News / USA

    White House Responds to Gates Memoir

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk during a photo-op as they meet for lunch in the private dining room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 8, 2014.
    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk during a photo-op as they meet for lunch in the private dining room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 8, 2014.
    The White House on Wednesday strongly defended President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in response to criticisms by former defense secretary Robert Gates, in a memoir being published next week.  

    The White House continued aggressive but seemingly confident damage control in response to published excerpts of the Gates memoir, and ongoing reaction to it.

    Video and still photographers were permitted brief access as Obama and Biden had lunch at the White House.  No reporters were allowed in, so no questions were asked.

    Biden, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, gets harsh criticism from Gates, who describes him as being "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."

    Press secretary Jay Carney said the rare "photo opportunity" of Obama and Biden at lunch was not deliberate in reaction to the Gates memoir, but a response to media demands for more access.

    Carney said the president has full confidence in Biden's foreign policy record, including his role in administration debates on Iraq and Afghanistan policy.

    "The president has said many times that he greatly appreciates the advice and counsel the vice president gives him on matters domestic and foreign, and that is absolutely the case," said Carney.

    The Gates memoir, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, contains scathing observations about President Obama, particularly on Afghanistan strategy.

    Gates writes that Obama did not "believe in his own strategy" and that there was "suspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials" and by the president and vice president.

    Carney said it is well known Obama is committed to achieving the mission in Afghanistan, including initially ramping up the U.S. troop presence and then winding it down.

    "The president believes thoroughly in the mission.  He knows it is difficult, but he knows that our men and women in uniform as well as those civilians in Afghanistan and others who are working on this issue have admirably and heroically fulfilled that mission and they do so today," he said.

    Asked about the message the Gates memoir sends to U.S. troops, Carney said it was well known the president set out to change an Afghanistan policy in disarray and provide a clear mission.

    In a June 2011 ceremony at the Pentagon, Obama praised Gates for his service to eight presidents as he presented him with the Medal of Freedom.

    "A humble American patriot.  A man of common sense and decency.  Quite simply, one of our nation's finest public servants," Obama said.

    Senator John McCain, Obama's Republican opponent in the 2008 presidential election, said the Gates memoir confirmed suspicions he had about the administration's Afghanistan strategy.

    The White House is seeking to highlight positive comments Gates had about Obama, including the former defense chief's description of Obama as being right on the decisions he took on Afghanistan.

    Gates called  Obama's decision to approve the Special Forces raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden "one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House."

    Obama's former chief of staff, William Daley, called Gates's criticisms "a disservice," saying Obama supported U.S. troops and was committed to destroying al-Qaida.

    Former key adviser David Axelrod said Obama and Gates had a good working relationship and that Obama was always personally committed to his Afghanistan strategy.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora