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Robert Gates in Front of the Senate45:56
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Confirmation hearings are on today for President Bush's pick for the next Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. Gates must now answer tough questions on his plan for Iraq and the Middle East. Americans want U.S. troops home. But they don't want to leave behind a terrorist haven.

Gates has a formidable resume, strong allies, and critics as well. We'll take you into the hearings, and get the inside story on Gates from top military and intelligence experts, including former Defense Secretary William Cohen.

This hour On Point: Bush's nominee to head the Defense Department, Robert Gates.

Quotes from the Show:

"Donald Rumsfeld was known as one who was not good at listening at outsiders. Gates does have a lot of experience listening to others, and has a good reputation of doing that." Kevin Whitelaw

"We have to lower our expectations here. Two years is not a long time. A lot will depend on who he [Gates] keeps on as his principal advisers." William Cohen.

"[Gates] will serve at the pleasure of the President. He is not an independent actor. He will be in competition possibly with the State Department and NSC [National Security Council]." William Cohen.

"This is not a man who is fit to serve in terms of character. ... He [Gates] is similar to our worst past Secretaries of Defense like McNamara and Rumsfeld." Melvin Goodman

"I would say that he [Gates] is a professional public servant. He's certainly has had to have a certain assurance that he can have some impact [when he was offered the position of Secertary of Defense]. ... I think the Bush administration is very lucky to have him. I don't know that many people who would have stepped in at this point." Janne Nolan

Guests:

Kevin Whitelaw, senior writer, U.S. News and World Report.;

William Cohen, Secretary of Defense from 1997 to 2001. He was Senator of Maine from 1978 to 1996. He is chairman of the consulting firm The Cohen Group.;

Janne Nolan, Project co-chair, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University. She is also professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.;

Melvin Goodman, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. He was an analyst at the CIA from 1966 to 1990. He wrote the Baltimore Sun op-ed "Wrong Man to Replace Rumsfeld."

"This is not a man who is fit to serve in terms of character. ... He [Gates] is similar to our worst past Secretaries of Defense like McNamara and Rumsfeld." Melvin Goodman

This program aired on December 5, 2006.

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