Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates writes in his new memoir that President Barack Obama was concerned his national security advisers might later write memoirs — much to Gates’ offense.
Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War is due out next week, but juicy excerpts have already started leaking out, and in one given to TIME by a source, Gates recounts an April 2010 meeting to discuss Iran policy in the Oval Office. Gates encouraged Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to consider the ramifications of a surprise Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, he writes. Gates details that he wanted Obama to beef up the U.S. military’s posture in the region that year, including moving in a second aircraft carrier, and additional radar and missile defense capabilities. According to a copy of the text, Gates writes that Obama ended the meeting on a noncommittal note.
I was put off by the way the president closed the meeting. To his very closest advisers, he said, “For the record, and for those of you writing your memoirs, I am not making any decisions about Israel or Iran. Joe you be my witness.” I was offended by his suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters.
Maybe Obama’s fears weren’t too far off the mark.