Admiral William H. McRaven, the man who oversaw the raid to take out Osama bin Laden, slammed President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, the former CIA director, in a Washington Post Op-Ed on Thursday.
William H. McRaven oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
McRaven wrote this in defense of former CIA director John Brennan — "one of the finest public servants I have ever known" — after President Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance https://t.co/idCYWiTFSR
— Washington Post Opinions (@PostOpinions) August 16, 2018
Brennan was stripped of his credentials on Wednesday via an announcement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Brennan maintains that no one has personally contacted him to discuss the matter and that he only heard about the revocation from Sanders on television.
In his Op-Ed, McRaven requested Trump revoke his security clearance as well because he has also publicly criticized the administration.
I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.
McRaven tore into Trump’s “McCarthy-era tactics” that McRaven wrote have “embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
An additional dozen of the United States’ most experienced intelligence officers also issued a statement condemning Trump’s decision.
11 ex-senior intel officials from both GOP and Democratic admins condemn the revocation of John Brennan's security clearance, calling it "an attempt to stifle free speech."
"Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security concerns and not political views." pic.twitter.com/HUKiHlBU3p
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 17, 2018
In their Thursday statement, the officials called Trump’s decision “ill-conceived” and defended Brennan as an “enormously talented, capable, and patriotic individual.”
Insinuations and allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Brennan while in office are baseless.
The group defended Brennan’s freedom to criticize the president over national security concerns.
“Since leaving government service John has chosen to speak out sharply regarding what he sees as threats to our national security,” they wrote. “Some of the undersigned have done so as well.”
The officials then tore into Trump’s targeting of Brennan, which has been compounded with threats of revoking clearances of other intelligence officers who have spoken critically of the president.
“The president’s action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances,” the officers sad, “and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech.”
You don’t have to agree with what John Brennan says (and, again, not all of us do) to agree with his right to say it, subject to his obligation to protect classified information.
Security clearances should never be used as a “political tool,” they wrote, and that signaling that the president is willing to use them as such is “inappropriate and deeply regrettable.”
“Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security concerns and not political views,” the statement concluded.
Below are the signatories.
William H. Webster, former Director of Central Intelligence (1987-1991)
George J. Tenet, former Director of Central Intelligence (1997-2004)
Porter J. Goss, former Director of Central Intelligence, (2005-2006)
General Michael V. Hayden, USAF, Ret., former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Leon E. Panetta, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2009-2011)
General David H. Petraeus, USA, Ret., former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
James R. Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence (2010-2017)
John E. McLaughlin, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (2000-2004)
Stephen R. Kappes, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2006-2010)
Michael J. Morell, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2010-2013)
Avril Haines, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2013-2015)
David S. Cohen, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2015-2017)
Social media wasted no time in expressing support for the intel officials.
Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, said McRaven’s letter was “the closest we have come to a Joseph Welch “Have you left no sense of decency?” moment that in many ways broke the McCarthy fever.”
The letter from @williammcraven2 standing by @JohnBrennan and saying he too should have his clearance revoked could well be the closest we have come to a Joseph Welch “Have you left no sense of decency?” moment that in many ways broke the McCarthy fever. https://t.co/ECvc7YyzDh
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) August 16, 2018
Lawrence Tribe called the statement a “sober bipartisan critique.”
This sober bipartisan critique of Trump’s stripping of Brennan’s classification by 13 leading intel officers will predictably be dismissed by Trump as “deep state” self-defense. That dismissal will, like the claim of witchhunt, be pure hogwash. https://t.co/SccD4tLDcu
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) August 17, 2018
Others pushed for more.
FINALLY. Some damn courage.
Current and former government officials, intelligence community members, lawmakers, military officers: Keep it up. We the People need some help saving our Union.
For God & country ✊🏽🇺🇸 #Impeach45
— Crusader for Justice 🇺🇸🇪🇺 (@faravaharSF) August 17, 2018
The statement stopped short of what is needed – a call for him to resign.
— Caswell Thomas (@CaswellThomas1) August 17, 2018
I anxiously await a similar statement from all 5 former Presidents, as well.
— Jem Rummy (@JemRummy) August 17, 2018
Trump’s Nixonian “enemies list” is growing.
that enemies list keeps growing.
— Lord Longbeard (@js7976) August 17, 2018
Like Nixon on steroids.
— Just another guy. (@labathe_jerry) August 17, 2018
Brennan slammed Trump in his own Op-Ed, saying the president’s claims of “no collusion” with Russia are “hogwash.”