The Pentagon has so far blocked meetings between the Biden transition team and officials with the intelligence agencies that are part of the Department of Defense, according to two new reports.
However, defense officials and the Biden team differ on the reason why the meetings have not yet taken place.
Presumptive potential President-elect Joe Biden has formed a transition team that to facilitate a transfer of power. The General Services Administration has been given a green light to assist the transition team and meetings have been taking place with various agencies.
However, Biden’s transition officials have not yet met with representatives of the military intelligence agencies that are part of the Defense Department such the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, according to CNN.
In its reporting, CNN framed the delay as the fault of the Trump administration, basing its report on what it terms as “a former senior intelligence official familiar with intelligence transition discussions.”
CNN reported that what it called a “senior defense official” said that the transition team has been briefed on some facets of the Defense Department’s work, but not yet on intelligence.
The Washington Post called the issues that delayed the meeting “seemingly petty procedural barriers” that included information about who would be visiting the Pentagon and what would be discussed.
“If they were in a cooperative mood, none of this would be happening,” the Post wrote, citing what is claimed was a “person with knowledge of the interactions.”
CNN went further, quoting the former intelligence official as saying “That’s a big FU from Defense to the incoming intelligence community transition team.”
But there are two sides to the issue.
What the Post called “one defense official” said Biden’s transition team members did not follow the right chain of protocol in setting up their planned visits.
In CNN’s reporting, the source it said as “a defense official” told the network that Biden’s team “made direct coordination with DOD intelligence agencies for interviews, briefings and site visits,” but “the schedule change/delay happened because the [Biden team] didn’t reach out to DOD before scheduling a meeting with DOD agencies, PER THE GUIDANCE and MOU. They weren’t denied, they just had to follow the proper procedure.”
Sue Gough, a Defense Department spokeswoman, issued a statement pouring cold water on the notion that there was even a problem.
“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 issued 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.”
Story cited here.