November 20th, 2008
11:50 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama transition team to meet with defense secretary

Gates will meet with President-elect Obama's transition team Thursday.

Gates will meet with President-elect Obama's transition team Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates has long said he wants to ensure a smooth transition at the Pentagon with the Obama administration, but it may be a while before some of the big secrets are revealed to the new team.

Gates will have his first substantive meeting with members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team Thursday to discuss key issues the new administration will face as it comes into office.

But CNN has learned that the Obama transition team will not immediately be provided classified information on current military operations and plans, certain National Security Council matters, intelligence programs and future DOD budget plans for the time being, under the terms of a memo sent to senior DOD officials by Gates' top aide.

CNN has obtained a copy of the three-page memo, sent to all top department civilian and military officials November 19 by aide Robert Rangel.

It outlines what can and cannot be shared at this point with Obama's transition staff.

According to the memo, until there is "further guidance," there will be no disclosure of "sensitive information" in the following categories: "current military operations; special access programs; pre-decisional budget information; contingency operations/plans; personnel records; privileged and other legally protected information; competition sensitive information; and active National Security Council policy deliberations."

Other classified information can only be provided to transition team members who have appropriate security clearances. CNN has confirmed that at least six of the Obama transition officials have been granted interim security clearances that give them access to so-called "sensitive compartmented information."

SCI clearances are one of the highest levels of clearances in order to control access to especially sensitive information.

Meanwhile, there is still no word on whether Gates is being asked to stay on the job by the president-elect or whether he would stay if asked.

soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Judy, FL

    Great, along with the economy this is so important. I want Barack to get it right. I want America to have more friends in the world, not enemies.

    Did you see the video of Bush walking past all the world leaders. They didn't even shake his hand. I felt sorry for him, he was looking down.

    It's partly his fault for being such a bully and disgracing our country. We're better than George Bush and we will prove that with President Barack Obama.

    November 20, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Purple Nurple

    When do they tell him about area 51!!!! Ha, just kidding.

    November 20, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |

    I hope Gates hands over the information of the CIA regarding Ets and UFO Top Secret documents,Files and film.
    Gates should turn oveer everything to the Obama Transsition team he will be President not Gates .

    November 20, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    With this information being so very sensitive Bush should never had access which led to his abuse of power and now it's being guarded. Please.

    November 20, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Milhouse van Houten

    Excuse me,and just how long do they get to keep all of this information
    away from those who have to ready the new administration to govern and deal with what I imagine is a proverbial hornets nest.The clock is ticking as the present adminstration has but sixty-one days left.

    November 20, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. Peggy - TX

    Delaying bringing the new team upto speed hurts America's readiness and could create a preceived weakness to the rest of the World. This also makes me wonder about what are they may be trying to hide? When Obama does gets into office, I have no doupt he will not let the tail wag the dog.

    November 20, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. Film Professor

    Are you kidding me? This group is not planning to discuss these important matters even with the President-Elect and his top aides?

    Wow. If I were President-Elect Obama, I would make it clear to all of these people that they will be held accountable for anything illegal going on that is not discovered until after January 20th.

    November 20, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. sick n tired

    So basically we'll meet with you and tell you anything you want to know except all of the important stuff!!! And anything that might be considered a criminal act by us and the Bush administration! HOW THOUGHTFUL OF YOU!!!!!!!!!

    November 20, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. MD, TX

    Gates should refuse participation in the new administration. They will try and blame him for their weakness in defense.

    November 20, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Good bipartisan move. Gates has done a credible job.

    November 20, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. Jazz

    Gates may want to keep as much secret to secure at spot in the new administration. Sometimes it is good to have your hands on powerful information.

    November 20, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Pete

    I just figured out what Obama would be good at. He will make a great 3-ring circus conductor for the upcoming gitmo detainee trials to be held in the U.S.

    Let the clowns begin.

    November 20, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. sick n tired

    "Your comment is awaiting moderation." YA WHAT ELSE IS NEW!!!!

    November 20, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. Thomas

    This is a wise decision. Sensitive information should only be released to those people who have been investigated and granted access.

    November 20, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. sick n tired

    Hey Pete: Ignorant much????

    November 20, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. CMJ

    Fire Gates!

    November 20, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. Phil in KC

    In other words, don't tell them anything useful. So much for a smooth transition.

    November 20, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. Winston

    In a matter of weeks, "Further Guidance" will be disclose everything or get fired as Defense Secretary by the new Commander-in-Chief.


    November 20, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. chelle

    So how exactly is the Obama team supposed to be up to speed on January 20th?? Is the Bush Whitehouse suggesting they just wing it??

    November 20, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. tom

    wont it be great to have a president the world doesnt think is a baffoon. we as a nation will be respected again under obama.

    November 20, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. LOSE Gates NOW, Obama!

    he's up to NO GOOD!

    Put John Kerry or Chuck Hagel in the secretary of defense position ASAP!

    November 20, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Joe Regis

    Gate replacement has already been found.

    An announcement will be made shortly.

    November 20, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. PDX Gal

    Looks like they're not finished doctoring the books. Obama's team will get all the disclosure they're going to get at the last minute, and then they'll be stuck trying to figure out how much of the info is made out of 100% grade-A bullpucky.

    November 20, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. tom

    "your comment is waiting moderation"--another words they must make sure we dont say anything bad against the republicans or king george. the media is so in the sack with the republicans even as the republicans call them the liberal media,the media had the dug for the facts and made issue about all the lies and illegal activity that bush has been up to he would have beeen impeached long ago.

    November 20, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    You Republicans have doom and gloom since election day, and Barack Obama's not even sworn in as president. Are you people really going to go on like this for the next four to eight years? We're in trusted hands now so groan and moan all you want.

    November 20, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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