Secretary Gates’s STFU Policy

Jun 6, 2012 4:04pm

An interesting detail in David Sanger’s excellent new book about President Obama’s foreign policy, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power:

After the raid, Pakistani military officers “got even more pissed as the Americans, who had been so disciplined in the months leading up to the raid, made the situation even worse with a series of triumphalist-sounding comments. There was a huge and understandable hunger among the media for a play-by-play of the hunt for, and demise of, the world’s most wanted man. As day broke in a stunned Washington, John Brennan was rolled out in the White House press room to describe events that he only understood in fragmentary detail – much of it, as it turned out, suffered from the inevitable wild inaccuracy of first reports…

“At the Pentagon, top officers fumed at Brennan’s blow-by-blow description of how the SEALs operated; they believed that the former CIA officer had given away operational secrets never shared outside the tribe. (In fact, it appears no real secrets were divulged.) No one was angrier than Mullen himself, who still fumed about that news conference nearly a year later…

“By Wednesday of that week, Gates went to see Donilon, offering up a barbed assessment of how the White House had handled the aftermath of the raid.

“‘I have a new strategic communications approach to recommend,’ Gates said in his trademark droll tones, according to an account later provided by his colleagues.

“What was that, Donilon asked?

“‘Shut the f@*k up,’ the defense secretary said.”

-Jake Tapper

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