Its Time to Put the "Deep State" Nonsense Aside and Listen to John Brennan, Admiral Willia
Donald Trump needs to paint his critics in the intelligence community, law enforcement, the military, and the Justice Department as political opponents and members of the "deep state" in order to convince his supporters that their assessments should be dismissed as partisan. Its similar to his strategy on the Russia investigation; portray Robert Mueller as a political operative, rather than a neutral investigator.
After revoking former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance this week, the President tried to explain Brennan's criticism of his foreign policies as political, "....he has become nothing less than a loudmouth, partisan, political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country!" Trump's statement followed his usual strategy; ignore the substance and attack the messenger.
In pulling Brennan's security clearance, the President also wanted to remind his detractors that he has tools at his disposal to make their lives difficult. He doesn't take criticism very well.
But, Trump will not intimidate John Brennan, nor deter the growing list of other military and intelligence service professionals [both Democrats and Republicans] from speaking out against administration policies that threaten free speech or the security of the United States.
After Brennan's security clearance was pulled, Admiral William McRaven was especially harsh in his condemnation of the President. McRaven was commander of the Special Operations Command that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Texas Tribune : "His letter to Trump begins with a reference to John Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency whose security clearance Trump revoked this week."Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John," McRaven wrote. "He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him."
"Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency."
McRaven, who has spoken and written about leadership often, wrote in the letter that he had hoped Trump "would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs." Instead, Trump's actions "have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation."
And on Thursday and Friday much of America's intelligence and security establishment joined McRaven in condemning Trump.
The Guardian: A joint letter released Thursday by 12 former senior intelligence officials called Trump’s action “ill-considered and unprecedented” and said it “has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances – and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech”.
Politico: In a rare public campaign, a total of 60 former CIA station chiefs, analysts and operations officers — along with a former director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center — declared on Friday afternoon their “firm belief that the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views.”
“We believe equally strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so,” they added in a brief statement.
If there is a shelf-life to President Trump's "deep state" nonsense, it should be running out, even among his supporters. The response this week to the President's actions is unprecedented. And it's way beyond the usual tit for tat of Washington politics.