August 16th, 2010
12:42 PM ET
4 years ago

White House not surprised by Gates announcement

The White House said Monday they have known all along Gates did not plan to stay on for the president's full term.
The White House said Monday they have known all along Gates did not plan to stay on for the president's full term.

Milwaukee (CNN) – White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters Monday that President Obama expects Defense Secretary Robert Gates to leave the Cabinet soon and is not surprised by that development because the administration has long known that he would not stay long after agreeing to extend his tour of duty beyond the Bush administration.

"It's not a surprise to see him discussing his plans to move on," Burton told reporters as Obama toured a renewable energy facility here. "The president is thankful for his service. The American people have benefitted" from that service stretching back many years and several administrations.

Burton said Gates has not spoken to the president today but noted that the secretary has said publicly that he was not likely to stay through the president's entire four-year term. Gates had hoped to retire at the end of President George W. Bush's administration but agreed to stay on for the start of the Obama administration after the president-elect convinced him it was important for continuity in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Burton said Gates stayed longer than originally intended and the president is "grateful for that service."


Filed under: issues • President Obama • Robert Gates
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. LiLa

    Secretary Gates has seemed to put politics aside and do what he believes is best for our country and for that, I applaud him. Very rare in today's political climate. Thank you, Mr. Gates.

    August 16, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Ancient Texan

    Sec. Gates has done a good job. I suspect he just got tired of trying to quess what's coming next out of the off-the-wall commander in chief, that is unable to make a coherent decision.

    August 16, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. wagga

    The President is wearing his horns a little crooked today.

    August 16, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. t-roy

    this nothin to do with oil ocean or powell this has to do with obama your comment on 911 they have the rite to od wat there religion allows them to do so kkk there religion has the rite to practice there religion let us put a statue of the greatest slave owner we ever had an put it rite in front of the white house that is wat ur doin rite u poeice of black crap who will destroy our great country

    August 16, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Keith in Austin

    Fortunately a lot of Forced Retirements are also in store for a host of Liberal Democrats this November too!

    August 16, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Peter s

    Gates served his country with dignity and honor, Sir! when you leave, leave with head high!!

    August 16, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    There is also the possibility that working for Obama, has been less than a pleasant experience, since Gates is basically a GOP guy. Surprised he stayed this long.

    August 16, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. A Kickin' Donkey

    This man is a class act. Too bad most Republicans in the spotlight are not like him. The country would be better off.

    I have no doubt that Mr. Obama will name a stellar replacement. He values intellect and integrity and Mr. Gates successor, I'm sure will be a person with a focus on results not politics.

    The Pentagon's budget must shrink. That is the ONLY WAY we will balance the federal budget.

    August 16, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Eric

    Did anyone else notice that Obama has "horns" in this photo?

    Hey, look, I'm an admitted conservative libertarian and I don't even pretend to like the guy. But come on, this is ridiculous...

    August 16, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. tcaros

    Don't let the "gates" hit him on the way out.

    August 16, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Edwin

    Serving the country is about the country, not the party. But he has to serve himself, too, so I understand his need to leave. It's probably not a fun job...

    August 16, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. tcaros

    Obama should have fired this Bush hold-voer a long time ago.

    August 16, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. American

    General Jones

    August 16, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  14. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    I can see why they would not act surprised. Who in his right mind wants to be associated with this inept, loser president. Only other more inept and bigger losers. Hey Uncle Snerdly@why don't you and the rest of the Journolist conspiracy go to Fox and get real news rather than using your sharp, sexist, racist, elitist wit to show what a drug addled dip you are.

    August 16, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Bill

    Wow, a person high in government, who did not play politics, and now wants to leave office after getting some things done. He is a role model for all politicians.

    August 16, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Tim

    Are those horns, or antlers, on Obama's head? ;)

    August 16, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Rafael

    Last one out turn the lights off!

    August 16, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. Hendrik Voss

    In July 2010, the Obama Administration made a decision to cement the secrecy around the multi-million dollar, U.S. taxpayer-funded SOA/ WHINSEC program and deny human rights organizations like SOA Watch access to who trains and teaches at the school.

    SOA Watch compiled the names, course, rank, country of origin, and dates attended for every soldier and instructor at the SOA/ WHINSEC from 1946 to 2003. After researchers exposed several cases of known human rights abusers attending the WHINSEC (despite claims that the "new" school was committed to human rights), and shared this research with Congressional decision-makers, the Department of Defense (DOD) under Gates refused to disclose any future information about who was training and teaching at the WHINSEC.

    The human rights community and the U.S. Congress did not agree with the decision. In 2008 and again in 2009, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill demanding that the DOD release this information to the public. Last year, this measure was signed into law by President Obama, However, SOA/ WHINSEC supporters in Congress managed to slip in the caveat that Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense could issue a waiver to ignore the public's right to know and refuse to release the information, if he "determines it to be in the national interest."

    Predictably, Obama's Secretary of Defense used the waiver to deny human rights organizations and the public access to any more information.

    Reports that look at the effects of U.S. military training are essential resources for Congress and Administration officials making decisions about foreign military training. Despite the value of transparency, openness, and the public's right to know, the Obama Administration made a clear decision to value secrecy instead, and to prevent further exposure of the negative impact the SOA/ WHINSEC has in Colombia and the rest of Latin America.

    SOA Watch is appealing the denial of our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and is working on a campaign to call attention to the continued human rights abuses associated with the SOA/ WHINSEC and demand that transparency be restored.

    August 16, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. hangemhi

    An honorable man

    August 16, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. Clwyd

    Anything or anyone that is tainted with the "bush stigma" should have to go or be removed. Why he wasn't in the first place is beyond belief?

    August 16, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. Don Wuerl

    William Gates is a true American no matter what his politics! He is certainly better than his predecessors, Don Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney in so many ways!!! I am sure that a library or something will be built in his honor!

    A great sucessor to this man should be someone cares about our servicemen and servicewomen and lived that lifestlye; PLEASE NOMINATE COLON POWELL!

    August 16, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. Vermilion Dragon

    I too would like to see Gen. Wesley Clark nominated for this position. He has an outstanding track record and is respected by many.

    August 16, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. Michael from Ventura

    Good. Hope to see Powell or Clark in there!

    August 16, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. FnordTaurus

    That photo is funny. looks like he has horns.

    August 16, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Haren

    How about big mouth Sarah Palin?

    August 16, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
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