Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director John Brennan called President Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday to revoke his security clearance an “attempt to suppress freedom of speech” and to “punish critics.”
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
Brennan was a controversial figure during the Obama administration
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders read a statement earlier Wednesday from the president that explained his decision, citing his constitutional authority and duty to protect the nation’s secrets:
Mr. Brennan has a history that calls in to question his objectivity and credibility. In 2014, for example, he denied to Congress that CIA officials under his supervision had improperly accessed the computer files of congressional staffers. He told the Council on Foreign Relations that the CIA would never do such a thing. The CIA’s Inspector General however contradicted Mr. Brennan directly, concluding unequivocally that agency officials had indeed improperly accessed congressional staffers files. More recently, Mr. Brennan told Congress that the intelligence community did not make use of the so-called Steele dossier in an assessment regarding the 2016 election, an assertion contradicted by at least two other senior officials in the intelligence community, and all of the facts.
Additionally, Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and television about this administration. Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries which is to sow division and chaos.
The president also said that the clearances of several other former Obama administration officials — “James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr” — was also under review. Yates was briefly acting Attorney General under Trump before she was fired for refusing to enforce the travel ban, a revised version of which was later upheld by the Supreme Court. Ohr still works at the Department of Justice.
Brennan, who describes himself in his Twitter profile as “Nonpartisan American who is very concerned about our collective future,” has emerged as a vociferous, even alarmist, critic of President Trump. Last month, he accused the president of treason for his press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and hinted that Republicans should help impeach him.
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018
The left has argued in recent weeks that conservatives who are banned from social media platforms or targeted by boycotts do not have a “free speech” argument — yet that is the same argument Brennan invokes in defense of his former privilege to access the nation’s secrets.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.