The Case for Stripping Former Officials of their Security Clearances

COMMENTARY: Former CIA agent John Kiriakou argues that no former intelligence official should be allowed to keep their security clearances when they leave government, especially if they work in the media.

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

Libertarian senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said on Monday that in a personal meeting with President Donald Trump, he urged the president to revoke the security clearances of a half dozen former Obama-era intelligence officials, including former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. I couldn’t agree more with Paul’s position, not specifically regarding these three people, but for any former intelligence official. No former intelligence official should keep a security clearance, especially if he or she transitions to the media or to a corporate board.

The controversy specifically over Brennan’s clearance has been bubbling along for more than a year. He has been one of Trump’s most vocal and harshest critics. Last week he went so far as to accuse Trump of having committed “treason” during his meeting in Helsinki, Finland with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Brennan said in a tweet, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican patriots: Where are you???” The outburst was in response to Trump’s unwillingness to accept the Intelligence Community position that Putin and the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Other intelligence professionals weighed in negatively on Trump’s Helsinki performance, including Republicans like former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former CIA director Mike Hayden.

Brennan: Called Trump a ‘traitor.’

Why are these people saying anything at all? And why do they have active Top Secret security clearances if they have no governmental positions? The first question is easier to answer than the second. Before answering, though, I want to say that I don’t think this issue is specific to Donald Trump. Former officials of every administration criticize those who have replaced them. That’s the way Washington works. It’s a way for those former officials to remain relevant. Donald Trump happens to be an easy target. His actions are so wildly unpredictable—and frequently so disingenuous on the surface of things—that he proves wrong the oft-quoted observation by the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser: “The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves. You only make complicated stupid moves, which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something.”

Cashing In

I’ve known John Brennan for 30 years. He was my boss in the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence decades ago. John was hard to get along with. His superiors generally didn’t like him. He was once fired from a job at the CIA. He’s not particularly bright. And then he found a patron in former CIA director George Tenet, who saved his career. Brennan has had his run. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He’s been CIA Director, deputy National Security Advisor, director of the Transnational Terrorism Information Center, and deputy Executive Director of the CIA. That’s pretty heady stuff for a kid from Bergen, New Jersey.

He also has very low self-esteem from those early days at the CIA. Almost everybody else had more degrees, spoke more languages, and went to better schools. Until Tenet, Brennan never had a political rabbi and was stuck at the GS-15 (journeyman) level for years. Now, all these years later, he again doesn’t have anyone to help his career. Barack Obama isn’t president anymore. And Brennan desperately wants to be Secretary of Defense. He says it to anybody willing to listen. That is what’s supposed to be his legacy, at least in his mind.

Besides legacy, Brennan and the others have cashed in on their government service. They’ve all become rich by sitting on corporate boards. Brennan is on the board of directors of a company called SecureAuth + CORE Security. He also serves on the board of The Analysis Corporation, which he helped found before joining the Obama Administration. Finally, and most importantly, Brennan is now the official talking head and “Intelligence Consultant” for NBC News and MSNBC.

To me, this is the point that is the most obviously wrong. How is it that former officials who now have no role in government are able to keep their active security clearances? This has abuse written all over it. First, these officials run the risk of exposing classified information in a television interview, either inadvertently or not. Second, and more cynically, what is to keep them from propagandizing the American people by simply spouting the CIA line or allowing the CIA to use them to put out disinformation? What’s to keep them from propagandizing the American people by selectively leaking information known only to the intelligence agencies and Congress? Or to release information passed to them by the FBI?

No former intelligence officials should have a security clearance. There’s no purpose for it other than propaganda and personal enrichment. And if Brennan or Hayden or Clapper or any other former intelligence official becomes an employee of a media company, he or she should not have a security clearance. Period. Donald Trump ought to act right now.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

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93 comments for “The Case for Stripping Former Officials of their Security Clearances

  1. evan jones
    July 30, 2018 at 19:52

    so tell me, any or all of you people out there, why ARE Brennan and the rest of them still maintaining their security clearance

  2. Heywood Jablomi
    July 30, 2018 at 10:43

    While serving in USN I had Top Secret Cosmic security clearance. Cosmic is NATO Top Secret. There was a ‘need to know’ element involved in these security clearances. Once I left USN my security clearance was deactivated. That formerly employed government officials maintain security clearances after leaving government service makes zero sense.

  3. edd anderson
    July 30, 2018 at 03:10

    It may seem to be infinite wisdom to rescind the security clearances of former presidents and vice presidents who still have access to the security briefings the current president doesn’t read.

  4. robert e williamson jr
    July 29, 2018 at 17:33

    Thank you Skip Scott. Those numbers speak for themselves this situation is way beyond being out of control. But a word of warning to everyone, these guys like Brennan are hard wired to the “deep state” because the “deep state” wants to use them. Consultants contracted to the highest bidder. Useful idiots maybe, but they are effective because of the “leverage of undo influence”!

  5. July 28, 2018 at 15:27

    Kiriakou appears to be paying back his old boss with insults for slights not listed. He is only muddying the waters over this security clearance revocation flap Trump has started in the press.

    A security clearance only means that your background is squeaky-clean enough for the government to trust that you will not disclose information to which you may be granted access “on a need to know basis.” This last point is critically important for understanding this issue. Even if you have a Top Secret Compartmentalized clearance, if you have no mission-related need to know, you may not see the intel. Thus Clapper or myself, may not see the latest casualty estimates from Yemen because our roles lack a need-to-know.

    In his many re-takings of his oath of office Clapper and anyone else with a security clearance signed a nondisclosure agreement to never, ever blab classified material to anybody a) without an appropriate clearance, and b) who lacks “a need to know”.

    Thus, revoking Clapper’s or anybody else’s clearance DOES NOT have any effect on future blabbing classified info to anybody. Their past oath is ample to prosecute them for breaching government secrets, regardless of whether or not they currently hold a clearance. Thus, it seems quite obvious that this entire fiasco is just another Trump political side show.

    • July 29, 2018 at 07:31

      Brennan’s company SOTERA is bidding on a Federal contract to be awarded next spring. Take a look at all the contracts this company has…. Other post-gov intell people also are profiting through their companies. WHY? should they have security clearances? TO PROFIT!

  6. anastasia
    July 28, 2018 at 11:17

    These security agencies are supposed to be worried about security, telling us to shake in our boots for all the Russian trolls out there giving us “fake news” and interfering in our election, but here’s a question for them. When the FBI received the Steele dossier and he told them he got his information from the evil “Russians” who spread fake news all over America, why didn’t they verify the information Steele received from these “evil,” ” thuggish” , “lying” people.

  7. Curious
    July 28, 2018 at 02:23

    John, thank you for taking on ‘The Beast’ and the dirty secrets that increase exponentially as the years pass. What you have been through is a testament of courage.

    I have one question which doesn’t seem to be part of the 80 comment thread though, and maybe Ray could answer this. I have read, referring to multiple sources in print, that President Bush Senior was the only president who still requested and received the presidential daily briefings from the ‘super secret agencies’. One could question the argument that security clearances should be terminated when one leaves a position of authority, or secrecy, but this raises another issue of why a former president, and ex-CIA head, should have privy to the daily briefings. I’m baffled.

    As Bush Sr was a former head of the CIA, I wonder if this is not only true, but also how many fingers he is/was able to keep in this sordid game of robbing countries for their resources and wealth, with the pretense of spreading Democracy. I understand this discussion is about security clearances (which Kushner couldn’t pass despite multiple tries) but how rare is it for a former president to have access to the daily briefings?

  8. Synickel
    July 27, 2018 at 13:37

    John, excellent article, and I respect and commend you for the stand you took as a whistleblower.

  9. Arthur_500
    July 27, 2018 at 12:53

    I cannot agree more. We remove clearances from staff before they are out of the building. They are no longer employees and have no need for the information

  10. Tim
    July 27, 2018 at 09:50

    If there is enough evidence to proceed with, I assume, a federal prosecution of folks like Brennan, Clapper etc., does it have to be voted on by Congress with a 2/3’s majority? Can the President sign a document or is evidence just turned over to a federal prosecutor, Attorney General and the Justice Department, issuing subpoenas and so forth? Can anyone explain this process, and what may be preventing it?

  11. jack smith
    July 27, 2018 at 05:43

    two sided sward,in the age of trump, some other info,and view is needed,as we see corp media isnt reliable anymore. when cbs admits,we sold trump for our revenue,and paid ad for media,suppling the spin,in most issues and people readily eat it up,maybe some intelligence is needed for a wake up call.. if the prior assigned people you spoke of here,give thier view,without endangering the inteligence field,so be it. like you, whistler, maybe some hard core information,and wake up is needed in a world now,full of false naritives and comments. people today use social media as a whipping boy,rather than understand,what is going on. no one here said read some viable journalism,where,many of those leaked issues make some headway,and QUESTION this administration. id rather have another place to start a review of that subject,and see where it leads. Brennon may be right,and if anyone has done a reasonable look at trumps wealth,and buisness mode,knows,hes not ligit,in debt to russian money,and and like joe goebbels,telling the world how right he is. im sure Brennon is still respected and listen to,not as a last resort,but keep this fire fed,to people who do listen,and have something other than straw for a brain.

  12. Occupy on!
    July 26, 2018 at 21:29

    Keep it comin’, John! You and the others like you have put your life on the line by speaking truth to power, and many many many people thank you for this. This is real heroism.

  13. NoMoreMrNiceGuy
    July 26, 2018 at 18:49

    The way it works is they keep the clearance but lose access. If they ever need access the investigation starts when the last one left off. That is the way security clearances work. Easy to pull access from these people.

  14. Frank
    July 26, 2018 at 17:53

    Having a clearance is only part of the equation. The other is having “need to know.” I would argue that, if you are no longer in the position, you no longer have need to know. The problem is, who defines “need to know?” Probably your buddies who are still on the job. This is why the clearances need to be pulled. “Need to know” is a very nebulous term and subject to interpretation but having a clearance is a black-and-white proposition – you either have a clearance or you don’t.

    • Dr. Demetrios T. Politis, PhD
      July 27, 2018 at 01:29

      Need to know is precice in its meaning. A person who has, say top secret clearance cannot have access to any material marked “Top Secret”. He has access only to the material he is asked to work on, hence “he needs to know” all about that project only. Example: I was at a meeting and the Technical Director of the Institute who had the highest clearances asked a member of the staff “how the project was going”. The staff member asked him if he had need to know. Since the Director was not involved in the project , the staff told him he could not respond to his question. End of discussion.

  15. Dr. Demetrios T. Politis, PhD
    July 26, 2018 at 16:50

    I worked on Dep of Defense contracts all my life, from 1958 to 1992. Had the highest level clearances possible. What I know is that the basic, fundamental reason for giving anyone clearance, which means access to classified information is NEED TO KNOW! Any one who is not in the service of the government has no need to know, hence clearances are terminated. When I retired I was debriefed, and received a letter stating that since I was not working at the Institute any more, my clearances were terminated, and if I were to come back to work THE WHOLE CLEARANCE PROCEDURE WILL HAVE TO BE REPEATED FROM THE BEGINNING. This is how the system works. All the chiefs who are not working there any more should have their clearances terminated.
    Dr. Demetrios T. Politis, PhD

    • Realist
      July 28, 2018 at 02:57

      Some times it’s the public that needs to know what these weasels are up to, planning wars, creating false narratives, sabotaging whole societies and damaging innocent people. It might stop a world wide catastrophe to know what havoc they are planning for Russia, Ukraine, Iran, both Koreas et al. They get away with so much garbage because they keep it all so secret. Perhaps we really need tighter controls on a “need to classify” half the information flow through Washington. Something is out of whack when a country can be fighting at least seven overt wars concomitantly and an untold number of wars secretly on the side.

  16. Thomas N Beck
    July 26, 2018 at 16:31

    You seriously trust Donald Trump to make any national security decisions at all? Even if he is NOT a traitor, he is a moron, a self-serving ignorant greedy cheating thug who cares only about himself, not the US, not the world, not peace, not decency or honor. Almost anything that will bring him down can’t be much worse than just letting him stay in and sully the office he so unworthily occupies. Even if you are right about the people you disparage, even if they are all idiots, they at least are honorable idiots, unlike the disgusting vermin you don’t seem to mind them criticizing.

    • jack smith
      July 27, 2018 at 05:46

      trump thug,more like wanna be thug,id say more like punk

    • Realist
      July 28, 2018 at 03:17

      Trump’s opponents want to tear down the system in any way possible just to get his hide. They refuse to accept the results of the last election played under the rules in place and instead concoct wild-eyed false narratives to further their insurrection. You think that’s honorable and that such an outcome will be beneficial in any way to this country and its future, to say nothing about peace across the planet? He IS wrong about a very large percentage of his half-baked policies, but so was (and is) the opposition. He’s stumbling with every step in his foreign policy, yet the opposition wants to exacerbate the situation to crisis proportions. Staging a coup and effecting regime change in a raw naked grab for power must not be a solution that ever succeeds in this country. And, from what I see, the opponents that seek to seize power from him are just as repulsive as he, if not more so. If, in their opposition, they implored, “Mr. President, please work for peace,” they might have a leg to stand on, but what they vociferously and incessantly call for is more international tension and more war. Trump cannot seem to deliver enough bloodshed to make Mrs. Clinton and her acolytes happy at all. They won’t be happy until they effect a coup in Washington just as they did in Kiev.

  17. incontinent reader
    July 26, 2018 at 16:05

    In addition, I would argue that no person with dual citizenship should have a security clearance, whether that person is active in the Administration or Congress. Holding citizenship of a country requires swearing allegiance to that country, and in the case of dual citizenship, creates an irreconcilable conflict of interest- regardless of who may be the other country.

    • Realist
      July 28, 2018 at 03:20

      Excellent point. Someone considered very influential and wise once said, “for no man can serve two masters.”

  18. July 26, 2018 at 13:35

    Surely you jest, robert, Congress has “infinite wisdom”?

  19. robert
    July 26, 2018 at 13:26

    thanks Mr Kiriakou! I hope Trump orders the surrender of clearances of all departing and departed gov holders. May Congress in its infinite wisdom follow up with a law to require it! Only a screwed up, corrupt country would allow officials to retain clearances after they have left gov service.
    But surrender is the most obvious part: there is also the violation and abuse of clearance policy; as the example of Jared Kushner illustrates, clearances are not always carefully vetted or checked, nor are they policed adequately in the Executive.
    Also, the over classification of gov activities as “secret”, and the many levels of secrecy, are an impediment to essential oversight transparency even within the high levels of the Senate and Executive, as Daniel Ellsberg warned in “Doomsday Machine” [2017]. Who is going to follow up on this adequately?

  20. July 26, 2018 at 13:17

    As to A’s comment that Kissinger still has clearance, i’m not a bit surprised since he was going to be brought in by Bush II administration to oversee the bogus 9/11 commission investigations, until there was a public outcry. I suppose a lot of these “exes” retain clearance, given the corruption of USG, well stated by Sam F in his posts.

    As for sarcasm (!educate yourself!) about clearance status of high corrupt officials such as Kissinger, there are many more important lessons to learn and appreciate in life than the sordid details of our sorry political system. Politics is indeed dominating the world far too much.

  21. July 26, 2018 at 08:44

    I liked it better when the spooks lied to their friends in the media, (now, apparently all of them) and the media would then lie to us. Tom Brokaw was so much more convincing!

  22. mrtmbrnmn
    July 26, 2018 at 00:13

    If CIA thug-in-chief John Brennan is not the Godfather of this entire double-barreled Get Putin/Get Trump operation, he is definitely the lead carnival barker of it. Every CIA chief since the days of Allen Dulles has been revealed as a menace 2 society. Why is that?

    • Sam F
      July 26, 2018 at 08:56

      Part of the problem appears to be fossilization of groupthink at any agency, so that former heads, who acquired and retained power as demagogues, inventing and denouncing foreign enemies (especially domestic opponents outside their agency), cannot relinquish or even stop denouncing ancient fake enemies like the USSR and communism, even generations after they disappeared.

      Any organizing concept starts as a movement, acquires a business component that slowly becomes its reason for being, and degenerates into a racket or becomes led by gangsters (Hoffer). Any organization even within a church can become a gang with no logical rationale for its direction, merely demagogues tyrannizing the group. Any organization using secrecy and violence is a grave danger to any society and can take over government easily. Certainly effective monitoring is essential, and the size and operations of such a group must be strictly limited. CIA was not intended to conduct secret operations, and these have generally been disasters.

    • Sam F
      July 26, 2018 at 09:07

      Part of the reason for that is that foreign operations involve complex foreign policy, which the USG has never made very rationally or very publicly. Our government structure is very poor at debate: even Congress has never really debated issues, it is just a circus of factional ideologues who at best make compromises, and are lucky to have any information, and often proceed with wild guesses rather than clear ways and means. Executive agencies do not debate at all, and are far worse. Secret agencies do no even bother to report what they’re up to beyond the DNI and Pres. So they have no understanding of policy issues to guide them, and invariably make absurd blunders in complex matters, which are hidden from us until they are all gone.

      • xun Pomponio
        July 27, 2018 at 13:37

        The people may provide lies in order to proect their paid positions!

    • Sam F
      July 26, 2018 at 09:21

      So there appears to be a natural assumption within agencies, that the specialized information they acquire is sufficient to guide their specialized operations, that agencies with secret specialized information are competent to make secret specialized policy and conduct secret specialized operations to further that. But in fact no specialized policy of government depends largely upon specialized information: it must be resolved by broad understandings, public debate, and congressional decisions. The US mass media fail to inform public debate, the US government fails to conduct public debate, the Congress is utterly corrupt, the Executive is corrupt, and the specialized agencies are corrupt. So of course the operations are essentially insane, diagnosable but not curable without major structural reform.

      • evelync
        July 27, 2018 at 09:31

        Thank you Sam F. Very well said!

        Any secretive regime – regardless of ideology, it seems, rots from the inside with corruption. Wreaking havoc on those outside the loop. And those standing between the insiders and the dinner table!

        Transparency would be the cure! But, too bad that would “violate national security”. How convenient.

        • evelync
          July 27, 2018 at 10:10

          And, of course, the courageous whistle blowers who feel a responsibility to the public interest are ruthlessly punished for standing up and doing the right thing – telling the rest of us what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars….trying their best to set the ship right and paying the price for it.

          Thank you John Keriakou!

        • Sam F
          July 27, 2018 at 22:14

          Thanks; indeed transparency is the cure. But then Florida passed “sunshine laws” due to its extensive government corruption, highest in the nation outside of DC, and the corruption simply moved to the level of hiding behind shell corporations and proxies, and not bothering to report corrupt transactions, and suppressing the strengthening of corruption enforcement. And the mass media say nothing because they are in the loop of the dominant Repub party. At some point the tools of democracy have been lost and reform is impossible, until the situation degenerates to rebellion.

  23. Groucho
    July 25, 2018 at 21:59

    If someone told me that you retain your security clearance when you no longer have a role that requires it I would have called bull—-t. What possible reason can there be for that?

  24. Joe Tedesky
    July 25, 2018 at 21:08

    If the revolving door of our corrupted government were not oiled with the input of it’s DC retired alumni who are by their brilliance the creators of our American Think Tank strategies, as there go we the people are ever indebted to their self endeavored egos. Ever the career of a professional instigator the disrupters of foreign nation states are not always in elected positions, they are even and especially in the case of plausible deniability hired civilians. The influence of a one time legislator is unimaginable in its financial scoop for all parties of this kind of relationship…it’s a win win every time. Why, with their hands untied of governmental constraints these retirees are hell on wheels. Brennan is a fantastic example of this, and while on the subject of John the super spook, why was he in in Kiev July 16th 2014? Stupid conspiracy theory I know, but stranger coincidence has produced many an investigation in a society with a proper leadership conscience, and objective news media left to its duty to report the truth.

    The intelligence feed I’d love to see is the one, or ones, that channel into our nightly talk show host, and our cable infotainment networks. I mean, that got to top it all when it comes to creativity when Big Brother has little entertainer brother & his responsible sister to belt out a medley of the Deep State propaganda hits…. I mean news break Rachel, here’s Stephen Colbert, and others like them must get their talking points from some agency, no? …. just how deep is the agency, is but a question of the curious?

    These leaders of ours read Orwell’s 1984 like it’s an instructional manual… it’s that simple. I don’t trust the ones who do and should have clearances let alone the sick of mind retirees who shouldn’t have a need to know.

    You know the world is laughing at us, right?

  25. Sam F
    July 25, 2018 at 21:00

    Retired secret agency officials retain their contacts, both in government and among interest groups, financiers, gangsters, mercenaries and other operatives, and often become independent and unaccountable secret agencies, a threat to national security. They often appear to have resolved upon extreme and simplistic views about “enemy” states and ideologies that do not serve the people, and no one should have such independent power.

    Depriving them of clearances does not cut off their organizations, and probably does not much affect their information sources. It should be done, and much more should be done to monitor them, and all top public officials and their relatives and political and business associates, throughout their careers and during their retirement. Monitoring should be relevant and respectful but thorough.

    • Ed
      July 27, 2018 at 04:43

      “Depriving them of clearances does not cut off their organizations, and probably does not much affect their information sources.”

      Depriving those like Brennan of their clearances would at least make any of their former colleagues open to criminal charges for passing classified information to them. For a former subordinate to pass information to Brennan, while Brennan still holds a top secret clearance, isn’t a criminal act, it’s just a deviation from procedural rules.

      If Brennan had no clearance, giving him access to top secret information would be a crime, and the person giving him the information could be arrested, instead of just being subject to reprimand. Therefore, it would tend to affect their information sources.

      • Skip Scott
        July 27, 2018 at 08:13

        There are levels of classification beyond top secret that are related to individual operations. I’m sure Brennan has access to all that as well, and since he is retired, there is no legal justification for it. Our so-called “Intelligence Community” is completely out of control. Brennan is the Allen Dulles of out era. I’m currently finally getting around to reading “The Devil’s Chessboard” by David Talbot. This evil has been going on for decades, and people like Brennan are just the most recent demons d’jour.

      • Sam F
        July 28, 2018 at 16:28

        Yes, there is a worthwhile discouraging effect, although I imagine that the legendary meetings at residences of former secret agency directors permit lots of sufficient hints if not outright disclosures, and would be hard to investigate.

        As Skip notes, there are informally classified matters, as well as wishes for operations and notes about operatives or targets, and non-government who know or do useful things.

      • Skip Scott
        July 29, 2018 at 12:54

        “If Brennan had no clearance, giving him access to top secret information would be a crime, and the person giving him the information could be arrested, instead of just being subject to reprimand. Therefore, it would tend to affect their information sources.”

        This is ridiculous on its face. The same people who could report Brennan are the very people he is colluding with. It is extremely naive to think otherwise. The CIA is “Capitalism’s Invisible Army”, and Trump is threatening the global empire they work for with Nationalist rhetoric. These people will NEVER allow that to happen. Just as Allen Dulles continued to control the CIA after Kennedy fired him, Brennan is still “in the club”, and they don’t play by the rules.

        • Ed
          August 5, 2018 at 17:42

          No, Skippy, it isn’t “ridiculous on its face” at all.

          “The same people who could report Brennan are the very people he is colluding with. It is extremely naive to think otherwise.”

          Now there’s an example of a ridiculous statement. A single person feeding Brennan classified material is certainly not the only person who could report the passing of the material to Brennan. Why not just admit that you don’t understand my comment?

          Of the several thousand people who have access to top secret material, there are probably only a relative handful who would give Brennan the time of day, let alone pass information to him. There are at least as many people in the CIA who despise Brennan and would throw him a cinder block if he was drowning. Those are the people who would report that Brennan was getting info, or asking for it.

          Just face the obvious fact that you don’t know everything and stop pretending that you do.

  26. July 25, 2018 at 20:18

    It might be plausible for a transition, Back, but this is clearly a stretch, to have security clearance years later! I suspect Clinton has stirred up quite a lot since her departure from State, where she served only during Obama’s first term.

    • A
      July 25, 2018 at 23:31

      Kissinger still has clearance. educate youself

      • anon
        July 26, 2018 at 08:20

        If you believe that relevant, and further info to be needed, you should explain and provide that information. Caustic notes are not helpful to anyone.

  27. DH Fabian
    July 25, 2018 at 20:10

    They actually HAVE been propagandizing the American people, with NBC/MSNBC serving as the propaganda arm of the Dem right wing. What is so tragic is that they have brought us closer than ever to a catastrophic nuclear world war.

  28. Dunderhead
    July 25, 2018 at 19:20

    First off John, you are a personal hero of mine and as a taxpayer I thank you from the bottom of my wallet as well as heart, secondly great point, this current arrangement of never ending security clearance for the Lords and Masters of our technocracy after they have served their so-called useful time in are governmental bureaucracy is along since overdue to be ended. On the other hand, the prospect that a partisan hack like John Brennan is going to take a haircut in his lucrative network news it deals is just beautiful karma, may this trend continue!

    • vincent frishee
      July 26, 2018 at 19:18

      after reading article checked Kiriakou’s info on wikipedia as I was not familiar. Join all who consider you a hero!

  29. hetro
    July 25, 2018 at 19:16

    All good reasons for cancelling their security clearances, yes. The argument NOT TO is doing so makes Trump look weak and authoritarian, more grist for the mill against him as incipient dictator taking lessons from Putin. I would urge Trump to get more vigorous in knocking back asinine commentary from the likes of Brennan and the woman in Colorado who said he was more deserving of execution than the Rosenbergs.

    • DH Fabian
      July 25, 2018 at 20:13

      You might get a clearer idea of the situation if you weren’t so brainwashed concerning Putin. In fact, the sane world put its hopes on Putin being able to show Trump why a nuclear world war (which liberals evidently want) would not be in anyone’s best interests.

      • hetro
        July 26, 2018 at 20:30

        This knee-jerk response is a bit silly. The argument against Trump’s removing the clearances IS as I stated. That doesn’t mean I agree with it! Apparently you only read the first sentence of my post. I also said Trump should get more vigorous in responding to asinine comments. This is sympathetic to Trump, not bashing him.

  30. mike k
    July 25, 2018 at 19:15

    These spies, secret police, and terrorists are so drunk with power, they just can’t retire and let go of it. Every one of those mentioned should be doing life in prison, instead of making further illicit millions telling lies.

  31. July 25, 2018 at 19:14

    Apparently Hillary Clinton still has her security clearance!

    • A
      July 25, 2018 at 23:34

      See above , so does henry Kissinger

  32. July 25, 2018 at 19:12

    Thanks for making this very important point, John. I agree. Especially given that Brennan has proven unable to behave in a professional fashion and instead has a political agenda he’s gunning for.

  33. July 25, 2018 at 18:43

    Yep..your absolutely correct!

  34. July 25, 2018 at 18:39

    Ridiculous that any of them keep their security clearance once out of that position! How long has that been going on? No sense whatsoever.

    • backwardsevolution
      July 25, 2018 at 19:11

      Jessika – I heard it explained that they kept their security clearances so that their successors would have a smooth transition, i.e. the new guys might need their help for a little while just to get up to speed. A month sounds about right.

      There have been some big leaks during Trump’s presidency. Time to shut down the pipeline, especially since they are now cable news stars and are sitting on boards. And double especially since they have an obvious disdain for Trump.

    • A
      July 25, 2018 at 23:35

      Oh ,probably since 1917

  35. July 25, 2018 at 18:19

    Yes – this is such an obvious no-brainer. Policy should be revised to allow security clearances ONLY to authorized current staff.

  36. Susan Sunflower
    July 25, 2018 at 18:18

    Comey said he was “stripped” of his security clearance as standard-operating-procedure when he was read-out of the FBI … how many people actually retain access and who and why?

    I could understand applying for access (to write a book or even memoirs) but, I wonder how many “pretend” access / clearance when they just rely on the good-old boys’ network of friends (off the record) sharing intel with “friends” …. see Rudy Guiliani … some better than others….

    As we learned with the Valerie Plame case, even the most vulnerable, valuable and sensitive information becomes everyone-knows “gossip” when it’s politically expedient … “we, the people” may have learned, but the folks with “access” wield it like a billclub. …

    So disappointed at the lack of professionalism this suggests.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 25, 2018 at 21:37

      Susan I think “Chance Buckman” the character John Wayne played in “Hellfighters” got read his clearance while on his way to fight rebels, and put out oil fires in Venezuela. Seriously though I think if our government needed you they could read you in, or something like that…. in other words you would have acquired the ‘need to know’. But that is the question; do these ex-DCer’s need to know anything once retired? If this is so, and customary, then we the people have a right to know also why these ex-DCer’s need that knowledge. At least we should have the respect to be told why these retirees are so important to our nations national security. It’s all to cozy in the DC swamp…. time to change a few things. Joe

      • A
        July 25, 2018 at 23:53

        kind of like we wanted to change the swamp but what we meant was not exactly what others meant. Nuances.

      • Skip Scott
        July 26, 2018 at 07:25

        Hi Joe-

        Maybe in some kind of an emergency situation, but usually clearance requires a cursory background check by the FBI and filling out an application. Top secret clearance requires a more extensive background check.

        I would like to see an in depth debate on the place for “classified” information in a free democratic society. I’m sure it has it’s place in time of war, but it has been perverted to the point where it is hiding the truth about the true aims of our government and military from the citizenry.

        • July 26, 2018 at 15:39

          The US Government classified 15.2 million documents last year alone. And yet Americans are always speaking of an open government answerable to the people. One would have to ask if there was not one or two of that 15.2 million documents that did not need to be classified wouldn`t they? One would be forgiven for thinking that with so much secret information and activity on the part of the government if there really was not a Deep State really running the government after all.? if it was it would demand this level of secrecy would`nt it? Just what is it they are trying so hard to hide? I mean if it is an open government such as Americans like to say they have would not say 14.2 million classified documents cover it?It just seems a little excessive to me.

  37. Ann
    July 25, 2018 at 18:15

    “Taking a New Look at the Unverified Steele Dossier,” by Publius Tacitus:
    “… it is vital that the American people actually read the source material and apply their own common sense. … Strzok and Comey lied. There must be an accounting.”

  38. July 25, 2018 at 17:38

    Here is a new link to a censored video on you tube.
    THIS A KEY MOMENT IN WORLD HISTORY: Deep State in Total Panic & Fully Exposed

    • DH Fabian
      July 25, 2018 at 20:17

      The title alone indicates that it’s just a propaganda piece. There isn’t a whole lot of panic going on.

      • backwardsevolution
        July 26, 2018 at 20:30

        DH Fabian – oh, there’s not only panic going on, but this is a fight to the death between the globalists and the nationalists, between the Deep State and the American people.

        Stephen J. – great video. Thanks for posting it.

  39. July 25, 2018 at 17:36

    “Summit” delayed. See link below.
    Trump delays second Putin summit for 2019 over ‘Russia witch hunt’ – Bolton
    Published time: 25 Jul, 2018 18:39 Edited time: 25 Jul, 2018 19:06

    • LarcoMarco
      July 25, 2018 at 21:56

      How is it that Dolton is now Dumpsterfire’s mouthpiece? Waiting for the ‘Russia Witch Hunt” to end before re-scheduling the summit is like waiting for the “War on Terror” to end. Al least Ushakov suggested a side meeting at the G20 in Argentina this November.

  40. suzanne
    July 25, 2018 at 17:35

    Mr. Kiriakou,
    I read many news formats that are out side the main stream news, I find it the only way to have at least a slip of an idea as to what is going on the the government. Yours is the first article I have read the presents a viable reason as the why officials should be stripped of their clearances. I am not sure I totally agree with you, at least not at this very moment but you have presented what appear to be valid thoughts on this subject. I plan to study this more before I take my own stand.
    Thank you for your privative thoughts,
    suzanne cruise
    from fly over country

    • July 25, 2018 at 20:55

      Consider doing your homework on who John is. He’s not just someone giving “what appear to be valid thoughts”.

  41. Drew Hunkins
    July 25, 2018 at 17:15

    Brennan’s been doing exactly what you would expect of a whore for the Criminal Intelligence Agency. Clearly he’s so internalized the values of that global killing machine — which is actually the covert and violent executive arm of the Executive branch — that he’s obviously of the opinion that all his deceit and pontificating are in the service of the greater good for all mankind. It’s superfluous to say this is some form of illness.

    One must remember that the military-industrial-congressional-media complex, for which Brennan sold his soul, is now so pervasive that the only way the public will ever be able to throw off its yoke would be through a massive politico-economic revolution; a revolution that doesn’t seem likely given that a solid majority of the U.S. population holds the Pentagon and top military brass in very high esteem, viewing them as among the most trusted institutions and people in the country.

    The imperialist mass media are playing the people like a fiddle.

    The people of the United States are paying dearly for failing to heed Ike’s prescient warning.

    • JWalters
      July 25, 2018 at 19:35

      “the military-industrial-congressional-media complex, … is now so pervasive that the only way the public will ever be able to throw off its yoke would be through a massive politico-economic revolution”

      Very true. And the power of massive wealth is indeed the tap-root of this pervasive, organized corruption. That financial tap-root is described in “War Profiteers and Israel’s Bank” at

      The public could react intelligently if it could see through the many puppets to the coordinating puppeteer.

    • DH Fabian
      July 25, 2018 at 20:42

      Agree, and most liberal media have been doing the same in their efforts to build support for a catastrophic world war, serving the Clinton right wing — playing middle class liberals like a fiddle. Beyond that: An “economic revolution” isn’t possible in today’s US. Who can risk losing his job by “rising up,” knowing there’s nothing to fall back on today — knowing what we do to those who are phased out of the job market? More broadly, who would fight whom, and for what? We’re rich vs. middle class vs. poor, further split by race and a long list of issues.

    • Skip Edwards
      July 25, 2018 at 21:19

      And many among us go merrily along in our blissful ignorance thanking ever sicker who ever toted a gun for their service.

      • Skip Edwards
        July 25, 2018 at 21:21

        WTF! I said “every one”; not ever sicker!!!!

  42. Jeff Harrison
    July 25, 2018 at 16:56

    In order to have access to classified information, at any level, you have to have a need to know that information. Having the clearance itself gets you nothing if you don’t have a need to know unless somebody breaks the rules. I myself had SI/SAO clearances when I was working for McDonnell Douglas/Boeing and when I retired I had to sign several pieces of paper one of which said that I would take everything I knew to my grave with me. They weren’t taking my clearances away, they couldn’t do that but they were taking my access away. They wouldn’t actually take these guys clearances away as much as making them inactive – they no longer have a need to know. And I agree with Mr. Kiriakou, their clearances need to be turned off.

    • Ed
      July 27, 2018 at 04:59

      Jeff, the point is that people break the rules all the time. Government officials are subject to different rules from the ones that civilian employees of contractors are subject to. Government employees and appointed officials can have their clearances revoked. It happens all the time. Allowing appointed officials to keep their clearances makes it easier for them to get access to classified material because the ones they ask for access won’t face criminal charges for giving them access.

      If they don’t have clearance, the person they ask for access would face criminal charges for giving them a peek (or a printout). That’s the real reason these former officials like to keep their clearances. Brennan has no “need to know”, but you can bet that he still gets access to lots of material that he shouldn’t be allowed to see, given his new job as a media bloviator.

  43. Realist
    July 25, 2018 at 16:44

    How do we know for sure that the president himself is given access to every piece of “classified” information? After all, the Democrats have spoken openly of depriving Mr. Trump of such, you know, because it’s a given that he’s a traitor and a Russian puppet. Depriving the executive of knowledge of all the working parts seems just like the sort of thing that a “deep state” would do to reserve the “real” power unto itself.

    As to Mr. Kiriakou’s premise that hangers on, like Brennan and Clapper, with no official role in government ought to have their water cut off when it comes to classified info with which they can work untold mischief, especially in the media, I’m all for it. Access to such data, especially by those with political motives and connections, is the fodder of propaganda and subversive movements.

    • DH Fabian
      July 25, 2018 at 20:59

      Democrats are well-aware of the fact that they are waging an anti-Russian propaganda campaign unlike anything seen since the McCarthy Era. Lying, and counting on the ignorance of the general population. Since Trump took office, the world has noted his buildup of US/NATO troops near the Russian border, seen by the world as a US (Trump) provocation of war against Russia (Putin)..Not a gesture of friendship. Add in Trump’s reinforced economic sanctions against Russia, increased hostilities between US and Russian troops in the Mideast, a year and a half of hard-core anti-Russian propaganda by our media. While Trump has openly been setting the stage for a catastrophic war, a certain faction of the population has babbled on about a Putin/Trump bromance.

      • Realist
        July 28, 2018 at 03:39

        Democrats and Republicans alike have been incessantly ratcheting up the tension with Russia, as has been every spook, military flag officer and major shareholder in the MIC since long before Trump ever dreamed of running for the office of president. Now ensconced in the White House he’s been acceding to their wishes and escalating the situation whenever they put pressure on him, he does, after all, have a survival instinct and probably was taught the basics of JFK101 by his spook tutors on Inauguration Day. The making of World War III has been a group effort, the only ones really against it being the people in their homes, offices and on the streets.

  44. robert e williamson jr
    July 25, 2018 at 16:30

    By the way John Kiriakou’s case seems to have proven that patriots are spies. DOJ has this all wrong!! We are in BIG trouble here.

  45. Zim
    July 25, 2018 at 16:27

    Agreed. It’s just stupid that they are allowed to keep it.

  46. robert e williamson jr
    July 25, 2018 at 16:26

    I have followed Mr. Kiriakou’s story. I could not agree with him more. But John it would be nice to have someone who knows like you to give us an approximate number of folks out there with these clearances. Ones access to highly sensitive information should be based on their individual need to know. Or at least that is what I was told while in the U.S. Army. I need money why not me.

    The classification process has been abused beyond belief by CIA, NSA DEA and others. It’s time for it to stop. These guys are used by the likes of CIA long after their influence should be of any significance. The political parties are the worst at abusing the privilege by far. I could go on ad nauseam. John could go much longer I’m sure. Thank you John for doing what is right as opposed to what is easy.

    • DH Fabian
      July 25, 2018 at 21:02

      When information is passed along by someone who has access to “highly sensitive” information, how do we know that what they pass along is the truth?

      • Lin Cleveland
        July 26, 2018 at 17:34

        When information is passed along by someone who has access to “highly sensitive” information, how do we know that what they pass along is the truth?

        very good question DH Fabian! As an autonomous citizen in this so-called “Democracy” I find it unacceptable for all of this secrecy. We citizens can vote or abstain for “officials” who then make all manner of policy decisions without consulting the constituency. Then we have all these agencies, FBI, CIA, NSA and more. I do wonder just how many people have some level of security clearance and who decides who among us qualify. I conducted a duckduckgo search, but didn’t come up with a name. Here’s a sample of what I found;

        Who issues clearances? The Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) in Columbus, OH issues DoD contractor Personnel Clearances (PCL). PCLs are based on completed personnel security investigations (PSI) that do not have any serious security or suitability issues. When DISCO is unable to issue a PCL, the case is forwarded to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) for further consideration.

        The U.S. empire has at least 800 bases in foreign nations and the U.S. congress has not declared war since December of 1941. So what the hell is going on? I don’t fear Russia! I don’t fear China! I don’t fear Venezuela! And I do not like paying taxes so little boys can play their 007 spy games.

        Our eco-system cannot afford war* after war* after war*!

        war*–police action if you prefer.

      • jack smith
        July 27, 2018 at 06:14

        seems like dh has a one track mind,maybe we should all just hide in a cave,and ignore the issues,like dh suggests. if the demos are so damn bad,since when do people give this info to a punk from new york city who never had a single dime of respect to anyone. your not from the area of the country where i can call trump a punk,and see over the crap spewed from many here in this blog. get over the demo crap, its a dead horse,look at where this present congress and trump are leading us. its not a russia problem as you suggest?,.. russians have been in this country since the fall of its communists self, riping off wall street,taxes,real estate dealing,general fraud. billions have been taken,and in some cases,launderd through trumps casinos.wheres mueller(maybe),trying to open those cases,andfollow the money,,trump would sell out america for his trump hotel in red square,and hes on the hook for billions to,russian money. if you can read above the drivel your putting forth, try reading,article,by bob dreyfuss”,what did trump and kushner know about russian money laundering,and when did they know it.”it has two other lead in stories near the end,one is by james henry,and another by craig unger.. if its so imperitive to slam the other side,try reading some decent journalism,about why you dont allow the slime like trumps world even get beyond his property lines..

    • Eddie
      July 25, 2018 at 22:50

      Re: “…classification process has been abused beyond belief by CIA, NSA DEA and others.”
      My favorite example of that was (I believe) during the investigations of the FBI back on the 70’s when Congress found NEWSPAPER clippings stamped “Top Secret” in a number of files! In my mind, it’s hard to make a serious, honest argument for that being good USG policy — it’s just laziness and expedience.

    • Skip Scott
      July 26, 2018 at 07:16

      This is info from 2010. I’m sure it’s more now.

      The report to congress reveals many previously unknown details about who holds security clearances today, although much uncertainty remains – including which type of workers actually hold some clearances. As of October 1, 2010, 2,166,679 government employees held confidential/secret security clearances and 666,008 held top secret clearances. 541,097 government contractors held confidential/secret security clearances and 524,990 held top secret clearances.

  47. David Hamilton
    July 25, 2018 at 15:55


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