Former intel chief: Trump stripping security clearance is 'unprecedented'
‘I don’t know of a case where this has ever been done in the past.’
Trump’s vindictive move to strip former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance represents another dangerous new first created by this reckless White House.
“It’s unprecedented. I don’t know of a case where this has ever been done in the past,” James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, told CNN on Wednesday.
By using security clearance in such an obviously political way to punish or silence a vocal critic, Trump has torn up longstanding protocol for how national security clearance is normally revoked, and instead has opted for a go-alone approach never seen before.
In addition to revoking Brennan’s security clearance, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the administration is reviewing access to classified information for Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser and CIA Director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr, and former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
None of this is normal.
“Access to clearance normally would be completely be done by the sponsoring agency,” Clapper explained to CNN.
“So in John’s case, the sponsoring agency is CIA. And normally if there were going to be an action taken like this, it would be done at that level and not by the White House or by the president himself. So this is, at least in my memory, unprecedented.”
Incredibly, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was bypassed on the issue of targeting Brennan’s clearance, according to CNN producer Kristin Donnelly.
Not that the White House is claiming Brennan’s security clearance has anything to do with national security or is alleging unauthorized dissemination of classified information.
Instead, the administration concocted a new standard, where Brennan is supposedly guilty of “erratic” commentary.
Prior to Trump’s authoritarian ways, the process of taking away someone’s security clearance was a long one, complete with an appeals process. Former CIA directors typically maintain their clearance long after retiring “in part so that they can share insights with current directors,” the Washington Post noted last month when Trump first threatened to revoke clearances.
In that process, the target would be notified in writing via memorandum as to why their access was being taken away.
That person “would ultimately be afforded two levels of administrative appeals (including a ‘personal appearance’ before a senior panel of officials) before any final determination is made,” Lawfare noted last month.
Trump has torn all that up and turned the whole process into a petty vendetta against his critics.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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