Trump has inspired a full-scale revolt of intelligence officials who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Trump’s despotic decision to strip former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance continued to backfire this weekend, as another former CIA director said that he would be honored to have the same thing done to him.
On Sunday morning’s edition of CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Jake Tapper asked retired four-star general and former CIA Director Michael Hayden about a blistering op-ed from retired Navy Adm. William McRaven, who oversaw the raid under President Obama that captured Osama bin Laden.
In that op-ed, McRaven defended Brennan against Trump’s overreach, and said he would be “honored” if Trump put him in the same company as Brennan by taking away his security clearance as well.
“Would you be similarly honored to have President Trump revoke your security clearance?” Tapper asked Hayden.
“Well, to be included in that group, sure,” Hayden replied. “Frankly, if his not revoking my clearance gave the impression that I somehow moved my commentary in a direction more acceptable to the White House, I would find that very disappointing, and frankly unacceptable.”
In other words, Trump is so obviously engaging in unjust political punishment that if he didn’t take away Hayden’s security clearance, Hayden fears he might look like a Trump yes-man.
The growing backlash against Trump includes security officials who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Hayden served as CIA director from 2006-2009, mostly under President George W. Bush and briefly under President Obama. Brennan served from 2013-2017 under Obama.
Hayden also told Tapper that these protestations are about more than just Brennan — they’re about “the whole tone, tenor, and behavior of the administration.”
Trump revoking Brennan’s security clearance was “the proximate cause for all of us signing letters and protesting,” Hayden said, but it’s also been “one additional straw that’s breaking the camel’s back” in the context of many shocking overreaches by Trump.
Trump drafted the order to strip Brennan’s security clearance weeks ago, but seems to have held onto it until he needed something to kill an especially bad news cycle. That especially bad news cycle came when former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman started releasing secret recordings that were damaging to the administration.
But that move backfired by causing dozens of former intelligence officials to speak out. Brennan only became more vocal in his criticism of Trump.
And perhaps most powerful of all was McRaven’s op-ed. When a retired Navy admiral who took down bin Laden says he would be “honored” if Trump took away his clearance, that carries a lot of weight.
Trump is reportedly keeping a stack of other Brennan-style security clearance revocations at the ready to use as distractions from future bad news cycles.
But if the reaction to Brennan is any indication, those “distractions” will cause Trump just as many problems as whatever he’s trying to distract from.
Published with permission of The American Independent.