Robert Gates

by JASON | 1:26 PM in |

Dr. Robert M. Gates was sworn in on December 18, 2006, as the 22nd Secretary of Defense. Before entering his present post, Secretary Gates was the President of Texas A&M University, the nation's seventh largest university.

Prior to assuming the presidency of Texas A&M on August 1, 2002, he served as Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.

Secretary Gates served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. Secretary Gates is the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to Director. He served as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser at the White House from January 20, 1989, until November 6, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush.

Secretary Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional, serving six presidents. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, The White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.

Until becoming Secretary of Defense, Dr. Gates served as Chairman of the Independent Trustees of The Fidelity Funds, the nation's largest mutual fund company, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Inc., Brinker International, Inc. and Parker Drilling Company, Inc.

Dr. Gates has also served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the American Council on Education, the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. He has also been President of the National Eagle Scout Association.

"I may be dangerous," he said, "but I am not wicked. No, I am not wicked."
- Henry James, The American

It was a failed administration's ritual scapegoating, the ousting last winter of its ruinous secretary of defense. But in the sauve qui peut confirmation of his replacement - "The only thing that mattered," said a Senate aide, "was that he was not Don Rumsfeld" - there was inadvertent irony.

With President George W Bush's choice of ex-Central Intelligence Agency director Robert Gates to take over the Pentagon, this most uninformed of presidents unwittingly gave us back vital pages of our recent history. If Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the neo-conservative claque in the second echelon of the administration are all complicit in today's misrule, Gates personifies older, equally serious, if less recognized, less remembered abuses. His laden resume offers needed evidence that Washington's tortuous, torturing foreign policies did not begin with the Bush administration - and will not end with it.

While Rumsfeld's record bared some of Washington's uglier realities and revealed the depth of decay in the US military, Gates' long passage through the world of espionage and national security illuminates other dark corners - specters of the Cold War still haunting us, nether regions of flawed, corrupted intelligence, and the malignant legacy of foreign policy's evil twin, covert intervention.

Like the Senate, the media welcomed Gates, in the words of the Christian Science Monitor, as the "Un-Rumsfeld". In the wake of his flinty predecessor, he arrived as a smiling, silver-haired cherub of Midwestern earnestness. That image seemed borne out by his swift firings of ranking army officials in the Walter Reed scandal, his apparent questioning of the value of the Pentagon's notorious penal colony at Guantanamo Bay, his more moderate (or at least conventionally diplomatic) rhetoric in the international arena, and even his heresy in mentioning respectfully - and quaintly - the constitutional role of "the press" in a Naval Academy commencement address.

For all his relative virtues in 2007, however, Gates remains a genuine Jekyll-and-Hyde character, a best-yet-worst of America as it flung its vast power over the world. To appreciate who and what he was - and so who and what he is likely to be now, at one of the most critical junctures ever to face a secretary of defense - is to retrace much of the shrouded side of American foreign policy and intelligence for the past half-century or more. Most Americans hardly know that record, though its reckonings are with us today - with a vengeance. At the unexpected climax of his long career, the 63-year-old Gates faces not only the toll of the disastrous regime he joins, but of his own legacy as well.

This is a vintage American chronicle with dramatic settings and dark secrets. The cast ranges from hearty boosters in Kansas to bitter exiles on the Baltic, from doomed agents dropped behind Russian lines across Eurasia to Islamic clerics car-bombed in the Middle East - all in a family saga of long-hidden paternity. As with Rumsfeld, such a sweeping history - the history, in this case, of that blind deity of havoc, the CIA - cannot come condensed or blog-sized. It is, necessarily, without apology, a long trail a-winding. Though in the end this will indeed be a profile of the US's new secretary of defense, much has to be understood before Gates even joins the story in a serious way as policy-accomplice and policymaker. But the trip is full of color, and quicker than it seems. And as usual, the essential lessons, along with the devil, are in the details.

As with so many good stories, it begins on a train - two trains, in fact, crossing landscapes worlds apart, a great separation Gates was heir to, revealing much about the man - and the US.

Part 2...

Part 3...

Gates was nominated to become the Director of Central Intelligence (head of the CIA) in early 1987. He withdrew his name after it became clear the Senate would reject the nomination due to controversy about his role in the Iran-Contra affair.

Gates was Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from March until August 1989, and was Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser from August 1989 until November 1991.

Gates was nominated (for the second time) for the position of Director of Central Intelligence by President George H. W. Bush on May 14, 1991, confirmed by the Senate on November 5, and sworn in on November 6, becoming the only career officer in the CIA's history (as of 2005) to rise from entry-level employee to Director.

The final report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, issued on August 4, 1993, said that Gates "was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran/contra affair and was in a position to have known of their activities. The evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment..."[15]

Because of his senior status in the CIA, Gates was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran-Contra Affair and was in a position to have known of their activities. In 1984, as deputy director of CIA, Gates advocated that the U.S. initiate a bombing campaign against Nicaragua and that the U.S. do everything in its power short of direct military invasion of the country to remove the Sandinista government.[16] The evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment of Gates for his Iran-Contra activities or his responses to official inquiries.

Gates was an early subject of Independent Counsel's investigation, but the investigation of Gates intensified in the spring of 1991 as part of a larger inquiry into the Iran/contra activities of CIA officials. This investigation received an additional impetus in May 1991, when President George H.W. Bush nominated Gates to be Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). The chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) requested, in a letter to the Independent Counsel on May 15, 1991, any information that would “significantly bear on the fitness” of Gates for the CIA post.

Gates consistently testified that he first heard on October 1, 1986, from Charles E. Allen, the national intelligence officer who was closest to the Iran initiative, that proceeds from the Iran arms sales may have been diverted to support the Contras. Other evidence proves, however, that Gates received a report on the diversion during the summer of 1986 from DDI Richard Kerr.[17] The issue was whether the Independent Counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates was deliberately not telling the truth when he later claimed not to have remembered any reference to the diversion before meeting with Allen in October.

Grand Jury secrecy rules hampered Independent Counsel's response. Nevertheless, in order to answer questions about Gates' prior testimony, Independent Counsel accelerated his investigation of Gates in the summer of 1991. This investigation was substantially completed by September 3, 1991, at which time Independent Counsel determined that Gates' Iran-Contra activities and testimony did not warrant prosecution.

Independent Counsel made this decision subject to developments that could have warranted reopening his inquiry, including testimony by Clair E. George, the CIA's former deputy director for operations. At the time Independent Counsel reached this decision, the possibility remained that George could have provided information warranting reconsideration of Gates's status in the investigation. George refused to cooperate with Independent Counsel and was indicted on September 19, 1991. George subpoenaed Gates to testify as a defense witness at George's first trial in the summer of 1994, but Gates was never called.

In 1974 Gates joined the National Security Council staff and worked for President Jimmy Carter. He left in 1979 and rejoined the CIA as executive assistant to Stansfield Turner, the CIA director.

During the 1980 presidential election campaign Ronald Reagan was informed that Jimmy Carter was attempting to negotiate a deal with Iran to get the American hostages released. Robert Parry has argued that Gates was the source of this leak to Reagan. "We now have a lot of documents. We have some records from that period. We have statements from former Iranian officials, including the former Iranian president, Banisadr, the former defense minister, the former foreign minister, all of whom saying that they had these dealings with the Republicans behind the scenes. So, as we went back through that, the evidence built up that there had been these earlier contacts and that Bob Gates was one of the people involved in them."

Jimmy Carter's secret negotiations posed a serious problem for the Reagan campaign. If Carter got the hostages out before the election, the public perception of the man might change and he might be elected for a second-term. As Michael Deaver later told the New York Times: "One of the things we had concluded early on was that a Reagan victory would be nearly impossible if the hostages were released before the election... There is no doubt in my mind that the euphoria of a hostage release would have rolled over the land like a tidal wave. Carter would have been a hero, and many of the complaints against him forgotten. He would have won."

According to Barbara Honegger, a researcher and policy analyst with the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, William J. Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.

On 22nd September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. The Iranian government was now in desperate need of spare parts and equipment for its armed forces. Jimmy Carter proposed that the US would be willing to hand over supplies in return for the hostages.

Once again, the Central Intelligence Agency leaked this information to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. This attempted deal was also passed to the media. On 11th October, the Washington Post reported rumors of a “secret deal that would see the hostages released in exchange for the American made military spare parts Iran needs to continue its fight against Iraq”.

A couple of days before the election Barry Goldwater was reported as saying that he had information that “two air force C-5 transports were being loaded with spare parts for Iran”. This was not true. However, this publicity had made it impossible for Carter to do a deal. Ronald Reagan on the other hand, had promised the Iranian government that he would arrange for them to get all the arms they needed in exchange for the hostages.

In the election Reagan easily defeated Jimmy Carter by 44 million votes to 35 million. The Republican Party also won control of the Senate for the first time in 26 years. According to Mansur Rafizadeh, the former U.S. station chief of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police, CIA agents had persuaded Khomeini not to release the American hostages until Reagan was sworn in. In fact, they were released twenty minutes after his inaugural address.

Reagan appointed William J. Casey as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this position he was able to arrange the delivery of arms to Iran. These were delivered via Israel. By the end of 1982 all Regan’s promises to Iran had been made. With the deal completed, Iran was free to resort to acts of terrorism against the United States. In 1983, Iranian-backed terrorists blew up 241 marines in the CIA Middle-East headquarters.

In 1982 Gates was appointed Deputy Director for Intelligence. Four years later he was promoted to the post of Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, under William J. Casey. In May 1986 Gene Wheaton told Casey about what he knew about the Iran-Contra operation. Casey refused to take any action, claiming that the agency or the government were not involved in what later became known as Irangate.

Gene Wheaton now took his story to Daniel Sheehan, a left-wing lawyer. Wheaton also contacted Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.

Charles E. Allen, a national intelligence officer for counter-terrorism, went to see Robert Gates on 1st October, 1986, and told him that he believed that the proceeds from the Iran arms sales may have been diverted to support the contras. Gates then passed this information onto Casey.

On 5th October a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. Two days later, Roy M. Furmark, who was working for Adnan Khashoggi, told Casey that his boss was owed $10 million for his role played in the arms-hostages deal. Furmark also claimed that the man behind the deal was Oliver North.

On 9th October, Robert Gates and William J. Casey had lunch with Oliver North. It seems that the CIA wanted to see the paperwork for the delivery of arms to Iran. Gates told North: "If you think it's that sensitive we can put it in the director's personal safe. But we need our copy." That afternoon, Casey appeared before two Congressional oversight committees, where he maintained that the CIA had nothing to do with the supplying of contras.

On 15th October, leaflets were given out in Tehran stating that high-ranking advisers to President Ronald Reagan had been visiting Iran the previous month to negotiate a deal to release hostages for arms. Two days later, Charles E. Allen provided Casey with a seven-page assessment of the "arms-hostage machinations". Allen wrote: "The government of the United States, along with the government of Israel, acquired substantial profit from these transactions, some of which profit was redistributed to other projects of the U.S. and of Israel."

Meanwhile, Eugene Hasenfus was providing information to his captors on two Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Salvador. This information was made public and it was not long before journalists managed to identify Raphael Quintero and Felix Rodriguez as the two men described by Hasenfus.

At the beginning of November, newspapers in the United States began running stories about the Iran-Contra conspiracy. On 6th November, President Ronald Reagan told reporters that the story that Robert McFarlane had been negotiating an arms for hostages deal "has no foundation". He also argued that he would not carry out talks with Iran as its government was part of "a new international version of Murder Incorporated".

On 21st November, William J. Casey appeared again before the House Select Committee on Intelligence (HSCI). By this time it was public knowledge about the arms-hostages deal. Casey was asked who was responsible for what one committee member described as this "misguided policy". Casey replied: "I think it was the President". Casey also claimed that this was a National Security Council operation. As Bernard McMahon pointed out, "we came out believing the CIA had acted only in a support role at the direction of the White House".

The following day, two investigators working for Attorney General Edwin Meese, discovered important documents while searching Oliver North's office. These documents revealed that the profits on the Iranian arms deals amounted to $16.1 million. However, the Contras had only received $4 million and at least another $12.1 million had gone missing. It was later established that Richard Secord and his partners had taken at least $6.6 million in profits and commissions.

William J. Casey was now summoned to appear before the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. On Monday 8th December, he was questioned about the possibility of Iranian payments being diverted to Afghanistan. Two days later he appeared before the House Foreign Relations Committee (HFRC). He was questioned about when he first knew that money was being diverted from the profits of the hostage-arms deals. Casey claimed that he first heard about it from Edwin Meese. Members of the HFRC pointed out that Roy M. Furmark had already testified that he told casey about the deal as early as the 7th October. Casey was questioned for five and a half hours. One member said that "questioning Bill Casey was like punching a pillow". Another claimed: "He didn't seem to know what was going on in his own agency."

The following day Casey appeared before the House Select Committee on Intelligence (HSCI). Alan Fiers, a colleague at the CIA who also attended the session, remarked: He stumbled and fumbled. at times it seemed he couldn't talk. He had to be carried. He'd start to answer and wave to one of us to take over when his words or his facts failed him."

William J. Casey was due to appear before the HSCI on 16th December. The day before, CIA physician, Dr. Arvel Tharp went to visit Casey in his office. According to Tharp, while he was being examined, Casey suffered a seizure. He was taken to Georgetown University Hospital and was not able to appear before the HSCI. Tharp told Casey he had a brain tumor and that he would have to endure an operation. Casey was not keen and asked if he could have radio therapy instead. However, Tharp was insistent that he needed surgery.

Casey entered the operating room on 18th December. The tumor was removed but during the operation, brain cells were damaged and Casey lost his ability to speak. As his biographer, Joseph E. Persico, points out (The Lives and Secrets of William J. Casey): "one school of rumors ran, the CIA or the NSC or the White House had arranged to have a piece of the brain removed from the man who knew the secrets".

Robert Gates now became acting director of the CIA. He claimed that he was not involved in the Iran-Contra operation. In 1987 President Ronald Reagan nominated Gates to become the Director of the CIA. However, he was forced to withdraw when it became clear that he was going to be rejected by the Senate. This was partly because most members believed he lied about his involvement in the Iran-Contra Scandal. Gates was also suspected of passing intelligence to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war.

In his final report Walsh suggested that Gates did not tell the truth when he said he only became aware on the "Iran/Contra activities" when he was told about it on 1st October, 1986, by Charles E. Allen. According to DDI Richard J. Kerr, Gates received a report that "Iran arms sales may have been diverted to support the contras" during the summer of 1986. Allen also testified that he believed he sent a memorandum to Gates several months before about the money that Oliver North needed to pay Manucher Ghorbanifar.

In his report Lawrence E. Walsh remarked: "Accordingly, the evidence was clear that Gates's statements concerning his initial awareness of the diversion were wrong: Kerr brought him the information from Allen over a month earlier than Gates admitted. This would have been material because it suggested that the CIA continued to support North's activities without informing North's superiors or investigating..... Gates's defense was that he did not recall the Kerr meeting. To say the least, this was disquieting." However, Walsh came to the conclusion that there was not enough evidence to warrant a prosecution of Gates.

Robert Gates remained as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence until 20th March, 1989, when he became Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from March until August of 1989, and was Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser from August 1989 until November 1991.

President George H. W. Bush nominated Gates as Director of Central Intelligence on 14th May, 1991. Three of his colleagues in the CIA testified against Gates. Melvin Goodman, recently explained his reasons for taking this action: "Bob Gates, over the period of the 1980s, as a deputy for Intelligence and then as a deputy to CIA director Bill Casey, was politicizing intelligence. He was spinning intelligence on all of the major issues of the day, on the Soviet Union, on Central America, on the Middle East, on Southwest Asia. And I thought this record, this charge, should be presented before the Senate Intelligence Committee."

In an article published in July, 1991, Walter Pincus called for the Senate to approve Bush's nomination of Gates as director of the CIA. This time he was confirmed but he attracted 31 negative votes, more than all of the votes against all of the CIA directors in history. He served until 1993.

Intelligence cherry-picked for ideological purposes; the claims of a single, unreliable source treated as fact and stovepiped straight up to the White House; a National Intelligence Estimate riddled with dubious claims; efforts made to connect an enemy regime with international terrorism. Echoing the prelude to the Iraq War, these are, in fact, a sampling of the allegations directed at Robert Gates 15 years ago, when the Senate Intelligence Committee considered Gates' nomination to be the director of Central Intelligence.

Back then, the Senate hearings on Gates — who is now President Bush's nominee for secretary of defense, and who is expected to be confirmed as early as next week — were lively, controversial, and went on for a full month. Senators heard from a variety of witnesses, including a handful of Gates' former colleagues at the CIA, who painted a damaging portrait of the nominee.

Among them was 24-year CIA veteran Melvin Goodman, a friend and fellow Soviet buff who came up with Gates at the agency during the height of the Cold War. Goodman told the senators that Gates had helped manipulate intelligence to fit the hawkish perspective advanced by officials in the Reagan administration — in particular by seeking to link the Soviet Union with acts of terrorism, including the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. "Frankly, I worry about the signal that would be sent by returning Gates to the environment he created," Goodman testified on October 1, 1991. "I worry about the effect this would have on the standards of others back at the Central Intelligence Agency to be led by someone so lacking in vision, integrity, and courage."

When Gates appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week, he's unlikely to face the level of scrutiny he did in 1991 — when 31 Democratic Senators voted against him — or, for that matter, in 1987, when lingering questions about his role in Iran-Contra forced him to withdraw from the confirmation process altogether. Nor will senators hear from Goodman, who is now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for International Policy and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. When I caught up with Goodman recently, I asked him why he decided to testify against his boss — and friend — back in '91.

Melvin Goodman: The issue was politicization for me — that is, the way that Bob Gates was taking intelligence and spinning it towards a policy purpose. My direct experience was on matters dealing with the Soviet Union and particularly the papal plot assessment of 1985, but actually intelligence was being politicized on a variety of issues dealing with Iran, Central America, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.

Mother Jones: What was the impetus for this, in your view?

MG: It was in part the Reagan Administration and in part Bill Casey, who was the CIA director — his views on covert action and his views on policy. For Gates his master was Bill Casey, and Casey was an extremist on various issues and went further than the administration. I think Iran-Contra was part of that.

MJ: What kinds of incidents specifically were you concerned about?

MG: The key, the thing that really drove me away, was the assessment on the papal plot in which Bill Casey, four years after the assassination attempt on the pope, came across a raw operational report from a Bulgarian source that was thirdhand — it referred to Soviet involvement in the papal plot. On the basis of that one raw report Casey wanted a sensitive assessment prepared that would be given only to about a half-dozen senior leaders, including the president and the vice president, and he turned to Gates, who was the DDI [deputy director for intelligence], and said, "Get this done." Gates was the one to pick the three people to do it. He had them work in secret. It was this memo that I found on the desk of one of the authors, her name was Kay Oliver. I took the memo, I Xeroxed it, and I went to my boss, Douglas MacEachin. And then I went to Gates and confronted him.

MJ: What happened?

MG: It got ugly. He wanted to know how I found out about it, and I told him. I admitted that I didn't have direct access to it, that I found it on someone's desk and I Xeroxed it. I admitted I was skulking around. There were rumors that things were being prepared that weren't being processed through the Office of Soviet Affairs, and I knew who the people would have been because Gates engaged in what I call "judge shopping in the courthouse." If you want something done — and that's how politicization is done — you go to someone who you think will agree with you. It's not that you order someone to do something. That's not how politicization works in an organization like the CIA, or probably any other organization for that matter. They knew who to pick.

He said I had no right to have access to this document, it was a sensitive matter at the direction of the CIA director. I reminded him that he had testified in 1983 that the Soviets were not involved in the papal plot. He said things had changed, the evidence had changed, and he said that anyway this memo was going to be hypothetical. Of course, Gates then put a cover note on all of these memos, and his cover note made it clear that this assessment, was based on the best intelligence we'd ever collected on this subject. So much for hypothetical.

It is all smiles, as Gates has no choice but keep the secret a little longer: (Robert Gates in the middle smiles away - revealing Obama’s secrets in a book which was to hit the market in February 2009)

Robert Gates’ book with a working title, “Obama citizenship and adoption – The book of Revelation” which was expected to be released in February 2009, if Obama is inaugurated on the 20th january may now not see the light. Remember the book of Revelation in the Bible? What a resemblence!

Robert Gates a former CIA boss knows Obama’s secrecy. Obama knows very well that a CIA man knows a great deal about politicians and their dirty behaviour.

Nominating Gates is a very interesting move that Obama has now pulled and that gurantees a lot of things, one being the safety of all the information that CIA may have on Obama, including his real citizenship and the birth certificate issue.

Was Obama vetted when he took the Senate seat? What information does CIA have on his background on where he was born, the citizenship issue and his adoption? Will CIA say anything about this if there is a demand from the American people or will they keep silent for the respect of their former popular boss, Robert Gates?

Like they say, keep your enemies more closer because then you know their every move.

Having Gates closer is going to ensure that nothing goes wrong because Gates being the only Republican given a top job is happy to get the honor of representing the Republicans in the new Cabinet.

Press reports say Barack Obama may retain George W. Bush's Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a gesture to war-time continuity, bipartisanship and respect for the Washington insider community, which has embraced Gates as something of a new Wise Man.

However, if Obama does keep Gates on, the new President will be employing someone who embodies many of the worst elements of U.S. national security policy over the past three decades, including responsibility for what Obama himself has fingered as a chief concern, "politicized intelligence."

During a campaign interview with the Washington Post, Obama said, "I have been troubled by … the politicization of intelligence in this administration." But it was Gates – as a senior CIA official in the 1980s – who broke the back of the CIA analytical division's commitment to objective intelligence.

In a recent book, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman identifies Gates as the chief action officer for the Reagan administration's drive to tailor intelligence reporting to White House political desires. A top "Kremlinologist," Goodman describes how Gates reversed a CIA tradition of delivering tough-minded intelligence reports with "the bark on."

That ethos began to erode in 1973 – with President Richard Nixon's appointment of James Schlesinger as CIA director and Gerald Ford's choice of George H.W. Bush in 1976 – but the principle of objectivity wasn't swept away until 1981 when Ronald Reagan put in his campaign chief, William Casey, as CIA director.

Casey then chose the young and ambitious Robert Gates to run the analytical division. Rather than respect the old mandate for "bark on" intelligence, "Bob Gates turned that approach on its head in the 1980s and tried hard to anticipate the views of policymakers in order to pander to their needs," Goodman wrote.

"Gates consistently told his analysts to make sure never to 'stick your finger in the eye of the policymaker.'"

It didn't take long for the winds of politicization to blow through the halls of CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia.

"Bill Casey and Bob Gates guided the first institutionalized 'cooking of the books' at the CIA in the 1980s, with a particular emphasis on tailoring intelligence dealing with the Soviet Union, Central America, and Southwest Asia," Goodman wrote.

"Casey's first NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] as CIA director, dealing with the Soviet Union and international terrorism, became an exercise in politicization. Casey and Gates pushed this line in order to justify more U.S. covert action in the Third World.

"In 1985, they ordered an intelligence assessment of a supposed Soviet plot against the Pope, hoping to produce a document that would undermine Secretary of State [George] Shultz's efforts to improve relations with Moscow. The CIA also produced an NIE in 1985 that was designed to produce an intelligence rationale for arms sales to Iran."

Hyping Soviet Power

One of the key distortions pushed by Casey and Gates was the notion that the Soviet Union was a military behemoth with a robust economy – rather than a decaying power with a shriveling GNP. The logic of the Casey-Gates position was that exaggerating the Soviet menace justified higher U.S. military spending and U.S. support for bloody brush-fire wars – central elements of Reagan's foreign policy.

Since the mid-1970s, the CIA's analytical division had been noting cracks in the Soviet empire as well as signs of its economic-technological decline. But that analysis was unwelcome among Reagan's true-believers.

So, in 1983 when CIA analysts sought to correct over-estimations of Soviet military spending – to 1 percent a year, down from 4 to 5 percent – Gates blocked the revision, according to Goodman.

From his front-row seat at CIA headquarters, Goodman watched in dismay as Gates used his bureaucratic skills to consolidate the agency's new role underpinning favored White House policies.

"While serving as deputy director for intelligence from 1982 to 1986, Gates wrote the manual for manipulating and centralizing the intelligence process to get the desired intelligence product," Goodman stated.

Gates promoted pliable CIA careerists to top positions, while analysts with an independent streak were sidelined or pushed out of the agency.

"In the mid-1980s, the three senior [Soviet division] office managers who actually anticipated the decline of the Soviet Union and Moscow's interest in closer relations with the United States were demoted," Goodman wrote, noting that he was one of them.

"The Reagan administration would not accept any sign of Soviet weakness or constraint, and CIA director Casey and deputy director Gates made sure intelligence analysis presented the Russian Bear as threatening and warlike," Goodman wrote.

These institutional blinders remained in place for the rest of the 1980s.

"As a result, the CIA missed the radical change that Mikhail Gorbachev represented to Soviet politics and Soviet-American relations, and missed the challenges to his rule and his ultimate demise in 1991," Goodman wrote.

When the Soviet Union – the CIA's principal intelligence target – collapsed without any timely warning to the U.S. government, the CIA analytical division was derided for "missing" this historic moment. But the CIA didn't as much "miss" the Soviet collapse as it was blinded by Gates and other ideological taskmasters to the reality playing out in plain sight.

Goodman was not alone in identifying Gates as the chief culprit in the politicization of the CIA's intelligence product. Indeed, Gates's 1991 confirmation hearing to be George H.W. Bush's CIA director marked an extraordinary outpouring of career CIA officers going public with inside stories about how Gates had corrupted the intelligence product.

There also were concerns about Gates's role in misleading Congress regarding the secret Iran-Contra operations in the mid-1980s, an obstacle that had prevented Gates from getting the top CIA job when Casey died in 1987.

Plus, in 1991, Gates faced accusations that he had greased his rapid bureaucratic rise by participating in illicit or dubious clandestine operations, including helping Republicans sabotage President Jimmy Carter's Iran hostage negotiations in 1980 (the so-called October Surprise case) and collaborating on a secret plan to aid Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein (the Iraqgate scandal).

Despite significant evidence implicating Gates in these scandals, he always managed to slip past relying on his personal charm and Boy Scout looks. For his 1991 confirmation, influential friends like Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David Boren, D-Oklahoma, and Boren's chief of staff George Tenet made sure Gates got the votes he needed.

In his memoir, From the Shadows, Gates credited his friend, Boren, with clearing away the obstacles. "David took it as a personal challenge to get me confirmed," Gates wrote. (Tenet's help on Gates also earned him some chits with the Bush Family, which paid off in 2001 when Tenet was Bill Clinton's last CIA director and was kept on by George W. Bush, whom he served loyally, if incompetently.)

After getting confirmed in 1991, Gates remained CIA director until the end of George H.W. Bush's presidency. However, even after Bill Clinton removed him in 1993, Gates never wandered far from the Bush Family orbit, getting help from George H.W. Bush in landing a job as president of Texas A&M.

Retired US Navy Lt. Commander and ONI officer Al Martin wrote "The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider."

In this book, Martin explains the operations of the Bush Cabal and details the many Iran-Contra-related criminal operations involving Robert Gates, currently the Defense Secretary designate.

“In terms of policy management, (William) Casey formed a series of inter-governmental agency Restricted Access Groups (RAGs). Ultimately three such groups were formed. The top Restricted Access Group 1 was Vice President George Bush -- as it was decided that all narcotics, weapons and money operations vis-à-vis Iran-Contra, would be consolidated under the office of the Vice President.

“Also included in these Restricted Access Groups were then Vice Presidential National Security Advisor, Colonel Donald Gregg, then Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, who was in charge of the Inter-American Affairs Office (an office which served in no other capacity except being a propaganda tool for the Nicaraguan Contras), Richard Armitage, and Assistant Secretary of State, Bernie Aronson.

“In the Department of Defense, the RAG group included Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Stillwell, and Caspar Weinberger himself.

“In the CIA, besides Casey, there was the infamous Deputy Director of Operations, Clair George, and Assistant Deputy Director of Operations, Alan Fiers.

“The names involved in the Restricted Access Group would change as these men changed positions in government from 1983 through 1986.

“When Frank Carlucci left the Defense Department to become Presidential National Security Advisor and Bobby Gates became Deputy Director of the CIA, Gates supplanted Carlucci within Restricted Access Group 2."

Gates, according to Martin, was elevated to Group 1 status upon being confirmed as Director of Central Intelligence.

And now he will be Secretary of Defense?