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The Texas Observer would like to remind you that: DISSENT IS EDUCATIO PLEASE SUPPORT PUBLIC LIBRARIES and the Observer by donating a tax -deductible” Observer subscription to the Texas public library of your choice. Visit our website or public libraries and to order a subscription. at Langley to then-Secretary of State George Shultzas having tailored CIA Soviet intelligence analysis to the likings of Reagan administration ideologues. \(Though confirmed as Bush Sr.’s CIA director in 1991, his confirmation process was a bruising affair, with a number of veteran CIA analysts testifying Gates had pressured or forced them For an administration that’s been battered for engendering a culture of political corruption, playing fast and loose with intelligence on Iraq \(includforeign policy based on ideology, Gates hardly seems the stuff of healing and reassurance. Yet out of 535 members of Congress, only oneRep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who won’t be voting on Gates’ confirmationhas expressed any concerns. Whichif one believes Congress actually has an obligation to conduct oversightshould be at least a tick troubling. Progressives aren’t the only ones concerned. Washington’s neoconservatives regard Gates as a sign that Bush is retreating from a muscular foreign policy. Yet a glance back at Gates’ relentlessly gloomy, hard-line take on the Soviet Union, and his enthusiasm for invading Panama while No. 2 on Bush Sr.’s National Security Council staff, in some respects put him closer to those with an itch for righteous intervention. So what about the unsexy but crucial stuff of budgets, weapons procurement, management, and internal oversight? According to those who have either worked closely with Gates in the past or have been in touch with him recently, it’s hard to say, but a glimpse of the answer probably won’t be long in coming. An able administrator who ran the CIA when the post also required one to oversee the entire U.S. intelligence community; Gates has a reputation for getting people to play niceand also for dispensing with those who stand in the way. “I would not be surprised to see some brass retiring a little earlier than expected,” says one former Gates associate. The task ahead would be daunting enough for an incoming defense secretary with a full term. Gates has only two years. An opportunity for a showdown with the brass could come quickly. Rumsfeld has all but removed himself from the current supplemental defense budget process, effectively telling the military service chiefs they have permission to lard supplemental requests with anything they want. Gates might escape having to deal with the supplementals right away, as they’ll likely go to the Hill before he arrives. \(Defense budget critics fear the future Democratic Congress will rubber-stamp them, lest it be perceived as being “soft” on defense and unsup”On the one hand, he’s a strategic thinker and tough as nails; on the other hand, he’s a realist and a pragmatist,” says an old CIA colleague. “I’m not sure he can do a hell of a lot about the budget stuffhe’s only got two years, and Iraq is clearly top of the agenda. He’s a pragmatist, and knows that in Congress, even among the Democrats, some programs and weapons systems have strong constituencies of their owns’ Jason Vest is a Washington, D.C.based national security journalist and Mintz-Burnham Fellow at the Project on Government Oversight. Any views expressed in this article are his own. DECEMBER 1, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27