John McCain Says That Keith Alexander Should Be Fired... For All The Wrong Reasons
from the what-about-prosecuted dept
SPIEGEL: Are the intelligence services out of control?Notice that it's not because of the spying that Alexander should be fired... but rather because people like Manning and Snowden were able to leak documents.
McCain: There has not been sufficient congressional oversight, and there has been an absolutely disgraceful sharing of information that never should have taken place. For many years, we had an absolute provision that any classified information, which was going to be shared, is based on need-to-know information. I was a Navy pilot and had Top Secret clearance because I was in a squadron that in case of war with Russia would carry nuclear weapons. But that did not mean that I was privy to everything to do with all of our war plans in case of a nuclear war.
SPIEGEL: That means that you only knew what you absolutely had to know.
McCain: Yes. Then along came 9/11 and we said, "Oh, one of the reasons why we didn't know about 9/11 is that we didn't do enough information sharing." So now we have a private in the Army with access to most secret cables.
SPIEGEL: You mean Private First Class Bradley Manning, now Chelsea, who leaked thousands of secret documents to Wikileaks.
McCain: And 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. 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.
SPIEGEL: Who must be held accountable?
McCain: The head of the NSA, the president of the United States, the Congressional Intelligence Committees, all of these contractors we pay that were responsible for performing the background checks. There should be a wholesale housecleaning.
SPIEGEL: Should Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, resign?
McCain: Of course, they should resign or be fired. We no longer hold anybody accountable in Washington. The Commandant of the Marine Corps fired a couple of generals because of failure of security at a base in Afghanistan. Tell me who has been fired for anything that's gone bad in this town.
And, yes, elsewhere in the interview, McCain does complain about the extent of the NSA's spying... but not on ordinary Americans. No, the only thing that seems to upset him about it is when it impacts our relationships with "friends" in foreign governments. Look at this key quote:
SPIEGEL: In your opinion, how should intelligence services define the lines that must not be crossed?Notice absolutely no mention of things like people's rights to privacy? Notice absolutely no mention of concern for citizens either in the US or elsewhere? Nope. His only concern is when the spying might "damage relations" with a friendly country. Incredible.
McCain: The limit should be the potential damage to relations with that country. In other words, is it worth the collateral damage that could result in those techniques being revealed? What would be the reaction of our friends to it?
Elsewhere in the interview, McCain scoffs at the idea that Germany might offer Snowden asylum, saying "we're too good friends" for Germany to do such a horrible thing. He also insists that he knows Snowden revealed everything to the Russians, despite no evidence to support this. He says that if you don't believe Snowden revealed everything to the Russians, "then you believe that pigs can fly." Furthermore, he calls Snowden a "defector," which is simply factually inaccurate. Snowden was forced into the Russians' hands by the US's clumsy approach to trying to stop him.
The only thing that seems to offend McCain is (1) that we let "low level" people like Manning and Snowden have access to secrets and (2) that we might offend a few "high level" friends. It's the complaint of an ultimate insider, who only cares about friends in high places and has absolutely no concern whatsoever for the common people he hasn't been in touch with in decades.