Retired Adm. William McRaven called President Donald Trump's leadership an embarrassment to the nation Thursday while defending the integrity of former CIA Director John Brennan in an open letter to the president that is being published as an op-ed by The Washington Post.
Trump's action Wednesday in stripping Brennan of his security clearance demeaned "one of the finest public servants I have ever known," McRaven wrote.
"Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John," he continued in a rare rebuke of a sitting commander-in-chief by a retired four-star.
"Therefore, 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," he added.
McRaven, 62, a former Navy SEAL, led U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. In that post, he organized and oversaw the SEAL raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011 in Pakistan. From 2015 to 2018, he served as chancellor of the University of Texas.
In his letter to Trump, McRaven said, "Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.
"A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself," but "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," he wrote.
"If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken," McRaven said. "The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be."
In a statement read out Wednesday by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Trump said he was revoking Brennan's security clearance because of his "erratic behavior" in recent weeks.
Brennan, now a commentator for NBC and MSNBC, has been a persistent Trump critic and defender of the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election to favor him.
In his statement, Trump said Brennan was engaging in "increasingly frenzied commentary," and was continuing "to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations."
In an op-ed for The New York Times on Thursday, Brennan wrote, "Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.