WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bluntly accused former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday of being "out to make a buck" with a memoir that attacks numerous other officials from President Barack Obama on down.
"He denigrates everybody, everyone, Secretary (of State Hillary Rodham) Clinton, the president, (Vice President) Joe Biden, me."
Among other references, Gates wrote that at one point he wondered if Reid was delusional in calling to speak with him about the vice presidency.
Reid said he has not discussed the book with Obama but has spoken with Biden about it. "We just lamented how disappointed we were," he said. "It's obvious it's to sell a book."
The Nevada Democrat said in brief comments in his Capitol office that he hasn't read the book and doesn't intend to, but knows what Gates wrote from conversations with others. "I'm surprised he would in effect denigrate everybody he came in contact with in an effort to make a buck," he said.
Reid's comments were the harshest by any of the senior officials mentioned in an unfavorable light in "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War." The book is Gates' account of his time as defense secretary for President George W. Bush and later for Obama.
In mentioning Reid in the book, Gates criticized the Nevada Democrat for saying in 2007 that the war in Iraq was lost and a troop surge ordered by Bush wasn't accomplishing anything.
He wrote that Reid's comments were the worst of a string of such remarks by lawmakers that sent a message to the troops that "they couldn't win and by implication, were putting their lives on the line for nothing."
Elsewhere in the book, he wrote that Reid and other congressional leaders "lived down to my expectations" with their reactions to Adm. William J. Fallon's resigned as CentCom commander in 2007.
Gates' book also reports that Reid called him unexpectedly in 2008 at a time Obama had not yet selected a vice presidential running mate.
"Reid said he was thinking about me. ... He asked if I had a public position on abortion; I laughed, saying no.
"He asked if I was a longtime Republican; I said actually, no."
Gates wrote that Reid wanted to keep the conversation private, adding, "I couldn't figure out if he was serious, if it was just idle flattery, or if he was delusional."
As for the other officials, Gates wrote that Obama was frustrated with policy in Afghanistan, Biden has been wrong about almost every major foreign policy and national security issue for decades, and that he heard Clinton say her opposition to a 2007 troop surge in Iraq was dictated by campaign politics.
In the book, Gates says Obama was frustrated with policy in Afghanistan, Biden has been wrong about almost every major foreign policy issue for decades and Clinton said her opposition to the 2007 troop surge was dictated by campaign politics.
The White House has sought a middle ground, defending Biden without criticizing Gates or leaving his assertions unchallenged.