Wednesday, August 22, 2018


No Former Spy Should Have Access To Nation's Secrets


Investor’s business Daily
August 20, 2018

Spying For Cash: Maybe former CIA Director John Brennan's loss of his security clearance and subsequent public meltdown is doing us all a favor. Increasingly, many wonder: Why should anyone have access to U.S. state secrets when they leave government?

Brennan's last few days have been topsy-turvy, to say the least. Not only did he threaten to sue the government over the lifting of his security clearance, but he appeared to backtrack on threatening claims he made more than once that President Trump was "treasonous."

He said that term merely expressed his frustration with Trump's lack of criticism of Russia's Vladimir Putin following their summit and with what he called Trump's continued efforts to "prevaricate" on the issue.

"And that's why I said it was nothing short of treasonous. I didn't mean that he committed treason. But it was a term that I used, nothing short of treasonous."

Oh? And he claims Trump is the "prevaricator"? Sorry, but semantically calling something "nothing short of treasonous" is to say it's treasonous.

As if that weren't bad enough, Brennan blamed his furious outbursts and bilious anti-Trump tweets on the fact that he was "Irish," as if one's heritage excuses intemperate public behavior.

In later remarks, he even had the chutzpah to claim he wasn't partisan.

This, of course, is nonsense. There's a reason why NBC and MSNBC, the most far-left of the network media channels, keep him on retainer as a "senior national security and intelligence analyst": He's a reliable, and vocal, critic of Trump and all that he does. He's shown up on CNN regularly, too.

The point is, Brennan wanted to stay on at the CIA under Trump. Of course, that didn't happen. Since then, not surprisingly, Brennan, an Obama appointee and ardent Hillary Clinton supporter, has used his access to secrets to suggest he knows much more about Trump's misbehavior than he can really say in public.

Brennan is correct in saying he has a First Amendment right under the Constitution to say what he pleases. But we, the taxpayers, don't have to subsidize it, or the damaging political agenda that he supports.

We're not sure why Brennan has suddenly become a bit defensive. Maybe it's because even some of his allies are starting to have second thoughts about his increasingly unhinged rhetoric toward Trump.

"John is an extraordinary servant of the country, but I think he has been incredibly critical of the president and I think that has put him in a political place which actually does more damage for the intelligence community, which is apolitical, even as he's retired," retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told "Fox News Sunday."

Brennan's recent statements have turned into "an issue in and of itself," said former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. "John is subtle like a freight train and he's gonna say what's on his mind."

And remember: Clapper was one of the 175 former national security officials who signed a public letter in support of Brennan. Last week, 13 former top spy officials signed a similar statement. They claimed they were worried about politicization of the institutions they once served and First Amendment rights. Fair enough.

But they're certainly also concerned about losing the cherished and valued access to secrets that makes them more valuable and gives them greater access to the media.

Lest you think that's just opinion, recently provided a rundown on all the former spooks and top-level spy bureaucrats that have left "public service" for the far more lucrative role of pundit. It's pretty impressive.

"Former CIA Director John Brennan (2013-17) is the latest superspook to be reborn as a TV newsie,"Politico wrote. "He just cashed in at NBC News as a 'senior national security and intelligence analyst' and served up his first expert views on last Sunday's edition of "Meet the Press."

"The Brennan acquisition seeks to elevate NBC to spook parity with CNN," Politico's Jack Shafer continued, "which employs former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden in a similar capacity.

"Other, lesser-known national security veterans thrive under TV's grow lights. Almost too numerous to list, they include Chuck Rosenberg, former acting DEA administrator, chief of staff for FBI Director James B. Comey, and counselor to former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III; Frank Figliuzzi, former chief of FBI counterintelligence; Juan Zarate, deputy national security advisor under Bush, at NBC; and Fran Townsend, homeland security advisor under Bush, at CBS News. CNN's bulging roster also includes former FBI agent Asha Rangappa; former FBI agent James Gagliano; Obama's former deputy national security advisor, Tony Blinken; former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers; senior advisor to the National Security Council during the Obama administration Samantha Vinograd; retired CIA operations officer Steven L. Hall; and Philip Mudd, also retired from the CIA."

Yes, that's quite a list. And all of them have lucrative contracts premised at least in part on their access to the taxpayer-funded gathering of other nations' secrets.

So when they piously begin speaking of "First Amendment rights," please understand it's really also all about getting a bigger paycheck, and not being accountable for what you say.

President Trump reportedly has a whole list of people he'd like to strip of their security clearances. But Brennan was No. 1.

Well, we have a better suggestion, one that is apolitical: How about removing security clearances for all former employees of the federal government's national security agencies? Let's remove the political temptation entirely.

There's Money In Secrets

After all, letting them keep those security clearances is really a form of extra monetary compensation. No, it doesn't show up on any ledger. But it does let former intelligence bureaucrats leverage access to taxpayer-funded intelligence for personal profit and political advantage.

Brennan was a case in point, but there are many others, as we noted above.

Some argue that America is safer because former officials with access to secrets might have to confer with the government in an emergency. But that argument, too, is bogus.

Even lacking current security access, any of the former spy chiefs and high-level national security functionaries could have their security clearances restored and quickly get up to speed in an emergency.

It's time to end the profiteering from information gathered on Americans' behalf for cynical, partisan political use. We should end privileged access to our nation's secrets.

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