The Pentagon blocked members of President Joe Biden’s incoming administration from gaining access to critical information about current operations, including the troop drawdown in Afghanistan, Politico reported on Wednesday.
Politico quoting US transition and defense officials said that the effort to obstruct the Biden team, led by senior White House appointees at the Pentagon, is unprecedented in modern presidential transitions and will hobble the new administration on key national security matters as it takes over positions.
According to Polotico, this story is based on conversations with 10 Pentagon and Biden officials involved in the transition, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations.
“They really should not be allowed to get away with this. It’s just completely irresponsible and indefensible,” one transition official told Politico. “To play politics with the country’s national security is just really unacceptable.”
In one incident, the Pentagon abruptly canceled the transition team’s meeting with Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, which had been scheduled for just before Christmas. At the time, the acting defense secretary said both teams had agreed to reschedule all non-Covid related meetings until after the new year, but Biden officials publicly denied that claim.
The team was eventually able to speak with the general in January. But with the Trump administration down to 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and on a path to reach zero by May, “having a multiple-week delay in gaining access to Gen. Miller was not good,” the first transition official said.
Biden called the stonewalling by the Pentagon “nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility” after meetings were canceled ahead of Christmas, the report said.
Biden said his team “needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies.”