AirTalk for January 13, 2014

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates explains controversial memoir

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates smiles while participating in a Senate Defense Subcommittee hearing on proposed budget estimates for FY2012 for the Defense Department, on June 15, 2011 in Washington, DC.

It has not even hit the bookstands, yet Robert Gates memoir is the most talked about in Washington.

As the Washington Post's Bob Woodward wrote in the first review last week, "It is rare for a former Cabinet member, let alone a Defense publish such an antagonistic portrait of a sitting president."

Today on NPR, Gates seemed more nuanced in his criticism of President Barack Obama, saying: "[T]he only thing that has really troubled me a little bit is that some people who have a narrative on Obama and the war got out there early with their take on my — on what I've written, and I think shaped their discussion of the book to support their narrative of what had taken place without taking into account some of the more measured and counterbalancing discussion that's in the book."


Tom Ricks, Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist specialising in military affairs; Author, “The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today” (2012)

Sarah Chayes, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; former special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2010-2011)

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Foreign Policy Analysts specializing in Afghanistan, Council on Foreign Relations

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