ABC: Sec. Gates on Obama's Review of Afghanistan Policy

CQ Transcriptswire
Sunday, September 27, 2009; 12:37 PM

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (Host): Now, this was clearly a carefully considered strategy (President Obama's initial Afghanistan strategy). And now the president is telling us -- he told me last week that he can't approve General McChrystal's request until we get the strategy right. Why the second thoughts on the strategy?

GATES: I don't think there are second thoughts so much as, you know, when he made his decisions at the end of March, he also announced that he would -- we would be reviewing the policy and the strategy after the elections...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But he said the tool was in the tactics, not the strategy.

GATES: Well, I -- I think that he -- he clearly felt that we would have to reassess where we are after the election. Now, in addition to having a flawed election in Afghanistan, we now have General McChrystal's assessment.

When the president made his comments at -- at the end of March, his decisions, obviously, General McChrystal was not in place. We now have his assessment. He has found the situation on the ground in Afghanistan worse than he had -- than he anticipated.

And so I think what the president is now saying is, in light of the election, in light of McChrystal's more concerning assessment of the situation on the ground, have we got the strategy right, were the decisions in -- that he made at the end of March the right ones? Do we need to make some adjustments in light of what we've found?

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