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Senator calls on NSA chief to “resign or be fired”

US National Security Agency [NSA] chief Keith Alexander is being urged to “resign or be fired” from his post ahead of his departure by the middle of next year.

Senator John McCain told Der Spiegel that he is to blame for the documents made public by whistleblower Edward Snowden and should resign or be fired right away instead of waiting to retire in mid-2014.

“Of course, he should resign, or be fired. We no longer hold anybody accountable in Washington,” McCain said.

The Snowden leaks, which revealed surveillance and spying that was being done on US and international citizens, should never had happened as McCain claimed Snowden, as a contractor, should not have had access to the documents in question.

"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. "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."

McCain went on to call the sharing of information “absolutely disgraceful” and that it should never have taken place. The Senator also turned his attention to the revelations that the US had listened in on mobile phone conversations made by Chancellor Angela Merkel and suggested that it was “conceivable” President Barack Obama knew nothing of the surveillance.

"Knowing how angry Angela Merkel was, he should have apologized," said McCain. "You know, I've had to do that on numerous occasions in my life. The pain doesn't last very long."

Alexander, who headed the NSA for the last eight years, announced in October that he would be retiring earlier than planned with March or April 2014 pegged as the departure date of the four-star general.

His retirement comes in the wake of the well-documented spying efforts of the NSA that resulted in the PRISM and TEMPORA programmes run in conjunction with the British equivalent GCHQ and revealed by Snowden in thousands of leaked documents.