Last Updated: 11/16/06
Robert Gates Nomination


Political and Military Choices Facing White House; Rising Pressure Among Democrats for Iraq Withdrawal; Iraq Strategy

Aired November 13, 2006 - 18:00 ET

DOBBS: On the eve of what many hope will be a new political era in Washington, old charges are rising and flying. Political manipulation of intelligence during the Cold War. Those, the allegations being made against Bob Gates, President Bush's nominee to replace Rumsfeld as defense secretary. Jeanne Meserve reports.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With flawed intelligence on Iraq still a raw nerve, old questions about whether Bob Gates has skewed intelligence for political purposes may be creating new problems. SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: For me, the important thing with Mr. Gates is whether or not he is independent, whether or not he is going to speak truth to power.

MESERVE: Accusations that Gates slanted intelligence date back to the 1980s. On Mikhail Gorbachev's Soviet Union and Nicaragua's Contra rebels, some accuse Gates of distorting analysis to support the policy goals of those he worked for, including then CIA Director William Casey.

After an assassination attempt made on Pope John Paul II, for example, a CIA study said the Soviets were involved. But there was never proof.

MELVIN GOODMAN, FORMER CIA SOVIET ANALYST: It was politicization. It was corrupt intelligence. It was total spin.

MESERVE: Critics went public in 1991, when Gates was nominated to be CIA director.

JENNIFER GLAUDEMANS, FORMER CIA SOVIET ANALYST: Mr. Gates politicized intelligence analysis and is responsible for an overall degradation of the analytical process.

MESERVE: Gates rebutted, saying his honest assessments were why the first President Bush nominated him.

GATES: And I think one of the reasons he appointed me to this job was that he knows I'm going to tell him exactly what I think and exactly what CIA thinks, and not shade it.

MESERVE: Though 31 senators voted against Gates, he was confirmed.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He took very much to heart the perception, whether real or not, the perception that he was slanting intelligence, and, in his performance as its director, was meticulous in ensuring that he did not do so.

MESERVE: McLaughlin says he never saw Gates skew intelligence. But Melvin Goodman believes Gates is still what he calls a political wind sock, adjusting his views to the political winds.

GOODMAN: Will he tell truth to power? He never has before. Will he do it now? Well, look, I don't know. I'm inclined to think that he can't, and that he certainly won't.

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