Washington Post Got It Wrong, Former Defense Sec Says; Obama Did Not Send Troops Believing Mission Would Fail

In his first interview since reports about his new book, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's coverage falsely accuses him of saying that President Barack Obama sent troops to Afghanistan while believing the mission would fail.

The interview with National Public Radio reporter Steve Inskeep was conducted Thursday and will be aired Monday on "Morning Edition." On Friday's "Morning Edition," Inskeep was interviewed about the interview.

Gates said, according to Inskeep, that The Washington Post misrepresented what he wrote in his book regarding Obama's decision to send troops to Afghanistan.

"Gates is arguing that some of the early reviews and news articles just kinda gets his facts wrong in subtle but important ways," Inskeep said.

Woodward received an advance copy of the book, which will be available to the public on Jan. 14.

In his review, Woodward wrote, "Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was 'skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,' Gates writes in Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War."

Inskeep says that Gates claims that is wrong, he never said that.

What really happened, according to Inskeep's recollection of his interview with Gates, is Obama "approved a strategy in 2009, added troops in Afghanistan, fought and hoped it would work, but became skeptical later on. ... He became less and less confident in his strategy."

Gates stood by, though, some of his other criticisms of the Obama White House, Inskeep says. For instance, Gates said there was too little attention paid to foreign policy matters, and too many foreign policy decisions were made out of election concerns by people who understood little about foreign policy. Gates also did not back off his particularly harsh criticisms of Vice President Joe Biden.

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