By choosing Robert Gates as his new Defense secretary, President George W. Bush is once again turning to a trusted warhorse from his father's administration. But the Gates nomination also could remind the new Democratic Congress about controversies from the George H.W. Bush era as well.
Gates was investigated during the late 1980s and 1990s by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh over whether Gates had told the truth about the Iran-contra affair, which occurred during his tenure as deputy to Ronald Reagan's CIA director, William Casey. Questions about Gates's knowledge of secret arms sales to Iran-and the diversion of proceeds to support the Nicaraguan contras-caused Gates to withdraw his nomination to succeed Casey as CIA director in 1987.
Gates was again nominated by President George H.W. Bush to be CIA chief in 1991, setting off an intense and spirited confirmation hearing in which charges and countercharges about Iran-contra flared anew. Gates also was publicly accused by former CIA subordinates of slanting intelligence about the Soviet threat-a criticism that evokes an eerie parallel to accusations hurled against the current Bush administration over its handling of pre-war intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to Al Qaeda. Read on...
It's deja vu all over again.