White House Says it’s Looking to Revoke Obama-Era Officials Security Clearances

So this happened during the White House daily press briefing on Monday:

That list again:
– former CIA director John Brennan
– former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
– former FBI Director Jim Comey
– former CIA director Michael Hayden
– former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice
– former FBI deputy director Andrea McCabe

The question stemmed from statements made earlier in the day by Sen. Rand Paul:

In an unusual move, Paul wrote that he will meet with Trump on Monday to discuss allegations that Brennan is “monetizing his security clearance” and “making millions of dollars divulging secrets to mainstream media.” Paul added that he would ask Trump to revoke Brennan’s clearance.

CNN has reached out to representatives for Brennan and has not yet received a response.

For her part, Sec. Sanders was ready for the question with the list of above officials, and was reading verbatim from notes during both the initial question and the follow-up. Clearly the White House has a plan here. Whether they follow through, have evidence of wrong doing on those individuals parts, and what the response will be, remains to be seen.

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20 thoughts on “White House Says it’s Looking to Revoke Obama-Era Officials Security Clearances

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong about this.

    My understanding was that a cleared person could publish books about their work and experience, provided that work was submitted in advance to CIA censors so as to remove all classified information.

    It was also my understanding that all of these people had done exactly that with their books and other publications.

    So if my understanding is correct, none of these people have violated any laws in publishing any of their works. And the common denominator between all of their publications is that they are all critical of the President’s conduct, decisions, and demeanor.

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    • I need to do a lot of reading on the in and outs but generally you would be correct. The president does have the authority to grant and restrict information at his pleasure but this would be a stretch from that authority. Rand Paul was being overt about wrong doing with Clapper but no specifics. Everyone on the list is outspoken critic of the president. This was not off-handed announcement it was rolled out, so we should take something from that; Trump Administration isn’t known for planning so when they do it should be noted. Question is, is it just political games against foes, or something else simmering. We will see.

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  2. Question from an ignorant foreigner: I notice the people slated to lose their clearances all used to hold intelligence-related jobs but no longer do. Do they actually still have a security clearance? And if so, why?

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      • I wasn’t aware of this either.
        Apparently there is quite the gravy train going on whereby former heads do lucrative “consulting” work for both private interests and public agencies using their continuing access to government secrets.

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        • Yeah, that strikes me as deeply suspicious:
          1) Proper handovers and file systems mean that a former boss shouldn’t know things you don’t.
          2) The whole point of intelligence agencies is that you have people who can advise you, people who will be up-to-date on the latest information, and therefore have a better idea of what is going on.

          I rarely deal with anything higher-rated than Confidential at work, but still this strikes as really sloppy.

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        • A lot of our intelligence related work that requires a security clearance is outsourced to private industry, so it shouldn’t be surprising if a lot of people who worked directly in the intelligence community went to a private firm and continued to do sensitive work. Some do very good work and some are just contracting body shops that bill at ridiculous rates for mundane paper pushing.

          Their “access to secrets” isn’t why they get hired. Absent a job like that, you don’t get to hold onto a security clearance. But when they hire you, it’s a lot easier to get a recently expired clearance reactivated than it is with some random hire. Someone from the top tier is most likely either hired for real skills or for connections that would help grease the skids to get contracts.

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      • Institutional knowledge is a thing, and being able to call on your predecessors without having to shove them through a six-month long clearance process in case of emergency can be pretty useful. Much easier to leave their clearance, or downgrade it some, and then only have to go through a quick scan.

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      • Luckily, there are people arguing that Comey *SHOULD* keep his clearance.

        FACT: 9/11 could have been avoided had officials from different administrations communicated better.FACT: Top intel officers keep their clearance post-retirement so they can consult with their successors in emergencies.FACT: Trump's threat today therefore *endangers America*.— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) July 23, 2018

        So now we can argue over whether Trump would be overstepping his bounds if he were actually capable of doing the thing that he cannot do because it has already been done (and, apparently, is a matter of policy to do as one of the last things before the guy walks out of the building for the last time).

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      • Per my friends who have, or have had, security clearances, the clearance is terminated when the holder’s employment ends. Clearances can be restored administratively if (a) the break in employment requiring the clearance is less than two years and (b) no reinvestigation deadlines have passed. All of that is for generic clearances. My brother-in-law held a civilian access clearance that got him into Army command-and-control bunkers in Germany. That clearance would have been revoked if he failed to check in at a US military base or US embassy every 72 hours. My sister says that it’s strange planning holidays in Europe around “must check in every less-than-72 hours.”

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  3. I would think that the gov’t….in any form, can unilaterally decide to revoke clearances.

    The clearance allows you to get access to restricted info. I’m pretty damn sure it doesn’t allow you to tell others that are uncleared about it–you’re only allowed to discuss the info you have with the folks with the correct level of clearance and THE NEED TO KNOW SAID INFO.

    If a clearance is revoked, you still are required to not disclose any info you have to non cleared folks.

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  4. Breaking news update: Comey said he doens’t have a security clearance since he left the FBI. He even turned down a clearance to review the IG’s report. Which does make Trump’s threat towards him somewhat lacking.

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  5. Even putting aside the hypocrisy of the Trump administration complaining about people ‘monetizing’ their previous positions, for rank and file MAGAland, monetizing your stint in the military is how we’re able to recruit for an all volunteer force to begin with.

    Eta – oh, and any previous solicitousness towards Rand Paul, long since diminished, is now totally gone. Fish that guy.

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