Obama adviser: Ex-defense secretary's comments 'disturbing'

Story highlights

  • Ben Rhodes is president Obama's deputy national security adviser
  • Bob Gates was defense secretary under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama

The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works at the institute.

Chicago (CNN)A top White House advisor is hitting back against former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' criticism "micromanagement" by the National Security Council hurts President Obama's foreign policy approach.

"If it's micromanagement to have civilian control of the military and to have a situation where you ask tough questions before you use force, I would take issue with that characterization. That's the responsibility of the Commander in Chief. The Commander in Chief isn't there to rubber stamp requests for US military forces to go into harm's way. He's there to make sure that's the right decision, to make sure that they have a clear mission, to make sure that we're weighing that mission against a whole host of other priorities, both foreign and domestic," Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security advisor, told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
    Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates istens to President Barack Obama make a statement to reporters in 2010.
    Ben Rhodes appears at the White House in August.
    "I think it's frankly a disturbing notion that having a White House and a President of the United States who's going to be very careful and deliberate in making decisions about when to use force, I think it's very disturbing that that's somehow seen as a negative trait," he added. "I think that is one of the best attributes of how President Obama has approached the job."
    Gates, who served in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, claimed last week that "micromanagement" by the National Security Council hurt the President's efforts, leading to "an image that he's being dragged kicking and screaming to each new stage" and that there is "reluctance to assert American power."
    To hear the whole interview with Rhodes, which also touched on Saudi Arabia's role in the September 11 attacks, Hillary Clinton's support for a no-fly zone in Syria and the proposed lifting of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, click on http://podcast.cnn.com.
    To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at http://itunes.com/theaxefiles.