November 20th, 2008
11:50 AM ET
6 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. JawjaVoter

    The term is Ringmaster not conductor and with the mess the "Dubbya-bites" have left him to clean up in Gitmo, President Obama may just have the perfect job for "Joe the Plumber" work on.

    Let the draining of that cesspool begin.

    November 20, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. Atlanta Charlie

    I guess they have a lot to hide!

    November 20, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Tom, San Diego

    What do you expect from an administration run by Cheney (oops, I meant Bush)? They need the time to run the shredder 24/7.

    November 20, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. chuckles199

    gates is just another draft dodger.
    he should be prosecuted, indicted and jailed.

    along with FIVE time draft dodger JOE BIDEN, JR.

    November 20, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Barbara

    Looks like the Clinton administration is on their way back. I hope it's not all back because in Defense Clinton's ideas really were unsafe. Bill thought Bin Laden was a nobody. Will Obama be naive? Our defense systems must and will stay strong. Bill's time, our CIA and FBI fell at a low that quite frankly few Presidents would allow. Accept reality our country is still sought after – you can't change the hate of the hateful. We always need to stay aware and accept the truth and one truth is our defense system to stay strong and ready to win for the good of freedom.

    November 20, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. TJ in Nawlins

    In my opinion...

    Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense

    November 20, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. E.C.Coleman

    Right On, Gates! Way to Go! Good Decision.

    November 20, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. REVOLUTION

    Basically, you will not come in here in rock the boat. We have been manipulating the American people, and setting up covert operations for World Domination, and a New World Order for almost a century now, and will not tell you who the real puppet master is. We have deep secrets that the new president can't handle, and we can't tell this blackman our secrets, and the truth, because he may not understand, and try to stop us.

    November 20, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. Ed

    Hopefully this meeting includes talks of keeping Gates on boards at Secretary of Defense. He's performed outstanding and has definately been a breath of fresh air!

    November 20, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Gaylon Barrow

    Here we go. Get ready for an unfavorable approach to our military situation. Neither man's brains joined together could come up with a bird-brain-sized solution.

    November 20, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Washington Insider

    You people who are saying this is a bad idea to delay information are, no offense, ignorant and uniformed. I for one am actively involved in this world and can tell you that there needs to be a vetting process before you hand over SCI information to people. PERIOD. Doesn't matter who you are, but an Interim Clearance doesn't qualify you for sensitive information.

    CNN stop making this sound like something it isn't. It takes time to clear people at the highest level, and for good reason. You have to be selective on what people need to know. I am not trying to be elitist, but I am telling you that not everyone needs all the information. They need to know enough to get their job done.

    And besides, it is more for the transition teams protection than anything. If you get "certain" clearances you have a lot of rules you have to follow or risk criminal action if you fail to protect those "said" secrets. Not to mention, it can cramp your lifestyle, your friends, where you travel etc.

    Polygraphs also take time too...so please CNN stop making this sound like it is out of the ordinary, because this is very typical for the past 30 years. Sheesh. Give us some REAL news.

    November 20, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. LS, Austin, Texas

    It is truly incredible to read bloggers comments, who are watching Obama very closely, step by step, with criticism around every corner.

    After seeing and living with a president (Bush) in office all these years, it is going to be hard for you all to adjust to someone who is going to do his best to lead this country – you know, be a Real President.

    How can you have and expect extremely high expectations and results from Obama so quickly (when he hasn't even begun in office), and after all these years have settled for a 'nothing accomplished' president and don't realize you had?

    Quit your criticism and adjust positively.

    November 20, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. rena

    They're holding out becaue they have so much dirt to cover up; just like they just released the news about our military soldiers in the Nazy camps and how they were starved, beaten, and abused. What did our government and military forces do about it nothing!!!! This is the sick government we are under but always trying to tell another country how to govern its people. Now, isn't that the pot trying to call the kettle black!!!!! America has become a disgrace and laughing stock to many nations; who are nowing saying the great horse has finally fallen.

    November 20, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Ted van Tol

    Today on Dutch TV: in the south of the USA started a pool on
    what date Barack Obama wil be killed.

    They still think he is a muslim and that every muslim is a terrorist.
    Those stupid Americans who are so hatefull do not deserve
    a president like Barack Obama.

    He is a president for all Americans and he will bring a lot of change
    not only in the USA but all over this planet. He will be your most loved and respected president in history.

    IF IT'S POSSIBLE, FOR ONCE, KEEP THIS, ONCE IN YOUR LIFE TIME PRESIDENT SAFE!

    November 20, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Angie

    CHUCK HAGEL FOR SOD!!!!

    November 20, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. Mickie

    Here we go – so much for the Bush administration being so anxious for a smooth transition. I wonder how many documents and information will be destroyed before Pres. Elect Obama's team can have access. I'm sorry, but Gates should not have any say in what the people's new elected President can or can't have - we did not elect Gates to anything. Time to call our representatives to demand "our" rights.

    November 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. pam Eugene OR

    So, he is saying that he is saying?
    Typical of Bush.

    November 20, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. Iowa Mom

    Are they hiding something? I would think to be able to hit the ground running the new administration needs to know what's going on.

    November 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. Oliver

    This should give them enough time to complete the shredding. Why not hire Fawn Hall, and move things along.

    November 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Mike in Maryland

    If I were President-elect Obama, I would go to the Pentagon, tell Gates if he has reason to not talk to individuals in the Obama team with him to spell out the reasons right then and there. Otherwise, start talking.

    If Gates doesn't start talking, then Obama needs to tell Gates that action will be taken, either before January 20, or after January 20. Gates can choose his poison if he doesn't begin to be forthcoming with the needed information.

    November 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Texas Lady

    Do you really think that the Dems can keep ANYTHING secret?

    November 20, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Sara Shamili

    I think Obama should make Chuck Hagel Secretary Of Defence. Gates is as responsible as Bush for Iraq war. He would make obstacles for withdrawl of troops from there.

    November 20, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Unshrub

    Gates motto: "We will cooperate as long as we don't have tot give them any information that they can use to help run the country.." What that really means is they need to give Cheney enough time to destroy any records that show how the Bush administration lied.

    November 20, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. PDX Gal

    Maybe it's just too hard to cover up that 9/11 was mostly a result of Bust admin negligence...

    November 20, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. FreeNLovIt

    I support this judgement. When it comes to National Security, we need to move slower and wiser. We dont need to SWIFTLY act. It is different from the economy.

    November 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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