The former head of both the CIA and Pentagon, Robert Gates, weighed in on the events surrounding fugitive leaker Edward Snowden in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“If you can’t ultimately trust people then you’re in real trouble,” Gates told Amanpour. “And the consequence of that is you will have a narrowing and a narrowing of the information that’s made available to people for analysis, and for decision making, as people try to protect that information. And you will be back in the same kind of situation that we apparently had prior to 9/11, where you don’t have the ability for people with the broad enough access to connect the dots.”
Gates indicated the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday was a good one, in his view.
"I think that anything that treats people equally is a good thing," he told Amanpour. "The Defense of Marriage Act was the sole impediment to extending full benefits to gay couples in the military. We always acknowledged that we would as much as we could within the framework of that law for shared benefits, but that until the law was changed, there were limits on what we could do."
On Syria’s civil war, which has now gone on for more than two years, Gates said the United States often overestimate our ability to shape events in that part of the world.
“But under the circumstances, I believe that if we are going to assist segments of the Syrian opposition that the way the president has decided to do it is the way to do it,” he told Amanpour. “Which is through Turkey and Jordan; basic military equipment, I would be willing to give them more anti-armor, I would not give them surface to air missiles.”
Even so, Gates said he does not think that this will be enough to tip the balance of power on the ground to a political or negotiated settlement in Syria.