Citing an interview Gates had with New York Time columnist David Brooks, ABC says the defense secretary was asked whether the invasion was worth doing -- and responded by rephrasing the question.
"If I'd known then what I know now, would I have done the same? I think the answer is, 'I don't know,’” Gates said.
ABC said Pentagon officials, asked for a clarification of Gates’ comment, referred reporters to a statement he made during his confirmation hearing in December, when he said it was “too early to tell” is the invasion was the right decision.
The remark stands in contrast to repeated assertions by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration figures and supporters, who maintain the invasion was the right course of action.
"You couldn't get a greater contrast," Lee Hamilton, co-author of the Iraq Study Report, told ABC. "It's refreshing to see a secretary of defense who has an appreciation of military power but also has an appreciation of the limitations of military power.”