This morning, President Trump finally carried out his threat to strip certain Obama-era national security staffers of their security clearances as some kind of petulant reprisal for their public criticism of him and his administration’s appalling policy agenda.
Former CIA director John Brennan was the first to get his clearance taken away. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders justified it by accusing Brennan of “erratic conduct and behavior.” an interesting choice of words that means the President should probably have his security clearance taken away.
Brennan took to Twitter to respond to the President, trashing him for attempting to silence him for his criticism of Trump and sounding the alarm about the existential threat to free speech and the public’s ability to challenge authority in the United States.
This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent. https://t.co/TNzOxhP9ux
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) August 15, 2018
The White House announced in July that they were looking to strip a slew of former prominent officials of their security clearances, including former CIA Directors Michael Hayden and John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice and former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Considering that none of these people work in government anymore, it’s unclear what Trump hopes to achieve by this beyond a superficial attempt to strip credibility away from his critics.
The move is classic Trump, who is notorious for not only his pettiness in his feuds with his critics but also his reliance on performative but meaningless actions that his base will eat up as proof of his greatness but ultimately have no real consequences in the long run.
But it’s proof that the constant criticism and condemnations from President Obama’s national security teams are starting to grate on the President — and his guilty conscience is written all over his latest effort to punish the voices of truth.