White House on Gates' book: It's not even on Obama's list

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 9, 2014 

The White House says the explosive upcoming memoir by former Defense Secretary Bob Gates -- which criticizes President Barack Obama and vice president Joe Biden -- is barely on the presidential radar.

"He is focused on other things, I promise you," Press Secretary Jay Carney said, asked if Obama thinks Gates betrayed any presidential confidences. "I have talked to him about this in the course of conversations about a lot of other issues, and we didn't spend a lot of time on it because he is much more focused on other matters...This is way down on his list. It is not even on his list."

Carney wouldn't discuss whether Obama believes former apointees should disclose private discussion after they've left office.

"Anybody who has the privilege and honor of serving at a high level in a White House or an administration, and participates in debates and conversations with a president and other principals ... decides for himself or herself how to speak about it and write about it and when," Carney said. "That's each individual's decision."

He added, "You know, we're too busy focused on what we're doing today and what we can do this year for the American people to spend a lot of time worrying about that."

But he noted, "It's understood, that when you work here or elsewhere in the administration, that it's an honor and a privilege. And that those you are assisting and advising can best rely on your assistance and advice when it's discreet."

Carney said Obama and Gates spoke last weekend before excerpts of the book were released -- when Obama heard that Gates had been injured.

Carney said he didn't know when they'd speak again. Is he mad or disappointed in Gates, reporters asked.

"He did not demonstrate those emotions in my presence," Carney said.

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