Robert Gates

One Republican whom I have always admired — there are others — is Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Even on issues that I disagreed with him — such as his refusal to approve the Medal of Honor for Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta — I have continued to respect him.

Today, among the cabal that is Benghazi, there rose one Republican voice that has steadfastly refused to join the circus and the feeding frenzy and who spoke truth and reason: Secretary Gates.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Gates told it like it is: That some critics of the administration have a “cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces.”

He said, “Frankly, had I been in the job at the time, I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were…We don’t have a ready force standing by in the Middle East, and so getting somebody there in a timely way would have been very difficult, if not impossible.”

Countering those who suggested that we could have flown a fighter jet over the attackers to “scare them with the noise or something,” Gates said that such ignores the “number of surface to air missiles that have disappeared from [former Libyan leader] Qaddafi’s arsenals” and that he “would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft, over Benghazi under those circumstances,” according to CBS News.

On another criticism by many Republicans, Gates said, “send some small number of special forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, would have been very dangerous.”

He added, “It’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces…The one thing that our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm’s way, and there just wasn’t time to do that.”

Gates said he could not speak to allegations that the State Department refused requests for additional security in the months prior to the attack. However, when asked whether he thought it might be possible that that the State Department engineered a coverup to protect Hillary Clinton’s political future, Gates replied flatly, “No.”

Watch the entire interview covering other critical issues, such as Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea, here

Source: CBS Face the Nation

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
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KP
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KP
3 years 4 months ago

I watched my brother’s career in F-14s over twenty years. Our military is rightly very protective of the pilots and RIOs lives as well as the tactical aircraft. Their planning is meticulous. Even when they scrambled they usually know what they are getting into.

labman57
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labman57
3 years 4 months ago

Tea party pundits and the buffoons working for News Corp tend to have a simplistic, unrealistic comic book view of the world in general.

Willwright
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Willwright
3 years 4 months ago

My guess Gates comments won’t make it onto Fox or other right wing sources or they will try to discredit him.

zephyr
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zephyr
3 years 4 months ago

I agree that “cartoonish” is an apt description of the republican leadership worldview. As for Gates, he has always impressed me as having a level of maturity above the standard GOP mentality – which Dorian appropriately describes here as a “feeding frenzy”.

KP
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KP
3 years 4 months ago

Dorian, two thumbs up on the Peralta reference. As a reminder to readers, Peralta and his family immigrated from Mexico City, Mexico. He graduated from high school in San Diego and joined the Marine Corps as soon as he held a green card. He became a US citizen while in the Marine Corps. He is universally held as a hero in San Diego and is burried locally in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

petew
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petew
3 years 4 months ago
I agree that the entire Benghazi scandal has been overplayed by relying on a cartoonish notion of what the military is capable of. It’s often said that even if a fighter Jet had been sent in immediately, it would have taken at least two hours to get to Benghazi, and with proper planning involved, it would have taken many more hours than that. Beyond the issue of whether terrorist groups would have had a number of surface-to-air missiles on hand that could have taken down the jet, one also has to ask whether a violent attack on the embassy could… Read more »
dduck
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dduck
3 years 4 months ago

I also respect Gates and as a cartoonish Rep I hope to hear this on September 11, 2013 from the military, SD and intelligence: that there are contingency plans for providing enhanced protection for our embassies, consulates, and facilities in as many of the “hot spots” all over the world as possible. If Gates was assigned the task, I’m sure he could get it done, especially if a new anti-Islamic video is being ballyhooed.

I am sorry that he sees no aspects of a coverup, but I respect his opinion.

cjjack
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cjjack
3 years 4 months ago
I am sorry that he sees no aspects of a coverup, but I respect his opinion. Just out of curiosity, why are you sorry? I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and say that – as a former member of Obama’s Cabinet – Gates is one of the very few people in a position to speak authoritatively on the subject. As a former member of the Bush Cabinet and a high ranking CIA officer under Reagan and Bush 41, it is hard to argue that Gates is a partisan Democrat seeking to defend his liberal friends. He… Read more »
ShannonLeee
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ShannonLeee
3 years 4 months ago

The “cover up” is being framed incorrectly by conservatives. As Gates said, the idea that there is a cover up of possible failures by the administration during the crisis is absolutely cartoonish. What happened on the ground is by far the real issue here.

Now, what happened afterwards is and should be in question. The State Dept did clean the report. Why that happened should be investigated.

Reps are trying to pin the crisis on the admin (particularly Hillary) … and American deaths… and that is BS.

zephyr
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zephyr
3 years 4 months ago

Well said cjjack and Shannon. Most of us know the GOP prefers their own version of events rather than the reality and it’s an old M.O. The tragedy is bad enough without political exploitation by people who have so little credibility. As for the question cj raised? It’s a good one.

CStanley
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CStanley
3 years 4 months ago
I respect Gates too and I think his comment about the surface to air missiles makes sense. I’m struck by the fact that I haven’t heard anyone previously mention this though. If the risk of planes being shot down figured into the decision, why didn’t they just say so? It would certainly be a defensible command decision to feel that the risk outweighed the potential benefit. I’m also struck by some inconsistencies that the military should somehow try to reconcile. On one of the Sunday shows I heard a Congressman who was former military commenting on the principle that they… Read more »
zephyr
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zephyr
3 years 4 months ago

Too bad events in Benghazi couldn’t have been handled with the luxury of hindsight we have now eh?

dduck
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dduck
3 years 4 months ago
CJ, my words have less value around here so I’ll go with what SL said: “Now, what happened afterwards is and should be in question. The State Dept did clean the report. Why that happened should be investigated.” It is so obvious, that is why I am sorry BG said what he did about this aspect which IS NOT his field of expertise. He is a military expert, and perhaps not a political expert, I don’t know, but and is merely expressing an opinion about the, I won’t call it a coverup, but a “cleaning” of the original CIA report… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
3 years 4 months ago
Dorian, my issue is that the statement you quoted is very different than what Gates postulated, in terms of specificity and what that implies about our military capabilities. What Panetta and Ham implied is that we can’t do rescue missions at all because it’s too risky, based on the fact that we will never have a complete picture of what is happening on the ground. What Gates said has much different implications because it is about specific knowledge we had about this incident and environment, regarding the prolific number of surface to air weapons that were known to be floating… Read more »
dduck
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dduck
3 years 4 months ago

So perhaps, in the future, there will be more coordination between the potential military responders and the State Dept., so we don’t set up facilities without the possibility for timely support.

petew
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petew
3 years 4 months ago
Dorian, Thanks for giving me a bit more information about the technical aspect involved in sending a jet to fly over the Libyan embassy. Maybe this is not a good analogy, but there are so many things in life that we assume should be easier than they are i.e. Just because a Dr. knows you need your gall bladder operated on, doesn’t mean that he can bring together all of the specialists and technical equipment needed to perform the operation in thirty minutes. He can’t just lay you on a table and grab a scalpel to do the job right!… Read more »
dduck
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dduck
3 years 4 months ago

So, do we agree that the logistics needed to protect our people should be figured and and implemented for all future hot spots and if that is not feasible then said hot spots should not be set up.

dduck
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dduck
3 years 4 months ago

I guess we disagree.

slamfu
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slamfu
3 years 4 months ago
“So, do we agree that the logistics needed to protect our people should be figured and and implemented for all future hot spots and if that is not feasible then said hot spots should not be set up.” Let me draw a scenario for you. We helped Libya overthrow their dictator. One of the key selling points for this on the domestic front was that our involvement was limited, and did not involve “boots on the ground”. After the overthrow, an unavoidable period of uncertainty exists while the new govt coalition tries to stitch back together a nation. As a… Read more »
dduck
Guest
dduck
3 years 4 months ago

OK, I think.

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