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The dangerous precedent Trump sets by revoking John Brennan's security clearance

Here's the explanation...

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 11:25 PM
Updated: Aug 17, 2018 11:25 PM

Here's the explanation Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch gave when asked why he supported President Donald Trump's decision to strip former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance:

"I'm surprised it took him so long. Brennan has not been a friend of the administration at all."

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Hatch is not alone in that view. "John Brennan is a cable news pundit," Trump White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said Friday morning in Washington. "He's a former CIA director who since then has shown no interest in helping this administration."

Um, what? By this standard, the criteria for stripping a former senior intelligence official of his security credentials is solely how nice and supportive he is to the current administration?

That's not how this works. Not any of it. How do I know? Because there are a set of 13 guidelines by which national security clearances are typically evaluated and revoked. Those factors:

1. Allegiance to the United States

2. Foreign influence

3. Foreign preference

4. Sexual behavior

5. Personal conduct

6. Financial considerations

7. Alcohol consumption

8. Drug involvement and substance misuse

9. Psychological conditions

10. Criminal conduct

11. Handling protected information

12. Outside activities

13. Use of information technology

(You can read broader explanations of each criteria here.)

"Not being a friend to an administration" isn't listed above.

Now, the White House's official explanation for the revocation of Brennan's credentials was slightly different than the "friend" argument forwarded by Hatch and Conway. Asked about the decision, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders read a statement from the President that said this:

"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 facilities, the very aim of our adversaries which is to sow division and chaos. 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."

That doesn't cite any specific criteria for the revocation, although the reference to "recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary" would seem to hint at either "personal conduct" or "psychological conditions." Of course, Trump himself seemed to undermine the official White House statement on the "why" of Mueller's security revocation, telling The Wall Street Journal: "I think that whole -- I call it the rigged witch hunt -- is a sham. And these people led it! So I think it's something that had to be done."

Then, on Friday before leaving for New York and then New Jersey for the weekend, Trump did it again. He blasted Brennan, said he was getting a "tremendous response" to his decision and then began bashing the "rigged witch hunt" again.

To be clear: President Trump is within his rights to revoke any security clearance he wants. And he's likely to do more of it. (Nota bene: Usually these sorts of security revocations go from the specific departments *up* to the President, not from the top down.)

But it's important to remember that we aren't just talking about Trump's presidency here.

We are talking about setting precedents for how a president can and should interact with his national security apparatus and intelligence community. If you are a Republican who supports Trump, you may be just fine with his decision to revoke Brennan's security clearance. But, would you be equally OK with a Democratic president revoking the security clearance of current CIA Director Gina Haspel if she is critical of decisions the next administration makes or not friendly enough to that administration?

And therein lies the rub.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 292811

Reported Deaths: 6613
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
Bolivar4594120
Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
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