Tag Archives: Security clearances

In Spies Battle, Trump Holds the High Ground, by Patrick Buchanan

Stripping security clearances is a good place for Trump to escalate his battle with the intelligence mavens. From Patrick Buchanan at buchanan.org:

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.

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.

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.

To continue reading: In Spies Battle, Trump Holds the High Ground

Revolving Door: How Security Clearances Perpetuate Top-Level Corruption in the United States, by Philip Giraldi

A security clearance can be a valuable asset to a high ranking official after he or she leaves the government. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

President Donald Trump is threatening to take away the security clearances of a number of former senior intelligence and security officers who have been extremely critical of him. Most Americans were 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. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.

A security 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 anything about China’s spying on the United States. Or do you? If you transition into a directorship or staff position of a major intelligence or security contractor, which many retirees do, 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 and then directly lobby their former colleagues to keep the flow of cash coming.

At top levels among the beltway bandit companies, where little work is actually done, some make the case that you have to remain “well informed” to function properly. The fact is that many top-level bureaucrats do retain their clearances for those nebulous reasons and also sometimes as a courtesy. Some have even received regular briefings from the CIA and the office of the Director of National intelligence even though they hold no government positions. A few very senior ex-officials have also been recalled by congress or the White House to provide testimony on particular areas of expertise or on past operations, which can legitimately require a clearance, though it such cases one can be granted on a temporary basis to cover a specific issue.

To continue reading: Revolving Door: How Security Clearances Perpetuate Top-Level Corruption in the United States

 

Taming Swamp Critters with Security Clearances, by Aaron Hirschi

How President Trump can use security clearances as a weapon against his Deep State enemies. From Aaron Hirschi at americanthinker.com:

At long last President Trump finally discovered, thanks to Senator Rand Paul, the most potent weapon against large numbers of “swamp creatures” a.k.a., the abusive senior leaders of critical sections of the Federal bureaucracy.  Trying to fire a senior civil servant not appointed by the president is almost impossible and it often is a double-edged sword when successful because nothing stops them from publicly stirring up trouble after the fact.

However, if the security clearance rules are used properly, they can become the president’s greatest clean-up weapon against the “swamp.”  Clearances are a true leash that can keep otherwise disruptive executive bureaucrats to heel.

For the Trump Administration to effectively use security clearances as a means of preventing corrupt swamp creatures from abusing the system for their own ends, President Trump must not abuse this tool, either.  Otherwise, pathetic and impotent threats from Congress will become real threats.

To prevent such an occurrence, it is vital that both the Trump Administration and his voting supporters understand: 1) how security clearances work;  2) the myths commonly believed; and 3) why the senior civil service fears the loss of clearances.

For instance, not one article in the media that I found researching this article accurately explains clearances and or how clearances relate to Obama officials.  That’s not surprising given the lack of expertise of the media on most subjects most of the time.  This lack has provoked colorful comments based on inaccurate assumptions from the media articles and commentators.

The biggest myth is the public perception derived from these press reports that a security clearance is a get-access-to-all-secrets-free card, and that the government foolishly forgot to turn off the Obama officials’ clearances once they left office.  In reality, a security clearance has two components and the clearance only gives a person access to classified information when both components are activated.

The term describing the first clearance component is ‘eligibility’ and the term describing the second component is ‘access’.  In government rules, terms are critical to understanding a system and the media misuses the terms like “access” so badly that it cannot be known if the Obama officials still receive classified information based on the news accounts alone.

To continue reading:  Taming Swamp Critters with Security Clearances

 

The Case for Stripping Former Officials of their Security Clearances, by John Kirlakou

The proposal makes so much sense it will never happen. From John Kirlakou at consortiumnews.com:

COMMENTARY: Former CIA agent John Kiriakou argues that no former intelligence official should be allowed to keep their security clearances when they leave government, especially if they work in the media.

Libertarian senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said on Monday that in a personal meeting with President Donald Trump, he urged the president to revoke the security clearances of a half dozen former Obama-era intelligence officials, including former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. I couldn’t agree more with Paul’s position, not specifically regarding these three people, but for any former intelligence official. No former intelligence official should keep a security clearance, especially if he or she transitions to the media or to a corporate board.

The controversy specifically over Brennan’s clearance has been bubbling along for more than a year. He has been one of Trump’s most vocal and harshest critics. Last week he went so far as to accuse Trump of having committed “treason” during his meeting in Helsinki, Finland with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Brennan said in a tweet, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and 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???” The outburst was in response to Trump’s unwillingness to accept the Intelligence Community position that Putin and the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Other intelligence professionals weighed in negatively on Trump’s Helsinki performance, including Republicans like former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former CIA director Mike Hayden.

Brennan: Called Trump a ‘traitor.’

Why are these people saying anything at all? And why do they have active Top Secret security clearances if they have no governmental positions? The first question is easier to answer than the second. Before answering, though, I want to say that I don’t think this issue is specific to Donald Trump. Former officials of every administration criticize those who have replaced them. That’s the way Washington works. It’s a way for those former officials to remain relevant. Donald Trump happens to be an easy target. His actions are so wildly unpredictable—and frequently so disingenuous on the surface of things—that he proves wrong the oft-quoted observation by the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser: “The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves. You only make complicated stupid moves, which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something.”

To continue reading: The Case for Stripping Former Officials of their Security Clearances