My late stepfather, Ralph Ingersoll, would say that there’s no way to tell who a man really is until he makes it to the top of his particular pile.
Here is a man who had spent his entire previous career working for a succession of fools and monsters and madmen. His specialty at the CIA was the Soviet Union, which he seemed to have got exactly 180 degrees wrong. There is hardly a CIA horror of the past 30 years in which he was not intimately involved.
But apparently Ralph was right, as he often was. Gates was just biding his time, climbing and scheming, until he finally got to the top of the national security heap. All he needed was a decent boss to work for.