Twelve former intelligence chiefs signed and released a public letter protesting the decision by President Donald Trump to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who has been very critical of the president.
'Ill-considered and unprecedented'
"We feel compelled to respond in the wake of the ill-considered and unprecedented remarks and actions by the White House," the letter said. "We know John to be an enormously talented, capable and patriotic individual who devoted his entire adult life to the service of this nation."
"Insinuations and allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Brennan while in office are baseless," it continued. "Since leaving government service, John has chosen to speak out sharply regarding what he sees as threats to our national security."
"[W]e 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 clearance — and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech," they added.
The contention that Trump was shutting down free speech mirrored that of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said Wednesday that the decision violated Brennan's First Amendment right of free speech. Clapper was also one of the signatories.
Here's the list of the former officials who signed the letter of protest:
Three former Directors of Central Intelligence:
- William Webster
- George Tenet
- Porter Goss
Three former CIA directors:
- Gen. Michael Hayden
- Leon Panetta
- Gen. David Petraeus
A former director of national intelligence:
- James Clapper
Five former deputy CIA directors:
- John McLaughlin
- Stephen Kappes
- Avril Haines
- David Cohen
- Michael Morell
'He’s disgraced and discredited himself'
Reports indicate that the president is eager to revoke the security clearances of other officials over their statements opposing his administration and his policies.
Trump tweeted Thursday a quote from Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch that read, "Brennan has gone off the deep end, he’s disgraced and discredited himself. His conduct has been outrageous."