Over 100 Military and National Security Officials Warn of Risk if Biden Not Given Access to Transition Services

Over 100 former military and national security officials warned Thursday that delaying Joe Biden's access to transition services raises national security risks.

In a letter sent to the General Services Administration (GSA), tweeted by CIA analyst Gail Helt, the officials called on the agency to "promptly" name Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the President-elect and Vice President-elect via the Presidential Transition Act

"The access provided by the Act is essential to ensure continuity of government from one administration to the next, and each day the Administrator delays is another day that the Biden team will be without critical information to prepare to combat the threats that the nation faces," the letter said. The Presidential Transition Act, enacted in 1963, allows a President-elect and Vice President-elect to receive briefings regarding national security, ongoing military operations and the potential use of the U.S. military.

President-Elect Biden Remarks On ACA As Supreme Court Takes On Case WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden addresses the media about the Trump Administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act on November 10, 2020 at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. Mr. Biden also answered questions about the process of the transition and how a Biden Administration would work with Republicans. Over 100 former military and national security officials warned that delaying Joe Biden’s access to transition services raises national security risks. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Getty

In the past, Presidents-elect have received such briefings after the GSA issues a letter detailing them as the President-elect and paving the way for the transition process.

However, no such letter has been issued to Biden as of Thursday afternoon. As vote counting continues and President Donald Trump disputes the tallies, Trump has not yet conceded the race and has repeatedly stated that it is not over.

The GSA does not need a sitting president to concede the race before beginning a transition of power, but the agency told CBS News it can not yet determine a winner, citing the precedent established by the Clinton Administration in 2000 following Florida's recount delay in the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

In the letter, the former officials pointed out the delay in transitioning from Clinton to Bush displayed "how important it is that you make the required determination as soon as possible."

"The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the '9/11 Commission') found that the 36-day delay in transition owing to the contested 2000 election led to a six-month delay in fully staffing the national security apparatus under the Bush Administration, which left our country more vulnerable to foreign adversaries," the letter said. "For that reason and against the backdrop of the contested election in 2000, the 9/11 Commission recommended that transitions should strive to 'minimize as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking.'

That recommendation carries all the more force amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic."

The letter was signed by 161 former officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, CIA and NSA Director General Michael Hayden, General Wesley Clark, Deputy NSA 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, NSC Senior Director for Counterterrorism Javed Ali, DHS Assistant Secretary of Counterterrorism Elizabeth Neumann, DHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism Policy Tom Warrick and U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Lewis Lukens.

On Sunday, Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager, said the Trump administration had not contacted the Biden team to begin the transition.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) told Newsweek in a statement Thursday that it can not have contact with Biden's transition team until notified by the GSA administrator.

"ODNI follows the statutory direction provided in the Presidential Transition Act, which requires ascertainment of the candidate by the administrator of GSA prior to supporting a potential presidential transition," a spokesperson said. "ODNI would not have contact with any transition team until notified by the GSA administrator."

The GSA, Trump and Biden teams didn't respond to Newsweek's request for comment.