On September 22, 2011, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates received the National Constitution Center’s 2011 Liberty Medal to honor of his five decades of service.
Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W. Bush as Director of Central Intelligence.
After this impressive stint with the CIA, Gates served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011.
Gates served under eight presidents and was privy to some of the country’s most closely held secrets.
As Deputy Director of the CIA during the 1980s, Gates was in a position to know intricate details of various activities, such as the Iran-Contra Affair.
Nevertheless, the evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant an indictment of him in that case; and, Gates came out of the scandal unscathed.
Gates’ service was held is such high regard that he was the only Secretary of Defense in U.S. history to serve presidents of different parties.
In a press release, the National Constitution Center stated:
“As defense secretary, Dr. Gates oversaw the 2007 surge of forces in Iraq, leading to a dramatic drop in violence and paving the way for significant troop drawdowns in the years since. In Afghanistan, he implemented a similar surge in 2009, resulting in much improved security.”
He retired from the post on June 30, 2011.
The Liberty Medal is an award given out by the National Constitution Center of the United States to recognize leadership in the pursuit of freedom.
However, winners do not necessarily have to be American. Some past winners of the award include Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Bono.
The National Constitution Center describes itself as, "As America's first and only nonpartisan, nonprofit institution devoted to the Constitution, the Center illuminates constitutional ideals and inspires acts of citizenship."
(1) Wikipedia: Gates