Nighty Night, Little Knights

By now you have doubtless read about the letter signed by numerous former high-ranking members of the intelligence community decrying President Trump’s revocation of MSNBC commentator John Brennan’s security clearances, or seen the hilariously funny clip ( of former CIA analyst Phil Mudd, now employed by CNN, exploding in anger at the very suggestion that he and others like him might also lose theirs.

Apparently, security clearances are viewed by many former government officials as rights belonging to them. They think they get to know about things that we mere peasants do not because, … because those are their rights as (former) knights of the realm. And, if they are lucky, they can monetize those rights, and the aura of unquestionable authority thereby conferred, through consulting or lobbying deals or even gigs on MSNBC or CNN.

Perhaps they are unaware that article nine of the Constitution states that “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States”.

Congress has authorized the President to allow continuing security clearances for former officials on the theory that in some cases it might be sensible for current officials to seek their advice. Seriously, though, can anybody imagine members of the Trump Administration seeking the counsel of frothing-at-the-mouth Trump haters like Brennan and Mudd? And now that we know that they’re frothing-at-the-mouth types, shouldn’t we wonder about those who gave them their clearances in the first place?

The open letters from former senior members of the intelligence community only underline my point that these people view their clearances as their own property, something of which they might be unjustly deprived, rather than as existing solely for the possible benefit of the government by which they were formerly employed. The letters assert that Trump has somehow implicitly deprived Brennan of his first amendment right to speak out by revoking his clearances.

But Trump has done no such thing: Brennan is on a high perch, howling at the moon, entirely unimpeded. He has every right to howl all he likes – he just doesn’t have any right to continued access to information not available to the likes of you and me. He is no better than we are, you see, and his howling, to say nothing of his terrible judgement, makes him useless to the government.

Except, perhaps, as a foil. Brennan’s howling – and Mudd’s childish display of anger – make Trump look even tempered. Give the president credit: he has chosen his opponents well, which is a lot more than we can say of the Democrats.


M.H. Johnston

8 comments to Nighty Night, Little Knights

  • John Primm, MPM  says:

    As a former holder of a very high clearance, I can assure you that it is not a ‘right’, it is a privilege and a burden. Brennan has shown to any clear thinking person that he cannot be trusted to be rational and make decisions that are in the best interests of this nation. Good riddance..,

  • Tim Huban  says:

    No company in the U.S. would allow access to their sensitive information after a person leaves that company. I am sure they would provide access if that person could be trusted to help that company. My guess is that the majority of Americans are shocked that intelligence officials retain their clearance after they are no longer in their jobs unless they are asked for specific help. Openly using the information to protest a legitimately elected president does not help….

  • Doug McCaig  says:

    Hey, 300 Priests are believed to have been involved in 1000 cases of molestation in PA. Generally speaking, that group has lost the public trust and shouldn’t be chaperoning church sleepovers of young children – and its OK, they can be outraged. Brennan and Mudd are afraid to be cut off. Can you imagine the weight it carries as a consultant to be able to go to ACME Military contractor (in light of the 700bln. budget) and say “Of course I can help you. I know everything that is going on. I am top secret cleared.” These guys are tools. Mudd is mud.

  • Anonymous  says:


    Your right, seventy five former security advisors Republicans and Democrats are all off base. This is a total witch hunt and a sham.

    • M Johnston  says:


      Thank you for your (not you’re, happily) comment. Perhaps you’re right that seventy-five former security advisors are necessarily right about their objections to Trump’s revocation of Brennan’s security clearance – or maybe they’re just defending what they see as their own prerogatives to remain as insiders even when they’re out. I, for one, find the latter explanation to be more persuasive.

      As to your second point, though, I trust that it was clear that intent of this post was not to opine on whether or not the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt and sham (indeed I don’t believe the post addressed that question), but rather to stress that security clearances are no former officer’s right or prerogative, they exist solely for the government’s benefit, and when former officers are not likely to be of use to the government – as is manifestly the case with Brennan, Mudd and others of their ilk – they should be revoked as a matter of course.

  • Doug Mccaig  says:

    Filling out a Federal bid right now for a consulting contract. It would make this bid look stronger if I had consultants (or contractors) who had security clearances and that type of intimate knowledge of the innerworkings of government. As to the 75 former security people why wouldn’t it make sense to recertify your credentials periodically and make the requirement specific to their current government job? They are off base. That sounds like common sense government reform. What purpose does it serve the government to have these 75 people walking around with clearances – when they are not advising and they are not working for the government?

  • Anonymous  says:

    This is all true, thank god that president Trump had the insight to rectify this poor policy and rescind one former security advisers clearance.

  • Doug  says:

    Good point. If Brennan were Christhian Rivera and is access were rescinded, Mollie Tibbetts would be alive. If he were Michael Higginbottom and his access were denied, 8 young male parishioners wouldn’t have been raped. Now we seem to be getting somewhere.

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