August 16, 2018

Former CIA Chief John Brennan Loses His Security Clearance

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

“President Donald Trump moved to penalize a sharp critic on Wednesday, revoking the security clearance of Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan for making what he called ‘a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations’ about his administration.” (Reuters)

See past issues

The left believes Trump is abusing his power to punish and undermine his critics, and may be jeopardizing national security interests in the long run.

“Trump’s extraordinary decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance — and possibly do the same for other top officials who are openly critical of the administration — probably won’t do much practically. But it sets a chilling precedent for both free speech and the peaceful transition of power between administrations.”

Vox

“Trump is trying to take Brennan’s legitimacy as a critic of him down a peg, while furthering the idea that so-called deep-state enemies of Trump have been nefariously using their access to secrets to keep the deep-state coup against him going.”

Washington Post

Some worry that Trump may strip clearances from even more former officials. “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... We cannot afford to lose their institutional knowledge during this critical time... 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.”

CNN

Regarding the deployment of an aircraft carrier and bombers, many note that the US “has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats… The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. The repercussions are still playing out sixteen years (and more than four thousand American deaths) later… The sense of foreboding is tangible.”
Robin Wright, The New Yorker

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

The right, while critical of Brennan, is divided about the revocation.

The right, while critical of Brennan, is divided about the revocation.

Many argue that “we certainly shouldn’t want to see former officials lose their security clearances just because they criticize the president robustly... John Brennan, though, presents a different case. ‘Erratic’ properly describes his shrill and often mindless attacks on Trump. Moreover, his hatred of the president is so palpable that one can easily imagine him using access to secret information to harm the administration.”

Power Line

Others, however, suggest that “allowing his understandable offense at Brennan's frequent and ferocious criticisms to drive his policy decisions, Trump has put his ego before the national interest... Trump is using his power to silence political criticism from the intelligence community.”

Washington Examiner



“We’re all for challenging Mr. Brennan’s partisan motives and for investigating his behavior in office... But

Wall Street Journal

“We've got to suck it up. Indeed, we must be bold here. Chinese President Xi Jinping's tariffs escalation reflects his bet that he can spike U.S. domestic fears over the economy, and a corresponding popular pressure on Trump to back down… if we stand firm, Xi will have to back down because China's economy is already weakened by foreign investor doubts, caught between rural poverty and urban wealth, and vulnerable to low-cost labor competition from the region.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“The broader context here is North Korea's crop crisis. If Kim hasn't got sanctions relief by August's end, a painful winter is coming… Absent Kim's commitment to suspend all ballistic missile tests, the U.S. should not support the provision of food supplies to the North Korean people. A North Korean long-range nuclear strike capability poses an existential threat to American society… Trump must not allow North Korea's coming suffering to dictate his decisions. Supporting North Korea with food will both prolong North Koreans' suffering under Kim and directly undercut U.S. interests.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

“The Democrats want to talk to Don McGahn, and maybe they will ultimately prevail in court to get his testimony, but what’s the point? McGahn talked extensively to Mueller, and surely everything remotely damaging is already in the report

“Congress has the report, and now it is up to it to decide. But it doesn’t want to. It’s too painful to admit that the Mueller report was a bust on Russia and that the obstruction material, while damaging to Trump, is hardly a slam dunk; that the public doesn’t support impeachment; that if the House goes through with it anyway, it will end with a whimper in the Senate; and that it’s better for Democrats to focus on beating Trump in 2020 than a forlorn impeachment.”
Rich Lowry, National Review

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

“Bears are doing it all this summer. They've been caught jumping into pools, sneaking sips of margaritas in hot tubs, and now they're going on liquor runs.”

Mashable

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