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Burnett: This should upset all Americans

CNN's Erin Burnett says President Donald Trump's real witch hunt lies within his threat to punish the country's top former intelligence chiefs who disagree with him.

Posted: Jul 24, 2018 6:01 PM
Updated: Jul 24, 2018 6:21 PM

In recent years, the blurring of partisan politics and national security has been an increasing and troubling phenomenon in American public life. On Monday, it reached a new level when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Donald Trump is exploring "mechanisms" to revoke the security clearances of several former government officials who have been critical of Trump and his policies.

While the President may have the right to undertake such a review and, in the end, to deny continued access to classified information, the question remains -- at what cost to national security?

There are thousands of public servants who might not be actively fighting the good fight now within the executive branch, but sit on boards and commissions and continue to contribute to critical national security issues in this country.

Working on the front lines with Fortune 1000 companies to protect and defend their infrastructure from insider threats, cybercriminal syndicates and state-sponsored actors, I have leaned heavily upon the experiences and wisdom of many of our public servants who have worked for our recent presidents of both political parties. These public servants offer a point of view based on previous and sometimes continuing access to classified information that form critical institutional knowledge and insight, even if we disagree with their politics or recommendations.

Based on the fight ahead of us in the cyber domain alone, I shudder to think what it would be like not to have their wisdom at the ready.

That said, holding a security clearance in the United States is an honor and a responsibility. According to the Department of Defense, "The purpose of a security clearance is to determine whether a person is able and willing to safeguard classified national security information, based on his or her loyalty, character, trustworthiness, and reliability."

Additionally, having a clearance does not mean you have access to everything classified. Classified information is closely guarded and only released to individuals on a "need to know" basis -- in order to do their jobs in service to the US government.

Maintaining or having your clearance renewed is also not a right. There is an extensive process dictated by long standing presidential executive orders that is used to grant a clearance and renew security clearances. There are also modern day legal precedents that support the President's right to grant or revoke clearances, such as the 1988 Supreme Court case Department of the Navy v. Egan.

When someone leaves their post willingly and moves to another role where a clearance is required, they go through an extensive process to transfer that clearance to a new authority. If an individual leaves their post willingly and no longer requires a clearance, they will be read out of their programs and their clearance will lapse. If they are fired, their clearance is revoked. Under the guidelines regarding firings, this would mean that former FBI officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe, both of whom were fired, have already had their access to classified information terminated.

Nonetheless, all of those mentioned during the White House press briefing who are under consideration to have their clearances revoked have been on the front lines of the global cyber war. They speak from a combined century of experience, which our elected officials call upon frequently. In the last six months alone, the Senate Intelligence Committee has invited testimony from intelligence industry experts in more than half of their hearings. They can -- and I have seen them up close -- offer strategies that worked well and candidly discuss mistakes they have made.

We cannot afford to lose their institutional knowledge during this critical time, even if we disagree with their interpretations of intelligence or lament that they, too, have become politicized in these hyper-partisan times. Healthy and productive disagreements inside the intelligence community and its associated private sector partners have helped America build dynamic and strong cybersecurity strategies.

If there is one thing that should be indisputable in the wake of the cyberattacks conducted by Russia to influence the 2016 elections, it is that our nation is far from safe from cyberthreats. Our adversaries are continually probing our defenses, searching for vulnerabilities. This is the time to lock arms against the enemy, not to voluntarily disarm by taking our best, brightest and most experienced defenders off the battlefield.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 605426

Reported Deaths: 9642
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion836221331
Lake45189680
Allen32646547
Hamilton29240315
St. Joseph27260380
Elkhart24354344
Vanderburgh19292248
Tippecanoe17905133
Johnson14974293
Porter14707168
Hendricks14295248
Madison10909220
Vigo10688179
Clark10581139
Monroe9338110
Delaware9089134
LaPorte9007162
Howard8177143
Kosciusko803182
Warrick668798
Hancock6639104
Bartholomew6443100
Floyd6377109
Wayne6106161
Grant5965115
Dubois554079
Boone549467
Morgan535595
Henry505564
Marshall502684
Cass482663
Dearborn476245
Noble471257
Jackson421947
Shelby413881
Lawrence389179
Clinton372043
Gibson369159
DeKalb345964
Harrison345644
Montgomery343354
Knox334339
Miami319844
Steuben313045
Whitley304526
Wabash301447
Adams299635
Ripley297545
Putnam294149
Huntington290659
Jasper288134
White272242
Daviess266774
Jefferson262538
Decatur246583
Fayette246348
Greene239262
Posey238128
Wells234050
LaGrange227662
Scott223439
Clay221832
Randolph212848
Jennings197736
Sullivan191133
Spencer190121
Washington183722
Fountain183127
Starke174843
Jay167022
Owen163637
Fulton163130
Orange157234
Carroll156415
Rush154418
Perry152727
Vermillion148634
Franklin147833
Tipton131832
Parke13038
Pike116226
Blackford110922
Pulaski96837
Newton90721
Brown87534
Benton86510
Crawford7929
Martin73013
Warren6777
Switzerland6575
Union6267
Ohio4867
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 853982

Reported Deaths: 10599
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin100550707
Cuyahoga849601082
Hamilton63509448
Montgomery42863417
Summit34586759
Lucas31151616
Butler30735231
Stark25598430
Warren19552140
Lorain18847223
Mahoning17215337
Lake15967154
Clermont15800111
Delaware1430578
Licking13130137
Trumbull12739313
Fairfield1269181
Greene11975136
Medina11504168
Clark10867265
Wood10289158
Allen9826126
Portage9213108
Miami911373
Richland9085117
Marion7437113
Tuscarawas7339181
Columbiana7286124
Pickaway721750
Wayne6987171
Muskingum693941
Erie6113127
Hancock549090
Ross546098
Scioto536364
Geauga503855
Darke467892
Ashtabula451073
Lawrence450154
Union447728
Sandusky434762
Mercer432488
Huron425441
Seneca424865
Auglaize421164
Shelby420522
Jefferson416769
Belmont412740
Washington385240
Athens37669
Putnam373575
Madison352129
Knox350222
Ashland342838
Fulton336543
Defiance328282
Crawford320573
Preble319137
Brown309121
Logan305532
Ottawa290143
Clinton287943
Williams277167
Highland273718
Jackson262445
Guernsey251325
Champaign249728
Fayette235130
Morrow23124
Perry228718
Holmes223874
Henry217349
Hardin211333
Coshocton204521
Van Wert201145
Gallia195426
Wyandot194651
Pike173917
Adams173015
Hocking171024
Carroll154216
Paulding143421
Noble120340
Meigs108024
Monroe100631
Harrison88421
Morgan82629
Vinton69513
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