One day after President Trump stripped former CIA director John Brennan of his security clearance, the commander of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden said it would be an honor if the president would take away his clearance next.
William H. McRaven, a retired four-star admiral who as head of the U.S. Special Operations Command oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid, directly addressed Trump in a Washington Post op-ed published online Thursday.
In the op-ed, McRaven, who retired from the Navy in 2014, described Brennan as “a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.”
“Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency,” McRaven said in the piece.
In revoking Brennan’s clearance, Trump on Wednesday accused the former CIA director, one of his most outspoken critics, of making “a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the internet and television — about this Administration.”
Trump said that in addition to Brennan, the security clearances of nine other former officials are under review. All of them have either sharply criticized Trump or are in the crosshairs of the president’s congressional allies as they seek to cast doubt on the special counsel probe led by Robert S. Mueller III.
Experts have described Trump’s move as an unprecedented effort to silence prominent detractors, with some likening it to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade in the 1950s or President Richard M. Nixon’s targeting of critics on his “enemies list.”
McRaven echoed those sentiments, arguing in his op-ed that Trump has “embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
“If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken,” McRaven said. “The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.”
McRaven previously has been vocal in his criticism of Trump’s performance as president. Last year in a speech at the University of Texas, he pushed back against Trump’s assault on the news media as “the enemy of the American people.”
“This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime,” McRaven said, according to the Daily Texan.