Burnett: This should upset all Americans

CNN's Erin Burnett says President Donald Trump's real witch hunt lies within his threat to punish the country's top former intelligence chiefs who disagree with him.

Posted: Jul 24, 2018 5:21 PM
Updated: Jul 24, 2018 5:21 PM

In recent years, the blurring of partisan politics and national security has been an increasing and troubling phenomenon in American public life. On Monday, it reached a new level when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Donald Trump is exploring "mechanisms" to revoke the security clearances of several former government officials who have been critical of Trump and his policies.

While the President may have the right to undertake such a review and, in the end, to deny continued access to classified information, the question remains -- at what cost to national security?

There are thousands of public servants who might not be actively fighting the good fight now within the executive branch, but sit on boards and commissions and continue to contribute to critical national security issues in this country.

Working on the front lines with Fortune 1000 companies to protect and defend their infrastructure from insider threats, cybercriminal syndicates and state-sponsored actors, I have leaned heavily upon the experiences and wisdom of many of our public servants who have worked for our recent presidents of both political parties. These public servants offer a point of view based on previous and sometimes continuing access to classified information that form critical institutional knowledge and insight, even if we disagree with their politics or recommendations.

Based on the fight ahead of us in the cyber domain alone, I shudder to think what it would be like not to have their wisdom at the ready.

That said, holding a security clearance in the United States is an honor and a responsibility. According to the Department of Defense, "The purpose of a security clearance is to determine whether a person is able and willing to safeguard classified national security information, based on his or her loyalty, character, trustworthiness, and reliability."

Additionally, having a clearance does not mean you have access to everything classified. Classified information is closely guarded and only released to individuals on a "need to know" basis -- in order to do their jobs in service to the US government.

Maintaining or having your clearance renewed is also not a right. There is an extensive process dictated by long standing presidential executive orders that is used to grant a clearance and renew security clearances. There are also modern day legal precedents that support the President's right to grant or revoke clearances, such as the 1988 Supreme Court case Department of the Navy v. Egan.

When someone leaves their post willingly and moves to another role where a clearance is required, they go through an extensive process to transfer that clearance to a new authority. If an individual leaves their post willingly and no longer requires a clearance, they will be read out of their programs and their clearance will lapse. If they are fired, their clearance is revoked. Under the guidelines regarding firings, this would mean that former FBI officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe, both of whom were fired, have already had their access to classified information terminated.

Nonetheless, all of those mentioned during the White House press briefing who are under consideration to have their clearances revoked have been on the front lines of the global cyber war. They speak from a combined century of experience, which our elected officials call upon frequently. In the last six months alone, the Senate Intelligence Committee has invited testimony from intelligence industry experts in more than half of their hearings. They can -- and I have seen them up close -- offer strategies that worked well and candidly discuss mistakes they have made.

We cannot afford to lose their institutional knowledge during this critical time, even if we disagree with their interpretations of intelligence or lament that they, too, have become politicized in these hyper-partisan times. Healthy and productive disagreements inside the intelligence community and its associated private sector partners have helped America build dynamic and strong cybersecurity strategies.

If there is one thing that should be indisputable in the wake of the cyberattacks conducted by Russia to influence the 2016 elections, it is that our nation is far from safe from cyberthreats. Our adversaries are continually probing our defenses, searching for vulnerabilities. This is the time to lock arms against the enemy, not to voluntarily disarm by taking our best, brightest and most experienced defenders off the battlefield.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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Tropical Depression Claudette has now moved into Alabama and Georgia, leaving with some cloud cover but dry conditions. Most of us will stay dry through this Father's Day but some spotty showers will likely through the late afternoon.
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