President Trump, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, is mulling over the possibility of stripping several top Obama administration officials of their security clearances over concerns that they are abusing their access for purposes of financial and political gain. Among the former officials in danger of losing their access are former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former national security advisor Susan Rice.
“The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because they politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and security clearances,” said Sanders on Monday.
The threat has led to a predictable uproar in Washington, where Trump is being criticized for turning the issue of security clearance into a political football. There has been no acknowledgement, of course, that former officials with this kind of access should not be out there on CNN and Twitter using their positions to bash the current administration. Certainly not if they are going to use terms like “treasonous” to describe a sitting president’s meeting with a foreign leader, as Brennan did on social media. This kind of access comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Instead, Brennan and Clapper are representing to the public that they have some unspoken, hidden knowledge about Trump’s relationship to Putin – a fact that is certainly not in evidence. If they want to keep playing defense for the Democrats, they can do so without special access to classified information.
Of course, the fact of the matter is even if Brennan and Clapper weren’t out there bashing President Trump every time they could, there’s still significant cause to believe they should be stripped of their clearances. Both men politicized their agencies during the last year of the Obama administration, and both men should be taken to task for weaponizing American intelligence against a political opponent. They have proven through leaks and collusion with the U.S. media that they cannot be trusted with this country’s most sensitive intelligence. Individuals suffering from mental illness should not have access to classified information, and both Brennan and Clapper have a bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
“Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate,” Sanders said Monday. “And the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”
Exactly. The First Amendment guarantees Brennan, Clapper, Rice, Andrew McCabe, and James Comey the right to speak their minds on any topic they may wish. But if they are going to pollute our discourse with the kind of reckless accusations for which they have all become known, they don’t need to be briefed on our nation’s secrets. Let them become what they already are: A collection of partisan hacks who are scared to death that the full measure of their 2016 actions will become public.