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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates Speaks In Rochester

Randy Gorbman

A longtime Washington official told a crowd in Rochester Saturday that the United States still faces a number of threats, including a big danger right here at home. Robert Gates, the former Defense Secretary who also served in a number of other roles under eight U-S presidents delivered a keynote address Saturday at the Eastman Theatre as part of the U of R's Meliora weekend. 

Gates spent some time talking not only about threats from overseas, but one that’s happening right now in the nation’s capitol.

"I truly believe that at this point, the greatest single danger to our national security and our economy resides in the two square miles encompassing Capitol Hill and the White House. "

Gates says he longs for the days when there where senior members of both parties willing to look for compromise.

Gates also talked about the threat of terrorism, whether it comes from homegrown radicals in this country, or state-sponsored terrorism from other countries.

He is hopeful that the latest Iranian president is truly willing to negotiate, but still worries that country may try to develop nuclear weapons.

"President Rohani's recent statements and outreach to the United States are encouraging, however it is still not clear whether this is just a tactical maneuver to ease the sanctions, or the sign of a more fundamental shift in Iran. "

Gates also expressed reservation about the U-S getting involved militarily in a number of countries in the Middle East including Syria.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.