Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Personal attacks on John Brennan have no bearing on the controversy

John Brennan
John Brennan in saner times
It's a pattern that repeats itself. Someone gets into a spat with Donald Trump. Suddenly, he or she becomes the worst person in the world (with apologies to Keith Olbermann). At the same time, whatever Trump has done will become the most virtuous thing known to mankind since Moses parted the Red Sea.

Such is the case with John Brennan. There is no shortage of personal attacks. My personal favorite is titled: Why Stripping John Brennan’s Security Clearance Sets A Good Precedent. The author, Elad Hakim, is a solo practitioner lawyer in Boca Raton who has never appeared in federal court in South Florida. I suppose that slip-and-fall litigation constitutes sufficient erudition for The Federalist.

Hakim gets additional gold stars for attacking CNN and specifically Chris Cillizza. Both are “enemies of the people.” Right?

Mr. Hakim writes:
…Chris Cillizza expressed concern that “the criteria for stripping a former senior intelligence official of his security credentials is solely how nice and supportive he is to the current administration?”
[…]
Cillizza is correct that Trump’s decision to strip Brennan’s security clearance sets a precedent. But his conclusion that it’s a dangerous precedent is oversimplified and erroneous for several reasons.
[…]
he also quoted the “official” reasons the White House provided for stripping Brennan’s security clearance, which included allegations that Brennan lied, engaged in frenzied commentary, and used his position as a former high-ranking official to make unfounded and outrageous allegations about the administration.
I would hate to read one of this guy's briefs, perhaps one defending a podiatrist who accidentally nicked someone's big toe. Mr. Hakim is verbose. This isn't about Chris Cillizza. It is about Trump gratuitously yanking someone's security clearance. Mr. Hakim eventually claims that Cillizza unintentionally gave reasons to support the removal of Brennan's security clearance. It's just rhetoric.

Then, citing a July, 2017 memo from the DNI:
Appendix A of the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines provides that a person’s personal conduct (Guideline E) and/or psychological conditions (Guideline I) are two of many factors that may be considered when deciding whether to grant or to continue someone’s national security eligibility.
Actually, it reads in full:
Conduct involving questionable judgment, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations can raise questions about an individual's reliability, trustworthiness and ability to protect classified information. Of special interest is any failure to provide truthful and candid answers during the security clearance process or any other failure to cooperate with the security clearance process.
In other words, it is not simply conduct. It is conduct relating to dishonesty associated with the clearance, or in pursuit of the clearance, that is most concerning. For that, and many other reasons, it is Donald Trump who should not have a security clearance; not to mention that he revealed Israeli secrets to Putin.

Furthermore, as it applies to Mr. Brennan, just because Donald Trump says that conduct constitutes questionable judgment doesn't make it so. Consider the narcissist and pathological liar who is making the claim. I can support my opinions regarding Trump with concrete evidence.

Someone stating opinions that Mr. Trump doesn't like doesn't seem to be covered anywhere in the guidelines. In fact, if you read the memo in full, it is allegiance to an adversary that is most problematic. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Who has demonstrated allegiance to an adversary?

According to Hakim:
There is no question that revocation was justified. Specifically on March 17, 2018, Brennan tweeted about Trump: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”
That tweet sounds about right to me. I cannot fathom how that opinion would justify revocation of Mr. Brennan's security clearance.

We all know that Trump revoked Brennan's clearance because he did not like Brennan's criticism. It was entirely unrelated to national security. It is obvious and unambiguous. Sarah Sanders admitted as much. It is true that she lies every day but she was reading a prepared statement.

Mr. Hakim probably knows this as well. Why pick a fight over something so apparent?

The answer to that question is the obsession of some people to defend anything and everything involving Trump, no matter how absurd or petty. No president has ever been as controversial as Trump so there is much to defend.

There was an effort to create controversy over President Obama. He was a Moronic-Kenyan-Muslim-Socialist-America Hating-Liar. Except that none of that was true. None of that was supported by evidence. Some of it reflects unapologetic racism. The bombast was conjured up, dishonestly, by some of the same people who are now obsessed with defending Trump's every tweet now matter how idiotic.

If people would stop excusing every one of Trump's impulses and prevarications it is possible (no matter how improbable) that Trump would be more mindful of the dignity and decency required of our commander in chief. Mr. Trump is turning our society into a mixture of cynics, liars and people who have completely abandoned any sense of caring about our governance. We are willing to accept “alternate facts.” We are even willing to accept the utterance of one of Trump's lawyers who said that “truth isn't truth.”

Truth be told, I could not care less about Mr. Brennan's security clearance. It is the commitment to dishonesty on the part of people who know better or who should know better that is most unsettling. We tend to apportion Trump's support to MAGA morons and Alt-Right lunatics. It's more than that. There are thoughtful and intelligent people who outwardly support Donald Trump. They have abandoned the critical thinking that they might have once possessed. They have also abandoned their own decency and integrity.

When Trump leaves office decades will be required to repair all of the societal damage. The more damage we do, the longer it will take.

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