White House Says it’s Looking to Revoke Obama-Era Officials Security Clearances


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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20 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong about this.

    My understanding was that a cleared person could publish books about their work and experience, provided that work was submitted in advance to CIA censors so as to remove all classified information.

    It was also my understanding that all of these people had done exactly that with their books and other publications.

    So if my understanding is correct, none of these people have violated any laws in publishing any of their works. And the common denominator between all of their publications is that they are all critical of the President’s conduct, decisions, and demeanor.Report

    • I need to do a lot of reading on the in and outs but generally you would be correct. The president does have the authority to grant and restrict information at his pleasure but this would be a stretch from that authority. Rand Paul was being overt about wrong doing with Clapper but no specifics. Everyone on the list is outspoken critic of the president. This was not off-handed announcement it was rolled out, so we should take something from that; Trump Administration isn’t known for planning so when they do it should be noted. Question is, is it just political games against foes, or something else simmering. We will see.Report

  2. Avatar James K says:

    Question from an ignorant foreigner: I notice the people slated to lose their clearances all used to hold intelligence-related jobs but no longer do. Do they actually still have a security clearance? And if so, why?Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to James K says:

      I just saw this on twitter but it was from someone with knowledge. Current agency heads etc will often call on their predecessors for advice on current situations and their experience.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to greginak says:

        I wasn’t aware of this either.
        Apparently there is quite the gravy train going on whereby former heads do lucrative “consulting” work for both private interests and public agencies using their continuing access to government secrets.Report

        • Avatar James K in reply to Chip Daniels says:


          Yeah, that strikes me as deeply suspicious:
          1) Proper handovers and file systems mean that a former boss shouldn’t know things you don’t.
          2) The whole point of intelligence agencies is that you have people who can advise you, people who will be up-to-date on the latest information, and therefore have a better idea of what is going on.

          I rarely deal with anything higher-rated than Confidential at work, but still this strikes as really sloppy.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          A lot of our intelligence related work that requires a security clearance is outsourced to private industry, so it shouldn’t be surprising if a lot of people who worked directly in the intelligence community went to a private firm and continued to do sensitive work. Some do very good work and some are just contracting body shops that bill at ridiculous rates for mundane paper pushing.

          Their “access to secrets” isn’t why they get hired. Absent a job like that, you don’t get to hold onto a security clearance. But when they hire you, it’s a lot easier to get a recently expired clearance reactivated than it is with some random hire. Someone from the top tier is most likely either hired for real skills or for connections that would help grease the skids to get contracts.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to greginak says:

        Institutional knowledge is a thing, and being able to call on your predecessors without having to shove them through a six-month long clearance process in case of emergency can be pretty useful. Much easier to leave their clearance, or downgrade it some, and then only have to go through a quick scan.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Luckily, there are people arguing that Comey *SHOULD* keep his clearance.

        FACT: 9/11 could have been avoided had officials from different administrations communicated better.FACT: Top intel officers keep their clearance post-retirement so they can consult with their successors in emergencies.FACT: Trump's threat today therefore *endangers America*.— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) July 23, 2018

        So now we can argue over whether Trump would be overstepping his bounds if he were actually capable of doing the thing that he cannot do because it has already been done (and, apparently, is a matter of policy to do as one of the last things before the guy walks out of the building for the last time).


      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

        Per my friends who have, or have had, security clearances, the clearance is terminated when the holder’s employment ends. Clearances can be restored administratively if (a) the break in employment requiring the clearance is less than two years and (b) no reinvestigation deadlines have passed. All of that is for generic clearances. My brother-in-law held a civilian access clearance that got him into Army command-and-control bunkers in Germany. That clearance would have been revoked if he failed to check in at a US military base or US embassy every 72 hours. My sister says that it’s strange planning holidays in Europe around “must check in every less-than-72 hours.”Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    I would think that the gov’t….in any form, can unilaterally decide to revoke clearances.

    The clearance allows you to get access to restricted info. I’m pretty damn sure it doesn’t allow you to tell others that are uncleared about it–you’re only allowed to discuss the info you have with the folks with the correct level of clearance and THE NEED TO KNOW SAID INFO.

    If a clearance is revoked, you still are required to not disclose any info you have to non cleared folks.Report

  4. Avatar Mr.JoeM says:

    Putin? Helsinki? Never heard of them. Ohhh, look over there. Iran!Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    Breaking news update: Comey said he doens’t have a security clearance since he left the FBI. He even turned down a clearance to review the IG’s report. Which does make Trump’s threat towards him somewhat lacking.Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Even putting aside the hypocrisy of the Trump administration complaining about people ‘monetizing’ their previous positions, for rank and file MAGAland, monetizing your stint in the military is how we’re able to recruit for an all volunteer force to begin with.

    Eta – oh, and any previous solicitousness towards Rand Paul, long since diminished, is now totally gone. Fish that guy.Report