It seems that almost daily, the presidency of Donald Trump has brought some previously unexamined issue of government protocol into public focus, and today is no exception.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has been questioning the propriety of allowing former government officials to continue benefiting from their top-level security clearances, which, in the manner of Supreme Court appointments, typically and somewhat surprisingly last for life. He said last week he was going to speak to the President specifically about revoking John Brennan’s clearance. The continuing security clearances of former government officials is something we as Americans hadn’t really questioned, but now that the issue has been raised, let the debate begin!
Predictably, Trump’s political opponents and the media (but I repeat myself) went immediately into hysterics when White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders –- full disclosure, well...you know –- simply floated the idea that President Trump was “exploring the mechanisms” for revoking the full security clearances enjoyed by the likes of former CIA Director and new media darling John “Trump is a traitor” Brennan; similarly vicious former FBI Director and admitted leaker James “no reasonable prosecutor” Comey; fired deputy FBI Director Andrew “Andy’s office” McCabe (whose office is responding that his clearance has ended); former Director of National Intelligence James “we don’t wittingly collect information” Clapper; former National Security Advisor Susan “Benghazi was caused by a video” Rice; and former CIA Director Gen. Michael “Trump is a threat to the intelligence community” Hayden.
What are these people, now out of government, doing with top-level security clearances?
The President absolutely has the power to take it away, though just for saying he’s looking into it, he’s already being slammed by Democrats with accusations of using a “Nixonian” strategy to punish his political enemies. But in some cases, there’s legitimate reason to do this. It seems to me that if anyone leaves government service under a cloud, specifically for leaking classified information or using it for political purposes, that person should automatically lose his or her access. Period, case closed.