As John Brennan has emerged as a #resistance leader in the intelligence community, naturally there is outrage regarding President Trump’s recent decision to revoke his security clearance. The outrage, of course, requires a fair amount of shaking one’s head like an Etch-A-Sketch to forget John Brennan’s past sins.

Who is John Brennan?

John Brennan is the former director of the CIA, former Homeland Security Advisor, and former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

John Brennan was the #2 at the CIA during Iraq’s “WMD” scare that essentially kicked off what would be an 8-year invasion and occupation of Iraq. As many as 500,000 deaths occurred as a result and some estimates have that number closer to 1 million. 5,000+ of them American soldiers.

We still haven’t fully left Iraq.

CIA, Torture, Drones, And More

When President Obama nominated Brennan to head the CIA, the ACLU opposed the nomination. 

John Brennan was a supporter of “enhanced interrogation” otherwise known as torture and has defended its use on several occasions. 

John Brennan was also a chief architect of the controversial drone program. A program which Brennan claimed had not resulted in a single collateral death. The truth, of course, is that civilian deaths may have eclipsed 1,000. As it was later reported, the administration knew all along that civilians were being killed as a result.

Brennan, let’s not forget also helped create the “kill list” for the strikes. This portion of Barack Obama’s presidency left many liberal supporters baffled, even angered. At least four US citizens have been killed due to the drone strikes. One of them intentionally.

The drone strikes continue today with some civilian casualty estimates over 2,000.

Surveillance

You may also recall that time the CIA hacked into Senate computers. Brennan denied that this had occurred, telling NBC’s Andrea Mitchell:

“As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s — that’s just beyond the — you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do. {…}

And, you know, when the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”

This, of course, wasn’t true. Though it wasn’t just a few rogue agents who decided to playfully hack into members of the United States Senate. Rather, as it was initially reported, the CIA had accessed members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were investigating the CIA’s illegal torture tactics. 

Brennan apologized.

Revisionist History

John Brennan is guilty of a great many transgressions. Today, he is an outspoken critic of President Trump and his critiques are not without merit. However, he should have lost his security clearance long ago. He has lied to Congress, been involved in a scandal in which the agency he directed was intentionally spying on members of the United States Senate. He helped build and defend a drone program which has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, and more. The list goes on.

For those who skewered the Bush Administration over WMD’s: That’s partially John Brennan.

If you opposed drone warfare: That’s a lot of John Brennan.

If you opposed torture, as so many claim to oppose it: That’s John Brennan too.

Whether you think Edward Snowden is a hero or a traitor, he helped to peel back the curtain and expose the massive surveillance apparatus operating in the wake of 9-11. Guess what? That’s John Brennan and the intelligence community as well.

Opposing Donald Trump is fine. There is plenty about the man’s character and behavior to criticize and oppose. However, it wasn’t that long ago that those “on the left” would have gladly seen John Brennan in prison for his various “mistakes,” as he might call them.

Who’s Secure?

Why does John Brennan need to retain his security clearance? That’s a good question. According to a recent Vox piece, there’s really no good reason insofar as it serves the American people. The piece argues that there are 4-5 million people in the US with some level of clearance or another and most of them go to work for government contractors.

The piece also explains that officials may still need that clearance for when they write their memoirs later. Well, that’s vital to the public interest.

The argument has further been made that the outgoing CIA chief theoretically would be available to advise the incoming one. Theoretically possible, sure. Although there’s also apparently 4-5 million others out there with a clearance. Not to mention an entire Intel community out there as well.

Not Helping His Own Case

Brennan, for his part, has done everything he could to get the current administration to cut him off. He’s gone on every television show that will have him and criticized the administration. That’s certainly his right, by the way. However, I find it unsettling that a former CIA director with a security clearance would take up residence at a prominent news network. There’s just something odd about that.

He’s tweeted incessantly about morality and the greater good, etc. It makes for a great bout of #resistance porn for those who would like to see Donald Trump removed from office; but are horrifyingly oblivious to Brennan’s own past.

He’s publicly called President Trump a traitor and guilty of treason. Is this true? That remains to be seen, although Brennan has since walked back the “treason” comment. This is yet another troubling element of Brennan’s unique position. There is, of course, an implication that he knows more than he’s letting on. That when Brennan throws the word “treason” out there: he has information. Why wouldn’t he? He has/had a security clearance after all.

So we have a former CIA director who blasts the current administration at every turn and on every channel he can get on, who accuses the sitting president of a crime punishable by death.

Gee, I can hardly imagine why anyone would revoke his clearance?

Take Your Ball and Go Home, John

As someone who once supported the Iraq war, I’m not a fan of John Brennan. Certainly not now that we know the details of their Intelligence community’s major failings in getting us involved.

I’m not a fan of drone strikes that kill civilians. Especially when we know that when ISIS and other organizations go recruiting, they often identify potential recruits based on their views of US foreign policy. Whether you think America is a force for good, or whether we achieve a net positive result in the world: tell that to someone who’s father, sister, or mother was killed by a US drone strike sometime in the last decade plus.

I’m not a fan of mass surveillance and the lengths to which the chains have come off the Intel community in the wake of 9-11. Call me crazy but I don’t think the US government should be spying on members of the Senate or on private citizens without cause. And a damn good one at that.

So for all those reasons and more, I’m not shedding a tear that President Trump took away John Brennan’s hall pass. Something tells me he’ll be fine.

It’s okay to criticize President Trump. His motives for revoking Brennan’s clearance were likely more political than anything else. Critique is a fair game all around. However, for those of you who would like to see President Trump fail, be careful who you lionize in the pursuit of that goal.

I don’t share your view of wanting President Trump to go down. However, I respect that you have a right to that opinion. Just be careful who you prop up to get there.