New: Statement from a dozen former top intelligence officials representing R and D admins (including ex-CIA chiefs) says yanking Brennan’s clearance has “everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech.” pic.twitter.com/Qa7g7LgHAJ— Elana Schor (@eschor) August 17, 2018
President Donald Trump recently revoked the security clearance of Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan, who has been a sharp critic of the Trump administration.
The POTUS attributed the revocation for what he said was “a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations” about his administration.
Now, 12 former intelligence officials are claiming the move was nothing more than Trump’s attempt to “stifle free speech.”
In a scathing letter which was signed by a dozen, both Republican and Democratic, intelligence officials, the POTUS is slammed for revoking Brennan’s security clearance merely because he does not agree with the current administration’s political stance.
The move by Trump is labeled an attack on Brennan’s right to free speech.
“We all agree that 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 ? and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech,” they wrote. “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.”
The officials who signed the letter include: former CIA Directors Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta, William Webster, Porter Goss, David Petraeus and George Tenet, several of the agency’s former deputy directors and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The officials who had served under former presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said they had never seen “the approval and removal of security clearances used as a political tool.”
They also rendered the “insinuations and allegations” of wrongdoing on part of Brennan while in office as “baseless.” They called the former CIA director “an enormously talented, capable, and patriotic individual who devoted his adult life to the service of this nation.”
Brennan also fired back at the decision, calling it “an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge” Trump.
Former intelligence officials are usually allowed to keep their security clearances as a token of courtesy and for future — if the need arises to call upon their expertise.
Despite people calling out the Trump administration’s uncalled for attacks on its critics, the president reportedly feels strengthened by his decision as he looks to revoke security clearances of more Trump critics.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders read out the names of former officials, Trump is considering next for revocation of security clearances, which included two of the names from this letter: Clapper and Hayden.
The former officials in their letter, however, called the attack on free speech “deeply regrettable.”
“As individuals who have cherished and helped preserve the right of Americans to free speech ? even when that right has been used to criticize us ? that signal is inappropriate and deeply regrettable.”
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Carlo Allegri