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White House Rebukes Claims In Gates Book

Former White House officials, including David Axelrod and Bill Daley, jumped to the administration's defense.
Posted at 12:49 PM, Jan 08, 2014

The reviews are in on Robert Gates’ new book — and as you might expect, they’re not good coming from the White House and its supporters.

DAVID AXELROD: "I’m not suggesting that he made things up to sell a book, but I think the language that he used, for example, on that Iraq story, was vague and it was subjective." (Via NBC

BILL DALEY: "To look back on it is one thing but in the middle of it when you're pursuing a war at the same time, one that is very controversy with the same people, i think it's just a disservice to be very frank with you." (Via CBS)

In his new book, the former defense secretary takes aim at his old boss — claiming Obama lacked faith in his own Afghanistan strategy. (Via The White House)

But he saved some of his harshest criticisms for Vice President Joe Biden. (Via The White House

In the book, Gates calls Biden “a man of integrity,” but also says “he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” (Via The New York Times

​The administration was quick to respond with a statement — calling Biden “one of the leading statesmen of his time.” Adding, Obama "relies on his good counsel every day." (Via U.S. State Department

And perhaps as proof, the White House granted the press rare access Wednesday to what’s normally a private lunch between Obama and Biden. 

Gates served as President Obama’s Secretary of Defense before resigning in 2011. He’d served under in some capacity under ever president since Nixon, with the exception of Clinton. (Via The White House

And when he left the White House, Obama awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

What you see is a man that I’ve come to know and respect — a humble American patriot.”

Now, it’s unusual for a former cabinet member to publish a memoir so critical of a sitting president, and even Obama’s political rivals seem a bit surprised. 

JOHN MCCAIN: “I think his words will have a significant impact. Frankly, I’m a little surprised because a lot of times people are not quite as candid as it appears that his book is.” (Via CNN

Republican Senator Jeff Flake called Gates’ book, “Extraordinarily bad timing, and form.” (Via Twitter / @JeffFlake

To be fair, most of reaction to the nearly 600-page book is based on brief excerpts from it. Gates did say in the book Obama's call to order a raid Osama bin Laden's compound one of the most courageous decisions he'd ever seen in the White House.