Vice president-elect Joe Biden got a reality check from the Pentagon after he claimed his team wasn’t getting all the information it needed during the transition period, with Acting Secretary Chris Miller detailing the efforts that have been undertaken all while maintaining health precautions due to COVID-19.
“My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies. We need full visibility into 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,” Biden said Monday during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “But as I said from the beginning, we have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.”
Miller took issue with Biden’s allegation and pointed out in a statement that his team has been given access to more resources than originally requested.
“The Department of Defense has conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials, and provided over 5,000 pages of documents – far more than initially requested by Biden’s transition team,” Miller said in a statement. “DOD’s efforts already surpass those of recent administrations with over three weeks to go and we continue to schedule additional meetings for the remainder of the transition and answer any and all requests for information in our purview.
“Our DOD political and career officials have been working with the utmost professionalism to support transition activities in a compressed time schedule and they will continue to do so in a transparent and collegial manner that upholds the finest traditions of the Department,” the statement continued. “The American people expect nothing less and that is what I remain committed to.”
In addition to what Miller noted at the beginning of the statement, the Department of Defense has also responded to 188 requests for information to date and is continuing to schedule interviews with senior leaders and career officials into January.
Tensions flared earlier this month when Miller said the transition team and the Pentagon would be taking a “mutually agreed upon holiday pause” in briefings, but a Biden spokesman pushed back and said no such agreement existed.
“Let me be clear: There was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break,” transition spokesman Yohannes Abraham told reporters. “In fact, we think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period, as there’s no time to spare.”
In the Monday statement, the Pentagon said it is making itself available to promptly respond to urgent COVID-related requests over the holidays and has three interviews scheduled this week.
“DOD continues to support the presidential transition aligned with the President Transition Act, White House and Biden-Harris Transition Team Memorandum of Understanding, and DOD policy,” the statement concluded.
No matter how much information the transition team has, it won’t guarantee Biden makes any wiser decisions on foreign policy than in his previous decades in elected office.