By Justin Sink - 01/08/14 11:42 AM EST
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday blamed the White House for al Qaeda's recent advances in Iraq, claiming former Defense Secretary Bob Gates's book reveals President Obama's political team drove him to reject the military's "sound advice."
“I blame Obama and [Vice President] Biden for not listening to their commanders, rejecting sound advice and Bob Gates talks about that in his book, how military commanders were overruled by the political people in the White House,” Graham told Fox News.
The South Carolina lawmaker said that the president had also failed to lead on a spate of other foreign policy issues.
“These chemical weapons in Syria and all the weapons in the Middle East are now about to fall in the hands of the most radical hands on the planet, and I blame President Obama; he is AWOL when it comes to leadership,” Graham said.
In Gates's book, early excerpts of which were published on Tuesday, the former Obama Cabinet official said that the president doubted his own strategy in Afghanistan and was "convinced it would fail."
The former defense secretary was also critical of the president's "determination that the White House tightly control every aspect of national security policy and even operations." He said he instructed the Pentagon to hold back information on military operations to avoid interference from civilian White House advisers.
"His White House was by far the most centralized and controlling in national security of any I had seen since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger ruled the roost," Gates writes.
In a statement issued Tuesday, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the president welcomed "differences of view among his national security team, which broaden his options and enhance our policies."
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Jay Carney hit back at lawmakers critical of its handling of Iraq, daring Republican leaders to argue for reinserting troops into the war-torn country amid escalating violence.
"I don't think I've heard members of Congress suggest this, but if members were suggesting that there should be American troops fighting and dying in Fallujah today, they should say so. The president doesn't believe that," Carney said.