Gates hits back at critics

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
Font Size:

WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pushed back on criticism that he should not have published a book critical of President Barack Obama while Obama was still in office, saying he has not been in any way disloyal to the president.

“Quite frankly, I think I was more loyal to him than some in his own White House at times,” Gates said of his tenure as Secretary, speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Friday.

“Everyone in this room knows, throughout 2010, on a routine basis, White House sources were describing presidential conversations, presidential decisions, presidential meetings, and in some detail about what was said,” Gates said.

“So it’s not exactly like having some revelation about conversation is a new thing,” he said.

Gates said that even though the media has focused on parts of the book that were critical of Obama, he felt that most of the book was complimentary of the president.

“I saw one reviewer said that out of 600 pages, there are maybe 10 that say unfavorable things about Bush or Obama,” Gates said. “Each of the personal conversations that I describe, in my view, show those presidents in a favorable light, as asking tough questions, pushing back hard, being skeptical of military recommendations, not being spoon fed information or simply bowing to whatever the generals wanted. So I think that it portrays them in a positive light.”

Gates said that when he had his secret interview with Obama about being his Defense Secretary, he told the presient: “I will promise you this, I will never be disloyal to you.”

And Gates said he was true to his word.

“Until we got to Egypt and Libya, which were in the last few months of my tenure, I very explicitly said in the book that I supported every single one of the president’s decisions,” Gates said.

“I never once leaked, and I never once opposed either off the record or on the record, any of the policy decisions that the president made,” he said.

Follow Alexis on Twitter