Politics

Pentagon Blocked Biden’s Intelligence Transition Team From Meeting With Agencies

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The Trump administration prevented President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team from meeting with its counterparts at Pentagon intelligence agencies this week, according to a former senior intelligence official familiar with intelligence transition discussions.

The slowdown means the Biden team has not yet been able to meet with officials from the military intelligence agencies within the Defense Department — including the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency — even as all other meetings by Biden review teams appear to be happening smoothly now after weeks of delay.

The Pentagon denies any effort to stymie the President-elect’s team. A senior defense official told CNN that briefings had taken place on Friday for transition officials on military matters, including senior-level policy and international security issues, but not on intelligence.

The Washington Post first reported on the Biden team’s problems with the Defense Department transition office, which is led by a Trump loyalist connected to efforts to spread conspiracy theories about the President-elect.

The delays come even as the General Services Administration gave a green light on November 23 for officials at federal agencies across the government to meet with the President-elect’s Agency Review Teams — essential to ensuring a smooth transfer of power.

Last week, arrangements were made for Biden’s Agency Review Team to meet with the various defense intelligence agencies this week, the former intelligence official said.

But early in the week, word came from the Pentagon that the Biden team would have no engagement with defense intelligence agencies until it had submitted questions in advance and listed the names of the people with whom it wanted to interact.

At that point, the Biden team’s requests would be reviewed by the Defense Department’s general counsel and Kash Patel, the Trump loyalist appointed to lead the Pentagon’s transition last month amid President Donald Trump’s purge of civilian leadership at the department.

“That’s a big FU from Defense to the incoming intelligence community transition team,” the former official said.

Sue Gough, a Defense Department spokesperson, denied there has been any issue with the Biden teams’ ability to meet with intelligence officials at the Pentagon.

“The DOD Agency Review Team has not been denied any access,” Gough said in a statement. “We continue to work with the DOD ART to schedule all requested interviews, briefings and updates.”

In a statement on Saturday, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said the department was “fully cooperating with the Biden transition team, placing national security and the protection of the American people at the forefront of any and all discussions.”

Multiple Pentagon officials blamed the meetings being delayed on the Biden transition organization, saying the members of its intelligence transition team r… (Read more)

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