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. Spencer/Virginia

    Cross your fingers Rob. You may still have a job.

    November 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. FreeNLovIt

    The DONKEYS have big mouth and I think we need to protect National Security and have Obama go slow with it. We're fighting an ENEMY with no end in sight and it's wise for us to move slower. I understand CHANGE but it has to be the right kind of change. National Security is like BAKING a TURKEY. The economy is like baking a CAKE. There's formulas and you can quickly move, but not with baking a turkey.

    November 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. FreeNLovIt

    National Security is like baking a turkey. We need to move slower. Econony is like baking a cake. We can move faster and better with known measurements. Good job America! I'm proud!

    November 20, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. FreeNLovIt

    Al Qaeda's operations are secretive so ours need to be secretive too. If you value freedom, you'll want to bake the TURKEY slowly.

    November 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. JJ 123454

    Is he holding back information until people have the appropriate security clearances? If that is the case I have no problem with it.

    November 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. Kim

    WOW. It's amazing that this information is being withheld from the incoming administration. So much for Rice and Bush telling us they were working towards an "effortless and seamless" transition. I guess they're all really busy at DoD running the paper shredders. Or maybe still looking for the WMDs. Or maybe hiding all the Halliburton contractor payoff information. Or maybe hiding info about Gitmo etc.

    November 20, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Bob S. Chicagoland

    TEXAS LADY...Why do you raise the question about Democrats NOT keeping secrets? If you have evidence it must be given to NSA NOW! If that's merely a bias on your part. you should be ashamed to make that sort of charge against any political base in America. Such a suggestion, if unwarranted- and you offer not one shred of evidence – is unAmerican and spiteful. Whether coming from a Republican or Democrat it is immature, harmful, and basically despicable.

    November 20, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. bevsnow

    All you armchair politicians think you know so much about security...bla bla bla. You don't have a clue to half of what goes on behind the closed doors!! Be thankful information is not being given out willy nilly. And to the nit wit who thinks Bush lied...get a clue. You are so off base. You and Michael Moore.

    November 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Obama08

    Does anyone actually know what goes into a SCI clearance? It is a pretty extensive investigation. Gates would be breaking the law if he disclosed information to people without proper clearances. If that is what this is about, he is doing the right thing.

    November 20, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Bunting

    Nothing wrong or sinster about not giving access to people who are not cleared to see it. Its Public Law and United States Code that prevents that. It has nothing to do with who's in charge, Dem or Rep, Lib or Conservative, black, white, asian, hispanic, man, woman or other. Its simply the LAW!

    November 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Raymond Cranfill, Las Vegas, NV

    Of course they won't disclose the so called "sensitive information." They have to have time to prime the document shredders to cover their behinds so they and the president won't end in the International Court of Justice for war crimes.

    November 20, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. Fed up

    It was on George Bush's watch that 9/11 happened. He did not and has not defended this country. He is a seditious, traitorous coward as is his vice president.

    The first thing that should happen on January 20th after the swearing in of Barack Obama should be the immediate arrest of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Wolfowitz (sp?, Pearle, Gonzales, Rove for war crimes and treason.

    Maybe we should keep Gitmo open just for those scum.

    November 20, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. G.R.I.T. - Girl Raised in the South

    Chuckles 199 –

    We don't have the draft anymore, so Beau Biden couldn't dodge it. Moron. Grow up.

    November 20, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Griff

    Next Year, it will be 70yrs since Poland was Invaded, It'tooks decades to get it Back.. This time you had better keep and Eye on Russia...

    November 20, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. Susan, California

    bevsnow, you think Bush told the truth? Who's calling whom an idiot?

    November 20, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Dennis

    It would be a real coup if Presidnet-elect Obama could persuade Robert Gates to remain as SecDef. He is seasoned, reasoned and highly respected by our military and Congress. He also happens to be a Republican (I'm a Democrat) and it would be a great gesture to bi-partisanship. President Obama would then know the "Puzzle Palace" is in good hands and could focus his attention on some of the other immediately pressing matters.

    November 20, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. southcarolinadem

    To all of the ignorant right wing tools on this board who say Democrats can't keep secrets. Who outed an undercover CIA operative named Valerie Plame? HMMMMMMMMM Bush and Cheney

    November 20, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. chuckles199

    chuck hagel is not qualified to be a dishwasher.
    senators anytime they are put in an executive position are qickly exposed.

    what qualification did mccain, obama or biden have for executive jobs? being yakkers in the senate who have never run anything, they have not even been leaders in the senseless senate.
    biden in senate almost 4o years and still a back bencher. the problem is low IQ!

    the senate should be closed permannetly!

    November 20, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. chuckles199

    dennis: gates is not a republican. anybody who is informed knows that.

    November 20, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. Zelda

    I don't think sensitive information should be given to the transition team, only to Obama himself.

    November 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. AS

    So much for change in this formative new administration. Who's running in 2012 now? Can't wait for the media to descend on the next set of primaries....

    November 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. redneck

    Gates needs to get grip because Obama plans to gut our military just like Clinton did!

    November 20, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. chuckles199

    GRIT – when mom reads to you make certain she gets the name right, beau biden is joe's son.

    joe biden the VP is a five time darft dodger for vietnam.

    who took JOE BIDEN'S place in vietnam?
    get out of mom's basement every now and then.
    you ar ethe moron because to don't pay attention when mommy reads to you.

    November 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. mitch

    he needs to get rid of gates and put wesley clark in as sec. of defense, at least he didn't support the invasion of iraq. just like barack! i will be sorely disappointed if barack does not consider him.

    November 20, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. mitch


    November 20, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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