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White House defends Biden as ex-Pentagon chief Gates unloads
Quote:White House defends Biden as ex-Pentagon chief Gates unloads

The White House is leaping to Vice President Biden's defense after former Pentagon chief Robert Gates pointedly challenged his judgment in a forthcoming memoir.

Gates' book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," has sent a small shock wave through Washington, with its candid critiques of the Obama administration and particularly of those at the top. Gates left little to the imagination in questioning President Obama's leadership style and commitment to the Afghanistan war. But he was unsparing in his assessment of Biden's contribution.

"I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades," Gates wrote, according to The New York Times.

In a written statement responding to the book excerpts, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Obama "welcomes differences of view among his national security team."

But she added: "The president disagrees with Secretary Gates' assessment -- from his leadership on the Balkans in the Senate, to his efforts to end the war in Iraq, Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen of his time, and has helped advance America's leadership in the world. President Obama relies on his good counsel every day."

In excerpts published by the Times and Washington Post, and confirmed by Fox News, Gates called Biden a man of "integrity" but also accused him of "poisoning the well" for military leadership.

The tone of Gates' book is a break from Washington decorum, in which former Cabinet members rarely level tough judgments against sitting presidents. On Obama, he claimed the president was only interested in getting troops out of Afghanistan.

Gates wrote that by early 2010 he had concluded the president "doesn't believe in his own strategy, and doesn't consider the war to be his."

The book is scheduled for a Jan. 14 release by the Knopf DoubleDay Publishing Group.

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