Writing in the Washington Post, William H McRaven, who presided over the Bin Laden raid, called Trump’s moves “McCarthy-era tactics” and said he would “consider it an honor” if Trump revoked his clearance as well.
“Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs,” he wrote. “A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.
“Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
McRaven also praised Brennan as “a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him”.
It came after Brennan called Trump’s repeated denials that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election “hogwash” and accused the president of revoking his security clearance as part of a “desperate” attempt to interfere with the special counsel’s investigation.
The criticism was followed later on Thursday by a joint letter from 12 former senior intelligence officials calling Trump’s action “ill-considered and unprecedented”. They said it “has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances – and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech”.
The signatories included six former CIA directors, five former deputy directors and former director of national intelligence James Clapper. Two of them – Clapper and former CIA director Michael Hayden – have appeared on a list of people whose security clearance the White House has publicly threatened to remove.
And late on Thursday night, a 13th name signed on – that of Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary under former presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama and had previously been George HW Bush’s director of the CIA, Slate and CNN reported.
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