DUTCH'S DISPATCH

You may have heard that President Trump recently threatened to strip security clearances from some of our nation’s leading security voices because they have publicly disagreed with him – people like NSA Director Michael Hayden, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

I don’t know about you, but when the next national security crisis happens, I want all hands on deck. I want our President and his security team to tap the wisdom and experience of people who have been there, who can offer pages from their own playbooks and a priceless frame of reference.  These are decorated and dedicated patriots who have spent their entire careers speaking truth to power. I’ve said the same about Defense Secretary General James Mattis, a Trump appointee, whose leadership currently enables me to sleep at night.

Good leaders can take criticism and even welcome dissention. But President Trump’s priority is President Trump, not America. His pride is more important than our safety. Because one thing revoking security clearances from top security experts does not do is make us more safe.

I wrote a letter on the subject that was published this weekend in the Washington Post. You can see it here.

When the next national security crisis...


When the next national security crisis happens, I want our president and his security team to tap the wisdom and experience of people who have been there — people like former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, former CIA director John Brennan, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former national security adviser Susan E. Rice. Unfortunately, that won’t happen if President Trump makes good on his threats to strip security clearances from some of our country’s leading security voices because they have publicly disagreed with him. These are decorated and dedicated patriots who spent entire careers speaking truth to power. I’ve said the same about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a Trump appointee, who currently enables me to sleep at night.

Mr. Clapper has said he thinks our system of “three coequal branches of government and a built-in system of checks and balances [is] under assault and eroding.” These are people with a lifetime of expertise who are taking a stand because Mr. Trump is dangerous to our way of life.

I believe Mr. Trump’s threat was part of his pattern of distracting and deflecting. In the days since his disastrous joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, he has talked about the National Football League, Iran and security clearances, but not Helsinki.

Good leaders can take criticism and even welcome dissension. Revoking security clearances from top security experts does not make us safer.

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Washington
The writer, a Democrat from Maryland,
a former ranking member on the
House Intelligence Committee.