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WH looks to tame Gates controversy

The White House looked to tame controversy over a memoir by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday, insisting that behind-the-scenes clashes between top administration officials were by design and the president remained "committed" to his strategy for Afghanistan.

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In the book, early excerpts of which were published by some media organizations on Tuesday, Gates accuses the president's personal advisers of taking "micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level.”

Gates argues that military leaders became frequently frustrated with decisions they saw as politically motivated and the influence of civilian officials in dictating policies.

Some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have charged that the president allowed those political considerations to overrule better advice from military leaders. But White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted Wednesday that the president "expects to hear competing points of view from every member of his national security team."

Carney argued Obama had intentionally assembled a "team of rivals" — invoking the title of a book on President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet — and "robust" debates and the associated frustrations were a natural byproduct.

"When you pick a team of rivals, you do so because you expect competing points of view," Carney said.

Carney also noted that Gates ultimately praised the president's decisions on Afghanistan policy in other excerpts from the book.

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