- When retired US Navy Adm. William McRaven, the special-operations commander who oversaw the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, wrote the stunning opinion column directed against President Donald Trump last year, he did so while he was vacationing in a remote area of Colorado, according to a new book.
- During his vacation, McRaven learned Trump’s White House had revoked former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance, the national-security journalist Peter Bergen wrote in a new book.
- Having limited access to the internet and cellphone coverage, McRaven scouted for a signal to make a call to a Washington Post columnist.
- He dictated a letter that would later be published in the newspaper.
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When retired US Navy Adm. William McRaven, the special-operations commander who oversaw the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, wrote the stunning opinion column directed against President Donald Trump last year, he did so while he was vacationing in a remote area of Colorado.
McRaven, who retired as a Navy SEAL in 2014 after 36 years of service, was vacationing in the Centennial State when he penned the critical column published in The Washington Post in August 2018, according to the national-security journalist Peter Bergen’s latest book, „Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos.“
It was during his vacation that McRaven learned Trump’s White House had revoked former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance, citing his „erratic conduct and behavior.“
„Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets and facilitates the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos,“ the White House said in a statement at the time.
Senior intelligence officials who leave their government jobs are typically allowed to maintain their security clearances, pending an occasional review, for help with continuity or because their civilian job requires a clearance.
Before the decision, Brennan, a career US intelligence official, was publicly outspoken in his opposition against the Trump administration. He later went on Twitter to criticize the move, saying it „should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out.“
„My principles are worth far more than clearances,“ Brennan tweeted. „I will not relent.“
Foto: Lake Ladora at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colorado.sourceDonna Bryson/AP
News of the decision alarmed McRaven, who had limited access to the internet because of his location. McRaven scouted for a location to place a phone call, according to Bergen’s research, and dialed the number to the Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty. The two had reportedly known each other since high school.
McRaven then dictated a letter that would later be published in The Post. McRaven described Brennan as „one of the finest public servants“ and dared the White House to revoke his own security clearance.
„I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency,“ McRaven wrote.
„A good leader sets the example for others to follow,“ McRaven added. „A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.“
McRaven contrasted the qualities of a good leader against Trump: „Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.“
Trump initially responded to the opinion column by denying McRaven’s clout: „I don’t know McRaven.“
He later denigrated McRaven’s military service and accused him of being politically biased, calling the retired admiral a „Hillary Clinton fan“ and an „Obama backer“ during a Fox News interview in November 2018.
„Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that? Wouldn’t it have been nice?“ Trump said at the time.
McRaven denied he supported Clinton „or anyone else“ during the 2016 presidential election.
McRaven’s opinion column in The Post would not be his last. He wrote a second column published in The New York Times in October titled „Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President.“
In that column, McRaven wrote that government institutions were being assailed by Trump’s lack of leadership. McRaven added that despite the apolitical stance of various military branches, intelligence agencies, and public-service groups, the people employed by these organizations had witnessed „the assaults on our institutions“ under the Trump administration.
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