Revoking Brennan’s clearance: The right move for the wrong reason

Andy McCarthy argues that there were excellent reasons to revoke the security of John Brennan, but that President Trump revoked it for the wrong reason. Trump, McCarthy says, revoked the clearance as an act of revenge for Brennan’s harsh criticism of him — an improper basis for taking such action.

I think Andy is probably right about Trump’s motive and certainly right about the propriety of revoking a security clearance based on that motive. However, I’m withholding final judgment until we see the extent, if any, to which the president revokes the clearances of other critics.

McCarthy distinguishes, as I did, Brennan’s case from that of Gen. Michael Hayden. He writes:

Brennan’s tweets about Trump are objectively outrageous. To compare, I think some of former CIA director Mike Hayden’s tweets are ill-advised — particularly this one, comparing Trump’s border-enforcement policy to Nazi concentration camps. But General Hayden is making anti-Trump political arguments, not intimating that he has knowledge of Trump corruption based on his (Hayden’s) privileged access to intelligence information (which he may or may not still have — I haven’t asked him).

Hayden is absolutely entitled to speak out in that vein. Generally, he is a voice of reason even when one disagrees with him, and — let’s be real here — even his edgier tweets are pretty tame compared to the president’s.

Brennan, by contrast, speaks out in a nod-and-a-wink manner, the undercurrent of which is that if he could only tell you the secrets he knows, you’d demand Trump’s impeachment forthwith. . . .Indeed, “undercurrent” is probably the wrong word: Brennan, after all, has expressly asserted that our “treasonous” president is “wholly in the pocket of Putin” and has “exceed[ed] the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’”

Such demagoguery would be beneath any former CIA director, but it is especially indecorous in Brennan’s situation. There are ongoing investigations and trials. Brennan’s own role in the investigation of the Trump campaign is currently under scrutiny. . . .

Other factors having nothing to do with Brennan’s attacks on and actions towards Trump support the revocation of his clearance. The fact that he flat-out lied about the CIA’s breaking into the emails of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s staff — a lie Brennan later had to apologize for — is one.

McCarthy cites another factor that I missed in my analysis — Brennan’s politicization of intelligence during the Obama years (and before he weaponized intelligence against Donald Trump). McCarthy reminds us:

Obama-administration national-security officials deceptively downplayed weapons threats posed by Syria, Iran, and North Korea. As The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes notes, Brennan directed the CIA to keep under wraps the vast majority of documents seized in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound, precisely because that information put the lie to Obama-administration narratives about a “decimated” al-Qaeda, the moderation of Iran, and general counterterrorism success. (Since this week’s craze is the Trump administration’s use of non-disclosure agreements, we should add Hayes’s reporting that Brennan’s CIA presented NDAs to survivors of the Benghazi terrorist attack — at a memorial service for those killed during the siege — in order to silence them while the Obama administration’s indefensible performance was being investigated.)

In 2015, over 50 intelligence analysts complained that their reports on ISIS and al-Qaeda were being altered by senior officials in order to support misleading Obama-administration storylines. Brennan himself was instrumental in the administration’s submission to the demands of Islamist organizations that information about sharia-supremacist ideology be purged from the training of security officials. . . .

It makes no sense for someone as dishonest and manipulatively partisan as Brennan to keep his security clearance now that, mercifully, he is out of government.

Trump has done the nation a service by taking Brennan’s clearance away. But he will do it a disservice if his vindictiveness causes him to take away the clearance of those whose only “offense” is harsh criticism of Trump.