Skip to comments.WH tries to contain the damage [behind-the-scenes clashes were by design....]
Posted on 01/09/2014 7:51:49 AM PST by Sub-Driver
January 08, 2014, 08:30 pm WH tries to contain the damage
By Jeremy Herb, Kristina Wong and Justin Sink
The White House sought to contain the damage Wednesday from former Defense Secretary Robert Gatess memoir, insisting that behind-the-scenes clashes were by design and President Obama was always committed to his strategy for Afghanistan.
Press secretary Jay Carney stressed that Obama had intentionally assembled a team of rivals with diverging views, while former aides took to the airwaves to defend both the president and Vice President Biden.
In his book, early excerpts of which were published by some media organizations on Tuesday, Gates accused the presidents advisers of taking micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level.
Gates alleged that Obama did not believe in his own strategy in Afghanistan and that, for him, it was all about getting out.
The charges threaten to tarnish Obamas foreign policy legacy at a time when the administration is trying to negotiate a long-term security agreement in Afghanistan and deal with evolving threats in the Middle East.
Critics of Obamas foreign policy have assailed the president for the resurgence of al Qaeda affiliates in Iraq and say Gatess assessment shows the president ignored the Pentagons advice.
He should have just said I ran to end the war in Iraq, and Im going to do it, and I dont want to hear from my commanders, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday.
But now theyre trying to blame the Iraqis, Graham said, referring to the White Houses assessment that a postwar deal couldnt be reached due to a dispute about troop immunity.
Carney faced a barrage of questions about Gatess book and repeatedly said the president expects to hear competing points of view from every member of his national security team.
He argued that Obama had intentionally assembled a team of rivals invoking the title of a book on President Abraham Lincolns Cabinet and that robust debates and occasional frustrations were a natural byproduct.
When you pick a team of rivals, you do so because you expect competing points of view, Carney said.
Carney noted that Gates ultimately praised the presidents decisions on Afghanistan policy in other excerpts from the book.
And in response to perhaps the most serious charge that Obama ordered troops into battle without conviction Carney said the president believes thoroughly in the mission and was extremely conscious of the responsibility involved in sending people to a war zone.
The president has great faith in the troops that carry out the mission and the mission itself, Carney said.
Former top officials also defended Obama on Wednesday, pushing back against Gatess claims and questioning his motivations.
Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley said Gates shouldnt have released his memoir while the war in Afghanistan is still being fought.
Its one thing as historians look back on an administration, but in the middle of it, when youre pursuing a war at the same time, and one that is controversial with the American people and has been very difficult on our military, I think its just a disservice to be very frank with you, Daley said Wednesday on CBSs This Morning.
David Axelrod, another former White House adviser, on Wednesday said Obama was very committed to the fight in Afghanistan.
I dont think that is true to say otherwise, Axelrod said on NBCs Today, adding that it always seemed Obama and Gates had a good working relationship.
Many of Gatess complaints in the excerpts focus on the White House and Obama aides having too much control over national security and defense policy.
The passages underscore the tensions between the military and the White House on national security decision-making, such as postwar Iraq, the size of the surge in Afghanistan and whether to strike Syria last year.
Obama reportedly changed his mind about missile strikes in Syria, for instance, after a conversation with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, catching military leaders off guard.
Some former administration officials say Gates is simply telling it like it is.
One former Defense official who served in the Obama administration said Gatess observations were 100 percent accurate.
The official said Obamas former national security adviser Tom Donilon and his special assistant Samantha Vinograd saw the Pentagon as the enemy.
According to the official, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy once sent Donilon a memo in 2012 telling him that she felt the White House was purposely shutting the Pentagon out of important meetings on Afghanistan.
Donilon got mad because she dared to put her concerns in writing, the official said.
J.D. Gordon, a retired Navy commander and former Pentagon spokesman under Gates, said it wasnt surprising that Gates waited until he left the administration to raise his concerns, given his CIA and military background.
Secretary Gates spent a career in the CIA where, like the military, directly challenging your bosses is not part of the culture, Gordon said. He is also a very mild-mannered, non-confrontational and deeply private individual.
Gordon also agreed with Gatess assessment of the tensions between the military and White House.
As a former Pentagon spokesman for 4 years, to include during the first 9 months of the Obama administration, I believe the whole building sensed the enormous attitude shift between the Bush and Obama White House, he said.
I got the sense that President Obama and his inner circle personally distrusted the military and immediately looked for ways to make it a smaller, weaker and more progressive institution.
One former national security official said the number of people at the White House with access to sensitive deliberations has grown.
Those meeting have changed over the years. It used to be just about the principals. Now theres a lot of backbenchers; now theres a lot of people taking notes, things that were just forbidden. ... Its just all changed.
The book is certainly sparking discussion at the Pentagon, even though Defense officials arent commenting on it officially beyond the White House statements.
One Defense official told The Hill: His opinion is important, but its one mans opinion.
Amie Parnes contributed.
This post was updated at 8:30 p.m.
Translation: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave. And it’s on purpose, too.”
cliche' of the day.
obama's just like Lincoln see..
Total ignorance and stupidity......it was our plan all along...............
They were just faking in order to fool Gates.
More B/S from the White Hut.
“insisting that behind-the-scenes clashes were by design”
Yeah. Right. That’s the way my cat acts if he’s tightroping across the back of the couch and slips and falls. He always jumps up with as much dignity as he can muster and puts a look on his face that says “I MEANT to do that!”
“The charges threaten to tarnish Obamas foreign policy legacy”
You mean taking a crap on our allies, calling Americans while he’s abroad “arrogant”, bowing and scraping to any and all?
Caving on Iran, running in Iraq and Afghanistan? allowing Americans to die in Behghazi?
What legacy? How can you tarnish failure?
And it is always “the president this, the president that...”
never does the president himself address the issue though.
Lies, lies, lies, all of it lies.
“The charges threaten to tarnish Obamas foreign policy legacy at a time when the administration is trying to negotiate a long-term security agreement in Afghanistan and deal with evolving threats in the Middle East.”
As if his foreign policy had any credibility to begin with! Romney COULD have ripped him up one side and down another, but he DIDN’T! He played Mr. Nice Guy, get this...after trashing his primary foes with lies, innuendos, etc. And we wonder WHY he lost?
I actually checked to see if John Semmons posted this as satire.
They did this - on purpose - ?