NSA Director Offered to Resign Over Snowden Revelations: Should Have Been Fired Instead

Keith AlexanderNSAThe Hill, citing a behind the paywall Wall Street Journal story, reports that National Security Agent director Keith Alexander offered to resign over the Edward Snowden revelations that Alexander had overseen a massive warrantless surveillance program aimed against American citizens. From The Hill:

The National Security Agency's director, Gen. Keith Alexander, offered to resign from his post shortly after Edward Snowden began leaking classified government documents, according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to the report, the Obama administration rejected his offer.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, began disclosing documents detailing the agency’s surveillance programs in June.

Top administration officials' confidence in Alexander was shaken, the Journal reports, because he oversaw the agency during the security lapse, an unidentified former senior defense official told the paper. 

But an Alexander resignation, the official added, would indicate Snowden won, and wouldn’t solve the security problem.

Certainly wouldn't want to be seen as admitting to violations of the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans to remain secure in their persons and papers against unreasonable search and seizure.

Rather than merely accepting Alexander's resignation, President Obama should have fired him and that bald-faced liar to Congress, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence. Frankly, it appears that President Obama doesn't fire incompetent and mendacious minions out of fear that it will make him look weak. Actually, the opposite is true. In addition, the president should immediately pardon Edward Snowden.

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  • John||

    Why would Obama have fired him? He hasn't done anything that Obama didn't support and want done. I guess you could fire him for the organization hiring Snowden. But it is not like anything this guy did directly caused that. And if Obama fired him, he would have to get his successor confirmed in the Senate. A confirmation hearing would require answering some questions. And no one wants that.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There seems to be no greater sin that making the administration look bad, so I can't believe he wasn't sacked. On the other hand, that sin only seems to get you into trouble of you're a journalist or member of the general public.

  • CE||

    Don't you mean "should have been arrested and imprisoned to await trial" instead?

  • Ron Bailey||

    CE: Yes.

  • Christophe||

    It's pretty nice to see you actually taking "radical" positions. You're much more conciliatory when writing on the science front.

    Just goes to show every man has his limits.

  • Rrabbit||

    Yes. And not just him.

  • ||

    But an Alexander resignation, the official added, would indicate Snowden won, and wouldn't solve the security problem.

    Like Obama said, he has no ideology. He just does whatever gratifies his own ego and increases his power.

  • angus||

    A spy has to find out what other people are doing and not get caught. He isn't a spy.

    A patsy has to sit in the front and accept blame for the failures of others.

  • Paul.||

    According to the report, the Obama administration rejected his offer.

    Sort of like when Clinton rejected Janet Reno's resignation over Waco? A resignation he should have accepted?

  • Spartacus||

    But an Alexander resignation, the official added, would indicate Snowden won, and wouldn’t solve the security problem.

    That's right, because it's not about liberties or privacy or reining in a rogue agency or any of those trivialities. It's about winning.

  • ||

    This whole offering to resign thing is kind of bullshit.

    Basically it is simply a check to see if Obama wants him gone...and it is a check with a threat.

    "Hey Obama, want to get rid of me? Do it now so I can go write my book about you. No? OK...time for you to start defending me."

  • David Friedman||

    As best I can tell, it is an open question whether or not the NSA's activities were criminal, depending on whether or not one accepts their secret interpretation of the relevant legislation.

    The obvious way to find out is to charge someone, possibly Alexander, with conspiring to violate the laws against computer intrusion--I assume at least some of the 50,000 networks in question were in the U.S.--and whatever other activities can plausibly be interpreted as crimes. That gets the question before the courts.

  • ||

    People in the government seem to have this bizarre idea that because It's the NSA, that the normal rules don't apply to them.

    The NSA is supposed to be all super-uber-secret and special, so they get to get away with all sorts of shit that is patently illegal.
    Hey, their super-duper secret and the whole point of being super-duper secret is that you get to do super-duper secret stuff. Stuff that nobody ever hears about, nobody needs to know about, and nobody, presumably ever will know about.

    Of course, ever since 9/11 of course the NSA has become this honking behemoth of an agency, and you can't be super secret when you are conspicuously building a massive data center in Utah. But that doesn't stop people from allowing the NSA to continue to cultivate this special mystique that they are beyond the regular laws that ordinary people like the CIA and the Pentagon have to live by.

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