National Security

Rand Paul Encourages Trump to Attack Security Clearances of Government Critics

This will have potentially serious consequences for those investigating election meddling.

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Donald Trump
Sipa USA/Newscom

After a suggestion from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the White House is considering possibly revoking the security clearances of some big name officials who have been critical of President Donald Trump.

Among the names that have been floated are former CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, fired FBI Director James Comey, and fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Those last two no longer have national security clearances anyway, so there's been some mocking of the White House for floating those names without even checking.

No former federal official has a right to a security clearance, and the president has a significant amount of leeway to operate here. Historically, though, security clearances are revoked for misconduct, not for speech critical of an administration. But accusations of political motivations are not unheard of, and you can see some examples from previous administrations. Here's a case from President Barack Obama's State Department.

Currently, there are more than 4 million people with security clearances of various levels. The New York Times notes that the maintenance of these security clearances serves a couple of functions. First, it allows the federal government to bring in former staff to consult and advise, which happens fairly frequently. Second, the access provided by the security clearance has market value. It translates into job opportunities in the private sector with consultants and lobbyists who want to influence government policy.

It's that second part that Trump and Paul seem to be targeting. Paul says that government officials shouldn't be using their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or cable appearances.

But why not? I mean, if the market places value in these prior relationships, what exactly is the ethical problem here if the private sector is willing to pay for these ties? But let's say there is an ethical problem. Why is this push only targeting Trump critics? If this is profiteering off of political access, shouldn't it be targeting a much wider swathe of people?

There's potentially a case that, yes, too many people maintain these security clearances and it fosters a marketplace in Washington, D.C., that revolves around the capacity to influence government spending and regulations. That's the whole "swamp" that Trump and his supporters go on about. Tackling this component of the swamp would involve reducing the size and scope of our government's defense and national security apparatus, which is pretty much the opposite of what Trump is doing. Trump loves the part of the swamp where all the defense contractors live.

This proposal does not in any meaningful way tackle the larger issue of the revolving door between government employees and private lobbying and consulting firms. It is instead an extremely transparent way for the administration to attempt to punish critics with ties to the government.

And to be clear here, this group the White House is targeting will do just fine. They're powerful and known enough and have enough experience to not need their security clearances. Brennan and Hayden both said that this wouldn't affect them in any way. And nothing short of a meteor strike can puncture Comey's overinflated sense of self-regard.

It's what happens downstream we need to pay attention to. What does this threat mean for those in the FBI responsible for investigating the role Russia played in meddling with the 2016 election? What does this mean for whistleblowers or anybody connected to the government who may attempt to warn the public of misconduct? Because this is not an effort to "drain the swamp" in any real way, it's really threatening that anybody who puts out information critical of the president could lose their security clearance and thereby lose job prospects. This isn't about stopping the revolving door between government and private lobbying; it's the White House deciding who gets to spin through that door based on how they treat the president.

That's pretty nasty, and if this happens, there will be further consequences. Patrick Eddington, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, is, like myself, no fan of men like Clapper, Brennan, and Hayden. These are men with lengthy histories supporting violations of Americans' civil liberties in the name of national security. But over at Just Security, Eddington sees the long game if Trump goes forward with this proposal:

The real losers in this are the professional civil servants elsewhere in America's vast national security bureaucracy, especially anybody working at the Justice Department. Trump's real target is the FBI agent in his mid-40s, with two kids on their way to college and a mortgage to pay, who happens to be working on the Russia investigation. Or, it could be his counterpart, a federal prosecutor who's in the middle of her career and helping to guide the investigation. Trump's crude message to the bureaucracy is clear: Do anything to embarrass or implicate me in a crime, and I'll take away your meal ticket: Your security clearance.

It's a viable threat. There's no statute, much less a constitutional provision, that prevents Trump from revoking any executive branch employee's security clearance—for any reason or no reason. And without a valid security clearance, you can't hold a job as an FBI agent, FBI intelligence analyst, or attorney in the Justice Department—because those jobs require agents and lawyers to have access to sometimes highly classified information on potential suspects, particularly but not exclusively foreign national suspects. Like known Russian intelligence operatives.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said today he thought Trump was just "trolling people" with this proposal. But is he trolling people like Clapper and Hayden or is he trolling the sort of FBI agents that Eddington mentions?

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  1. “Historically, though, security clearances are revoked for misconduct, not for speech critical of an administration.”

    OK, well Brennan and Clapper lied to Congress.

    So there’s two right off the bat?

    1. Consider changing the title of this article to “Rand Paul Encourages Trump to End Security Clearances for Former Officials”

      In no way can any of these people be considered “government critics”. “Political operatives” would be far more accurate

      1. This article is crap. The premise is bullshit. The fact is that the people who Rand wants to have security clearances revoked, are in fact potential, or outright security risks.

        Between this article, and his responses to questions on the McCarthyism article the other day, it is clear he has no realistic sense of national security concerns.

        1. ” Do anything to embarrass or implicate me in a crime, and I’ll take away your meal ticket: Your security clearance.”

          And the problem is…?

          Government apparatchiks should shut the f up. Shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

          1. But why not? I mean, if the market places value in these prior relationships, what exactly is the ethical problem here if the private sector is willing to pay for these ties?

            This question betrays the most abject ignorance imaginable concerning security clearances.

            Security clearances are not for the benefit of the clearance holder. They are for the benefit of the government. They can be revoked at any time for something as trivial as having a high credit card balance, too many points on your driving record or engaging in an extramarital affair. Certainly something like lying to Congress qualifies and while it might get your panties in a bunch, so does engaging in vocal opposition to the government.

            Remember when Obozo purged conservative generals from the military? We may, or may not, approve – but it’s certainly within the power of the president. https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/ 197-military-officers-purged-by-obama/

            Additionally, there is the issue of security access. None of the clowns listed by Paul should have access to classified materials at this point. Access is predicated on “need to know” – and none have a “need to know” anything classified at this point.

            It’s entirely appropriate to revoke their clearances. If clearances are ever needed – for the benefit of the government – they can be reinstated.

        2. No one is a bigger security risk than Trump or a bigger liar, yet he gets to keep his clearance.

          1. Elections have consequences. And at the end of the day, he won.

          2. Trump doe snot have a ‘clearance’. He is the CEO of who gets clearances and what gets declassified.

    2. There is no good reason for these ex-bureaucrats to still have TS clearances. They use their TS status as a badge of honor and then use TS information leaks against political opponents. These partisan bureaucrats could care less about the damage to American interests relating to actual classified information.

      If these ex-bureaucrats get jobs that require a clearance then apply for a new one.

      1. My former employer (federal agency) automatically revoked security clearances upon end of employment. How is this not standard operating procedure?

        Also, the argument that maintaining an old security clearance has market value is garbage. Clearances can be easily expedited for those held a clearance at their previous employer and start new jobs somewhere else.

        1. There shouldn’t be such a thing as clearances for government secrets anyway. The government should be transparent to the people. Oh, there is a threat to national security? Don’t you think we should know about it? The only legitimate secrets should be spies working undercover in other countries to gather intelligence, and the only one that needs to know about them is their handler. Most of the time, government secrecy is used to cover up what the government is doing to us, the citizens.

          1. WE over classify but more needs to be classified than that. How about the design plans for our nuclear weapons? How about the fact that we have some new technology that lets us listen to Kim’s phone calls? There are a million things the government should keep secret.

          2. Agreed.

            1. Chipper brings up a good point that all this security clearance stuff is pretty stupid to begin with. Our government over-classifies benign information that makes them look bad.

              Which is why this article is so embarrassing. Julian Assange may be turned over to the US as we speak in a proposed deal with Ecquador, as Glenn Greenwald notes. And instead of writing articles about that we get “preserve the clearance of these political appointees” instead.

              1. It’s pretty disgraceful, tbh.

          3. Yep, everyone should have known where and when we were going to attack/invade Germany and Japan.

          4. You’re living in a dream world if you don’t think governments won’t keep secrets, they always have and they always will. Shoulda coulda woulda.

        2. “”My former employer (federal agency) automatically revoked security clearances upon end of employment. How is this not standard operating procedure?””

          They shouldn’t, but they end up in private intel jobs and probably use their clearance for that.

        3. Big bureaucrats get to use clearances after leaving government as an elitist talking point and to lobby because they know where the skeletons are hidden.

          The rest of us just did our jobs that required a clearance and hoped that we didnt fuck up and get charged for mishandling classified information.

    3. “James Comey, and fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.”

      Are both under internal investigation for leaking to the media and the inspector general suggested that their clearance be revoked.

      So your case basically boils down to Hayden and Rice shouldn’t lose their clearance.

      1. You really should have read another sentence before making this comment.

        1. The comments cut up my string of points. I listed how all of these people are currently under investigation for leaking per the inspector general or have knowingly lied to Congress in the past.

          Basically this whole article could be titled “Protect Susan Rice’s Security Clearance”

          1. I listed how all of these people are currently under investigation for leaking per the inspector general or have knowingly lied to Congress in the past.

            Yes, and the next sentence after the one you quoted says that.

            1. Yeah, I got that. So, your complaint is “don’t include the officials that people are complaining about losing their clearance, because Shack already noted that they lost their clearance”?

              OK, duly noted. Bizarre

    4. What I find interesting is that Rand had Trump’s ear, and this is what he chose to focus on. Rand’s priorities seem all screwed up.

      1. These guys are guilty of some pretty big crimes. You don’t think Paul isn’t still pissed about Clapper and Bennon lying their asses off to him and Congress about NSA spying on the country? I don’t think that is small and petty at all.

        1. It’s small and petty when they’re already out of power and he could have talked to Trump about, like, actually stopping NSA spying instead?

          1. There was a vote in Congress about that. It was voted down.

          2. How do you k ow that this was the only thing they discusses?

      2. Rand was also able to get Trump to sign an executive order over healthcare exchanges. I think people overplay the influence that Rand has in the White House. Naturally Trump is going to listen to him when it deals with hurting his critics.

        But, since when did ending security clearance for former political appointees become a libertarian cause?

        1. But, since when did ending security clearance for former political appointees become a libertarian cause?

          Since TRUMP!! If they ever develop a vaccine for TDS, the reason staff should be first in line to get it.

        2. The example cited about Peter Van Buren (linked in the article) is not even comparable, since Van Buren was a career employee (not a political employee) and they wanted to strip his clearance because he wrote a book critical of the War in Iraq.

          Here’s Van Buren’s take on this:

          “My security clearance at State Dept was revoked entirely for political reasons under Obama, to silence me. I was far from the first. We can argue Trump’s rights and wrongs, but to call his actions Stalinist or even new is not accurate.”

          1. It is a non sequiter anyway. How does taking away these clown’s security clearance keep them from criticizing Trump?

            1. Does the news media even really use active security clearances as a credential for being an expert? Does not not having a security clearance for someone not in active government service really change their supposed expertise on intelligence matters?

          2. “My security clearance at State Dept was revoked entirely for political reasons under Obama, to silence me.”

            How does taking somebody’s security clearance away silence them? They’d be violating the terms of their security clearance if they actually publicly revealed anything they’d needed it to know about, so theoretically taking it away doesn’t effect anything they can legally say.

            1. “How does firing someone for speaking out silence them?”

              1. They don’t work for the government anymore Cathy. Hillary lost the election. Honest. It was in all of the papers.

              2. Getting your clearance revoked =/= being fired.

                Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

              3. They already left the job that required the clearance Cathy. Stop being an idiot. It is closer to saying it is wrong to turn in employment Id badges when you leave a company. Stop being an idiot.

                1. You’re asking that like she has a choice

          3. “to call his actions Stalinist or even new is not accurate.”

            Uhhh…sounds like van Buren thinks they’re comparable.

            1. Did…did….you just attack Van Buren who actually did something brave in voicing dissent against the War in Iraq in order to defend Shack’s copsucking piece?

              1. On what planet is my comment attacking van Buren?

      3. Or, perhaps, Rand learned something serious enough to warrant taking a hard stand on this.

      4. What I find interesting is that Rand had Trump’s ear, and this is what he chose to focus on. Rand’s priorities seem all screwed up.

        THIS

        1. Yup, stripping known shitbags of security clearance is bad now

          1. It would have been ok if Obama did it.

          2. Awarding and revoking security clearances based on whether a person is critical of the president has always been bad, actually.

            1. I doubt that Rand Paul would be suggesting that security clearance not be granted due to criticism of the president. Granted, he’s not known for making brave stances like “opposing a 9-11 suicide hotline”, but he has been consistent on civil rights and intervention abroad. That most certainly can’t be said of others

            2. I doubt that Rand Paul would be suggesting that security clearance not be granted due to criticism of the president. Granted, he’s not known for making brave stances like “opposing a 9-11 suicide hotline”, but he has been consistent on civil rights and intervention abroad. That most certainly can’t be said of others

            3. Can… You’re a fucking moron. Clearances are granted based on a need to access information. The douches you are defending did not have that need currently.

        2. Your shitposting is even dumber than Hihn’s, and that’s saying something.

    5. Brennan voted for a Communist in his first presidential election vote.

      That alone should have permanently disqualified him from any security clearance for the rest of his life.

      1. The background checking person who did not flag this for instant denial should have been fired too.

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    7. Writer is an idiot. Generally clearances are revoked when there is no longer a presumed need to access classified information. The idiots mentioned by the white house largely have book and pundit deals. They have no need for clearances. Having a clearance isn’t a right, it’s a function of a job that requires it.

  2. Trump is awesome!

    Rand Paul Encourages Trump to Attack Security Clearances of Government Critics

    There is no good reason for ex-government workers to still have security clearances. If you need one, apply for one.

    I think its hilarious that TDS is causing Reason staff to defend government created secrecy certification for ex-government bureaucrats who no longer need the clearances.

    1. Shackford, you are just digging a hole on this position.

      Trump would literally be draining the swamp by having all ex-bureaucrat clearances revoked.

      I was always told that my Clearances were are on a need-to-know basis. Even a TS does not allow to see all TS information. At least that is the way it used to be.

      1. At least that is the way it used to be.

        It still is, last I checked. Which means that these clearances are pretty useless. It’s not like they can use them to go browsing for information.

        I don’t see how it matters either way.

        1. They are far from useless. It allows them to collect huge consulting fees for various government contractors.

          1. It’s still need-to-know, isn’t it? It’s not like they can troll for juicy bits.

            1. Sure. But them having it means the contractors can freely share classified information with them allowing them to consult.

            2. Yes, but ‘need to know’ is determined locally (its how I got my Secret clearance). Having the TS is a pre- requisite to getting to the compartamentalized and is the hardest and most time-consuming part.

              Once I had my Secret, it was a lot easier for a local command to determine I had need to know in order to allow me access to info I needed to do my job.

              1. TS is not required for compartmentalized. That starts at secret only. Some compartmentalized programs do have both levels of clearance however. Know from experience.

          2. By “useless” I meant it’s not a library card that they can use to go look up whatever they want.

            Yes they are most certainly useful for employment purposes.

            1. Then apply again based no the new job.

              1. Then apply again based no the new job.

                In my work I know plenty of people with clearances, and I see jobs posted all the time that require a clearance. It would be a ridiculous pain in the ass, not to mention great expense, if people had to get a new clearance every time they moved between jobs.

                1. If you are giving two weeks notice to a job that required a clearance and then moving to another job that requires a clearance, then have some process in place to make sure everything is good.

                  If you leave your bureaucrat job because you got fired or because your buddy was president, then too fucking bad. Apply for a new one.

                  1. ” Apply for a new one.”

                    You have any idea of what that costs the taxpayers?

                    I understand your point. You don’t think these people deserved a clearance in the first place. If that is the case then that is a totally separate (and valid) issue.

            2. It’s not supposed to be a library card. Whether or not it IS a library card, anyway, if you’re high enough up the political food chain, is an interesting question.

      2. Trump would literally be draining the swamp by having all ex-bureaucrat clearances revoked.

        Schackford is literally complaining that he’s not in fact doing that.

        1. Backwards as usual.

    2. There is no good reason for ex-government workers to still have security clearances.

      Declarative statements like that are a very good indicator that someone is talking out their ass.

      1. Agreed. But, the contentions that Shack is making here are……rather ridiculous. The ridiculous of some of his critics not withstanding

      2. What reason there smart ass?

        What is the good reason that an ex-bureaucrat would need an active TS clearance that could not be solved by that person applying for a new clearance if their new job requires it?

        “Declarative statements like that are a very good indicator that someone is talking out their ass.”
        You’re partly correct. You are talking out of your ass.

        1. I know plenty of people who keep their security clearances between jobs. Unless the clearance expires or the person does something to get it revoked, I see no good reason to take it away. Other than spite.

          1. These dipshits were huge security risks in their government jobs and they are even bigger risks unemployed.

            Yeah, the rules are getting changed. From now on every bureaucrat who leave office with their president buddy loses their clearance.

            Drain the swamp of security risks who are not working in government jobs that need security clearances.

            1. You are drawing a distinction between a worker who actually works, and someone who became a decision maker based upon who they know.

              That’s fair.

              Makes me wonder how many of them wouldn’t have gotten a clearance under normal circumstances, and were instead given one because the big boss said so.

              Based upon that I still say those who actually passed the background check should keep their clearance like anyone else. But I will agree that the hacks who were given clearance because of who they knew shouldn’t keep it.

              Wow. A conversation. Was that so hard?

          2. Most likely the security office of the job they left put their clearance into a suspension state that if not renewed by a new job that requires access expires after a few months. They don’t keep their clearance, they keep the previous background check in a suspended state.

        2. Besides that you’re committing the fallacy of switching the burden of proof. You’re the one who wants to take the clearances away, so you’re the one who needs to justify yourself. Otherwise you’re treating them as guilty until proven innocent.

          1. This is not a court of law and these are not defendants.

            They are partisan hacks who are security risks. All partisan bureaucrats are security risks.

            America elected Trump to control security, so this is his call. Once he completes his 8 years as president then its some other preisdent’s problem.

            1. I know it’s not a court of law. That was a metaphor.

              You do know what switching the burden of proof means, don’t you?

  3. I don’t think so Mr. Eddington. The unknown agent or attorney that does their job–even if that job turns up dirt on the President–has nothing to worry about. Equating this to the conduct of Messrs. Clapper and Brennan is quite a stretch.

  4. Like a passport, the investigation and authorization for a security clearance is valid for a certain number of years. This is so that if you leave government service, and then return, you don’t have to be re-vetted if it’s within the valid window for the clearance.

    Having a security clearance by itself doesn’t mean you get to see anything. As a former government employee, you can’t just walk into any arbitrary agency and say, “Show me some of that juicy classified stuff! Here’s my clearance!” Even for current government employees, classified information is mostly “need to know” — having a security clearance for the purpose of your job, again, doesn’t allow you to just go randomly perusing unrelated government documents which you have no valid reason to view.

    That said, I support Paul and Trump’s action. Revoking a security clearance means you don’t think the person is trustworthy any longer. That’s a valid exercise of the President’s power. That means if they go back into public service, they have to be re-investigated/vetted, and the reasons for the revocation can come to light.

    1. “Even for current government employees, classified information is mostly “need to know” — having a security clearance for the purpose of your job, again, doesn’t allow you to just go randomly perusing unrelated government documents which you have no valid reason to view.”

      Yeh, but it means they are free to ‘consult’ with current government employees on almost any topic. Which means Brennan, Clapper, and the like can have lunch with old cronies and walk away with all sorts of details, secrets, and information, with their cronies having absolutely zero risk in divulging almost anything.
      Then of course as private citizens, who is to say where that information ends up. Pretty much relies on the integrity of Brennan, Clapper, and the like. Which as they’ve publically declared, they are up for almost anything to bring down Trump.
      Why should they retain clearances?

  5. Reason now portrays the poor, honest folks with a security clearness diligently working to keep America safe from Ghengis Putin and his Slavic hordes.
    Then it will applaud the Libertarian Party for wanting to abolish the National Security State.
    Give me a break!
    The Internet Research Institute was a simple commercial clickbait operation. It featured pro And anti Hillary memes not to “sow discord” or “undermine our democracy” but simply to make a buck. But the Security state with its security clearance mindset can not admit that. They have to push the Russia hacked our Democracy fables to keep their phony baloney jobs and cushiony retirements.

    1. Ghengis Putin and his Slavic hordes.

      *Band name available.*

  6. Revoking security clearance as a means for retaliation for political criticism is unusual.

    I read Rand Paul’s tweet, there’s a hint that he might have had other motives.

    Suggested alt-headline: Rand Paul Encourages Trump To Attack Security Clearances Of The Elderly, The Tall And Black Women

    1. Brennan and Clapper lied to Congress; James Comey, and Andrew McCabe are both under internal investigation for leaking to the media and the inspector general suggested that their clearance be revoked.

      So your case basically boils down to Hayden and Rice shouldn’t lose their clearance.

      1. Rice is under investigation for outing US persons covered in intelligence reports. So that leaves Hayden.

        1. That’s a congressional investigation, so whatever, she gets a pass.

          This is a really really bad article, though. The example given of the Obama administration eliminating Peter Van Buren’s security clearance is a terrible example, too. Van Buren was a career employee (not a political appointee like the others listed) who wrote a book critical of the War in Iraq.

          1. That is still a federal crime. And the executive can take your clearance even though they don’t prosecute you.

            There is really no reason why any political appointee should keep their clearance more than a year or so after leaving office. I get it that maybe the new guys want their advice on a few things. But that is only true for the transition.

            I can’t believe that Reason is taking the side of some of the officials guilty of some of the most egregious civil rights violations committed in the last 30 years over Ron Paul and thinks these guys should keep their clearances. I should believe it, but even I am surprised reason would stoop this low.

            1. “I should believe it, but even I am surprised reason would stoop this low.”

              I feel like I see this comment daily. At what point do we just admit Reason, and staff, are just a crypto progressive rag?

        2. Didn’t Hayden lie to Congress about the Bush warrantless spying programs and enhanced interrogation techniques?

          1. Which one of them didn’t lie to Congress? I have never heard that but it wouldn’t surprise me.

            1. He lied under any reasonable definition of that word (including the manner in which the relevant federal statutes defines lying to Congress).

          2. OK, so we’re down to Susan Rice

            Shack- rename your article “Preserve Known Liar Susan Rice’s Security Clearance Because My Friends in the Media Need an Anonymous Source”

  7. Shackford reaches a new low. Clapper, Brennen, Comey and the others are guilty of multiple serious crimes against the public trust. They all lied to Congress about important issues and abused their positions for partisan purposes. So, exactly why does Shackford think these guys should ever be brought back into consult about anything?

    Is Scott even capable of embarrassment?

      1. Trump should be impeached for even sniffing the 5th Amendment in a national security investigation.

        1. Stop punishing the rest of society for your daddy issues, HL.

        2. Lizard, have you considered smashing your head into a brick wall? If not, give it a try and see what all the fuss is about.

    1. Crimes against the public trust and abuse of their positions sounds exactly like covering up for a hostile foreign power by constantly lying and refusing to cooperate with a federal investigation.

      1. Yes, that is a pretty good description of what they did. And why they should not have security clearances. You nailed it dude.

        1. So we’re in agreement that Trump belongs in prison with his pals Manafort and Flynn.

          1. How many boxes of wine did you consume after Her Inevitability blew yet another election campaign to a real estate huckster?

          2. No. I didn’t think you were talking about Trump. we are talking about actual criminals here.

          3. Flynn is in prison for lying to the FBI about something that wasn’t even a crime and Manafort is in prison for not registering as a foreign agent of Ukraine, which occurred well below the Trump campaign.

            Your narrative is collapsing

          4. None of them be,one in prison. The Leo,e that be,one in prison are democrats, or their henchmen.

    2. It’s possible to think all these people are shitbags, and also believe that Trump’s motivation here has nothing to do with them being shitbags, and everything to do with them being vocal critics of him. Do you seriously think Trump cares that Clapper lied about the NSA programs? If Clapper was a Trump supporter or didn’t comment publicly on politics, do you think he’d give a shit about him?

      1. Oh yeah, agreed completely.

        But in no way does acknowledging that Trump is doing this for nefarious reasons that do not include that these people of shitbags automatically make you defend the security clearance of known shitbags.

        1. I don’t really see why “these guys are no longer in government, have no reason to have access to classified information and are out to undermine my administration” is a nefarious reason. It is a perfectly valid reason and one that Shackford and Calidissident would have accepted from Obama.

          1. Because that is unlikely to actually be Trump’s actual rationale. He probably thinks (rightly, considering the media’s reaction to this) that these people are leaking to the media and he wants to punish them.

            1. that these people are leaking to the media and he wants to punish them.

              Leaking classified information to the media is a crime. He should want to punish them.

              1. The information McCabe and Comey leaked was not classified.

                McCabe and Comey had the authority to authorize communications (named and unnamed) from the FBI to the media.

                1. My god man. Stop with the complete ignorance. It is already established that at least one memo Comey gave to his lawyer buddy to leak was classified at least at the confidential level.

          2. If Obama had done something like this because the targets were “undermining his administration” I absolutely would not have accepted that, and I highly doubt Shackford would have either. The irony of this is that you probably would have had a 180 reaction. I know it’s comforting to think that everyone else is just as partisan as you are but that doesn’t make it so.

            1. No I would not have. The government doesn’t owe anyone a security clearance. I couldn’t have given a shit less if Don Rumsfeld or any of the people under Bush kept their clearances after they left office. I see no reason why I should have. They were not in office anymore. Obama would have had every right to pull their clearances.

              You don’t really seem to have any argument here. Why should these guys have clearances? You don’t have a reason other than damn it Trump did it.

              1. If Trump genuinely thinks anyone who left their government position should lose their eligibility for access to classified information, then he should implement a broad policy in that regard. That would at least be defensible.

                Selectively targeting people because they criticized you is not.

                1. Selectively targeting people because they criticized you is not.

                  It sure as hell is when you have the authority to do it. Again, why does Trump owe allowing people who attack his administration a clearance? To say that taking their clearance is some kind of injustice, they have to have a right to it in the first place. And they don’t. That is what you can’t seem to understand. They have no right to these clearances and thus have no standing to object when they lose them regardless of the reason.

                  1. You seem incapable of understanding, at least in this thread, the difference between whether something is legal and whether something is proper.

                    Which is interesting, because you seem to have no issue grasping the difference when (for example) private companies discriminate against conservative speech.

                    1. You seem incapable of understanding, at least in this thread, the difference between whether something is legal and whether something is proper.

                      I completely understand it. And I have said multiple times the results must be just. You claim this is improper but can’t seem to explain why. So I will ask you for the 5th time, why is taking the clearance of people who no longer work in government but are trying to undermine his administration improper? Why does Trump owe people who no longer work in government clearances? Why is them undermining his administration not a proper reason to take their clearances considering that they have no reason to have them anymore anyway?

                    2. I’ve explained why multiple times. And for the record, I’ve never claimed they are owed security clearances, you put those words in my mouth. The answer is that these decisions should be based on factors that are relevant. If he was implementing a broad policy to revoke unnecessary clearances, or if he was targeting people because of things like lying to Congress, that’s one thing. Security clearances should be based on these factors, not whether or not one likes the president. Is this seriously difficult to comprehend? If Trump takes away security clearances from people not based on necessity or wrongdoing, but because they criticize him, then eventually that’s going to hit people who have not done anything wrong and do have a necessity for a clearance. And decisions based on these grounds serve to chill the speech of anyone with a clearance who dislikes the president. If Obama decided to revoke the clearances of every Republican, would you have said that was ok?

                      People have no right to service at private venues, yet you have no problem with condemning the actions of people who refuse service on political grounds. Yet you can’t seem to comprehend why people would object to the president basing security clearance decisions on whether or not people politically oppose him.

                    3. The answer is that these decisions should be based on factors that are relevant

                      And you are using your position to go after my administration and hamper its effectiveness is relevant. You don’t think it is because you hate Trump. But if it was a President you liked, you would see it otherwise.

                2. “Selectively targeting people because they criticized you is not.”

                  Your premise is flawed. John already corrected you, but you persist. This indicates your capacity for reason and logic are deficient.

                  Targeting individuals who do bad, illegal things is good. Therefore Trump will be doing the right thing should he have these people’s SC revoked.

                  1. When you target people not because they did bad, illegal things, but because they criticized you, it isn’t good. Because the next person targeted on those grounds may not have done anything bad or illegal. And it may chill the speech of people who haven’t done anything bad or illegal. This isn’t difficult to comprehend.

                    1. Since that isn’t what is happening here, you have nothing to worry about.

            2. Remember, they’re still shitbags, so I still don’t understand how people can go from “Trump is doing this because they’re undermining him” to “we need to protect the security clearance of Brennan and Clapper”.

              It’s possible to agree that Trump is doing this for ill intentions and still not have a problem with former government employees that are known shitbags from holding a meaningless security clearance.

              1. Why is Trump obligated to allow people who have no official role in the government to keep their security clearances? And if he is not obligated, then how is there a problem with him taking those clearances no matter what his reasons?

      2. I don’t know what Trump thinks nor do I care. The fact is that these people have no business being in government again. And Trump has every right to take their clearances. His motivations for doing that, whatever they are, doesn’t change that.

        You are just saying “But TRUMP!!” using more words.

        1. In case you forgot, Trump is president of the United States, and I do reserve the right to criticize him when I object to his actions or his motivations, regardless of their legality. You can dismiss the motivations as long as you approve of the end result if you want, but I don’t think that’s a proper way of evaluating a president’s actions.

          1. I think your point was spot on

          2. First, like I said above, I don’t think his motivations are nefarious. Second, evaluating a President’s actions based on their motivation rather than their results and justness is about the dumbest way to evaluate a President one can possibly imagine. All you are saying is that what matters is if he “means well”. Who gives a shit if he means well? Is it a lawful use of the powers of the office? Is the result of the action just or desirable? If the answers to both of those questions is yes, and it is here, then there is nothing to criticize.

            You can make whatever criticisms you want. Your right to make them doesn’t make those criticisms any less silly and shallow.

            1. Here’s why I think the motivations matter – if Trump is revoking clearances based on whether someone supports or criticizes him, that doesn’t just affect bad people who may coincidentally happen to deserve it for some other reason. If you dismiss it because of unsympathetic targets now, how can you complain when it affects someone undeserving? What about the chilling effect on speech for people with security clearances? Trump’s process for arriving at his decisions matters, and it’s fair to judge it negatively regardless of how sympathetic the targets of it are in this instance.

              1. “unsympathetic” targets and “political appointees that have lied in Congress” are not the same thing even remotely

                1. And if Trump was consistently revoking clearances based on whether people lied to Congress, I would have no objection.

                  Given that he is clearly basing it on whether or not people criticize him, the actions of the targets do not justify his process or reasoning. Which is something you’ve agreed with in this thread.

                  1. So zero benefit of the doubt with Rand Paul when agrees with Trump?

                    I think someone is replacing “principles” with “principals”

                    1. I don’t think Rand Paul is perfect, if I agreed with something because he did it or approved of it, that would be “principals, not principles.”

              2. Here’s why I think the motivations matter – if Trump is revoking clearances based on whether someone supports or criticizes him, that doesn’t just affect bad people who may coincidentally happen to deserve it for some other reason

                And that is why there are two questions. It is not just is it just it is also is it lawful. If the Trump has the discretion to take former officials’ security clearances, and he clearly does, then the reasons for him using that power are irrelevant. He could revoke them because they rooted for the wrong football team if he wanted. If he didn’t have the power to do this or the law said you can only do it for cause, which it doesn’t, then his motivation might be an issue. But as it is, it is not. So the only issue is whether he is using this power justly. And that answer to that is clearly yes.

                I get it you hate Trump. No one is going to think you are one of the deplorables or one of those people. Don’t worry. You have made your point.

                1. You’re seriously arguing “it’s just as long as it’s legal.” Really? I haven’t even debated the legal aspect of it, I don’t know enough in that area and I don’t think legality is the end-all-be-all of morality.

                  I really do love how the right has zero self-awareness around “virtue signaling.” Any arguments their opponents make are only aimed at signalling their superiority to other people, but when they incessantly defend their team or signal how much they hate the libs, that’s not virtue-signaling apparently.

                  1. ou’re seriously arguing “it’s just as long as it’s legal.” Really?

                    No. I am arguing that as long as its legal and the results just, the motivations are irrelevant. Moreover, you still have not answered the question of why it is wrong for Trump to take the clearances of people who openly say they want to undermine his presidency. If it is wrong for him to do so, that means that he somehow owes these people their clearances. I would be curious to hear why you think that is the case.

                    And yes, you are totally virtue signaling. I get it. People like me are awful. We are just terrible people who own guns and read books that were written by white people hundreds of years ago and do utterly unfashionable things. I totally understand your deep need to make sure you are not associated with such ilk. But, I really don’t think you need to defend these clowns to avoid that.

              3. And what of the motivations of Susan rice and samantha powers unmasking? The motivations of Obama broadening the dissemination of intelligence data?

                1. You do realize you are the exact inverse of the people who screamed “BUSH!” every time someone criticized something Obama did in the early years of his presidency?

              4. So based on your concern trolling, Trump can’t revoke SC of people who behave improperly, violate the terms of their NS agreements, or outright commit crimes?

                No. He can do that at will, and he is correct to do it.

                1. Callidissident’s argument is that he can’t take such people’s clearances unless his motivations are pure.

                2. I never said Trump can’t revoke security clearances. Please try to improve your reading comprehension (same goes for you John).

                  And LOTS, someone who routinely advocates murder and imprisonment of his political opponents on a libertarian website has no grounds to accuse others of concern trolling.

                  1. I never said Trump can’t revoke security clearances

                    I never said you said that. I said you think he can only do it if he has pure motives in your view.

  8. The meddling investigation is a farce anyway. And why should a former gov’t employee retain security clearance?

  9. How about this gem from Scott:

    “I mean, if the market places value in these prior relationships, what exactly is the ethical problem here if the private sector is willing to pay for these ties?”

    1. The government owes them that clearance apparently. Good catch Mike.

  10. I don’t understand why these retired/unemployed guys still have a security clearance in the first place.

    I have a clearance and a need to know. If I quit or get fired, that clearance goes away. Why is it any different for these guys?

    1. You don’t understand how revolving doors work, do you? Once you leave government, your insider information has a fairly short shelf-life, you have sell it quick. Then you have to be brought back in periodically as an “advisor” or a “consultant” to refresh your insider information. If you lost your security clearance going out through the revolving door and had to re-apply on your way back in, the conflicts of interest you earned by selling your insider information would disqualify you from getting your security clearance re-instated. And then what would be the point of the revolving door?

      1. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ This.

        That is an excellent observation Jerry.

    2. You aren’t the DNI or CIA chief, and they are Top Men ™ and therefore get more rights than an entry level Party Member like you.

  11. It’s not just his hairdo, Rand Paul has gone full poodle.

    1. I think Rand’s hair is dreamy.

      Besides being dreamy, he is right that it should be standard policy to pull the clearance of anybody with no “need to know”. That is everybody not directly employed on a program.

      1. Libertarians for more government secrecy!

        1. That doesn’t track at all. Why don’t you just save yourself some effort and just say “Trump sucks”, “conservatives suck”, or “libertarians suck”? You fail at anything more complex than that, amd that’s all you really ever say anyhow.

          Seriously, for a person who regularly impugns the intellect of others, you must have a very low IQ yourself.

          You’re probably just too stupid to understand that. I’ll bet you even have bad taste in clothes and shoes. Which is saying something for a swishbuckler like you.

        2. Depr da derp da tiddly terp.

    2. I disagree, but that’s not a bad line Tony

  12. FYI, I’m quoting from a legal blog below as this distinction between “access” and “eligibility for access” is something I didn’t understand and seems to be common. Apparently former officials maintain “eligibility for access” as long as their clearance was valid for

    1. “There is a critical distinction that often is misunderstood?even by individuals who have worked in the cleared community for decades?between “access” and “eligibility for access” to classified information. When an individual is granted a security clearance, all that means is that that person has been favorably adjudicated and is “eligible for access” to classified information at a particular level (whether confidential, secret or top secret). That eligibility remains valid for a certain number of years depending on the level of classification for which the individual was favorably adjudicated (for example, a secret-level clearance is valid for 10 years).
      Access, in and of itself, is the subsequent step taken by the agency to provide the cleared individual with the means by which to use classified email accounts, utilize classified databases and work in a classified office space. When, for example, Comey was fired, his “access” was immediately cut off. He was “debriefed” from any compartmentalized programs to which he had been accessed, his credentials were taken away and he probably signed several “briefing acknowledgment” forms confirming that he had been debriefed. Comey’s “eligibility,” however, was not affected by his termination. What the White House threatened to do on Monday was to revoke Comey’s eligibility.”

      1. Yes. And Comey, since he has no official position, has no need for that eligibility. If in a few years a Democratic administration comes in and decides that Comey might have a need for eligibility, they can give him his clearance back.

        This move is making it effectively impossible for these guys to consult or work for the government. Now, given their pasts and list of crimes, how is that a bad thing? Do you think Comey and Clapper and the rest of this rogue’s gallery should ever serve in government again? If not, then why do you want them to keep their clearances?

        1. They shouldn’t even have their pensions.

  13. This newfound concern over the well being of government officials is touching. I might cry.

  14. The “Don’t throw me in the brier patch” factor is strong here:

    “Pay me a lot to speak at your Progressive Event. I have a Top Secret Clearance!”
    [Yawn] “So do a lot of people.”

    “Pay me a lot to speak at your Progressive Event. President Trump cancelled my Top Secret Clearance!”
    [Ka-ching] “Check okay? Or do you prefer cash?”

  15. Scott is saying the guys getting nice advances for “tell all” book deals and speaking appearances on 24 hour TV are having their speech chilled. Please say this is satire.

    1. Columns like this are why The Onion isn’t funny anymore.

  16. There is a massive difference between stripping security clearance for Peter Van Buren who was a career bureaucrat who voiced opposition to the Iraq War and stripping security clearance for past political appointees.

    If you don’t see the difference than you are a partisan

    1. Meanwhile Julian Assange may be turned over to the US as we speak in a proposed deal with Ecquador, as Glenn Greenwald notes. And instead of writing articles about that we get “preserve the clearance of these political appointees” instead.

      1. The Assange thing is bullshit. That is a very legitimate basis to go after Trump. Why reason doesn’t do that and instead chooses to fall on its sword for these assholes is beyond me.

        1. Because the Left doesn’t like Assange anymore?

          I mean this is the most likely explanation.

    2. There is an enormous difference.

    3. Why can’t you people ever defend what Trump is actually, obviously doing instead of the fantasy you’ve concocted that makes him as plausibly rational seeming as you can squeeze out of your excuse machine?

      1. Because Tony, you are a stupid, weak little, dithering homo, that has such a weak mind you have no sense of reality. You have no idea what is real or not.

        Why you persist, instead of giving into the idea of suicide is not logical. Maybe your friends, if you actually have any, will throw a really hipsterish wake for you. So you would maybe have that.

  17. Well, sure. The Paul Cult’s “liberty coalition” is mostly the alt-right. So Rand disgracing himself for Trump hits a new low … for now.

    1. Hihn, nobody can see your posts unless they’re posted in proper Ransom Note form

      1. How do you know I posted anything. (smirk)

    2. Why do you hate and stalk people with the surname “Paul”?

      If Rand Paul is elected, then he represents “the will of the people”, and cannot violate rights, correct or incorrect?

      If he’s not violating rights, then why do you care? Don’t you have something better to do? There are lots of people mentioned in this article who are obviously violating rights, so why don’t you write something against them?

      1. There are lots of people mentioned in this article who are obviously violating rights, so why don’t you write something against them?

        What’s the title, goober?

        1. “Rand Paul Encourages Trump to Attack Security Clearances of Government Critics”

          Note, there are 3 parties here, Rand Paul, Trump, and “Government Critics”, who are unelected bureaucrats from the executive branch (who definitely violate rights).

          It’s also hard to argue that Trump doesn’t violate rights, even though he represents “the will of the people”, (by your reckoning) and can’t violate rights (again, by your reckoning).

          You didn’t answer literally any of my questions, I note.

          1. What’s the title, goober?

            1. See, copy and paste is really easy for me, too.

              “Rand Paul Encourages Trump to Attack Security Clearances of Government Critics”

              Note, there are 3 parties here, Rand Paul, Trump, and “Government Critics”, who are unelected bureaucrats from the executive branch (who definitely violate rights).

              It’s also hard to argue that Trump doesn’t violate rights, even though he represents “the will of the people”, (by your reckoning) and can’t violate rights (again, by your reckoning).

              You didn’t answer literally any of my questions, I note. Why not? Is it because it shows what a hypocrite you are?

  18. I know they do bring in former advisors to consult, but I’m not sure they shouldn’t lose their security clearance after six months, and then if the president needs them, they can always read them in on a conditional basis can’t they? Or would they have to do the whole process over again, which would obviously be burdensome. I don’t know. Personally, that many assholes running around knowing sensitive things can’t be good for protecting national security.

    1. Nevermind. A post above informs me that I misunderstood the process somewhat.

      My comment about the assholes is probably still valid though.

    2. Getting TS clearance is a lengthy process the first time. Expediting it for these people after a year or two is not. They don’t have to go back through their whole life all over again.

    3. Nobody needs them

  19. The real losers in this are the professional civil servants

    So much winning…

    The LP should just endorse Trump in 2020. It would be far less embarrassing than nominating Weld or some other Republican has been.

  20. Reason is siding with a CIA spook like Brennan over Rand Paul….. wow, never thought I’d see the day. Brennan, Hayden, Clapper and the like have violated the constitution and crippled the 4th amendment, branding them as “critics of the President” rather than propaganda tools of our Orwellian intelligence community is a crock of shit. The less power these vile spooks have the better.

    1. I’m not surprised for two reasons. First, cocktail parties. Second, career prospects to move up in the media world require a virulent anti-Trump orientation with at least some appeal to progressives.

  21. “It’s that second part that Trump and Paul seem to be targeting. Paul says that government officials shouldn’t be using their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or cable appearances.

    But why not? I mean, if the market places value in these prior relationships, what exactly is the ethical problem here if the private sector is willing to pay for these ties?”

    WTF Reason?! What happened to this place? Siding with known liars and people who willingly violate the Constitution because they at least criticize Trump? I do not get it…

  22. “Why is this push only targeting Trump critics? If this is profiteering off of political access, shouldn’t it be targeting a much wider swathe of people?”

    Yes, it should. The experience should be sufficient as an “in” for employment. Security clearances should expire.

    I routinely block access or remove accounts for retirees, the terminated, and the dead. I expect that when I retire the admin who replaces me will update all passwords.

    The proliferation of security clearances creates the clique that creates the cabal. If there is some need for transition then set a reasonable period 3-6 months and then cut them off.

    All current clearances should be reviewed and pruned.

    1. I have had full access to trade secrets and proprietary data at several employers in my career. When I left an employer, it would never have occurred to me to presume that I should have ongoing access to its trade secrets and proprietary data. If I were to steal documents with such secrets/data and monetize it in my job, I would have been criminally prosecuted. If employees of my former employer discussed developments in company trade secrets and data, they would have been subject to serious discipline, probably termination.

      It appears that different standards apply to what DC swamp creatures classify as national security secrets.

      “The real losers in this are the professional civil servants …” Boo-effin’-hoo.

  23. The purpose of security clearances is so that individuals can assist the administration.

    If someone is hostile to the administration, they are not going to assist them and there is no reason for them to have security clearances.

  24. “The real losers in this are the professional civil servants elsewhere in America’s vast national security bureaucracy, especially anybody working at the Justice Department. Trump’s real target is the FBI agent in his mid-40s, with two kids on their way to college and a mortgage to pay, who happens to be working on the Russia investigation. Or, it could be his counterpart, a federal prosecutor who’s in the middle of her career and helping to guide the investigation.”

    First, what “investigation”? It started as an investigation of Trump canoodling with the Russkis, as if there were a law against that. It’s now expanded to Trump paying of a one-night stand to shut up, various folks caught ‘lying to a federal agent’, some money laundering having nothing to do with Trump and various other “45 in a 30MPH zone” charges.
    Now Shackford is claiming the investigation has to do with ‘election meddling’. That remains a worthlessly vague claim; if ‘election meddling’ is a crime, plenty of US operatives are guilty.
    And then to drag up tear-jerkers about how some gov’t employees are going to lose their jobs is pathetic; how about all the ruined reps those employees have handed out to those without the resources to defend them?
    You’re going to have to bring out the widows and orphans if you want sympathy for fed prosecutors from me.

    1. The issue is complicated by concerns I think are shared by many:
      We can start with the basic presumption of the US judicial system: No one is required to prove innocence. As I understand it this stems from the assumption that no one is 100% “innocent”; you are guilty as charged or not guilty. “Innocence” is not required. For the same reason, investigations are limited to charges of guilt in specific crimes.
      If you want sympathy for the ‘aggrieved’ here, you are first going to have to show why the “investigation” remit is pretty much ‘if you can find anyone who has ever done anything wrong, charge them’.

  25. This headline is deceptive, and is substantively a lie. Nobody is having his clearance pulled or threatened for dissent. The people threatened are former officials (thus should not still have clearances anyway), and are suspected of using their offices after Trump was elected to undermine his control of the government, which is tantamount to treason.

    All I can say about that is, where the hell has AG Sessions been for the last year and a half? These misusers of office should be going to prison in bunches. And Sessions should be fired unless he can give a good reason why that hasn’t happened yet.

  26. I was actually shocked that they were allowed to keep their clearances once they leave government service. You can’t keep it if you leave the military or federal civil service, unless you are going to work for a federal contractor that requires it. As a federal civil servant, I have always been told in our security training that security clearances are granted on a strict need-to-know basis. Unless they are working for federal contractors, I fail to see why they or any other former government worker or politician should keep their clearances.

  27. — Tony —

    That comment was not particularly smart. If you don’t know the subject, probably better to stay out of the conversation.

    Access to classified material is primarily based upon need to know. If you’re no longer working in a specific government sector, e.g. going from public to private, clearances are still viable for revisiting up to two years afterward. Once that time has gone by, an individual no longer has the clearance/access and must re-apply. Of course there are differences between Secret, TS, or TS/SCI and their viability.

    Killing someone’s clearance is meant to impact their ability to work for the government at higher levels only.

    1. Tony is not particularly smart. No need to explain

  28. Several of those people shouldn’t have security clearances, however, we shouldn’t allow politics into the equation. Just because the Obama administration undermined the country by using non-political agencies as political tools doesn’t justify Trump doing the same. Trump can’t be better than Obama by sinking to Obama’s level.

  29. Because letting ex-employees have a security clearance makes sense, No it doesn’t. Why the fuck do any of these ex’s have clearances.

    Reason never fails in the area of dumb-fuckery.

  30. Oh and the claim of “meddling”! Its like the claim of “climate change”. Yes people meddle and yes climate changes,. Duhhhhh.

    So we really need to stop using the word meddling and define what it really is. The Russia Russia Russia folks won’t define it because all they fucking talk about when pressed in trolls. If I see one more article about how they organized trolls I am gong to find the author and beat the crap out of them. Seriously trolls!

  31. Fucking assholes former CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, all said Saddam had a fucking nuculur bomb.

    Well, fucking assholes, where the fuck is it??

    Fuck them

    In addition – John Brennan is an admitted fucking commie asshole and fucking asshole asshat James Clapper knowingly lied before congress.

    Fuck them and all deep state fucking asshole war mongers.

    May you all have a slow and painful death.

    1. Are you Trump posting under an alias?

      Your time is coming to an end ….

  32. Former Executive Branch employees wouldn’t even be allowed past the security desk in the lobby without a valid employee badge!

  33. Trump’s obedient puppets check Twitter every morning for the day’s outrage alert. and daily marching orders,
    (smirk)

  34. REALITY CHECK: the entire government is one giant, parasitical criminal scam. Therefor the entire FBI is a criminal scam, top to bottom. Shut the fuckers down, now![ along with the CIA, NSA etc. etc. ad infinitum……..

    “Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [i.e.taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams, which cannot be “reformed”, “improved”, or “limited” in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature.” http://onebornfree-mythbusters.blogspot.com/

    Regards, onebornfreeatyahoodotcom

  35. “It’s that second part that Trump and Paul seem to be targeting. Paul says that government officials shouldn’t be using their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or cable appearances.

    But why not? I mean, if the market places value in these prior relationships, what exactly is the ethical problem here if the private sector is willing to pay for these ties?”

    NOT MENTIONED IN THE ARTICLE IS THAT THIS IS ILLEGAL AND RAND CITED US CODE IN BRINGING THIS UP!!!!
    Seem to be? Shouldn’t be? What a joke of an article.

    1. SO FUCK RAND PAUL FOR TAKING HIS OATH SERIOUSLY!

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