This week, beset by bad news about Omarosa Manigault-Newman, President Donald Trump decided to launch a war of choice. The White House announced Wednesday that he had revoked security clearance for John Brennan, who was the CIA director under Barack Obama and has since become a leading Trump critic. Trump also threatened to take clearance away from a slew of other critics.
But wars, once started, don’t always unfold the way you intend. In Trump’s case, a host of prominent retired military and intelligence leaders have entered the fray opposing him. First, retired Navy Admiral William McRaven wrote an open letter to the president in The Washington Post on Thursday criticizing the revocation of Brennan’s clearance and asking to join him: “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”
Later on Thursday, another 13 former generals and spy chiefs signed a letter in support of Brennan. Some of them have already been visible Trump critics, including the former NSA chief Michael Hayden and the former CIA deputy chief John McLaughlin, but others have been less outspoken, such as Porter Goss, the CIA director under George W. Bush. The real surprises are Robert Gates, a former CIA director and defense secretary, and David Petraeus, who also led the CIA.