Not the right man


In a week of hearings, Robert Gates, President Bush's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, remains an enigmatic figure. True, no hard evidence was found to prove that he knew about the criminality that was taking place all around him when the illegal Iran-contra scheme was being carried out. But this leaves Gates, by his own admission that he should have made further inquiries, something of a bumbling incompetent. So, as the old saying goes, it's better to do business with a crook than a fool, because a crook can always have an honest day.

Gates' competence is further brought into question by his consistent reporting of misinformation about the strength of the Soviet Union. Based on Gates' assessments that the Soviet Union was growing stronger, economically and militarily, the nation groans under a debt of several trillion dollars to defend itself against an enemy which was already in the process of falling apart. That's a hell of a debt Gates has on his hands -- or conscience.

Gates is, in the last analysis, a bureaucrat, and bureaucrats are ,, not well-known for creativity and imagination -- the qualities that will be needed in the restructuring and possibly even elimination of the CIA in the immediate future. Rather, the first duty of a bureaucrat is to protect the bureaucracy.

I= In sum, Robert Gates is the wrong man at the wrong time.

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