In the year 2018, it is not remotely shocking to see media attention shift seamlessly from reality show villains to former CIA directors. The Trump Administration’s announcement that it has revoked the security clearance for John Brennan, America’s former Communist-sympathetic spymaster, naturally resulted in a race to see who among the professional political class could be most dramatic in their condemnation.
Many, including Brennan himself, bizarrely argued that the Trump Administration’s action was a “1st Amendment violation.” As Jim Bovard quippedon Twitter, “Can someone show me the asterisk in the First Amendment that says that former govt. officials have a divine right to confidential inside govt. info in perpetuity?”
Most entertaining was the response from ex-VP and amateur masseuse Joe Biden, who tweeted:
In the time I have known him, John Brennan has never been afraid to speak up and give it to you straight. Revoking his security clearance is an act unbecoming of a President. If you think it will silence John, then you just don't know the man.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 15, 2018
In Washington, you can always identify how dependable an ally is by the size of the lies they are willing to tell in your defense.
After all, Brennan’s tenure at the CIA was rampant with dishonesty, unaccountability, and hypocrisy – and that’s before looking at Brennan’s long record of support for war crimes.
It was Brennan’s CIA, after all, that was found guilty of spying on Senate computer servers and threatened to prosecute Intelligence community staffers investigating CIA interrogation practices. He then lied about it repeatedly until investigation into the matter made doing so indefensible.
The conduct of Brennan’s CIA wasn’t limited simply to the Senate. Though in his current capacity as an MSNBC contributor, Brennan is now a passionate defender of the 1st Amendment and free press, his agency also hacked and spied on American journalists reporting on CIA torture.
As the McClatchy reported at the time:
The CIA got hold of the legally protected email and other unspecified communications between whistleblower officials and lawmakers this spring, people familiar with the matter told McClatchy. It’s unclear how the agency obtained the material.
Of course it is understandable that Brennan was so interested in keeping CIA torture practices as hidden as possible, particularly since he himself was an advocate for them. These included waterbordering, rectal feeding, beatings, and other sometimes fatal practices. Additionally the CIA’s conduct during this period was without any sort of accountability, keeping other government agencies and even the White House in the dark. Inevitably many innocent people became ensnared by the actions of America’s rogue spy agency.
Naturally the media and the anti-Trump left would now treat a defender of these practices as a moral defender of American democracy.
If Trump really wanted to act on the Deep State, he wouldn’t settle for simply revoking John Brennan’s security clearances. He should move to strip his pension and have him prosecuted for his past actions. While it’s fair to question whether the current legal system would actually allow anything to happen to Brennan, doing so would force renewed focus on his past actions and help highlight the dangers of leaving the CIA unchecked. Trump is a fan of spectacles, let this one play out for the nation to see.
Then he should do the same for James Clapper.