July 1st, 2009
12:41 PM ET

Is Gates giving 'Don't ask, don't tell' a closer look?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/01/gates.gays/art.gates.gi.jpg caption="U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says there may be flexibility in applying "don't ask, don't tell.""]

Barbara Starr
Pentagon Correspondent

Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the first time is outlining potential Obama Administration plans to selectively enforce the "don't ask don't tell" ban on gays in the military so that some gays could serve.

Gates says he is now looking at ways to make the ban "more humane" including letting people serve who may have been outed due to vengeance or a jilted lover. The remarks were made in a transcript released Tuesday by the Pentagon.

Gates told reporters traveling with him, "One of the things we're looking at - is there flexibility in how we apply this law?" As the "don't ask don't tell" law now stands, anyone who is openly gay in the military is expelled if they are found out.

Gates indicated he is looking at several options. "Let me give you an example. Do we need to be driven when the information, to take action on somebody, if we get that information from somebody who may have vengeance in mind or blackmail or somebody who has been jilted."

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Filed under: Barbara Starr • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Military • Robert Gates
May 12th, 2009
12:47 PM ET

Gates replacing top U.S. commander in Afghanistan

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the situation in Afghanistan on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/11/afghanistan.replacement/art.mcchrystal.gi.jpg caption="Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal will be taking command of NATO forces in Afghanistan."]


The United States replaced the top allied commander in Afghanistan on Monday, deciding "fresh eyes" are needed to reverse the course of the seven-year-old war there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

Gen. David McKiernan, who has held the post for less than a year, will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former special operations chief, Gates announced. He told reporters there was "nothing specific" behind McKiernan's removal, but that "new leadership and fresh eyes" were needed in a war that Washington admits it is not winning.

"We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership also is needed," Gates said.

McKiernan will remain in place until the Senate confirms the appointments of McChrystal and his designated deputy, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez. Both have previous experience in Afghanistan and more history with counterinsurgency operations than McKiernan.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Pentagon • Robert Gates
May 1st, 2009
01:35 PM ET

Video: Defense Secy. Gates on policy

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks exclusively about Obama's foreign policy with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Robert Gates
May 1st, 2009
01:31 PM ET

Video: Defense secretary on Iraq

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks exclusively about the violence in Iraq with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Iraq • Robert Gates
February 25th, 2009
03:47 PM ET

Duty, honor, country "uh could you pls sign on the dotted line?"

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates is requiring officials working out the details of the next fiscal year's defense budget to keep their discussions "secret" and he's gone the extra step to ensure the secrecy.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters Wednesday that those involved in formulating the budget for fiscal year 2010 have been required to sign a nondisclosure form "to create an environment in which the best possible budget can be built."


Filed under: Military • Robert Gates
January 27th, 2009
05:01 PM ET

The downside of procrastinating

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/27/gates.pakistan.afghanistan/art.gates2.afp.gi.jpg caption="Robert Gates testifies Tuesday before a Senate panel. He was wearing bandages from surgery he had on his arm."]

Adam Levine
CNN Supervising Producer

Amusing moment in today’s Senate Armed Services committee, Gates admitted that his procrastination on key decisions came back to bite him when he ended up staying on.

“As I focused on the wars these past two years, I ended up punting a number of procurement decisions that I believed would be more appropriately handled by my successor and a new administration. Well, as luck would have it, I am now the receiver of those punts – and in this game there are no fair catches,” Gates noted.

Filed under: Adam Levine • Pentagon • Robert Gates
December 18th, 2008
10:42 AM ET

Reality TV and the new Afghanistan

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David Ignatius
The Washington Post

It's easy to get depressed reading the news out of Afghanistan. The insurgents are getting stronger, the United States is sending another 20,000 troops there - and yet even Defense Secretary Bob Gates admits that American soldiers aren't a long-term solution. So what to do?

In sorting out these policy dilemmas, it helps to talk to Afghans such as Saad and Jahid Mohseni, who are struggling with these problems every day. The two entrepreneurial brothers are running a media business in the war zone of Kabul and, far from giving up, they keep thinking of innovative ways to adapt and survive.

I first met the Mohseni brothers in April at the offices of their Moby Media Group in Kabul. We met again in Washington last week, and their comments convinced me that many U.S. policymakers are misdiagnosing the real danger in Afghanistan. What will destroy that country's experiment in democracy isn't the Taliban or other insurgent groups, but the lawlessness and corruption that have been allowed to fester under the government of President Hamid Karzai.

The core issue is bad governance. The biggest threat the Mohseni brothers face right now isn't insurgent attacks from Taliban fighters. It's kidnappings by the criminal gangs that are destroying normal life in Kabul. "The resurgence of the Taliban is a result of the public's hunger for law and order," Saad Mohseni told me.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Global 360° • Robert Gates
December 1st, 2008
01:05 PM ET

Why Bill Clinton is smiling

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/01/clintonsmiling2.jpg caption="Barack Obama's cabinet choices reflect a centrist approach in the tradition of former President Bill Clinton."]
Julian E. Zelizer
Author of "Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s"

Many observers use historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's term, "A Team of Rivals," to describe the cabinet that President-elect Barack Obama is assembling.

They use the term to characterize choices like former Obama opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton - expected to be nominated Monday as Secretary of State - and current secretary of defense Robert Gates who is being asked to stay on by Obama.

But a more useful term might be a team of centrists. The most striking characteristic of the current lineup is how the personalities reflect the centrist vision of the Democratic Party promoted by Bill Clinton and his colleagues at the Democratic Leadership Council in the 1990s.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton • Robert Gates
December 1st, 2008
12:37 PM ET

Robert Gates: Wrong man for the job

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/01/bidenandgates.jpg caption="Vice-President elect Joseph Biden smiles with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at a press conference on Monday. "]

Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor and Publisher, The Nation

Barack Obama not only had the good judgment to oppose the war in Iraq but , as he told us earlier this year, "I want to end the mindset that got us into war." So it is troubling that a man of such good judgment has asked Robert Gates to stay on as Secretary of Defense–and assembled a national security team of such narrow bandwidth. It is true that President Obama will set the policy. But this team makes it more difficult to seize the extraordinary opportunity Obama's election has offered to reengage the world and reset America's priorities. Maybe being right about the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history doesn't mean much inside the Beltway? How else to explain that not a single top member of Obama's foreign policy/national security team opposed the war–or the dubious claims leading up to it?

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