A day after 12 former senior intelligence officialscondemning President Trump for of former CIA director John Brennan, 60 lower-ranking former CIA officers signed an open letter on Friday also in opposition to Mr. Trump's decision.
"All of us believe it is critical to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure. But we believe equally strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so," the new letter says.
The letter supports Brennan's right to express his opinions, without necessarily approving of his perspective.
"Our signatures below do not necessarily mean that we concur with the opinions expressed by former Director Brennan or the way in which he expressed them," it says. "What they do represent, however, is our firm belief that the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views."
The signatories of the letter include outspoken former officers including Nada Bakos, David Priess, and John Sipher, who have criticized Mr. Trump.
The first letter, which was initially signed by 12 former senior intelligence officials from each administration going back to Ronald Reagan's presidency, added three signatories since it was first published Thursday. Former CIA Director Robert Gates' name was added to the list shortly after it was published. On Friday, former Director of National Intelligence Denny Blair, who briefly served as Obama's first DNI, and former deputy CIA director Porter Goss, signed the letter.
The first letter's other signees include former Directors of Central Intelligence Robert Gates, William Webster, George Tenet and Porter Goss; former CIA Directors Gen. Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta and Gen. David Petraeus; former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; and former deputy CIA directors John McLaughlin, Stephen Kappes, Avril Haines, David Cohen and Michael Morell, who is also a CBS News senior national security contributor.
Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.