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Home Alone 3: Friendless in Washington, D.C by @BloggersRUs

Home Alone 3: Friendless in Washington, D.C

by Tom Sullivan

Being chief executive of an entire country is getting to our sitting president. The pressures of the job (if one can call watching Fox News morning and evening work) are visible for all to see on Twitter. On Thursday, Donald J. Trump unleashed a torrent in two volleys. Several in the morning he aimed at the press for the more than 300 editorials across the country in defense of press freedoms and coordinated by the Boston Globe. Thursday night, Trump's "fresh from Fox News" tweets attacked several figures connected with the Russia investigation and former CIA director John Brennan whose security clearance Trump revoked on Wednesday in retaliation for Brennan's criticism on Monday. Trump's tweeting lately has increased in frequency and fervor.

Trump's critics were not to be silenced.

In solidarity with Brennan, a retired admiral on Thursday invited Trump in an open letter in the Washington Post Thursday afternoon to revoke his clearance as well. William H. McRaven oversaw the 2011 SEAL raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. McRaven wrote:

Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.

Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.

Like many former service members, Fred Kaplan reports, McRaven had refrained from public criticism of Trump. Until now.

Thursday night, a bipartisan dozen former top intelligence officials, former CIA directors and deputy directors, issued a statement written in parallel with McRaven's defending Brennan's integrity and service. The idea of requesting revocation of their security clearances had not come up in their conversations, Kaplan writes. He includes their full statement:

August 16, 2018

STATEMENT FROM FORMER SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS

As former senior intelligence officials, we feel compelled to respond in the wake of the ill-considered and unprecedented remarks and actions by the White House regarding the removal of John Brennan’s security clearances. We know John to be an enormously talented, capable, and patriotic individual who devoted his adult life to the service of this nation. Insinuations and allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Brennan while in office are baseless. Since leaving government service John has chosen to speak out sharply regarding what he sees as threats to our national security. Some of the undersigned have done so as well. Others among us have elected to take a different course and be more circumspect in our public pronouncements. Regardless, we all agree that the president’s action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances – and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech. You don’t have to agree with what John Brennan says (and, again, not all of us do) to agree with his right to say it, subject to his obligation to protect classified information. We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case. Beyond that, this action is quite clearly a signal to other former and current officials. As individuals who have cherished and helped preserve the right of Americans to free speech – even when that right has been used to criticize us – that signal is inappropriate and deeply regrettable. Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security concerns and not political views.

William H. Webster, former Director of Central Intelligence (1987-1991)

George J. Tenet, former Director of Central Intelligence (1997-2004)

Porter J. Goss, former Director of Central Intelligence, (2005-2006)

General Michael V. Hayden, USAF, Ret., former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2006-2009)

Leon E. Panetta, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2009-2011)

General David H. Petraeus, USA, Ret., former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2011-2012)

James R. Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence (2010-2017)

John E. McLaughlin, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (2000-2004)

Stephen R. Kappes, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2006-2010)

Michael J. Morell, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2010-2013)

Avril Haines, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2013-2015)

David S. Cohen, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2015-2017)

Just before midnight Thursday, former CIA director Robert Gates joined the first dozen in signing the statement.

Not a good Thursday for the real estate heir.

The Pentagon announced Thursday it is postponing the military parade Trump called for Veterans Day. The Defense Department says it has "agreed to explore opportunities in 2019." Earlier estimates placed the cost of the parade at $12 million, but a Defense Department official told the Associated Press new estimates place the cost at $92 million.

Trump in a tweet this morning blamed "local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly)" for the cost increase. He declared the cost "so ridiculously high that I cancelled it."

Not a man known for having friends, Trump is busily alienating influential public figures disinclined to kissing his ass just when he needs some to have his back. From Trump's point of view, Kaplan muses, perhaps the "deep state" is closing in. His most ardent supporters already believe that. But attacking those who have dedicated their lives to public service will not win friends for a man who has dedicated his to serving himself.

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