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Robert M. Gates

Government Official

Born: 25 September 1943
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas
Best known as:

U.S. Secretary of Defense, 2006-present

Robert Michael Gates was the U.S. Secretary of Defense from December of 2006, when he was sworn in under President George W. Bush until the summer of 2011, when he retired. A graduate of the College of William and Mary (B.A., 1965) and Indiana University (M.A., 1966), Gates was a star pupil in Soviet history who was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966. After a stint as a second lieutenant in the Air Force, he worked on national security issues at the C.I.A. and on the staff of the National Security Council (1974-79), and by 1986 he'd risen to the post of Deputy Director of Central Intelligence under President Ronald Reagan. Gates was nominated to become director in 1987, but he withdrew his name from consideration when it became clear his role in the Iran-Contra scandal would prevent his confirmation. (Gates had been in charge while Oliver North and others were selling missiles to Iran and funneling cash to Central America, but testified he couldn't remember hearing about it.)

When President George H.W. Bush took office in 1989, Robert Gates became one of his advisers (1989-91) and then Director of Central Intelligence, having been confirmed after a contentious hearing in the fall of 1991. While Bill Clinton was president from 1993-2001, Gates served on corporate boards, lectured and wrote journal articles (and a 1996 memoir), then took a post as Interim Dean at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Robert Gates became the university's president in 2002, a post he held until George W. Bush named him in 2006 as Donald Rumsfeld's replacement at the Department of Defense. He was retained by incoming President Barack Obama in 2009. After he retired, former C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta succeeded him as Defense Secretary.

Extra credit:

The title of his 1996 memoir is From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War... Robert Gates has a PhD. in Russian and Soviet History from Georgetown University (1974)... He was an Eagle Scout... Robert Gates was the 22nd Secretary of Defense.

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