The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Security clearances, or how the Highlanders came to America

In case you have better things to do with your time than peruse Wikipedia or the New York Times for this sort of information, John Brennan became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in March of 2013 and he stopped being the DCI in January of 2017. It is now 24 July 2018 (just five shopping months to Christmas, folks, so get ready; the holidays will be here sooner than you think). So if you will pardon me for asking this, why does Mr. Brennan still have a security clearance a year and a half after he left his job at the CIA? This is an excellent question, I think, and one for which no one seems to have an equally excellent answer. It is entirely unlikely that anyone in the Trump Administration is going to ask for his advice about anything. Given the animus between the two men, I doubt that President Trump would call Mr. Brennan if his life depended on it. Now, what follows is just my opinion, you understand---your mileage may vary, but I think that when your  time in the spy business is up, your time in the spy business is up. You hand in your secret decoder ring and the double secret Rolodex with the head of the Mossad’s personal phone number in it and you just go away. You do not pass go, you do not collect $200, and you especially do not get to ask the people who used to work for you what’s new out there in the big bad world these days. If the Administration wants to chat with you informally about something important, they will bring you in—I assume that you will not have to pay for the parking, or, if you do have to pay, maybe the IRS will let you deduct the valet’s tip as a tax deduction—and the new guys at your old job will show you whatever it is they want to show you and then that's it; you give them your two cent’s worth and then you go home and you keep your mouth shut about what they told you and about what you told them. 

For all the media screaming about Trump acting childishly with these threats of pulling security clearances, it seems to me that what is happening here is that Trump is not so subtly warning the Obama holdovers still on the IC payroll that passing secrets to these guys is no longer a safe way to undermine the Trump presidency. Up to now, Clapper and crew could get deep background briefings from their former employees and it would not technically be a leak since they still have their security clearances. If Trump gets his way, an active (but very disloyal) member of the intelligence community telling Brennan, Clapper & Company anything more secret than the CIA’s monthly budget for office supplies will be a violation of the Espionage Act. And even if Trump doesn't have the insubordinate Obama types charged under the Act, my guess is that forced retirements and demotions will be the order of the day, as well as transfers to places where the air conditioning isn't always up to snuff and the inhabitants have never heard of toilets, toilet paper, or the salubrious effects of indoor plumbing. There is something about the smell of ordure in the morning that doesn’t smell like victory and makes you want to stay in Virginia or Maryland, even if it means taking early retirement.  In the United States, after all, it is good for a President to crucify a spy every now and again; it encourages the others.

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  • At 4:19 AM, Blogger Dick Stanley said…

    Good thinking. It was amusing to hear of an NBC reporter truthfully lamenting the loss of their "valuable commodity" and the "financial penalty" they will suffer.

  • At 4:13 PM, Blogger Akaky said…

    Yeah, what is the point of government service if you can't make a fortune at it. I mean, really, look at how well the Clinton's are doing these days.

  • At 1:15 AM, Blogger Dick Stanley said…

    Just about every pol that wins the House or the Senate more than once comes out rich. How do they do it, you wonder. How, indeed.

  • At 3:36 AM, Blogger Dick Stanley said…

    And now (as of 8/15/18) Brennan has lost his clearance. And Clapper (pray G-d) is next.

  • At 7:35 PM, Blogger Akaky said…

    About damn time, too


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