(NaturalNews) At a time when the nation was involved in two wars and there was already plenty of strain on the military's budget, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was pressuring the Defense Department to spend scarce Pentagon resources (and taxpayer dollars) to research irritable bowel syndrome.
The revelation was contained in a new book, Duty, by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who admitted when he received the request from Reid that he didn't quite know how to react to it, especially given that with "all the major issues we had to deal with, my personal contacts with Senate Majority Leader Reid were often in response to his calls about Air Force objections to construction of a windmill farm in Nevada because of the impact on their radars," Gates wrote.
"He also once contacted me to urge that Defense invest in research on irritable bowel syndrome," he said. "With two ongoing wars and all our budget and other issues, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry."
It wasn't the only time that Reid, who has a history of outrageous behavior and silly requests, got on the bad side of Gates.
The former defense chief, who served during the Bush and Obama administrations, said that one time the Senate majority leader made the comment during the troop surge in the Iraq War that "this war is lost" [http://www.youtube.com] - a statement that Gates described as "disgraceful."
"I think the troops knew the score," Gates said recently during an interview on MSNBC. "The troops believed and believe that they were being successful in their mission. So I think they were able to a certain extent to set aside the politics here at home."
"Although," he said emphatically, "I make the point in the book: when you have somebody like the Senate Majority Leader come out in the middle of the surge and say 'this war is lost' - I thought that was one of the most disgraceful things I've heard a politician say. That sends a riveting message to kids who are putting their lives on the line every day, that they're doing it for nothing, and that was absolutely not the case."
In his book, Gates wrote this about the incident: "I was furious and shared privately with some of my staff a quote from Abraham Lincoln I had written down long before. 'Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.'"
In the days since, Reid has fired back at Gates, impugning his character - which is typical for a politician to do - and questioning his motives for writing Duty.
'Just out to make a buck'
In comments last week, Reid said Gates was making certain charges about him and others in the Obama administration because he was "out to make a buck" (though Gates' net worth is already north of $5 million - about the same as Reid's).
"He denigrates everybody, everyone, Secretary (of State Hillary Rodham) Clinton, the president, (Vice President) Joe Biden, me," Reid told reporters.
He added that he hadn't talked to Obama about the book but he has spoken to Biden about it.
"We just lamented how disappointed we were. It's obvious it's to sell a book," he said. "I'm surprised he would in effect denigrate everybody he came in contact with in an effort to make a buck."
Elsewhere in the book, Gates described additional interaction with Reid, saying the Nevada Democrat called him in 2008 before Obama had named a running mate, as reported by the Associated Press:
"Reid said he was thinking about me. ... He asked if I had a public position on abortion; I laughed, saying no. He asked if I was a longtime Republican; I said actually, no." Gates wrote that Reid wanted to keep the conversation private, adding, "I couldn't figure out if he was serious, if it was just idle flattery, or if he was delusional." Sources: