Trump Right About John Brennan

The former CIA director’s security clearance should have been pulled long ago, maintains former CIA analyst Philip Giraldi. President Trump should go a step further, he argues, and pull the security clearance of everyone who no longer has a reason to have it. 

By Philip Giraldi

It is quite amazing to watch how the mainstream media and alleged “former senior intelligence officials” are rallying around to defend ex-CIA Director John Brennan, who has had his security clearance taken away by President Donald Trump. It is the usual bit of pretentiously high-minded blather that makes one cringe, considering the questionable track records of the loudest voices being raised to defend a man who actually has no need for a clearance and who, quite possibly, abused his office by working with the Hillary Clinton team and foreign intelligence services to dig up dirt on Trump during the election campaign. Brennan appears to have also been party to an attempt to delegitimize the president-elect even before he took office, in the latter days of the Barack Obama administration.

Consider for a moment how, back in 2013, John Brennan, then Obama’s counterterrorism advisor had a difficult time with the Senate Intelligence Committee explaining some things that he did when he was still working at CIA. He was predictably attacked by some senators concerned over the expanding drone program, which he supervised, over CIA torture, for the kill lists that he helped manage, and regarding the pervasive government secrecy, which he surely condoned to cover up the questionable nature of the assassination lists and the drones.

But the area that is still murky regarding Brennan relates to what exactly he was up to in 2016 when he was CIA director and also, quite possibly, simultaneously working hard to help Hillary become president. In May 2017, his appearance before Congress was headlined in a Washington Post front-page featured article as Brennan’s explosive testimony just made it harder for the GOP to protect Trump. The article stated that Brennan, during the 2016 campaign, “reviewed intelligence that showed ‘contacts and interaction’ between Russian actors and people associated with the Trump campaign.” Politico was also in on the chase in an article entitled “Brennan: Russia may have successfully recruited Trump campaign aides.”

Brennan, an ambitious man with a checkered history who was strongly disliked by his peers at CIA, appears to lack either a moral compass or any sense of restraint. He was still going after Trump well after the election, playing a part in the notoriously salacious Steele dossier, which was surfaced in January just before the inauguration. The dossier included unverifiable information and was maliciously promoted by Brennan and others in the intelligence and law enforcement community. And even after Trump assumed office, Brennan proved to be unrelenting.

The May 2017 testimony by Brennan included this statement: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

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The testimony inevitably raises some questions about just what Brennan was actually up to. First of all, the CIA is not supposed to keep tabs on American citizens, and tracking the activities of known associates of a presidential candidate should have set off warning bells, yet Brennan clearly persisted in following the trail. What Brennan did not describe, because it was “classified,” was how he came upon the information in the first place. We know from Politico and other sources that it came from foreign intelligence services, including the British, Dutch, and Estonians, and there has to be a strong suspicion that the forwarding of at least some of that information might have been sought or possibly inspired by Brennan unofficially in the first place. But whatever the provenance of the intelligence, it is clear that Brennan then used that information to request an FBI investigation into a possible Russian operation directed against potential key advisers if Trump were to somehow get nominated and elected, which admittedly was a longshot at the time. That is how Russiagate began.

More recently, Brennan has attacked Trump for congratulating President Vladimir Putin over his victory in Russian national elections. He said that the U.S. president is “wholly in the pocket of Putin,” definitely “afraid of the president of Russia,” and that the Kremlin “may have something on him personally. The fact that he has had this fawning attitude toward Mr. Putin . . . continues to say to me that he does have something to fear and something very serious to fear.” And he then administered what might be considered the coup de main, saying that the president should be impeached for “treasonous” behavior after Trump stood next to Putin of Russia at a news conference in Finland and cast doubt on the conclusion of the intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s decision to pull Brennan’s clearance attracted an immediate tweeted response from the ex-CIA director: “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.” He also added, in a New York Times op-ed, that “Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion [with Russia] are, in a word, hogwash.”

But hogwash aside, these claims that Trump is a recruited Russian agent or is being blackmailed by the Kremlin are serious, and Brennan characteristically provided no evidence. As many have noted, he is playing fast and loose with his “security clearance” and CIA background to provide credibility for his remarks, which have to be viewed as politically motivated.

Prior to the Brennan incident, most Americans were certainly unaware that any ex-officials continued to hold clearances after they retired, and the controversy has inevitably raised the question why that should be so.

The media should be asking why Brennan has a security clearance at all. A clearance is granted to a person, but it is also linked to “need to know” in terms of what kind of information should or could be accessed, which means that when you are no longer working as director of the Central Intelligence Agency you don’t necessarily need to know or have access to classified information.

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If you are allowed to keep your clearance it is a courtesy, unless you directly transition into a directorship or staff position of a major intelligence or security contractor, which many retirees do. If that is the case, you might need to retain the qualification for your job, which makes the clearance an essential component in the notorious revolving door whereby government officials transit to the private sector, double dip with a large salary on top of their substantial pensions, and then directly lobby their former colleagues to keep the flow of cash coming.

The real problem arises when former officials, like Brennan, use their clearances as bona fides to enhance their marketability for non-clearance jobs in the media or corporate world, particularly when those individuals are criticizing current government policies and behaving in a partisan fashion.

So was Trump justified in taking away Brennan’s clearance? Absolutely. And going one step farther, he should take away all the clearances for all former government employees who are no longer working on classified issues. They don’t need them, and it is a courtesy that has outlived any usefulness it might once have had in the days before America’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies became politically compromised.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.




In Spies Battle, Trump Holds the High Ground

Former intelligence officers have a First Amendment right to criticize the president and call him whatever names they choose. But holding a security clearance is not a right; it is “a privilege, an honor and a necessity for those serving in the security agencies of the U.S. government—while they serve.”

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In backing John Brennan’s right to keep his top-secret security clearance, despite his having charged the president with treason, the U.S. intel community has chosen to fight on indefensible terrain.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seemed to recognize that Sunday when he conceded that ex-CIA Director Brennan had the subtlety of “a freight train” and his rhetoric had become “an issue in and of itself.”

After Donald Trump’s Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, Brennan had called the president’s actions “nothing short of treasonous.”

The battle is now engaged. Trump cannot back down. He must defy and defeat the old bulls of the intel community. And he can.

For a security clearance is not a right. It is not an entitlement.

It is a privilege, an honor and a necessity for those serving in the security agencies of the U.S. government—while they serve.

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Brennan is not being deprived of his First Amendment rights. He can still make any accusation and call the president any name he wishes.

But to argue that a charge of treason against a president is not a justification for pulling a clearance is a claim both arrogant and absurd.

Again, a security clearance is not a constitutional right.

Said Defense Secretary James Mattis: “I have taken security clearances away from people in my previous time in uniform . . . a security clearance is something that is granted on an as-needed basis.”

Brennan is now threatening to sue the president. Bring it on, says national security adviser John Bolton.

With 4 million Americans holding top-secret clearances, and this city awash in leaks to the media from present and past intel and security officials, it is time to strip the swamp creatures of their special privileges.

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The White House should press upon Congress a policy of automatic cancellation of security clearances, for intelligence and military officers, upon resignation, retirement or severance.

Clearances should be retained only for departing officers who can demonstrate that their “need to know” national secrets remains crucial to our security, not merely advantageous to their pursuit of lucrative jobs in the military-industrial complex.

Officials in the security realm who take clearances with them on leaving office are like House members who retain all the access, perks and privileges of Congress after they step down to earn seven-figure salaries lobbying their former congressional colleagues.

The White House statement of Sarah Huckabee Sanders on John Brennan’s loss of his clearances was spot on:

“Any access granted to our nation’s secrets should be in furtherance of national, not personal, interests.

“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 facilitates the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos.”

Trump is said to be evaluating pulling the security clearances of Clapper, ex-FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

This is a good start. Some of these individuals have been fired. Some are under investigation. Some were involved in the FBI’s “get-Trump” cabal to prevent his election and then to abort his presidency.

Some have become talking heads on cable TV, exploiting the credibility of their former titles and offices to undermine an elected president.

Again, they have a First Amendment right to do this. But they should be stripped of their clearances to show the nation that the president is dealing with insiders who have joined the Resistance.

At bottom, the issue is: Who speaks for America?

Is it the mainstream media, the deep state, the permanent government, the city that gave Trump 4% of its votes? Or is it that vast slice of Middle America that sent Trump to drain the swamp?

Trump’s enemies, and they are legion, want to see Robert Mueller charge him with collusion with Russia and obstructing the investigation of that collusion. They want to see the Democratic Party take over the House in November, and the Senate, and move on to impeach and remove Trump from office. Then they want to put him where Paul Manafort sits today.

For Trump, a truce or a negotiated peace with these people is never going to happen. But this issue of security clearances is a battlefield where the president cannot lose, if he fights wisely.

Americans sense that these are privileges that should be extended to those who protect us, not perks for former officials to exploit and monetize while they attempt to bring down the commander in chief.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? and Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, all available from the AFP Online Store.

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Will the Deep State Break Trump?

It is evident that powerful players intend to destroy President Donald Trump. Similar to the “deep state conspiracy” that eventually took down President Nixon, Buchanan explains, “If you wish to see the deep state at work, this is it: anti-Trump journalists using First Amendment immunities to collude with and cover up the identities of bureaucratic snakes out to damage or destroy a president they despise.” 

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“It is becoming more obvious with each passing day that the men and the movement that broke Lyndon Johnson’s authority in 1968 are out to break Richard Nixon,” wrote David Broder on Oct. 8, 1969.

“The likelihood is great that they will succeed again.”

A columnist for The Washington Post, Broder was no fan of Nixon.

His prediction, however, proved wrong. Nixon, with his “Silent Majority” address rallied the nation and rocked the establishment. He went on to win a 49-state victory in 1972, after which his stumbles opened the door to the establishment’s revenge.

Yet, Broder’s analysis was spot on. And, today, another deep state conspiracy, to break another presidency, is underway.

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Consider. To cut through the Russophobia rampant here, Trump decided to make a direct phone call to Vladimir Putin. And in that call, Trump, like Angela Merkel, congratulated Putin on his re-election victory.

Instantly, the briefing paper for the president’s call was leaked to the Post. In bold letters it read, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”

Whereupon, the Beltway went ballistic.

How could Trump congratulate Putin, whose election was a sham? Why did he not charge Putin with the Salisbury poisoning? Why did Trump not denounce Putin for interfering with “our democracy”?

Amazing. A disloyal White House staffer betrays his trust and leaks a confidential paper to sabotage the foreign policy of a duly elected president, and he is celebrated in this capital city.

If you wish to see the deep state at work, this is it: anti-Trump journalists using First Amendment immunities to collude with and cover up the identities of bureaucratic snakes out to damage or destroy a president they despise. No wonder democracy is a declining stock worldwide.

And, yes, they give out Pulitzers for criminal collusion like this.

The New York Times got a Pulitzer and the Post got a Hollywood movie starring Meryl Streep, for publishing stolen secret papers from the Pentagon of JFK and LBJ—to sabotage the Vietnam War policy of Richard Nixon.

Why? Because the hated Nixon was succeeding in extricating us with honor from a war that the presidents for whom the Times and Post hauled water could not win or end.

Not only have journalists given up any pretense of neutrality in this campaign to bring down the president, ex-national security officers of the highest rank are starting to sound like resisters.

 

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Ex-CIA Director John Brennan openly speculated Tuesday that the president may have been compromised by Moscow and become an asset of the Kremlin.

“I think he’s afraid of the president of Russia,” Brennan said of Trump and Putin. “The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump and may have things they could expose.”

If Brennan has evidence Trump is compromised, he should relay it to Robert Mueller. If he does not, this is speculation of an especially ugly variety for someone once entrusted with America’s highest secrets.

What is going on in this city is an American version of the “color revolutions” we have employed to dump over governments in places like Georgia and Ukraine.

Goal: Break Trump’s presidency, remove him, discredit his election as contaminated by Kremlin collusion, upend the democratic verdict of 2016, and ash-can Trump’s agenda of populist conservatism. Then, return America to the open borders, free trade, democracy-crusading Bushite globalism beloved by our Beltway elites.

Trump, in a way, is the indispensable man of the populist right.

In the 2016 primaries, no other Republican candidate shared his determination to secure the border, bring back manufacturing or end the endless wars in the Middle East that have so bled and bankrupted our nation.

Whether the Assads rule in Damascus, the Chinese fortify Scarborough Shoal, or the Taliban return to Kabul are not existential threats.

But if the borders of our country are not secured, as Reagan warned, in a generation, America will not even be a country.

Trump seems now to recognize that the special counsel’s office of Robert Mueller, which this city sees as the instrument of its deliverance, is a mortal threat to his presidency.

Mueller’s team wishes to do to Trump what Archibald Cox’s team sought to do to Nixon: Drive him out of office or set him up for the kill by a Democratic Congress in 2019.

Trump appears to recognize that the struggle with Mueller is now a political struggle—to the death.

Hence Trump’s hiring of Joe diGenova and the departure of John Dowd from his legal team. In the elegant phrase of Michael Corleone, diGenova is a wartime consigliere.

He believes that Trump is the target of a conspiracy, where Jim Comey’s FBI put in the fix to prevent Hillary’s prosecution, and then fabricated a crime of collusion with Russia to take down the new president the American people had elected.

The Trump White House is behaving as if it were the prospective target of a coup d’etat. And it is not wrong to think so.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Both are available from the AFP Online Store.

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