Brennan is the first, but he won't be the last

Brennan is the first, but he won't be the last
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President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE’s stripping John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanThe CIA's next mission: Strategic competition with China and Russia Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Still in the game: Will Durham's report throw a slow curveball at key political players? MORE of his security clearance is not a First Amendment or "freedom of speech" issue.

No one has a right to a top secret clearance.


The only American who automatically gets a clearance and doesn’t even have to undergo an interview, let alone a polygraph exam, is the incoming president of the United States.


Moreover, the incumbent president has total and utter control of the classification and clearance system of the U.S. government. 

For example, even if one of his staff has a past which would negate their ever being normally granted a clearance, say due to a history of drug abuse, the president can simply “waive” the concerns of the federal investigators and agencies that do background investigations and grant that person a clearance anyway. That, for example, is exactly what the last president did with Ben Rhodes, who was denied even an interim clearance by the FBI but, nevertheless, got to spend the full eight years of the Obama administration working in the White House with a “waived” status and unfettered access to top secret intelligence. 

Having a clearance is privilege of government service, service in a very specific capacity wherein you cannot perform your duties to the nation without access to sensitive and classified data. It is not a right.

The argument that some are making that the president’s decision in some way infringes John Brennan’s free speech rights is, in fact, absurd. If John Brennan publicly disclosed any information he had acquired as a result of his clearance, he would be committing a felony. The issue instead has to do with the oath Brennan took when he became a civil servant and the damage he is doing to America’s national security as a private citizen with a very public platform.

When John Brennan joined the CIA in 1980, he made the same promise I made when I joined the Defense Department and again when I joined the White House. Like thousands of civil servants before and after him, we all solemnly promised to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

Yet John Brennan’s actions since leaving the CIA are in direct contravention to that oath and, instead, serve the interests of our adversaries and enemies.

In the last few months, from his position as a paid commentator on MSNBC, John Brennan has repeatedly stated that the duly elected president of the United States is beholden to Vladimir Putin, potentially being blackmailed by him, and has gone as far as to call the president’s actions treasonous. This is a devastating charge to make, one that no other former cabinet-level political appointee has made about a sitting president. Ever. Yet, he does this without providing any evidence at all of his charge. 

One can make the argument that we already have a special counsel whose job it is to investigate such allegations. The fact is that Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE has yet to charge any Trump associate with collusion with Russia, after more than 420 days of investigation. But Brennan unilaterally usurping Robert Mueller’s brief is not the problem.

As my Fox News colleague Daniel Hoffman — a 30-plus-year CIA veteran who was Moscow station chief during Brennan’s tenure — has stated, when a former CIA director who still has his clearance makes the accusation that the head of the U.S. government is a foreign asset or being blackmailed, many around the world will believe him purely by dint of his last job. That includes those who are our friends and who want to work with us covertly but who now will not, even if Brennan has provided zero evidence to back up his accusation.

This materially hurts America, our international relations, and our national security. John Brennan is qualitatively hurting America every time he publicly makes an allegation about the president which he cannot back up.

President Trump was fully in his authority to strip John Brennan of his clearance. Moreover, he was right to do so, given the damage Brennan was doing on a daily basis to our interests. In fact, there is a deeper question that may now have to be looked into: How did John Brennan originally obtain a clearance when he joined the CIA, given the fact that he voted for the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War?

In the meantime, those who were public servants would do well to remember the words of the oath they took, irrespective of whether they wanted Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to attend World Series Game 4 in Atlanta Pavlich: Democrats' weaponization of the DOJ is back Mellman: The trout in the milk MORE to be the 45th president of the United States.

Sebastian GorkaSebastian Lukacs GorkaGreitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP YouTube bans Sebastian Gorka's channel after repeated violations Lou Dobbs retweets supporters blasting decision to cancel show MORE (@SebGorka), Ph.D., former deputy assistant and strategist to President Donald Trump, is FOX News national security strategist and author of the new book, “Why We Fight: Recovering America’s Will to Win.”