White House awaits top aides’ back-to-back memoirs

JULIE PACE
AP White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Over the next month, two of President Barack Obama’s closest first-term advisers will spill insider details on the administration’s handling of the early days of the recession, the White House’s cautious response to Syria and the genesis of clandestine talks with Iran.

The memoirs are from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ex-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and the latest examples of confidants signed to big book contracts to examine a presidency not yet over and policy decisions still being implemented.

The books will be released four months after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ memoir landed like a sucker punch in the West Wing.

Gates gave political advisers in the White House virtually no warning and no advance copy of his book, which included sharp criticisms of Obama’s decision-making.

Obama aides do not appear to be readying for a repeat of their experience with Gates’ book.

Geithner has not provided the White House with advance copies of “Stress Test,” but the text has been reviewed by lawyers at Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Drafts of Clinton’s book, “Hard Choices,” have been circulating for months among a small number of officials in Obama’s National Security Council.

Clinton’s book will be combed for any sign of discord with Obama. He defeated her in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign and holds the office she may run for in 2016.

Clinton has said little about the book, due out June 10. It is expected to center on the main foreign policy challenges she was involved in at the State Department, including the Syrian civil war and the start of secret discussions with Iran that led to the current nuclear negotiations.

Discussing the book in March, Clinton said reliving her years as America’s chief diplomat “has been eye-opening because when you are in the middle of it, you get up every day, you put one foot in front of the other and try to do the best you can.”

Geithner’s book, due out Monday, and is expected to focus on the decisions the government made in response to the recession that gripped the United States at the start of Obama’s presidency. Geithner was at the center of the negotiations over the administration’s massive economic stimulus package and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.

Gates’ “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War” was critical of Obama’s decision-making and accused Vice President Joe Biden of having “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

Former officials are not obligated to share their pending books with the White House, but they do typically check sensitive and potentially classified material with administration lawyers. Gates’ book was screened by the Pentagon. Chapters in Clinton’s memoir were reviewed by national security officials.

It is unusual for books from three high-level advisers to come in such rapid succession at this stage in a presidency.

Most of former President George W. Bush’s top Cabinet officials waited until after he left office to write about their tenure.

Paul O’Neill, Bush’s first treasury secretary, did work with author Ron Suskind on a scathing 2004 book that accused the president of planning the Iraq war months ahead of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Scott McClellan, who served as Bush’s press secretary, released a similarly harsh book in 2008, catching many officials off guard.

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Follow Julie Pace on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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