He first served on the National Security Council staff from 1974 to 1979
under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter. After returning to the CIA, he was
given a series of pivotal jobs by Director William Casey, including deputy
director and chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
If Mr. Gates was initially reluctant to return to Washington, it may be
because he knows what it means to be at the center of political crossfire. First
picked by President Reagan in 1987 to succeed Mr. Casey, Mr. Gates withdrew in
the face of senators' concern that he had not been candid about his knowledge of
the Iran-contra affair.
In 1991, re-nominated by the first President Bush, he faced a grueling
confirmation involving not only Iran-contra but also some colleagues' accusation
that he had skewed intelligence reporting on the Soviet Union to suit the Reagan
White House. Mr. Gates was confirmed, 61 to 31, as the youngest CIA director in
history and oversaw the agency¡¯s initial effort to tackle post-cold-war threats.
He later defended his CIA record in a 1996 memoir, "From the Shadows: The
Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War."
On Wednesday, a CIA subordinate who had clashed with him offered a harsh
assessment. "This is not a person with a history of telling truth to power,"
said the former subordinate, Melvin A. Goodman, a Soviet analyst from 1966 to
1990. Mr. Goodman called Mr. Gates a micromanager and "not a big-picture
person," though he also called him "a hard-working, disciplined person who's
totally loyal to his bosses."
David Boren, a former Democratic chairman of the Senate intelligence
committee, had warm praise for Mr. Gates's service. "I found him to be highly
intelligent, an excellent manager of the large and complex intelligence
community, and totally bipartisan in his approach," Mr. Boren said in a
Bobby R. Inman, a former CIA deputy director and National Security Agency
director and an old friend of Mr. Gates, called him "a good listener" who,
"after he makes up his mind, is very decisive."
"He's impatient with those whose minds don't move as fast as his does, but
he's not arrogant," Mr. Inman said. He compared Mr. Gates's nomination to
President Johnson's choice of Clark Clifford, another unflappable old Washington
hand, to replace the lightning rod Robert S. McNamara as defense secretary in
1968 at the height of the Vietnam war.
A hint of the approach Mr. Gates might bring to the job, drawing on his
experience at the end of the cold war, can be found in his remarks in 2004 at
the release of the Council on Foreign Relations report, called "Iran: Time for a
"One of our recommendations is that the U.S. government lift its ban in terms
of nongovernmental organizations being able to operate in Iran," Mr. Gates said.
"Greater interaction between Iranians and the rest of the world," he said, "sets
the stage for the kind of internal change that we all hope will happen
Courtesy of The New York Times