NY Times: Was It Illegal To Revoke Brennan’s Security Clearance?

The headline asks the question. The subhead and opinion piece by Jeffrey H. Smith, former general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency, state it was

Was It Illegal for Trump to Revoke Brennan’s Security Clearance?
The president not only violated the former C.I.A. director’s First Amendment rights but also made it harder for the government to draw on his expertise.

President Trump’s unprecedented decision to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency — and his publicly stated intention to consider revoking clearances of a list of other administration critics — raises fundamental questions about national security, presidential authority and the First Amendment.

I believe the president has grossly abused his authority and violated Mr. Brennan’s First Amendment right to speak freely. The president’s actions are therefore unconstitutional and demand a response from Congress.

He can feel this way all he wants, but no one has a 1st Amendment right to a security clearance, and taking his away now that he’s no longer in government doesn’t stop him from expressing his opinion in the least. This is just another crazy, manufactured bit of idiocy from the same people who had zero problem with the IRS targeting Conservative groups. And then there’s this

Trump is shutting down Brennan’s ability to speak so much that he’s all over Twitter, Facebook, the network #resist shows. And

Back in 2014, everyone was saying that Obama should fire Brennan for doing things like spying on members of the U.S. Senate, trying to prosecute them, and a host of other things.

The president’s statement on why he ordered the revocation of Mr. Brennan’s clearance is based on the assumption that the former C.I.A. director holds a security clearance only as a courtesy so that current senior officials may consult with him. That may be one reason, but it may not be the only one: For example, someone with Mr. Brennan’s experience may be employed in a position that requires a clearance.

So revocation might make it harder for Brennan to parlay his security clearance into making money? Not much of a rationale, eh?

Obviously the president needs to be able to revoke security clearances, when justified: The First Amendment does not protect an individual holding a clearance who discloses properly classified information without authorization — even if done in the course of criticizing the president or his policies. Mr. Trump’s statement justifying his revocation of Mr. Brennan’s clearance makes no such allegation.

Just because it’s not justified to Liberals, who wanted Brennan fired in 2014, doesn’t mean you’re right.

Free political speech is at the very apex of constitutional protections. Disagreement and dialogue are at the heart of our democracy. As Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in a 1988 opinion, the Supreme Court has “been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.”

No one has a right to a security clearance. Otherwise, where’s mine? Where’s yours? And no one is saying Brennan cannot say what he wants.

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3 Responses to “NY Times: Was It Illegal To Revoke Brennan’s Security Clearance?”

  1. Jeffery says:

    There is no right to a security clearance and US Presidents have the legal right to determine the security clearance of individuals.

    Commander in Chief tRump used this legal right to punish a harsh critic, a shot across the bow to any other potential critic with security clearance.

    Would he have removed Brennan’s clearance IF Brennan wasn’t a critic? That’s rhetorical. The US government punished an individual for criticizing the government. This likely doesn’t harm Brennan, but likely sends a chilling message to others.

    Could he, would he remove the security clearance of a gov’t defense analyst who reached a conclusion that he didn’t like? Of course he would.

  2. captainfish says:

    “The president…violated the former C.I.A. director’s First Amendment rights”

    ummm… WTH?! how are security clearance that is granted by the gov’t to a person, that person’s 1st amendment right? Having a security clearance is not a right. if it was, then we would all have the exact same security clearances.

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