By Jeremy Herb
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday he was more loyal to President Obama than some of the president's aides in the White House.
Gates pushed back against the criticism he was disloyal for publishing his memoir while the president was still in office, in which Gates writes that Obama doubted his own war strategy in Afghanistan.
“Frankly, I think I was more loyal to him than some in his own White House sometimes,” Gates said at a breakfast with reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
The former Defense secretary to both Obama and President George W. Bush took issue with those who have said he was anti-Obama in his book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, arguing that much of what he wrote portrayed the president in a favorable light.
He rejected the idea that his book would discourage future presidents from appointing members of the opposite party to senior Cabinet positions.
“I think that this arrangement worked,” Gates said. “And frankly, I think that, from my standpoint, I think I make the point that I believe President Obama — until we got to Egypt and Libya, which were in last few months of my tenure — I’m very explicit in the book about saying I supported every single one of the president’s decisions.”
When he started in the Obama administration, Gates said he promised the president he would never be disloyal, and he kept that promise.
“Throughout the entire administration, there isn’t a single issue I raise in the book I did not raise with the president or others in the administration, the White House chief of staff or the national security adviser,” he 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.”
Gates also rejected criticism about his motives derived from one of the frequently quoted passages of his memoir, where Gates wrote he was “offended” when Obama said at a meeting about Iran: “For the record, and for those of you writing your memoirs, I am not making any decisions about Israel or Iran.”
Gates said that, while he wrote about the meeting, he did not disclose the content of the policy discussions about Israel and Iran, which is what he said Obama was referencing.
“We were talking about specific military options and specific actions the United States would take if the Israelis launched their own attack. That was what I was referring to when I said I was offended that he might think somebody would write about that in their memoirs,” he said. “I did not write about that in the memoir, and I never would have written about it.”