Nov 29, 2014 10:10 AM by News Staff
WASHINGTON (AP) - Robert Gates was stunned.
President Barack Obama's first defense secretary was on a trip to Afghanistan when he found a telephone at the special operations headquarters that was linked directly to the White House.
To Gates, the phone symbolized Obama's efforts to centralize decision-making in the White House.
Gates' successor, Leon Panetta, had similar criticisms after his left.
Obama's third Pentagon chief, Chuck Hagel, was picked partly because he was seen as more deferential to Obama's White House advisers.
But Hagel also grew frustrated with what he saw as the West Wing's insularity.
Similar gripes have come from other Cabinet officials, but the friction between Obama and the Pentagon has been particularly pronounced.
That dynamic already appears to be affecting the president's ability to find a replacement for Hagel.
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