Biden paints dire picture of US national security agencies

President-elect Joe Biden criticised President Donald Trump’s stewardship of the US’s foreign policy and national security apparatus, saying “many of those agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage”.

“Many of them have been hollowed out, in personnel, capacity and in morale,” said Biden, adding that policy processes “have been atrophied or have been sidelined” and US alliances have suffered “disrepair”.

“All of that makes it harder to protect the American people,” Biden said during remarks in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were briefed Monday by members of their transition team who have been meeting with Trump administration officials at the Pentagon, State Department and Department of Homeland Security, among other agencies.

Biden said that “for some agencies, our teams received exemplary cooperation from the career staff of those agencies. From others, most notably from the Department of Defense, we encountered obstruction.”

“Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas,” he continued. “It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.”

Biden argued against Trump’s “America First” philosophy, as he had during the course of his campaign and his transition, and argued that the US needs global alliances to deal with issues including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and dealing with Russia and China.

Following his remarks, Biden responded to a shouted question from a reporter who asked if he supports a $2,000 direct stimulus payment to Americans.

After days of delay, Trump signed a pandemic stimulus package late Sunday, which includes a $600 direct payment to Americans. Trump held up the signing of the bill because he argued for a boost of that payment to $2,000, even though his administration was involved in the bill’s negotiation and signed off on the $600 figure before Congress passed the legislation.

In a political twist, Democrats are fully supporting Trump’s call for the boosted payment and the proposal is expected to pass the US House later on Monday. It is unclear whether Republicans in the Senate will take up the proposal and, if they do, whether it will pass the GOP-led Senate.

Biden began his remarks by talking about the Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville and thanked first responders for their “bravery and cool-headedness”.

“This bombing was a reminder of the destructive power of an individual or a small group,” Biden said. “I know the hearts of all Americans are with the people of Nashville as they rebuild and recover from this traumatic event.”

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