White House Pushes Back on Gates: Biden ‘Has Been One of the Leading Statesmen of His Time’

The National Security Council is hitting back against criticisms from the former Defense secretary’s new memoir.

Joe Biden pats Robert Gates on the back as they enter the Pentagon before Gates' Armed Forces Farewell Tribute June 30, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia.
National Journal
Matt Berman
Jan. 7, 2014, 1:14 p.m.

Bob Gates has struck a nerve.

Just hours after ex­cerpts from the former De­fense sec­ret­ary’s new mem­oir were pub­lished by The Wash­ing­ton Post and The New York Times, the White House is out with a state­ment try­ing to re­fute some of Gates’s com­ments while com­mend­ing his ser­vice. The state­ment, from Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil spokes­per­son Caitlin Hay­den, is par­tic­u­larly crit­ic­al of Gates’s char­ac­ter­iz­a­tion of Joe Biden.

In his mem­oir, Gates refers to the vice pres­id­ent as “a man of in­teg­rity” who has been “wrong on nearly every ma­jor for­eign policy and na­tion­al se­cur­ity is­sue over the past four dec­ades.”

Pres­id­ent Obama, un­sur­pris­ingly, thinks oth­er­wise. From the state­ment:

The Pres­id­ent dis­agrees with Sec­ret­ary Gates’ as­sess­ment — from his lead­er­ship on the Balkans in the Sen­ate, to his ef­forts to end the war in Ir­aq, Joe Biden has been one of the lead­ing states­men of his time, and has helped ad­vance Amer­ica’s lead­er­ship in the world. Pres­id­ent Obama re­lies on his good coun­sel every day.

This is likely not the last we’ve heard from the White House on the Gates mem­oir. The book will be pub­lished next week.

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