President Trump revoked former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan’s security clearance on Aug. 15. Since that time, Brennan and his supporters have argued that Trump’s action is an attack on the First Amendment or free speech. Veteran CIA officer Kent Clizbe debunks this argument.
On the same day that Trump revoked his security clearance, Brennan said that, “This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics.”
Others have made similar comments, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who said that, “The larger issue here, to me, has — throughout, has been infringement on First Amendment rights, and I think people ought to think seriously about that.”
Kent Clizbe was a CIA case officer during the 1990s, and worked for the CIA again as a contractor after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. (He and I have also worked together as coauthors.) He described the idea of Brennan having some sort of right to a security clearance as “hogwash.”
“Your First Amendment rights have nothing to do with security clearances,” he said. “You give up your freedom to speak about classified information when you sign your clearance indoctrination papers. No one is denying Brennan the freedom to speak.”
[One such clearance indoctrination paper is the Standard Form 312 (SF-312 – “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement”).]
So Trump didn’t cause injury to Brennan’s liberty. But he did wound his vanity.
“A security clearance is sort of the Golden Ticket to enter the Deep State secret society. When you don’t have one, you don’t get into the party. You’re excluded from the conversations. You’re excommunicated. You’re sent to the outer circle. You are not one of the ‘in crowd,’” Kent said.
“Brennan can spew his nasty invective all he wants, on all the PC-Progressive media outlets that give him a platform, for as long as he wants,” he added. “He’s just no longer an insider. He’s an outsider now.”
A security clearance is not a right. But Brennan and his supporters will likely continue to act as if it is, particularly since Trump has hinted that he may revoke the clearances of other former intelligence and government officials.