More than 100 former military and national security personnel warned on Thursday that delaying Joe Biden’s access to transitional services would endanger national security.
In a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA), tweeted by CIA analyst Gail Helt, officials urged the agency to appoint Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as elected president and vice president “immediately” through the Presidential Transition Act
“The access granted by law is essential to ensure the continuity of the government from one administration to the next, and every day that the administrator delays is another day that the Biden team will be without critical information to prepare to combat the threats the nation faces,” the letter said. The Presidential Transitional Act, which came into effect in 1963, allows an elected president and an elected vice president to receive information on national security, ongoing military operations and the possible deployment of the U.S. military.
In the past, elected presidents received such briefings after the GSA issued a letter detailing them as the elected president and paving the way for the transition process.
However, no such letter was issued to Biden until Thursday afternoon. As the vote counting continues and President Donald Trump is contesting the ballots, Trump has not yet given up on the race and has repeatedly stated that it is not over.
The GSA does not need an incumbent president to allow the race to begin before a change of power takes place, but the agency told CBS News that it could not yet determine a winner, citing the precedent set by the Clinton administration in 2000 after Florida’s recount delay in the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
In the letter, the former officials pointed out that the delay in the transition from Clinton to Bush showed “how important it is that you make the necessary decision as soon as possible.
“The National Commission against Terrorist Attacks on the United States (the ‘9/11 Commission’) noted that the 36-day delay in the transition due to the disputed 2000 elections led to a six-month delay in fully staffing the national security apparatus under the Bush administration, making our country more vulnerable to foreign adversaries,” the letter said. “For this reason, and in light of the contested elections in 2000, the 9/11 Commission recommended that the transitions should strive to ‘minimize the disruption to national security policy as much as possible’.
This recommendation is all the more emphatic in the midst of a pandemic such as occurs once in a century.
The letter was signed by 161 former officials, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, CIA and NSA Director General Michael Hayden, General Wesley Clark, NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, among others.
Several former Trump administration officials also signed the letter, including U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Doug Silliman, NSA Director of Counterterterrorism Javed Ali, DHS Deputy Secretary for Counterterrorism Elizabeth Neumann, DHS Deputy Secretary for Counterrorism Tom Warrick, and U.N. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Lewis Lukens.
On Sunday, Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said that the Trump administration had not contacted the Biden team to initiate the transition.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) told Washington Newsday on Thursday in a statement that it cannot have contact with Biden’s transition team until notified by the GSA administrator.
“ODNI is following the legal instruction provided in the Presidential Transition Act, which requires the GSA administrator to determine the candidate before supporting a possible presidential transition,” a spokesman said. “ODNI will not have contact with a transition team until notified by the GSA administrator”.
The GSA, Trump and Biden teams did not respond to Washington Newsday’s request for a comment….