WASHINGTON: More than 175 former State Department and Pentagon officials added their names to a statement signed by national security officials criticising President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the security clearance of former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan.

New signatories to the statement, which was initially issued last week by 15 former directors and deputy chiefs of the CIA and Office of Director of National Intelligence, include former political appointees and career civil servants. They worked under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

Among the most prominent individuals to sign a new version of the statement released on Monday by senior officials from the George W. Bush and Obama administrations are former State Department and National Security Counsel lawyer John Bellinger, former Deputy Secretaries of State Anthony Blinken and William Burns, former Under-secretaries of State Nicholas Burns, Wendy Sherman and Thomas Pickering.

Also, former National Security Agency general counsel Robert Deitz, former National Counter-terrorism Centre directors Michael Leiter and Nick Rasmussen, former National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and former Nato commander Admiral James Stavridis.

While those signing may not agree with all of Brennan’s public attacks on Trump, the statement reads, they believe that “the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied” before expert former officials are allowed to voice their views.

Brennan, who has publicly characterised Trump’s comments at a recent summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “treasonous,” has said he might sue the Trump administration over the revocation of his clearance.

“I am going to do whatever I can to try to prevent these abuses in the future, and if it means going to court, I will do that,” he said on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” television programme.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2018