President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday that many of America’s security agencies had been “hollowed out” under President Donald Trump, and the lack of information being provided to his transition team by the outgoing administration was an “irresponsibility.”
“We’ve encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said after a meeting with his foreign policy team.
“Right now, we just aren’t getting all of the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” he added.
Trump, a Republican, has refused to concede defeat in the November 3 election, and his administration delayed authorized cooperation with Biden until November 23. Biden takes office January 20.
Information from Pentagon
Earlier this month, Biden’s team said they had met resistance to requests for information from some Pentagon officials.
The Pentagon pushed back. A senior defense official last week said that the Pentagon had conducted 163 interviews and 181 requests for information and that it would continue to provide information and meetings.
But Biden reiterated his team’s concerns Monday. When he takes office, he will inherit a wide range of foreign policy and national security challenges, including China, Iran and North Korea, as well as the coronavirus pandemic raging across the globe.
One of his toughest tasks will be rebuilding U.S. alliances that have frayed under four years of Trump’s “America First” agenda.
“My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies,” Biden said. “We need full visibility to the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.”
‘Damage’ within agencies
But Biden said his team, while securing cooperation from some federal agencies, had “encountered obstruction from the political leadership” at the Pentagon.
“And the truth is that many of the agencies that are crucial to our security have incurred enormous damage. Many of them have been hollowed out — in personnel, capacity and in morale,” he said. “There’s policy processes that have atrophied or have been sidelined to the despair of our alliances.”