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So if he sells weapons to Moqtada al-Sadr, will we have to call it "Gates-gate"?
November 8, 2006 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Who is Robert M. Gates? At first glance, he seems a pretty good candidate for Donald Rumsfeld's replacement as Secretary of Defense. As a former director of the CIA, his experience and contacts in the State Department may help heal the bureaucratic rifts between State and the DoD that erupted in the wake of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. However, there was that small matter of the Iran-Contra affair . . .
posted by xthlc (51 comments total)

 
Also, courtesy of armage from the Rumsfeld thread:

Frontline interview with Robert Gates on the 1991 Gulf War

A blurb about his role arming Saddam in 1984 as deputy director of the CIA under William Casey.
posted by xthlc at 10:45 AM on November 8, 2006


Couldn't this go in the previous (newsfilter) post? See it there, at the bottom? It says: « Older Newsfilter: RUMMY QUITS!!...
posted by Eideteker at 10:48 AM on November 8, 2006


Actually, it was more that I'm genuinely curious about Robert Gates, and didn't want a discussion of him to get lost in the inevitable "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" postings in the Rumsfeld thread.
posted by xthlc at 10:53 AM on November 8, 2006


Couldn't this go in the previous (newsfilter) post? See it there, at the bottom? It says: « Older Newsfilter: RUMMY QUITS!!...
posted by Eideteker at 10:48 AM

Oh, I see you saw it, but decided to wave a giant "FUCK YUO! IM PSOTING!$!" banner at the MeFi readership.
posted by Eideteker at 10:49 AM PST


Because that thread is a "Bush Sucks/Rummy Sucks" mock-fest.

This one will end up being a discussion of Mr. Gates past and why he'll suck. With theories on how to take the mess he just was handed a success.

But thanks for asking.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:54 AM on November 8, 2006


GFCOABOC, Eideteker, this post is helpful and well-researched, and it's a different conversation-- who is Gates, vs. Bush chastened, Rummy resigned.

Rumsfeld was a dreamy, blustery amoralist. Gates is a reality-based amoralist. Baby steps.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:00 AM on November 8, 2006


As a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, I just have to say: Screw this aggie.
posted by papakwanz at 11:00 AM on November 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


So now, in February 2007, when we get a picture of Saddam's dead face hanging from the gallows it will be juxtaposed with Gates's face instead of Rumsfeld's. Nice.
posted by mattbucher at 11:02 AM on November 8, 2006


Well, it's nice to see that they've replaced one scumbag with another fully qualified scumbag. Consistency is the hallmark of good governance, and all that.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:02 AM on November 8, 2006


The official Iran/Contra report's summary of Gates' involvement:
Independent Counsel found insufficient evidence to warrant charging Robert Gates with a crime for his role in the Iran/contra affair. Like those of many other Iran/contra figures, the statements of Gates often seemed scripted and less than candid. Nevertheless, given the complex nature of the activities and Gates's apparent lack of direct participation, a jury could find the evidence left a reasonable doubt that Gates either obstructed official inquiries or that his two demonstrably incorrect statements were deliberate lies.
posted by gsteff at 11:08 AM on November 8, 2006


wonkette sums it up nicely.
posted by crunchywelch at 11:13 AM on November 8, 2006


I can't wait for Gatesgate.
posted by chunking express at 11:14 AM on November 8, 2006


Yesterday, An open letter from Gates to the Texas A&M community about a racially charged student video:

"I am truly outraged by this moronic video. Those who made it are no true Aggies"

And today, he posted another open letter to Texas A&M about his leaving.

Interesting... One day you're publicly reacting to a video "that shows a student with black shoe polish on his face acting as a slave while another student with a 12th Man towel hanging from his pocket acts as a master, whipping and assaulting the student in blackface"

...and the next day you're announced as the new Secretary of Defense.

What an interesting country, this U S and A.
posted by thisisdrew at 11:19 AM on November 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


papakwanz: Good to see that the t-sip bias is alive and well. "It's from College Station? Kill it with fire!"

Gates has done a lot of good for A&M. He came into a school that was kind of on the skids, and has REALLY helped turn things around and get things that needed to be done completed. He's taking a job I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, and he certainly isn't that.
posted by SpecialK at 11:22 AM on November 8, 2006


This administration has been nothing but an Iran-Contra reunion tour. Literally, how many Bush appointees were involved in that?
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:36 AM on November 8, 2006


He's on the cover of Texas Monthly this month. Story here.
posted by mattbucher at 12:17 PM on November 8, 2006


Here's what J. Ransom Clark's intelligence bibliography has for Gates: nominations, Gates' writings, reviews of Gates' memoir From the Shadows.

Thomas Powers' review of From the Shadows is only available to NYRB subscribers, unfortunately.

From having read Paul O'Neill's The Price of Loyalty, my guess is that Gates won't actually have much influence if he ends up outside Bush's inner circle, like Colin Powell.
posted by russilwvong at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2006


Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, I think this says it all about why Dubya chose Gates.
posted by SpecialK at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2006


Larry Johnson: Gates has some "splaining" to do.
posted by homunculus at 1:04 PM on November 8, 2006


sonofsamiam wrote:

This administration has been nothing but an Iran-Contra reunion tour. Literally, how many Bush appointees were involved in that?

That's the exact reason why every single one of them needs to be prosecuted for their crimes this time around - all the way down to the lowliest intern. These people are like cockroaches, if you leave two of them they'll just spawn a new breed.
posted by any major dude at 1:13 PM on November 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, I think this says it all about why Dubya chose Gates.

How parlous our times must be that it's good news that 43 is turning to someone in 41's circle.
posted by dhartung at 2:43 PM on November 8, 2006


How parlous our times must be that it's good news that 43 is turning to someone in 41's circle.
posted by dhartung at 2:43 PM PST


Its good news because the talent pool from the Nixon Administration must be fully tapped.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:59 PM on November 8, 2006


So much for Joe Lieberman.
posted by delmoi at 3:35 PM on November 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'd've preferred somebody who'd worn the uniform and done a lot of high-level joint stuff -- and onetime service as an EM (best of all, up thru mid-level NCO) would've been helpful.

Co-worker suggested this is what Powell should've been doing. Gen. Paul Van Riper would've been my suggestion, but I guess he's not all that popular a guy with this Administration for some strange reason.
posted by pax digita at 5:13 PM on November 8, 2006


dhartung: How parlous our times must be that it's good news that 43 is turning to someone in 41's circle.

If only 43 had listened to Brent Scowcroft.
posted by russilwvong at 5:13 PM on November 8, 2006


Who is Robert M. Gates?

Thanks for all the links. Now that W has dredged him up, I sort of think I might have a vague foggy memory of Mr. Gates interim tenure as daddy's CIA director...but, geez.
posted by taosbat at 6:15 PM on November 8, 2006


pax: I actually worked with General Van Riper on a project a few years ago. He's a brilliant man and an excellent strategist, and also a joy to work with. However, I personally think he'd be ill-suited to a secdef position, if only because he's even more of an iconoclast than Rumsfeld was. Leaders like him are best put into a position where they can have freedom of action, a very large soapbox, and can speak their mind without having to worry about politics.
posted by xthlc at 7:10 PM on November 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


pax: I actually worked with General Van Riper on a project a few years ago. He's a brilliant man and an excellent strategist, and also a joy to work with. However, I personally think he'd be ill-suited to a secdef position, if only because he's even more of an iconoclast than Rumsfeld was. Leaders like him are best put into a position where they can have freedom of action, a very large soapbox, and can speak their mind without having to worry about politics.
posted by xthlc at 7:10 PM on November 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Actually, it was more that I'm genuinely curious about Robert Gates, and didn't want a discussion of him to get lost in the inevitable "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" postings in the Rumsfeld thread.

Eh?

I'm under the distinct impression, through a lot of discussion and infighting in MeTa, that MeFi is most definitely not to be used in such a way. That the whole d'être of MeFi is its links, not its threads.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:26 PM on November 8, 2006


SpecialK:
It was a joke.
posted by papakwanz at 10:06 PM on November 8, 2006


fff — If MeFi's not about the discussion, why the fuck are you commenting? Or even reading this thread?
posted by blasdelf at 1:47 AM on November 9, 2006


Well I can't speak tons for his actions before I was born, but I can see first hand his administration and progressive (relative to deep east Texas) attitudes as president of Texas A&M. I'm currently an Officer in the US Navy and I look forward to having Gates lead another organization I'm proud to be in…. maybe it can be even a step closer to having an Ag (by association) closer to the White House. WHOOP!
posted by aggienfo at 3:24 PM on November 9, 2006


Well I can't speak tons for his actions before I was born, but I can see first hand his administration and progressive (relative to deep east Texas) attitudes as president of Texas A&M. I'm currently an Officer in the US Navy and I look forward to having Gates lead another organization I'm proud to be in…. maybe it can be even a step closer to having an Ag (by association) closer to the White House. WHOOP!
posted by aggienfo at 3:24 PM on November 9, 2006


11-8-06: Rumsfeld replacement (Robert Gates) was director of voting company
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will resign, reportedly to be replaced by former CIA director Robert Gates. Did you know that Robert Gates was involved in the voting machine industry?

Gates was on the board of directors of VoteHere, a strange little company that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). VoteHere spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids.

posted by rough ashlar at 4:12 PM on November 9, 2006


As long as we have the negatives from his vacation films in Greece, Bob “Hot” Gates will do what we tell him to do.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:07 PM on November 9, 2006


Oh, now that is very interesting information, rough ashlar. I suggest you could flesh it out with a few more links (one to HAVA, so us non-Americans are brought up to speed) and make it an FPP.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 PM on November 9, 2006


Oh, now that is very interesting information, rough ashlar. I suggest you could flesh it out with a few more links (one to HAVA, so us non-Americans are brought up to speed) and make it an FPP.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 PM PST


As I said in the other thread - Meh.

As the conformation hearing heats up, someone else who's a far bigger political wonk/being paid to act as hit-man will do that job. The vote machine tie may be a payoff or may be just the government/private industry handwashing that goes on. I don't know, and the days of digging to figure it out.....Meh.

I'm sure Gates has some skeletons - but I have no idea if its enough to sink him in a lame duck CONgress. It might be enough to sink him when the new congress comes in. Just being the choice of GW Bush coudl be enough as far as I know.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:16 PM on November 9, 2006


The effort to arm the Iraqis was "spearheaded" by CIA Director William Casey and involved his deputy, Robert Gates, according to Teicher's affidavit. "The CIA, including both CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq," Teicher wrote.
posted by amberglow at 10:26 PM on November 9, 2006


About a year ago, I was in College Station and visited _____ for a few drinks. He told me then of his admiration of Gates, despite some initial apprehension due to Gates’ background, and for what Gates was doing for A&M. He also said that at a recent faculty party, Gates told him that he thought that Bush was the worst president we’d ever had.
posted by EarBucket at 4:08 AM on November 10, 2006


aggienfo: A US Navy officer and TAMU product lauding his alma mater's president for progressive values? Whoa, rock my world...as a former teasip with enlisted-level ties to the USN, I can only shake my pointy li'l haid in bewilderment...

Smedleyman: Heh. Can I get double prints on matte finish? I hope they're color.

EarBucket: Like, holy crap. I wonder who _____ was. GWB will certainly finish in the top three in any polls fifty years hence

Meanwhile, I wonder: To what degree was Rumsfeld a cause and to what degree a symptom?
posted by pax digita at 5:15 AM on November 10, 2006


A purported audio recording by the leader of Iraq's al Qaeda wing said outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quit to flee the Iraqi battlefield.
posted by taosbat at 7:04 AM on November 10, 2006


"Cut and run" begins at home?
posted by pax digita at 8:00 AM on November 10, 2006


--at a recent faculty party, Gates told him that he thought that Bush was the worst president we’d ever had.

EarBucket: sigh. It's not so surprising, it just means that Gates has been paying attention. But given how severely the Bush administration punishes any sign of disloyalty, if they get word of this (and I don't see how they can't), this means Gates's actual influence is going to be nil.
posted by russilwvong at 8:12 AM on November 10, 2006


I think Gates is definitely Daddy and Baker's boy (who are closer to the people, and to Congress on Iraq)--the influence has already been proven by his very installation and the dumping of Rumsfeld. I think Bush and Cheney and assorted freaks are the only ones who aren't planning for troop reductions and abandonment there (except for the Oil areas, of course)
posted by amberglow at 11:43 AM on November 10, 2006


It's not so surprising, it just means that Gates has been paying attention. But given how severely the Bush administration punishes any sign of disloyalty, if they get word of this (and I don't see how they can't), this means Gates's actual influence is going to be nil.

I had that thought, too. Given the notoriety of Bush and his people for demanding loyalty to Leader and Party, I think it's certainly worth taking this with a grain of salt, particularly as it's third-degree hearsay. It's not, though, too far out of line with a lot of what we've been hearing from the Reagan-Bush 41 crowd, many of whom don't seem thrilled with Junior.

I suspect that this, combined with James Baker's recent ascent in the administration's policy structure, indicates an intervention by the President's father, who'd prefer his son didn't go down in the history books as The Worst President Ever.

Gates may have his own problems (and his apparent involvement in Iran-Contra doesn't make me all that inclined to trust him) but he does strike me as a realist and more of an old-school paleoconservative. He doesn't appear to be the kind of partisan, Kool-Aid-drinking hack whose primary qualification is blind, unquestioning loyalty (Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales, Chertoff, etc.) and that's encouraging. Any injection of sanity near the top of the power structure can only be a good thing.
posted by EarBucket at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2006


I suspect that this, combined with James Baker's recent ascent in the administration's policy structure, indicates an intervention by the President's father, who'd prefer his son didn't go down in the history books as The Worst President Ever.

Too late...
posted by taosbat at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2006


yup--totally too late.

I think we'll know as soon as we see how they treat Iran--if they start talking with them about Iraq, or if they start the buildup and warmongering a la pre-Iraq.
posted by amberglow at 12:05 PM on November 10, 2006


EarBucket: Any injection of sanity near the top of the power structure can only be a good thing.

I think it's good that Rumsfeld is gone, but I'm not optimistic that Gates will have much real influence. See Paul O'Neill's The Price of Loyalty for a description of how Colin Powell was frozen out of Bush's inner circle.
posted by russilwvong at 12:12 PM on November 10, 2006


See Paul O'Neill's The Price of Loyalty for a description of how Colin Powell was frozen out of Bush's inner circle.

Sure, but Powell didn't have Poppy leaning over Junior's shoulder to make sure things went the way he wanted. If there really has been an intervention, I think (hope) things might be different this time around. They might not get better, but Gates literally couldn't be worse than Rumsfeld for the military and the country.
posted by EarBucket at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2006


Unfortunately it appears that Bush Jr. doesn't listen to his father. Apparently they have a somewhat tense relationship.

The Brent Scowcroft incident illustrates this. Scowcroft is Bush Sr.'s former National Security Advisor and closest friend, but Bush Jr. wouldn't listen to him. He ended up writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal instead (clearing it with Bush Sr.).
Scowcroft’s colleagues told me that he would have preferred to deliver his analysis privately to the White House. But Scowcroft, the apotheosis of a Washington insider, was by then definitively on the outside, and there was no one in the White House who would listen to him. On the face of it, this is remarkable: Scowcroft’s best friend’s son is the President; his friend Dick Cheney is the Vice-President; Condoleezza Rice, who was the national-security adviser, and is now the Secretary of State, was once a Scowcroft protégée; and the current national-security adviser, Stephen Hadley, is another protégé and a former principal at the Scowcroft Group.

According to friends, Scowcroft was consulted more frequently by the Clinton White House than he has been by George W. Bush’s.
posted by russilwvong at 12:42 PM on November 10, 2006


Intelligence sources question Gates' independence from Cheney, Rumsfeld
posted by homunculus at 10:06 PM on November 14, 2006


I thought the last bit in that article was awesome.
One former senior aide to the National Security Council, who wished to remain anonymous, offered a different perspective, saying "They are doing cartwheels in the E ring and could not care who was nominated so long as Rumsfeld resigned. They would not care if Satan replaced him."

The "E Ring" is Defense Department lingo for the outermost offices of the Pentagon.
posted by russilwvong at 3:02 PM on November 15, 2006


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