No Tears From John Brennan Losing Security Clearance - And Response

Monday, August 20, 2018

John Brennan will have his national security clearance revoked. Mr Brennan and the POTUS have engaged in a battle royal over the issue. 

I’ve never had a national security clearance personally but in my medical career I did have computer access to records for the two largest hospitals in the region. When I left my positions with those hospitals my computer access was revoked. 

I have read that the reason so many former government officials still have national security clearance is in case current administrations want to consult these individuals. My question here is this: if these officials might be consulted, why are they no longer in government jobs? Is the truth a matter of prestige and money for other consultations?

I am aware of the government service record of Mr Brennan. He has garnered both praise and severe criticism for his actions. He has been reported as lying to Congress under oath. In addition, Mr Brennan himself has stated that he has secret information of Russian collusion by the POTUS. Really? So what has he been hiding and why has he not been tapped for his secret information? 

Personally, I feel that when an official or employee leaves (or is fired from) the government, their national security clearance should be immediately revoked. Isn’t the number of NSC’s much too large already? I’ve heard estimates of over 5,000 that have been issued and are active.

Goodbye to Mr. Brennan and many of his contemporary “no longer on government service” cronies. No tears here.

Ted Ladd 

* * * 

Mr. Ladd, 

I appreciate your reasonable comments regarding the revoking of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance. If we were to combine your argument with the statements made by Congressman Fleischmann yesterday, I believe we would have a comprehensive summary of the most defensible and logical support of the President’s recent decision. The President has the constitutional authority to revoke security clearances, as Rep. Fleischmann has remarked. And as you have addressed, Mr. Ladd, the current practice of former intelligence officials retaining their security clearances is a perfectly fair issue to discuss. I will gladly acknowledge the merit of these points. 

What has been neglected in these arguments, however, is the context. To make the sort of overarching judgment of the President’s action these arguments seem to imply, we must appreciate the circumstance in which the President has decided to break with precedence and revoke the security clearance of Mr. Brennan. We must understand the intent if we wish to determine if this is an appropriate use of executive power.  

One interpretation of events is that Donald Trump revoked John Brennan’s security clearance because Mr. Brennan was saying unflattering things about him. The official release by the White House cites this very reason, stating, “Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations – wild outbursts on the internet and television – about this Administration.” It goes on to call Mr. Brennan’s conduct as, “characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary.”

Today (Aug. 21) our President reinforced this interpretation in a series of tweets. One was directed at former National Intelligence Director James Clapper. Trump wrote, “Maybe Clapper is being nice to me so he doesn’t lose his Security Clearance.” Another was directed at former FBI official Phil Mudd; “Just watched… Phillip Mudd become totally unglued and weird while debating… Mudd is in no mental condition to have such a Clearance. Should be REVOKED?”

The White House has also announced they are considering revoking the clearances of James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr. Each of these individuals have either had a role in investigating Russian interference, or made public statements critical of the Trump administration. Notably absent from this list is Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who has already pleaded guilty to felony charges arising from the Special Counsel investigation. Also worth mentioning is Trump’s current National Security Advisor John Bolton. After serving in the George W. Bush administration, Bolton spent years disparaging the Obama administration as a political pundit. Bolton went so far as to accuse the Obama administration of “false flag” attacks for political gain. Yet this behavior did not disqualify Bolton from maintaining his security clearance, nor was it apparently a hindrance from being appointed to his current role.

How can we not see the President’s statements and actions as an effort to silence critics of his administration? Mr. Ladd, you say you have no tears for Mr. Brennan, but what about tears for the dignity of the office of the President? Let’s put aside the issue of whether or not former intelligence agents having security clearance is good policy. Let’s take up the issue of whether or not the President of the United States should wield their executive power in such a self-serving manner as this. It is a red-herring to suggest this action is a procedural matter. Rather, this action regarding Mr. Brennan, and the threats that have been levied against other former officials, are but part of a disturbing pattern of behavior by this President that brings into question his commitment to the oath he took swearing to faithfully protect the Constitution

Nolan Crenshaw

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