As a Bush administration holdover, Defense Secretary Robert Gates would seem to be in the crossfire of the Obama vs. Cheney skirmish over national security. It can't help that President Obama flubbed Gates' name last week, calling him "William Gates." But Gates, a Wichita native and East High graduate who'll speak at the school's commencement tonight, is handling the issue with his usual candor and care, in a Wall Street Journal interview and otherwise.
On closing Guantanamo Bay prison and moving detainees to U.S. facilities, he decried the "fearmongering": "If people begin to absorb the fact that we've got several dozen very dangerous terrorists in our jails right now . . . maybe a little greater perspective would be brought to the issue."
On the military limiting its interrogations to techniques in the Army Field Manual: "We have as high a motive to get information that will prevent attacks on our soldiers as anybody does. . . . And yet we find the methods that we use are sufficient."
Siding with Obama on security issues: "Having been in this business a long time, I think that you never can underestimate the power of American values."