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.
FYI - this is the entire Q&A on the Der Spiegel site: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-932721.html
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
If he had won in 2008, he would be right in the middle of this too.