There is not much more of predominant importance to our country than its intelligence resources. The methods, the people, the sources which keep us informed and prepared for those potential actions against us.
And it seems, no one loves to whine more about rights, freedoms and being politically abused than the lefties; especially at times when they themselves are committing the crimes set to distract, disrupt and destroy.
Damage done through careless intelligence actions – by foreign OR domestic persons – can be devastating and permanent to individuals, to the country, to our futures. The ability to be aware and to react quickly through efficient intelligence operations is paramount to our safety.
The list of abusive, partisan, potentially dangerous entities is large during this administration’s time. And while President Trump works to complete campaign promises of improving the economy, protecting our rights and securing our country, political opposition feels it’s more important to distract and divert our attention to their own agendas than the results of Trump’s actions.
Hardly anyone has been more vocal in their opposition to President Trump – and unreasonably so – than John Brennan, former CIA Director. Many question his original qualifications to even hold the office given the CIA’s investigations into candidates having connections with, or support of, our country’s adversaries.
As reported by CNN, during a CIA polygraph exam. Brennan hesitated when queried “Have you ever worked with or for a group that was dedicated to overthrowing the US?” His problem? Brennan voted for Gus Hall (a Stalinist), the presidential candidate for the Communist Party USA, in 1976. A Communist? Not a comforting, solidifying decision for the top position of intelligence in our country.
These recent events bring to the forefront the question of former employees’ “right” to maintain their security clearances after leaving their post – for whatever reason. The basic justification being that previous officials may be called on to assist the new administration with particular cases and situations. All true, HOWEVER, having conversations and discussions about any previous actions DOES NOT require a clearance. People are subpoenaed or have more casual input all the time. And having life long access is hardly safe, or a valuable needed tool for our intelligence community.
Also, it’s important to note two things.
- The retention of a security clearance is an accommodation, a privilege not a right, and meant to aid the country, not the individual; especially when possession of such is used as a “get me a cushy job” card and potentially could lead to unreasonable access to, and misuse of current sensitive information.
- And, the President’s right to revoke such clearances is absolute for whatever reason.
When someone has no further “need” for sensitive information, and in fact works for the media which has proven itself not supportive of the president or the country’s best values, then a review and possible revocation is warranted.
I reached out to some contacts regarding this issue. They, like most true professionals, attempt to take a non-partisan approach to their former positions, rather looking at facts and reason for their motivations – not political affiliations.
Our contributors are:
Ron Hosko: FBI
Former Assistance Director of the FBI, Mr. Ron Hosko retired from a thirty year career in the FBI. He worked undercover assignments focused on complex financial and violent crimes and closely with other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in multiple joint task forces. Mr. Hosko was awarded the FBI’s Shield of Bravery for his actions during a violent ransom kidnapping.
Ron was promoted to serve as special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, and then was asked to serve as assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, responsible for oversight of the organization’s largest program, worldwide.
William Binney: NSA
Mr. Binney was a former high-profile, intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency (NSA). In 2016, he said the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election was false.
Binney was a Russia specialist and worked in the operations side of intelligence, starting as an analyst and ending as a Technical Director prior to becoming a geopolitical world Technical Director. Binney’s NSA career culminated as Technical Leader for intelligence. He has expertise in intelligence analysis, traffic analysis, systems analysis, knowledge management, and mathematics (including set theory, number theory, and probability)
Verne Lyon: CIA
Recruited first as a student, Lyon operated as a CIA officer in the 1960s and 1970s. While operating under deep cover Lyon engaged in domestic spying on antiwar Iowa State Univ. students; Codenamed Operation CHAOS.
Lyon was also involved in destabilizing operations in Cuba. He also worked in Peru, Chile and Mexico.
Coleen Rowley: FBI
Rowley was appointed a Special Agent with the FBI, and in 1984 was assigned to the New York Office working Italian organized crime and Sicilian heroin drug investigations. She also served in the Paris, France Embassy and Montreal Consulates. In 1990 Rowley assumed the duties of “Chief Division Counsel” which entailed oversight of the Freedom of Information, Forfeiture, Victim-Witness and Community Outreach Programs.
In May of 2002 Rowley brought forth some of the pre 9-11 lapses and testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about some of the endemic problems facing the FBI and the intelligence community. Rowley’s memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller in connection with the Joint Intelligence Committee’s Inquiry led to a two-year long DOJ Inspector General investigation. She was one of three whistleblowers chosen as persons of the year by TIME magazine in 2002. In April 2003, following an unsuccessful attempt to warn the Director and other administration officials about the dangers of launching the invasion of Iraq, Rowley stepped down from her (GS-14) legal position to go back to being a (GS-13) FBI Special Agent. In early March 2003 she warned FBI Director Robert Mueller of further problems, including his going along with the Bush Administration’s deceptive plan to launch war on what would become the counterproductive war on Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks.
My questions were of a general nature so as not to bring politics into the equation. Their answers are short – as their views and the facts of the situation are simple, straight forward and valuable to these current events, and very much appreciated.
1. Is it really necessary for former Intelligence officers or high ranking officials who would NEVER be called on for future assistance – and who have shown a slant toward political opposition – to keep their security clearance?
RH ~ “No. while I see some utility for some ranking IC folks maintaining a clearance in the event current IC folks need to consult with them to form an opinion or course of action, I suspect that seldom happens. I believe it’s more courtesy out of respect and tradition than need.”
WB ~ “No, not unless they are contributing to an on-going government program, in which case, they would have a sponsor to continue their clearance.”
VL ~ “NO. There is no reason for them to continue to have access to secrets.”
CR ~ “NO!” [And Ms Rowley added separately] “Information is extremely over-classified which shouldn’t be. A lot of it is already public source but the govt claims it’s still classified (sometimes for decades) even though everyone essentially knows. So a “security clearance” is often just a kind of “vanity” (but only for the top echelon elites). But also those with current access to national security info will not be worried about providing info to a former Director like Brennan, even though Brennan does not have a “need to know.” Brennan’s criticism of Trump is actually irrelevant; he’s making money as a CNN “talking head” inherently benefiting from notion that he has access to national secrets.“
2. Was this too late in coming, or is there really a need to “review and consider” such action since so many holdovers have such political bias as to be damaging to current administration policies and workings?
RH ~ “The Pres has authority to do what he wants. Politically, it could have been far more diplomatic and smarter to review the whole system of extended clearances than single out Brennan, who’s been quite loudly critical of the Pres. This looks like what it is – retaliation against a critic. Rather than push back on individuals, address the system.”
WB ~ “In this case, it was a little late in coming. There should be some review to determine if the person is contributing to a government initiative.”
VL~ “If access is used for political reason or personal gain, then access should be denied.”
CR~ “I think a wider review of the entire procedure for extending security clearances should be undertaken. But I don’t think “political bias” should be a factor one way or the other. Brennan and his cronies are trying to make this seem as if Trump is shutting down their “dissent” when in fact they can dissent all they want.”
3. There seems to be such a tight knit group that if one lost his access, others might be available to keep him supplied. And doesn’t it seem dangerous to have non-involved personnel with access to things they no longer work on?
RH ~ “The system as I know it allows access to classified where the person has the right clearance AND a need to know. Formers with clearances shouldn’t routinely be reading classified material or briefings. I think my clearance was still in place for four years after I retired. In that time, I never got classified intel. There was no need.”
WB~ “Yes, this is what should be reviewed by government.”
VL~ “You could never stop the “sharing” of info, classified or not, between current and old friends in the intelligence community. However, since the operational groups are usually limited to specific targets or geo-political areas, the information is not widely shared and can become obsolete rapidly. This could give rise to decisions being made on old and/or faulty information.”
CR~ “As I explained, Brennan would not have a “need to know” for most types of national security info and certainly it’s not proper for him to be using his access to such info to make money as a CNN commentator. BUT as I said, other cronies currently in the Trump Admin might think it’s OK to give Brennan info just because he had the clearance. Of course some will probably just continue to leak him info too even after he longer has the clearance.”
When the functions and specific activities of our government becomes so embroiled in political wrangling instead of responsible performance of essential duties, our egalitarianism suffers.
Brennan’s own questionable speeches and activities related to personal involvement into the fake dossier adds to his credibility to have access to information that is unneeded, irrelevant and only serves to complicate this administration’s duties. And whatever Brennan felt was “important,” and hence contributed to the Russian hoax, it was so insubstantial that Robert Mueller hasn’t even interviewed him about it.
There will always be opposing views but it’s requisite we keep the big picture in mind and work as a cohesive team striving for the long term survival of our democracy. For someone of such obvious political antipodal views, to talk of our president’s “treasonous actions” – which in actuality is an action punishable by death – is irrational and preposterous. Grown adult professionals should know and act better.
The real “need and appropriateness” for security clearances is under evaluation for:
- former FBI Director James Comey,
- former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper,
- former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden,
- former national security adviser Susan Rice,
- former FBI attorney Lisa Page,
- former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates,
- former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok,
- former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose security clearance was deactivated after he was fired earlier this year, and
- Bruce Ohr, who is still in the Justice Department although he was demoted from associate deputy attorney general.
As justification of our article here, the word “former” as noted above should be preeminent in our thinking. What is the real need? What is the benefit to our country?
My heartfelt thanks again to our professionals for their service to our country, and who were so accommodating in their quick response to this article.
Leave your thoughts and comments below and they’ll be answered as needed.