Trump's attempt to punish free speech is backfiring bigly.
The fallout from Trump's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance continues to grow — and now, more than 250 former government officials have gone on record to protest the move.
The statement expressed these officials' "firm belief that the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views."
The new statement endorsed a scathing letter originally signed Thursday by 13 former senior intelligence officials, including appointees from both Republican and Democratic administrations. Two additional names were subsequently added to that letter.
On Friday, those 15 former intelligence officials were joined by 60 others, who signed their own statement of agreement with the original letter.
With the new 175-signature statement from Monday, that makes a whopping 250 former intelligence officials willing to go on the record to say that Trump's overreach on security clearances is unacceptable.
"[F]ormer government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so," the former officials said.
Trump drafted the order to strip Brennan’s security clearance weeks ago, but apparently held onto it until he needed to distract from a bad news cycle. That moment came when former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman released secret recordings that were damaging to the administration.
But the backlash to that move has been intense. Brennan only became more vocal in his criticism of Trump, and William McRaven — the retired Navy admiral who took down bin Laden — wrote a scathing op-ed in which he said he would be “honored” if Trump took away his clearance.
On Sunday, retired four-star general and former CIA Director Michael Hayden said that he, too, would be honored to have his security clearance stripped by Trump.
Trump has promised to revoke or review security clearances for a long list of political opponents.
If he makes good on that promise, though, Trump can expect even more fierce resistance from people who aren't afraid of his petty despotism.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.