So long, Gates
With Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates set to depart soon in favor of CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, Inside the Ring reminds readers that 10 months ago it reported in this space that there was a good chance he would leave the Pentagon after presenting the next defense budget. He did, and now he’s going.
Special correspondent Rowan Scarborough reported the following item in July under the headline “Gates gazing,” which included a denial from his spokesman that has proved false:
“One of the ongoing pastimes inside the Pentagon is to speculate on the departure date for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Mr. Gates fueled the guessing game from Day One, when President Obama asked him to be a holdover from President George W. Bush’s administration. [. . .] Mr. Gates has not acted as a caretaker, that’s for sure, what with a new strategy for Afghanistan, weapon systems canceled, four four-star generals fired on his watch and a new drive to lower Defense Department overhead.
“Sources tell [Inside the Ring] the latest date bandied about inside the building for departure is April. By then, Mr. Gates will have presented the 2012 budget, with new cost savings. Most troops will be out of Iraq and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus will have, the Pentagon hopes, turned the tide of battle in Afghanistan.
“But Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell calls the April speculation ‘Nonsense. Untrue. The folks you are speaking to know not of what they speak.’ ”
Bill Gertz can be reached at email@example.com.