Former NSA Director: Former Intel Chiefs Criticizing Trump’s Decision to Revoke Brennan’s Security Clearance ‘Not Helping’

By Melanie Arter | September 12, 2018 | 5:34 PM EDT

Former NSA Chief retired Adm. Michael Rogers (Screenshot)

( - Former National Security Agency Director retired Adm. Michael Rogers said Wednesday that a group of former intelligence officials’ decision to openly criticize President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance was not helpful.

Rogers, who also served as U.S. Cyber Command commander for the Obama and Trump administrations from 2014 to 2018, participated Wednesday in a discussion on the relationship between the presidency and the intelligence community alongside former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.


MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, who served as moderator of the discussion at George Mason University, pointed out that Rogers was the only one on the panel that didn’t sign a letter by other former intelligence chiefs speaking out against Trump’s decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance.

Rogers, who retired from the U.S. Navy in June, said he chose not to sign the letter, because didn’t find it helpful.

“First, I agree with the fundamental premise that it is the right of every citizen to express their views. I embrace that, and like everybody on this stage, I’ve spent our professional lives focused on ensuring that that right remains for all of us,” he said.

“I truly believe it’s one of our strengths for our nation, but I have two things that gave me pause. The first -- one thing the teams I’ve always been a part of I always remind them: remember it’s always about outcomes. It’s not about activity for the sake of activity,” Rogers said. “It’s always about outcomes, and so I said to myself, is this going to be effective?”

Rogers said he thought that “a group of former senior intelligence individuals complaining about how another former senior intelligence individual is being treated” was not “the most effective way” to “address a very valid concern.”

Rogers said he applauded retired Navy Adm. William McRaven, who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post last month daring Trump to revoke his security clearance too.

“I applaud Admiral McRaven for example. I felt what he did was truly professional, and I thought, hey … that was really effective. Someone who really had no dog in the fight per se directly spoke up to say, look, there’s a fundamental principle here I think we need to stand up for,” Rogers said.

“I also thought pouring gasoline on a fire is not going to reduce the flame, and we got enough fires burning right now guys. We need to focus on what are the outcomes we need to achieve as a nation, and remember, John and every one of us with or without a clearance retain the right to say what we want and do what we believe is the right thing,” he said.

Rogers said the other concern he had “was is this going to make the work harder of the men and women of the intelligence profession of the world in our nation today who are doing a job.”

“And as a guy who was on the inside for part of this, who at times is being very honest would say, guys, this is not helping, because my concern is intelligence is most effective when the perception of the customer is that what they are seeing represents a true objective analytical assessment that is not in any way influenced by political view, administration, particular policy,” Rogers said.

“And so, for me as I’ve talked to the teams I have led within my intelligence career, we must ensure that nothing we do calls into question the objective nature of intelligence,” he said.

While Rogers agreed with the sentiment of the intelligence chiefs’ letter, he was concerned that it wouldn’t be “the most effective way to make the point, and number two,” he said, “I’m concerned about what this will do for the men and women that are doing that work in the agencies that we have all been a part of, and as a result, I opted not to go this route, even as I recognize that John, anybody, you need to stand up and speak what you believe.”

When asked to comment on something Hayden wrote Tuesday that said, “I fear that the creator did not endow Trump with the emotional, intellectual or ethical tools to carry out the responsibilities of his office,’” Rogers said, “I am best served when I focus on the expertise that I have developed in 37 years.”

“This is an example of for me, I worked for two presidents. You have never heard me talk about either of them. My view is that each of them was trying to do the job to their best ability,” he said.

“Now, you can certainly have a different of opinion as to the how, the why, and I have my own opinions - don’t get me wrong - which I share with my family and others,” Rogers said. “Three of us are senior retired military members, and part of that culture always, remember, when you take the uniform off, particularly as a four star, it doesn’t end.”

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