than his power grabbing might suggest.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 4:18pm

    Re:

    I hate that song.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Nov 25th, 2013 @ 5:03pm

    Looking at it wrong

    If Alexander did resign... what punishment, other than losing that particular job, would that result in? Losing a job(and one that would likely immediately be replaced with a very cushy private sector one), in exchange for ducking all responsibility for the NSA's current actions, and passing the buck on to someone else? Sounds like one heck of a deal to me, so it's no surprise that he tried it.

    At the same time, if Alexander was out of the picture, then the people would be focusing more on who gave the NSA their marching orders, who authorized their actions, so the FISA court, congress, and the WH... is it any wonder then the WH wanted him to stay where he was, and act as a magnet for criticism?

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2013 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Then go fuck yourself

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    ShellMG (profile), Nov 25th, 2013 @ 8:45pm

    Making it his business

    Snowden's leaks aren't hurting national security but dishing a load of butthurt on The Obama White House. In light of the Grand Canyon-sized security holes in the online ACA (among other lesser concerns, like affordable health care), why on Earth should we trust anything they claim? Do we really trust the WH when Obama says, "If you like your privacy, you can keep it. PERIOD" ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 12:27am

    Restoring Trust: Ultimate Freudian Slip

    If they state their goal is in restoring trust it is always, always, always a sign that they are deeply corrupt and want to avoid real reform like the plague. I have seen it many times before - most often with institutions covering up child molestation for the sake of their reputation.

    It is quite revealing about their psychology: they don't even think about fixing the problem. In fact they care so little about it that they can't understand why it is important enough to lie about. They just want this embarrassing truth to go away so they can go back to business as usual.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 12:45am

    Re: Instead of offering to resign

    Resign? Jailed for life.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 2:16am

    So you don't want to let him quit due to allowing breaches of security to happen-

    because you're afraid people will think you are all-but-firing him for allowing breaches of law and policy to happen.

    He did both, either let him quit or fire him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 2:17am

    Re: Restoring Trust: Ultimate Freudian Slip

    Cool jab at religion there. That'll get you credibility and respect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    David, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 2:20am

    Re:

    We don't negotiate with terrorists, we outclass them. They look like rank amateurs in the fight against freedom, justice and democracy compared to us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    David, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 2:23am

    Re: He didn't just win, he continues winning...

    Snowden won? Hardly. He may have won his lap, but as long as nobody really wants to pick up the baton, that's not going to buy him or anybody else a lot in the race.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 4:27am

    Re: Re: Restoring Trust: Ultimate Freudian Slip

    That was not a religious reference - the problem is independent. Both secular and religious organizations have been caught in this despicable behavior and made the same slip up while in damage control mode.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 4:53am

    Re: Re: Restoring Trust: Ultimate Freudian Slip

    Given that the AC didn't mention religion, only "institutions"...is that a Freudian slip there? Are the religious institutions actually at fault? (I'm Irish, and just about a year or two ago, the Catholic Church suffered a huge child sexual abuse scandal, so I know all about it).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re: Re:

    "Put one of ours in the hospital, we put one of theirs in the morgue"

    The classic escalation scare-game. Shame this escalation is extremely costly on freedoms.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 5:46am

    Re: Congress

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 5:48am

    Re: He didn't just win, he continues winning...

    What Bob says. All of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Re:

    As I mentioned above, keeping him there allows him to act as a lightning rod for criticism, allowing others to dodge full responsibility, so he's right where they want him currently.

    At the same time, letting him 'retire', likely into a cushy, lucrative private sector job, would hardly count as punishment for his actions, so if they really want him out, and he really wants out, lets see a freakin' public trial, let him 'retire' into a jail cell for selling out america in exchange for personal power.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    murgatroyd (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 6:57am

    Re: That kind of a mindset is a problem with ALL politicians

    Ah, but those were fake Republicans. The ones we have now are the real Republicans.

    And I've got a bridge in NYC that I can sell you real cheap....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re:

    That's only a strength when we have good, effective, decent "leaders". Unfortunately, I don't think that we've had one of those in my lifetime.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: He didn't just win, he continues winning...

    If you go by what Snowden himself claimed he was trying to do, he decisively won.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    Must be tough

    I was listening to Behind Blue Eyes by The Who, and it made me think of Clapper and Alexander. Perhaps he could have used this in his resignation letter:

    No one knows what it's like
    to be hated, to be fated
    to telling only lies

    and my dreams, they aren't as empty
    as my conscience seems to be

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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