Writ­ings re­veal cau­tious Gates; nom­i­nee not like Rums­feld

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Rowan Scar­bor­ough

De­fense Sec­re­tary-des­ig­nate Robert M. Gates in the past decade op­posed big changes at the CIA in the face of ter­ror at­tacks and ex­pressed doubt that Wash­ing­ton could as­sem­ble an al­liance of na­tions against al Qaeda.

His writ­ings, mostly in the op-ed pages of the New York Times, also re­vealedaformerCIAdi­rec­tor­who waspro­tec­tive­oftheagen­cyan­dopposed to intelligence in­roads by the Pen­tagon at the be­hest of De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld. He op­posed cre­at­ing a bud­get line for the White House Of­fice of Home­land De­fense af­ter al Qaeda’s Septem­ber 11 at­tacks on the United States.

The writ­ings show Mr. Gates to be more cau­tious and prag­matic than his pre­de­ces­sor, Mr. Rums­feld, who has trans­formed the mil­i­tary and ag­gres­sively hunted al Qaeda mem­bers.

TheSe­nateArmedSer­vicesCom­mit­teecon­ve­nescon­fir­ma­tion­hear­ings on Mr. Gates this week. The cen­tral ques­tion­ing prom­ises to fo­cus on how Mr. Gates will change pol­icy in Iraq. The bogged-down war is the rea­son Pres­i­dent Bush nudged Mr. Rums­feld aside af­ter six years and turned to the Texas A&M Univer­sity pres­i­dent for a “fresh per­spec­tive.”

Asam­ple­ofMr.Gates’viewsafter leav­ing Wash­ing­ton in 1993:

He ad­vo­cated mil­i­tary ac­tion against Iraqi Pres­i­dent Sad­dam Hus­sein in 1997 af­ter his regime con­tin­ued to block U.N. in­spec­tors.

“Surely, we know now that force is the only thing Mr. Hus­sein un­der­stands,” Mr. Gates wrote in the New York Times, a fre­quent venue for his opin­ions. “We have known since1990that­faint­heart­ed­ness­dis­guised as rea­son­able­ness in deal­ing with him is an in­vi­ta­tion to fur­ther depre­da­tions.” The next year, Pres­i­dent Clin­ton or­dered five days of bomb­ings against sus­pected weapons sites.

Af­ter al Qaeda bombed two Amer­i­can em­bassies in East Africa in 1998, Mr. Gates warned against a trans­for­ma­tion of coun­tert­er­ror agen­cies, in­clud­ing the CIA.

“The great de­fi­ciency in Amer- ican coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts in the sum­mer of 1998 is not stric­tures against as­sas­si­na­tion, nor in­ad­e­qua­cies in intelligence and law en­force­ment,” he wrote in the New York Times. “The de­fi­ciency is po­lit­i­cal and strate­gic.”

He added, “In truth, Amer­i­cans can take pride in al­ready ex­ist­ing C.I.A. and F.B.I. coun­tert­er­ror­ism ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

Af­ter the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks, con­gres­sional and in­de­pen­dent in­quiries found wide­spread in­ad­e­qua­cies in intelligence col­lec­tion and anal­y­sis.

In the same 1998 New York Times piece, Mr. Gates doubted other na­tions would join the U.S. in a vi­o­lent re­tal­i­a­tion against ter­ror­ists.

“An­other un­ac­knowl­edged and un­pleas­ant re­al­ity is that a more mil­i­tan­tap­proach­to­wardter­ror­ism would, in vir­tu­ally all cases, re­quire us to act vi­o­lently and alone,” he wrote. “No other power will join us in a cru­sade against ter­ror­ism — in fact, some ‘friendly’ gov­ern­ments pro­tect their coun­tries against ter­ror­ism by cut­ting deals with the groups, al­low­ing them op­er­a­tional free­dom.”

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tends it has ar­rayed a long list of al­lies for fight­ing al Qaeda, in­clud­ing most Euro­pean na­tions as well as pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries, such as Pak­istan.

Amon­thaftertheSeptem­ber11 at­tacks, he wrote in the New York Times that he op­posed giv­ing the home­land se­cu­rity of­fice its own bud­get. Congress went a lot fur­ther, cre­at­ing a new Cabi­net post, with a bud­getandt­hou­sand­sofem­ploy­ees.

“Some in the ex­ec­u­tive branch sug­gest that the of­fice be given its own spe­cial bud­get line,” Mr. Gates wrote. “As a vet­eran of in­ter­a­gency war­fare un­der six pres­i­dents, I be- lieve this wouldn’t work.”

InMay2006,hewroteanop-ed in The Wash­ing­ton Post in which he crit­i­cized Mr. Rums­feld’s ini­tia­tives to get the mil­i­tary more in­volved in intelligence. “More than a few CIA vet­er­ans — in­clud­ing me — are un­happy about the dom­i­nance of the De­fense De­part­ment in the intelligence arena and the de­cline in the CIA’s cen­tral role,” Mr. Gates wrote.

Mr. Gates, a ca­reer CIA an­a­lyst whorose­to­beits­di­rec­torun­derthe ad­min­is­tra­tion of the first Pres­i­dent Bush, was so pro­tec­tive of the agency that he op­posed Congress’ de­ci­sion to cre­ate a di­rec­tor for na­tional intelligence, who now over­sees the CIA.

“I pub­licly op­posed the es­tab­lish­ment of the DNI po­si­tion,” he wrote. “But the change has been made, and we who were in the CIA dur­ing its hal­cyon days must ad­just to a new world.”

New perspectives on Iraq are al­ready com­ing from what could be com­pet­ing ideas on Iraq. The Iraq Study Group, led by for­mer Sec­re­tary of State James A. Baker III and for­mer Rep. Lee Hamil­ton, In­di­ana Demo­crat, met last week to dis­cuss the first draft of a re­port on Iraq op­tions. But at the same time, the Pen­tagon is do­ing its own sep­a­rate re­view cul­mi­nat­ing in Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs chair­man, mak­ing pro­pos­als to the pres­i­dent.

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