So long, Gates

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

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 in­sid­e­ther­ing@wash­ing­ton­

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