Gates fends off questions on Pentagon future

With a smile and a no comment, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates fended off speculation Wednesday that president-elect Barack Obama may ask him to stay at the Pentagon.

It was the first question put to Gates at a media availability after he met here with Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip: had he had any discussions with Obama or his representatives about the defense chief’s job?


Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in October 2008 at ...
U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. 
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Logan Mock-Bunting)

Gates smiled mischievously and said: “I have nothing new to say on the subject.”

His future has been a subject of intense speculation since a top Obama foreign policy adviser, Richard Danzig, told reporters October 2 that Gates had been a good defense secretary and “would be a better one in an Obama administration.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing two unnamed advisers to the president-elect, said Tuesday that Obama was leaning toward asking Gates to stay on at the Pentagon for a least a year.

That would help smooth the transition at a time when the country is embroiled in two wars and faces potential challenges from Iran, North Korea and Russia.

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