Friday, November 28th, 2014

Fact-checking Gates' claims about Biden's foreign policy

The cover of Robert Gates' new book "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War." (AP)
The cover of Robert Gates' new book "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War." (AP)

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates made waves with his new book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, an insiders look at the national security decisions of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

His assessments of the current administration were especially notable, since it is rare for someone to leave a cabinet post and so quickly dish dirt on the man still in power.

Gates saves some of his sharpest criticism for Vice President Joe Biden, insisting in the text that the former longtime Democratic Senator was "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue of the past four decades."

That's a subjective assessment, but Gates got more specific in a Jan. 13, 2014, interview on NPR. Gates said Biden's votes against aid to South Vietnam in 1975, the Reagan defense buildup and the first Gulf War, as well as comments Biden made in the late 1970s that positively reflected on the overthrow of the Iranian Shah, were evidence enough.

We explored those items in an in-depth fact check that reviews the congressional record of a man elected to seven terms who once harbored presidential ambitions, and may still. We found Gates was right on three of his critiques, and gave him a Mostly True.

We don't want to insinuate that means the defense secretary's assessment of Biden is accurate, but at least his talking points (for the most part) don't misrepresent Biden's record.