The Richmond Register

January 14, 2014

Depot nerve agent destruction mentioned in Gates’ memoirs

Register Staff Report


U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s push for funding to destroy chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot is mentioned in former Defense Secretary Bob Gates’ memoirs.

Gates, harsh in his criticism of Congress, wrote that funding to destroy the weapons was among the “predictable asks” from McConnell whenever he met with the Senate minority leader.

That was among items highlighted in a Jan. 9 report by National Public Radio’s Liz Halloran, who was given a pre-publication book copy to review.

Gates’ comment shows the priority that McConnell has given to the project, said Craig Williams, co-chair of the Chemical Destruction Citizens Advisory Board.

“It says a lot when the issue associated with Senate Minority Leader McConnell in the mind of the former defense secretary under two presidents is the demilitarization effort at the Blue Grass Army Depot,” Williams said. “With all the issues coming across McConnell’s desk, having Secretary Gates reference this one in his memoirs shows the senator’s determination to see that this critical task is adequately funded.”

Responding to a Richmond Register inquiry, McConnell’s office released this statement about the book.

“Secretary Gates is right,” the senator said. “Disposing of the chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot has been and remains a top priority for me and the citizens of Madison County. Over the years, I focused on reminding defense secretaries in multiple administrations of the importance of this project, and I will continue my work on behalf of the community to ensure that the chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot are disposed of in as safe and expeditious manner as possible.”

Gates’ book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” published by Deckle Edge, is set to go on sale today.