Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
McCain says NSA chief Keith Alexander 'should resign or be fired' (theguardian.com)
114 points by 001sky on Nov 11, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments

Note he is not calling for Alexander to be fired for all the fun and games the NSA has been up to.

He is calling for Alexander to be fired for letting it slip (specifically, for letting a contractor get that information.)

He hedges his language very well when asked about NSA shenanigans.

I'd tend to agree with you. McCain seems primarily upset about Merkel being spied upon, not the wholesale vacuuming up of the rest of the world's Internet communications. He's also clearly anti-Snowden/anti-whistleblower.

FYI - this is the entire Q&A on the Der Spiegel site: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-932721.html

He is not upset about Merkel being spied upon. He is upset with her finding out.

Thank goodness he never became President!

Oh yeah he definitely would have been worse then the guy who was elected who did it anyway.......

I'm not so sure, and just as a note, I'm pretty liberal.

> Asked if the US intelligence services were out of control, McCain said: "There's 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."

It seems like he thinks the spying was egregious as well. Given his hawkish nature, I'd be surprised if he was actually that upset about it, but this article makes it seem like he's equally upset that we were doing it and that it was being run in such a poor manner.

Senator McCain is almost certainly referring to compartmentalized intelligence [1].

So he's not saying the spying was egregious, but instead that allowing a contractor like Snowden to have access to the classified info about the spying was egregious.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_(informati...

To be fair, you compartmentalize intelligence so it does not get abused. If you don't have a <need to know>, it is presumed you are going to abuse it somehow. That's the purpose of 'need to know' restrictions. Yes, it also is a policy which increases OpSec. But note His interview reference seems to be wikileaks and Manning, which was a breech of opsec, in theatre. Snowden leaking on the NSA seems to be much more grounded in a principled position, and is in a civillian context. Its hard to infer a position on the latter based upon coments from the former.

> "Not sufficient oversight"

That is an easy one because all they have to do is say "We will do oversight better; trust us. Now stop worrying about it, watch the big game and vote for us next time."

The rest is all him being annoyed about how the information was shared inside (and outside) the agency, not the fact the information existed or how it was obtained.

> It seems like he thinks the spying was egregious as well.

To be fair there's a lot of people who think NSA has gone overboard, even when those people otherwise consider Snowden a traitor. That would explain why Sen. McCain says that oversight was insufficient while still being upset with DIRNSA for not having proper internal controls to keep an employee (but especially a contractor) from grabbing a hold of so much TS, even across compartmentalized boundaries.

SPIEGEL: In your opinion, how should intelligence services define the lines that must not be crossed?

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?

== Yikes. Only bad if you get caught.

> Only bad if you get caught.

That's been the game in international diplomacy since the Sumerians. E.g. this is why French intelligence officials admitted in interviews after the Merkel spying allegations that France does this too, they merely wished they had the NSA's resources.

In fact I was surprised at many HN'ers reaction to the Merkel spying allegations, which were surprisingly supportive of the NSA spying (since it wasn't directed against Americans).

...which really is to be expected from John McCain. I'm surprised he hasn't demanded we start bombing the Soviets by now.

Didn't he basically say that during the South Ossetia crisis in 2008? Granted he didn't actually say "soviet", but...

Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is for McCain to retire. (Ask the NSA for proof of me being a good boy)

Yeah. When I first read the headline I was shocked. It made more sense once I read the actual article.

It's also a safe political statement, Alexander is on his way out soon anyway.

That was my thought as well before even opening the article.

If he had won in 2008, he would be right in the middle of this too.

I find this really interesting:

"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," McCain said" (Emphasis mine)

If revealing the truth about what the Government is doing damages the standing prestige of the country, then is he implying that much of that prestige is based on a lie?

> If revealing the truth about what the Government is doing damages the standing prestige of the country, then is he implying that much of that prestige is based on a lie?

Are you trying to claim that 'if the government has done nothing wrong, it has nothing to fear'? I mean, I don't really care which way you believe on that idea but you should at least be logically consistent :P

I think logic would dictate that institutions claiming to be public should be public, and those claiming to be private should be private.

Why does logic dictate that? You make claims about logic but you are just falsely equivocating words in a semantic game.

Sadly, old man McCain wants to see Alexander fired for all the wrong reasons. It's not the crime, it's the cover-up. McCain is throwing his hat in with the cover-up.

Interesting! First Dianne Fienstein proposes a "bait and Switch" reform bill which is going nowhere and now you're suggesting Keith Alexander falls on his sword and takes full responsibility so the public thinks there is closure.

Sneaky! Will it fly with the common man or is the common man getting it?

Love the final statement from McCain: "If you believe that Mr Snowden didn't give the Russians information that he has, then you believe pigs fly."

Snowden plans to give up all of the documents publicly, so I can see how this is even close to relevant.

Keith Alexander is already planning to retire in early 2014, so I don't see the point of this. McCain is just cock-waving.

McCain wants him fired because he did cover up the shenanigans (crimes) well enough. How fucked up is that?

Yes, because the problem isn't that American government is doing things which, when revealed, are "most damaging to the standing prestige of the United States and our relations with some of our best friends." No, the problem is that one man had the courage to reveal information about the kind of shit American government is doing to our "best friends." Clearly!

Are you all so naive as to believe all our "friends" whether from France, Germany, Israel, or even Russia don't conduct operations on the US?

I'd be much obliged if you provided any proof that one Western European country has been spying on a member of the US government. Because if you don't, this is all hand waving and smearing.

If you count Russia there have been a number of recent stories about Russian spies.

They seem comically bad at getting any intel - much of what the captured spies were caught with were publicly available documents. They had "gained access" to some organisation, but that org had open public access anyway.

I'd be amazed if GCHQ was not listening in to US politicians. I suspect that's why Obama had so much work done to his mobile phone before he was allowed to use it.

Really, governments spying on other governments is not news. The spies get found and expelled by one country, the other country expels a diplomat or two. Everyone expresses outrage. More spies get sent in.

Is it possible that they are amazingly good at not getting caught and controlling leaks. Every now and then they allow them salves to be caught with some crap documents, just to keep up appearances. Just a thought, neither you or I will ever know for sure, unless they develop some serious leaks.

Very droll to throw Russia in with western countries.

That other countries conduct intelligence operations against each other is well known. I mean Google it, look in any book about espionage.

Again, which other western country (e.g. France, Germany) has been spying on top US officials? No weasel words please.

It is perfectly well known that the US are the only such country to break the trust of their "friends".

So, because others do it, it makes it ok?

Well, yes, contingent on whether or not you believe the world is a rosey lollipop land. You might have thought this was cute but its naive.

Recently on TV John Bolton said something in a similar vein -- that everybody spies on each other but no one talks about it and it's the people (such as Snowden) who leak that are the problem, not the program itself.

But it seems to me that if something is commonplace and accepted then why all the sotto voce?

Because once again the government practices ethical double standards. Which makes sense if you assume a class structure where bureaucrats occupy the superior class and those outside government occupy an inferior class.

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

The irony here. It hurts.

I was encouraged by the headline, until I read why McCain wants him fired. Not for ignoring the 4th amendment; not for repeatedly, knowing lying to congress —a felony— and destroying their ability to provide any oversight; not for his tact...See More

I recommend jail instead ...

It will be unsurprising if some dirt on McCain mysteriously appears in the near future.

When I read the title of this article I was so pleasantly surprised. Who would have thought that McCain (an old warmonger who is power hungry) would say?

After reading that I now see that he wanted him fired, not because the NSA targeted everyone and not because the NSA violated everyone's privacy but only because the NSA boss should have had even more security protocols in place.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact