Emmett Tyrrell
WASHINGTON -- You will perhaps forgive me if I have found all this bellyaching about retired Secretary of Defense Bob Gates' so-called indiscretion, indignation and candor a bit hard to take. I first got to know Bob in the early 1980s, thanks to Bill Casey. Through all these years, Bob has not changed fundamentally. What has changed is Washington. It is more politicized, with especially shallow and parochial politics, and it is in need of candor, indignation and even moments of indiscretion. Bob did not let the country down when he wrote his memoir, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense."

In the 1970s, and until his death in 1987, Bill Casey was my friend, advisor and occasionally my lawyer. Until his death, he was director of the CIA after serving as campaign director of the Reagan campaign in the 1980s. I helped him in minor ways during the Reagan campaign, most notably with getting candidate Ronald Reagan meetings with European intellectuals. When Bill took the helm at Langley, he continued our friendship. We would meet in New York at 21 and at his capacious office in Langley. I doubt there was ever a head of the CIA who relished his job more or, for that matter, was more effective. One day over lunch he told me he was just back from the Middle East where he had developed a stomach indisposition. But he smiled tapping his embattled paunch, "I've just arranged stingers for the Afghan resistance." He was not talking about cocktails.

Early in his tenure at the CIA, he told me he was going to have me over for lunch to meet the "brightest young man" he had encountered in many a moon, and so Bob Gates joined us for lunch. A rising figure at the agency, Bob had become Bill's Deputy Director. He had earned a master's degree in Russian History at Indiana University about the time I had earned my master's degree in American Diplomatic History at I.U. Bob went on the get his Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet History from Georgetown and began his steady climb through ranks at the agency, eventually becoming, like Bill, director.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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