Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed onto a letter criticizing President Donald Trump for stripping the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.
The letter, released Thursday, defends Brennan, whose security clearance was revoked in what critics say was retribution for speaking out against Trump. Gates, who served as Defense Secretary under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, joins 12 other former intelligence officials on the letter. According to former acting CIA director Michael Morell, Gates was out of cell range when the letter was originally released, but he’s an “important voice.”
The letter alleges that Trump’s revoking of Brennan’s clearance “has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances — and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech.”
“You don’t have to agree with what John Brennan says (and, again, not all of us do) to agree with his right to say it, subject to his obligation to protect classified information,” it continues.
Trump has denied that he stripped Brennan’s security clearance to silence a critic.
“If anything, I’m giving him a bigger voice,” he said Friday, according to The Washington Post. “Many people don’t even know who he is . . . I’ve never respected him.”