In a striking rebuke to President Trump, more than a dozen former senior U.S. intelligence officials have signed a letter sharply criticizing him for what they call his “ill-considered” decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan.
The signers — who served in Democratic and Republican administrations — say in their joint letter that Trump’s decision this week was a blatant attempt to curb free speech and sent an “inappropriate and deeply regrettable” signal to other public servants.
“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,” said the letter, whose signers include former CIA directors who served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Robert M. Gates — who served as secretary of defense under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and director of central intelligence under President George H.W. Bush — also signed the letter after it was first released late Thursday…
Besides Gates, those signing the letter included former CIA directors William H. Webster, George J. Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael V. Hayden, Leon E. Panetta and David H. Petraeus; former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.; and former deputy CIA directors John McLaughlin, Stephen Kappes, Avril Haines, David Cohen and Michael Morell.
“This action is quite clearly a signal to other former and current officials,” the letter says. “That signal is inappropriate and deeply regrettable. Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security and not political views.”