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Speed Reading 'the War Within': How We Got Gates

Here's how President Bush chose Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, according to Woodward. The atmospherics are exceedingly murky:

  •  Bush says he first considered Gates because "a friend he had gone to college with, whom he declined to identify, had first made the suggestion."

  • Bush is adamant on the fact that he didn't consult George H.W. Bush about Gates. "I don't think I needed to because I've heard my dad talk about Gates a lot in the past."

  • Rice tried to push Gates, bringing up the fact that Gates "had been a hard-liner at the end of the Cold War, knowing that that would enhance Bush's view of him."

  • Dick Cheney was informed about the Gates pick on November 6, right before the election. Cheney said, "Well, Mr. President, ... I disagree but obviously it's your call."

  • When offered the job in October 2006, Gates jumped at the chance to head the Pentagon. The only person he consulted before accepting the job was President George H.W. Bush.

  • Asked about Gates's close association with Brent Scrowcroft and the H.W. Bush realist crowd, Bush is cagey. "He worked in, you know, Dad's administration, but I didn't know him that well."

  • In 2005, the White House had considered making Gates the Director of National Intelligence. It's not clear why Gates rejected the job, but he seemed concerned about the amount of authority he would have.

  • Woodward doesn't tell us much about Bush's dissatisfaction with Rumsfeld, probably because the administration tried to spin Woodward: "'It was evolutionary,' Bush said. 'It'd be good to put that phrase' in the book, Hadley said to me. 'Steve would like you to use the word 'evolutionary,'' Bush said, laughing."

--Barron YoungSmith