July 24, 2018

WH Contemplates Revoking Clearances

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

“The White House on Monday threatened to strike back at critics of President Donald Trump’s contacts with Russia by revoking the security clearances of six former U.S. officials.” (Reuters)

See past issues

The left is highly critical of the idea.

Among other reasons, “Trump would be cutting off an important arm of the intelligence community -- its former employees… one of the main reasons these ex-officials retain their security clearances is so that current intelligence operatives can consult with them, taking advantage of decades of institutional wisdom.”

CNN

Constitutional lawyer Joshua Matz states, “The president properly enjoys great latitude in controlling access to sensitive information, but Trump’s use of that power to retaliate against political critics poses a clear threat to First Amendment values... [This will] cast a chill far beyond the executive branch, leading some of our most savvy experts to fall silent or speak in whispers for fear of presidential retaliation.”

Washington Post

Some point out that “even if Brennan is cleared to receive highly sensitive information, nobody has to give it to him, and if someone in Trump World is doing so

and there’s no actual evidence this is happening), then that might be the problem the White House should look at.”

New York Magazine

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 generally supports revoking the clearances.

The right generally supports revoking the clearances.

“Taking security clearances from those who have professed to be actively hindering the president’s lawful conduct of the country’s business is a sad, but necessary, step. It is not a political move of itself, it is a reaction to the political moves of those acting against him.”

Fox News

People who don’t work at intelligence agencies shouldn’t have clearances. It’s not a free speech issue. Leakers aren’t protected by the First Amendment... A healthy step in stopping intelligence leaks and blocking bureaucratic opposition to our new President will be to carefully evaluate who’s got access to America’s sensitive secrets and take corrective action.”

Power Line Blog

Counterpoint: This “is just retaliation for political criticism... If there’s probable cause to believe any of the Obama officials mentioned in the headline are leaking then arrest them, for cripes sake. If not, just accept that they’re going to say hysterical things like accusing Trump of ‘treason’ and there’s nothing that can be done about it.”

Hot Air

“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

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

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...

After making his owner rich, this border collie gets to live in a $500,000 pet mansion in Beijing.

Washington Post

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