President Trump was right to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday. Brennan, who now works as a national security analyst for MSNBC and NBC News and frequently appears on TV, has no business browsing through our country’s most important and sensitive national security secrets.
Clearance to classified information is granted based on a “need to know.” Brennan has none, so there was no reason to allow him continued access. He does have a long pattern of misuse of his authority and lying about it.
It has been customary to allow former senior officials to keep their clearances so current officials can consult with them. No one in the Trump administration is or should be consulting with someone as partisan as Brennan, so pulling his clearance was right and proper.
Some are claiming this is political retribution, but the overtly political nature of Brennan’s attempts to undermine the Trump administration are a real problem. And even if he had a reason to keep his clearance, his actions and statements are grounds to cut him off.
Extending Brennan’s clearance was a privilege no longer justified by any value he provides to the government. His unhinged rants against President Trump would land any serving clearance holder with a suspension and possibly even a referral for psychiatric evaluation.
These include an unfounded claim on television that President Trump is being blackmailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the Russians “may have something” on President Trump, and tweets that do not represent the communications of a stable person.
To cite just one example, Brennan tweeted in March, directing his comments to President Trump: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., pointed out that Brennan has a history of unethical actions around classified information and has lied to Congress. Paul stated: “I filibustered Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA in 2013, and his behavior in government and out of it demonstrate why he should not be allowed near classified information”
Paul also questioned Brennan’s role as a paid TV commentator, tweeting last month: “Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump?”
I recognize that revoking security clearances could set a bad precedent for future administrations. A Democratic president could pull clearances of former officials who worked under a Republican president.
But the blame for the revocation of Brennan’s clearance lies with Brennan – not President Trump. Brennan is not being punished for his political views. He is being removed from any proximity to vital information because he has shown clearly he cannot be trusted with it.
Brennan is widely believed to have been a source for media outlets reporting on the Trump-Russia faux scandal. If Brennan leaked classified information, that would be cause enough take away his clearance.
It is almost certain that the Trump administration is conducting a counterintelligence investigation of Brennan to ascertain if – or more likely, how much – he leaked classified information. This investigation may have already led to more reasons to revoke his clearance than officials can make public.
Brennan is dedicated member of the anti-Trump “resistance,” which is chock full of people who actively oppose America’s very nature. If he has shared his inside information with them, we have no idea where it could have spread. We need a full accounting of all his actions and if there were crimes committed he should feel the full weight of the criminal justice system.
Brennan had every right to oppose the Trump administration and speak publicly about it. No one has limited his freedom of speech or ability to criticize.
But the former government official and current TV commentator and activist has lost a security clearance he no longer has any reason to be enjoying. His handling of classified information deserves a full and through investigation.