National security is a highly complex and quickly shifting operation that demands constant vigilance. Every day that President Donald Trump continues to delay the transition to the Biden presidency threatens U.S. security and gives our enemies an opportunity to exploit a perceived power void.
Mr. Trump and his advisers continue to deny President-elect Joe Biden access to classified intelligence, notably the President’s Daily Brief. Whether Mr. Trump is willing to concede defeat is irrelevant at this point; he has lost the election and no amount of court filings will change that. Instead, for the safety and security of the country, the president needs to begin providing intelligence materials to Mr. Biden and his team.
The lessons learned from 20 years ago highlight the importance of a smooth transition regarding national security and classified intelligence. After the 2000 election, as Americans awaited the recount in Florida that would determine the presidency, the administrator of the General Services Administration did not “ascertain” George W. Bush as the winner until after the Supreme Court ruling and the concession by Al Gore.
Mr. Bush and his advisers did receive intelligence briefings in the interim, but his transition team did not have access to federal agencies and resources during that 37-day period when the election outcome was unknown.
Fast forward to Sept. 11, 2001, barely eight months into the Bush presidency, and the country suffered the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.
The shortcomings identified by the commission two decades ago are even more ominous today. The Biden transition team not only needs to be made aware of the potential threats worldwide or ongoing covert operations, but it also must move quickly to fill key intelligence positions with qualified people. It takes time to obtain security clearances for those who will anchor the new administration’s intelligence team, not to mention Senate hearings for top positions.
America cannot risk another transition delay that would put the country at risk. A number of Republicans have come to the same conclusion and have pushed for allowing Mr. Biden access to intelligence briefings, even if they are unwilling to say for the moment that he has won the election.
“ Joe Biden should receive the President’s Daily Brief starting today,” former Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told The Associated Press. “He needs to know what the latest threats are and begin to plan accordingly. This isn’t about politics. This is about national security.”
Mr. Trump can continue his legal challenges to the election if he so chooses, but in the meantime Mr. Biden and his team must have access to the intelligence information that is vital to our national security.
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)