July 24, 2018

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. 

POLL: Would President Trump be right to revoke the top-secret security clearances of those who misuse classified information?

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, 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.



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Comments 1-25 of 65

  • Amelia Little

    07/27/2018 04:31 PM

    Several things are insane. First is the security clearance for an individual to last a life time? Who thought that inanity up, and who was insane enough to make it so. When I retired (not fired) and other co-workers left the organization, our computer access was turned off, and our badges which were used for access to various departments were de-activated--in fact, they want the badges turned in to HR. That's how it happens in the real world, and it should definitely be how it happens in our government. Why in the world would someone with security clearance in one administration get to continue in other administrations even if they aren't part of it? And, what about those who are known to be shifty, or against anything the government is doing? (Like the ones currently in question.) I do hope that there is a record of all who still have access, and their clearances are revoked, whether or not they have ever used them.

  • Rochelle Backman

    07/25/2018 10:36 PM

    I could only shake my head when I heard on the national news that John “Trump is a traitor” Brennan still had his Security Clearance and was using it. Using it for what? To try and take down a sitting President? He has made no bones about it. I agree with the majority of people here that it is ridiculous for a government to not declassify all Security Clearances when a person leaves their job. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see what mayhem could be caused by vindictive people. Just sayin.....

  • Catherine Zeien

    07/25/2018 04:01 PM

    As soon as someone leaves government service their security clearance should disappear also. Crazy to let someone in the private sector keep their clearance!!! My head is exploding, I think!!!!!

  • rodney burke

    07/25/2018 12:21 PM

    they only NEED a clearance when they are working in a position using that clearance. None of the above but Hayden are worthy of a clearance because of their behavior in this present debacle. Anyone ELSE who leaves gov't service would lose their clearance, I know I did when I retired from the Air Force. These creeps are no exception. Let the libs rant and ignore. They are not worth paying any attention to.

  • John G Gordon Sr

    07/25/2018 12:06 PM

    My SAP clearance was revoked just because Bill Clinton was elected. I am in favor of it working both ways. Of course the latest case I worked on was the take down of the Cali Cartel, so one wonders why Clinton would have any reason, the cartel take down was published publicly on 1-1-1996, so I can talk about it now, just can't divulge methods and "something else". Notice Johnny E. didn't use his real name, Such honesty, in a rant, hidden behind an alias.

  • Carmine Fea

    07/25/2018 09:54 AM

    Security clearances should be revoked for all government employees when they leave government. This should be the law. It's common sense. Why hasn't this been done? There is no reason for President Trump to fuel criticism by revoking security clearances for a few people and looking like he is carrying out a personal vendetta against them. WE WANT SECURITY CLEARANCES REVOKED FOR ALL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES WHEN THEY LEAVE GOVERNMENT.

  • Catherine Susinno

    07/25/2018 07:13 AM

    I agree! Immediately!

  • Denise A Wright

    07/25/2018 01:45 AM

    Absolutely Governor Huckabee!! In reference to your great comment and insight on what should be done!
    And I quote,
    "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."

  • Johnny E

    07/25/2018 12:33 AM

    What a bunch of nonsense! The only person who should have his security clearance revoked is comrade trump himself! If he hadn't been elected he never would have been able to get one because of his ties to organized crime and Russian oligarchs, many of whom are under sanction. Do you forget already how he blatantly spilled Israeli secrets to Russian officials visiting the Oval Office? Of course US journalists weren't invited to that meeting while Russian journalists were.

    First of all clueless trump never lets facts stand in his way. Guys like Comey already lost their clearances as soon as they got fired. Guys who work in intelligence are non-partisan in their work. They're loyal to their country, not any particular party or politician. It's important to the country that experts can lend their expertise to their successors after they retire. That means they may need to discuss classified matters. That doesn't mean they have access to all the classified information around, as Rand Paul in his ignorance was implying. Anybody dealing with classified information only has access on a "need to know" basis. So it's not like retired guys are surfing around government files seeing what their old buddies are investigating. They're not in the loop anymore. Most secrets are stilled classified long after people retire so the people are still bound by their oaths not to talk about it. So trump can go around making all sorts of false accusations but the objects of his egregious attacks can't talk about it.

    But vindictive trump is trying to outdo Nixon by using the power of his office to wage retribution on his political enemies. Forget about freedom of speech or having a healthy political debate. Instead if you don't kowtow to trump you're an enemy, no matter which party you identify with. So we end up with a government of "yes men" where dissenting views are suppressed, you may recall that pathetic cabinet meeting where trump went around the table soliciting praises to himself. trump seems incapable of accepting advice from experts, they're too elitist, I suppose.

    What we do have is a government that has no clue as to what our foreign policy is now. The State Dept. had been decimated under Tillerson's direction. All the experienced senior people were expunged and replacements never installed. Yet trump goes around insulting and trashing our allies and starting trade wars with them while he's having secret play-dates where he's lovy-dovy with our enemies. What could go wrong where trump has secret meetings with Putin, there's no official record of what was said or what deals were made? He's acting like he's a dictator instead of being an employee of the people in a democracy. Face it, Putin's Russia is a rogue nation, with cyber attacks on western democracies, invading neighbors, shooting down civilian airliners, and assassinations of political enemies. Yet trump NEVER has a bad word to say about Putin. Same thing with North Korea. Nobody knows what deals he made other than hog-tying our military by canceling joint-maneuvers with our allies. At least he could have mentioned it to our SecDef before announcing it. Our ability to be a deterrent force will be severely hampered.

    trump's press conference with Putin was collusion right out in the open. It was like a spy-master was pulling puppet strings on his asset.

  • Donald Nacoli

    07/25/2018 12:00 AM

    I agree with you a 100 percent

  • Clifford R Totten

    07/24/2018 11:10 PM

    Sir; I don't care where you got your information or from whom. And, I can tell you this - when I was in the military (I am retired military by the way!) I received and had a Top Secret- Cripto for all of or most of my active duty career, and into my "Hip pocket orders for the IRR with my reserve commission (31A), and when you depart from your active service (whatever that is- military, congress or FBI) you are given a debriefing and informed that you are to keep any and all information you may have knowledge of to yourself for the rest of your life, and not to discus any such info with even your wife - your clearance becomes noel-in void. Not to mention the fact that whenever you have or have had an active clearance, same is only as good for you as is "Your need to know." In other words, It don't make a difference what clearance you have, you can only have access to that information that you are required to have that will enable you to conduct you assign duties - No More! Your need to know is always with you - in service, out of service, active or retired. AND!!! If you are fired, forced out for cause, receive a courts marshal, or any disciplinary action that requires your clearance to be puled, you can no longer have access to any classified information of any kind. Your good old career is shot! It's up-and-out time." ......................Keep up the good work Mike...............
    Cliff Totten .........Missouri Valley, Iowa

  • Glenda Philippe

    07/24/2018 10:32 PM

    My question is this: Why would anyone no longer working for the federal govt. need access to confidential information? This seems very foolish on the part of our govt.

  • Steve Majoewsky

    07/24/2018 10:00 PM

    I have had a security clearance (up to Top Secret) for about 30 years. I am now retired and my clearance "dried up" automatically when I no longer had any "need to know" classified information. Full disclosure....this was in the defense industry, not government.

  • Bob Weiser

    07/24/2018 08:19 PM

    Security Clearances

    On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders relayed Trump’s intent to review the security clearance of six former FBI and security officials who had served under Barack Obama and some previous presidents because of their “politicization” and “monetization” of their status. However, only four of those listed retained clearances, and some said they were irrelevant to their work.

    and from the same article:
    Sen. Corker said on MSNBC, “When you’re going to start taking retribution against people who are your political enemies in this manner, that’s the kind of thing that happens in Venezuela.” He likened the behavior to the actions of a “banana republic,” and said he couldn’t believe that the White House allowed even the idea to be floated.

    So we are looking at 6 people, who only 4 retained their clearances. From my experience with clearance you loose them when you leave a company or agency. Why was this NOT done for all of them, and others, too? When I was released from ASA, I was told I lost my clearances – never debriefed! In Special Forces my Top Secret was used by my company commander for me to take information to the commanding general. (That is another story.)

    I view Sen Corker as a “know nothing” about handling classified material.

    The administration has every right, actually a duty, to pull clearance from those no longer in a position that requires it!

  • Norman E. Scott

    07/24/2018 07:50 PM

    I am 100% with you on the idea of revoking security clearances of those who leak information and use their clearances in inappropriate ways. It seems those who cry foul for violating trust with security clearances are just trying to create a diversion to hide their dishonest and unethical behavior. It reminds me a little of the Hamas in Israel that hides in hospitals and schools and when Israel retaliates and injuries or kills a civilian, they cry foul that Israel is so terrible, when they are at the heart of the problem. It is refreshing to imagine our government and ex government officials might actually held accountable for their irresponsible and dishonest behavior by revoking their security clearances!

  • Nancy P Gibson

    07/24/2018 07:34 PM

    My husband believes there should be some new laws for politicians. 1) They should have license's (new money for them to spend) 2) if caught lying, cheating, stealing, etc:They loose their license and can never get another.They need to be held accountable.

  • Karen M

    07/24/2018 07:22 PM

    I'm curious. Where in our laws does it give anyone, including former Presidents, the right to have continued security clearance? IMO, ZERO former gov officials should have this clearance including Former President. ZERO, end of story!

  • Christine Kerekffy

    07/24/2018 07:19 PM

    That is a no brainer. If you have left the position or have leaked classified information to use it to destroy a person, then yes, you should lose your security clearance. How stupid are we??

  • Don Crumbley

    07/24/2018 07:11 PM

    Gov. Huckabee: I may be "old fashion" or "old school", but my 26 years of experience in the military and the use of security classifications, always revolved around the position held by the individual. When that individual left the assigned position, the individual's security classification for entitled classified information was terminated, until that individual held another position that required some assigned level of classified information. In particular, when I retired from the military, my security clearance terminated. I believe security clearance goes with the position assigned and not to the individual, regardless of the position previously occupied by the individual.

  • Mike Smith

    07/24/2018 05:53 PM

    Hi Mike,
    A lot of folks are talking about revocation of security clearances. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding. Differences between clearance status and revocation are pretty strong. Revocation of an active clearance is usually due to the action or inaction of the holder. In some current cases, this certainly seems appropriate. But in other cases, a clearance becomes inactive because the holder no longer holds the position that needs access to the information. When people leave those positions, the clearance will eventually expire unless they return to a position with the need for access, and even then there is a need for updated background investigations to meet the requirements for the level of clearance.

    The president is right to be concerned that some of these people still have their clearances. The greater concern is that someone in authority within the intelligence community isn't doing their job and seeing that the questionable actions by these people already resulted in suspension of their clearance. After appropriate steps, it's likely they would then have the clearances revoked.

    The waters of the Okefenokee swamp are wide ranging and after hundreds of miles underground, being filtered by nature, become quite clean. But the swamp waters in Washington D.C. are unbelievably deep and wide.

  • Norris R Harod

    07/24/2018 05:52 PM

    The Left (media and politicians) want to preserve their ability to leak classified information to suit their plot to topple President Trump. I agree with Senator Paul and hope the 5 you named all lose their clearances immediately. They are all Deep State who did not uphold their oath of office, or tell the truth under oath. Who cares if Democrats are yelling? That just means it is the right thing to do.

  • Thomas Mason, Jr.

    07/24/2018 05:46 PM

    I spent 14 of my 22 years in the Air Force in Air Mobil Combat Communications handling classified information and cryptographic equipment. I'm appalled that these JERKS continue to hold a clearance long after their "Right and Need" to possess a clearance is valid! Those who violate need to spend time In Ft. Leavenworth Federal Prison, I would have if I had violated the trust! This government has grown extremely careless in how it handles our security! They're probably making big money at our expense! As the US Navy said in world war two "loose lips sink ships"!

  • Patricia Cook

    07/24/2018 05:10 PM

    I saw you on the Levin show Sunday, very good show. You were my first pick for President, I fully support President Trump, just wish he would think before he opens his mouth some time. But , he would probably go ahead and say his piece any way. I think he will go down in history as one of the greatest Presidents in History. Thanks for all your good words and thoughts. Pat

  • April Allison-Garlow

    07/24/2018 05:08 PM

    I think everyone that leaves government service, no matter what their standing, should lose their security clearance. What purpose does it serve to continue this security clearance? It's foolishness and puts the country at risk, because , as we've learned, some people just get corrupted by the lure of fame and fortune.

  • David

    07/24/2018 05:07 PM

    Secret information should be disclosed on a need-to-know basis. Since these people are no longer working for the government, they have no need for the information. If they need to be consulted on a specific issue, there can a be waiver for info related to that issue.
    Whether they left service under a cloud is irrelevant.