Sen. John McCain: NSA Chief Should Resign

The former presidential candidate also calls on Obama to apologize to Angela Merkel

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Joshua Lott / Reuters

U.S. Senator John McCain speaks to reporters during a town-hall event in Mesa, Ariz., Aug. 27, 2013

U.S. Republican Sen. John McCain said Washington officials need to be held accountable in the wake of the National Security Agency leaks, calling on President Barack Obama to apologize to his German counterpart and for the NSA chief to resign.

In an in-depth interview with German magazine¬†Der Speigel, McCain said there needs to be more congressional oversight and a “wholesale cleaning” in Washington.¬†McCain addressed recent revelations that the U.S. had wiretapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone dating as far back at 2002. The former presidential candidate called it a “mistake.”

“A certain amount of eavesdropping goes on amongst friends. We all know that,” McCain said. “But it happens to be my personal opinion that the German Chancellor’s personal cell phone is not something that should be eavesdropped.”

McCain, who sits on both the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, said it’s “conceivable” the president was unaware of the eavesdropping but that he should haven known. He added that NSA Chief Keith Alexander should resign or be fired.

When asked about the possibility of Germany granting asylum for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, McCain dismissed it, calling Merkel too close of a friend. Though Snowden’s asylum in Russia expires next year, McCain said he believes President Vladimir Putin will allow him to stay indefinitely.

[Der Speigel]