Obviously, the press assumes that the Gates confirmation process is nothing more than a formality, as they are already anticipating his swearing in. Then again, Senate leaders have done nothing to suggest a rigorous confirmation process either.
UPDATE: Analysis: Old Gates memo raises questions (h/t Mike)
Gates still has to get through his confirmation and there is a possibility it could be rockier than expected: on Friday, newly declassified documents concerning the Iran-Contra arms scandal were released by the National Security Archive, a project funded by George Washington University in Washington.
[..]The 20-year-old memo outlines a world view that if still held by Gates, produces fodder for questions about what his policy for Iraq and Iran might be, said Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst with the National Security Archives.
Kornbluh said one of the main tasks of the Senate Armed Services Committee during next week's hearings will be to find out whether Gates still believes in such a naked exercise of American power.
You may want to contact your elected officials to make sure that the right questions are being asked during the confirmation hearings.
Pentagon and White House officials say "professional obligations" may delay Robert Gates' arrival at the Pentagon as the new secretary of defense.
Normally, a swearing in ceremony would take place almost immediately after confirmation, but a senior White House official tells ABC News that when it comes to Gates, "there might be a little bit of a lag so he can take care of some professional commitments."
The Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled confirmation hearings for next week; assuming those go well, Gates is expected to be confirmed by the Senate the week of Dec. 11.
Senate Democrats, eager to hasten the departure of outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, are working with Republicans to speed up the confirmation process.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff says Gates may have some obligations related to his duties as the outgoing president of Texas A&M University.
[..]Newsweek quoted an unidentified White House official, saying Gates would be sworn in as defense secretary "in the new year." Such a move would allow Rumsfeld to become the longest-serving defense secretary in American history (on Dec. 29 he would surpass the tenure of Robert McNamara, another former business executive who led the Pentagon during a long and unpopular war). Read on...