WASHINGTON — Rushing to curb political fallout, the White House pushed back Wednesday against harsh criticism in a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that questions President Barack Obama's war leadership and rips into Vice President Joe Biden.
The tell-all memoir from Gates has created a splash in Washington, casting a negative light on Obama's national security operations by detailing a high level of discord among the small team that made key decisions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama's aides walked a fine line between publicly rebuking his former defense chief and allowing Gates' claims to go unchallenged. Still, the White House hurried to Biden's defense and said the president disagrees with Gates' characterization.
In the book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War, Gates accuses Obama of having little resolve for his own strategy in Afghanistan and of presiding over a national security team in which military leaders were treated with suspicion as decisions were centralized among a small cadre of White House advisers.
But Gates reserves his most sweeping indictment for Biden. Despite praising Biden's integrity and personal sense of loyalty, Gates asserts that the vice president "has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."