The media are in a tizzy over the recent revelation that President Trump might revoke security clearances from former intelligence officials with a penchant for going on television. During a concern-filled installment of CNN’s The Situation Room on Monday, host Wolf Blitzer anxiously posited that revoking the clearance of CNN national security analyst James Clapper would constitute a “potential national security threat.”
Blitzer was quick to get Clapper on the phone after it was revealed that his security clearance might be in danger.
During the interview, which took place in the 5:00 p.m. Eastern hour of the show, Blitzer frequently reiterated how much time Clapper had spent in the military. “How personally irritated are you right now that someone with your background in the military – 30 or 40 years, whatever it was – is being treated like this?” he asked obsequiously.
A discussion of the story in a later segment quickly devolved into a spitballing session in which panelists took turns floating potential arguments against such a move by the Trump administration. Blitzer kicked off the conversation by asking panelists, “Why is this threat so troubling?”
The general consensus was that the President was abusing his executive authority to silence some of his harshest detractors. “These are people who are critics of the President,” pointed out CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger. She then added, “Some of them served for Obama, so that’s another strike against them.”
CNN legal analyst Anne Milgram warned of a “slippery slope” whereby current officials could be stripped of their clearance for criticizing the President. “Do you evaluate people who currently have security clearances in the law enforcement agencies on their political beliefs, on their political party?” she pondered.
Washington Post assistant editor David Swerdlick scoffed at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s claim that the likes of Brennan and Clapper had “politicized the process” by taking jobs at MSNBC and CNN, respectively. “Actually, this is politicizing the process,” he snarked. Swerdlick then implied that revoking a former official’s security clearance somehow constituted a breach of the First Amendment: “They’re citizens; remember that. They have the right to free speech like everybody else.”
Blitzer responded with a deductive leap of impressive proportions: “If you remove security clearances from a James Clapper, for example…” – just for example – “that’s a potential national security threat.”
The analytical minds on the panel came up with a great many reasons for why revoking James Clapper’s security clearance would be a very poor decision. But none seemed interested in pointing out that if Clapper – a CNN analyst – were denied access to sensitive information, it might affect his ability to provide colleagues with insider knowledge.