Mr. Gates, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee..."Let me just say both President Bush and President Obama have made clear that we will go after al Qaeda wherever al Qaeda is and we will continue to pursue them," the defense chief said.
...Some U.S. efforts to contain Iran haven't stopped under the new president, as exemplified by an incident that straddled the Bush and Obama administrations.
In early January, U.S. military and intelligence officials began tracking the Monchegorsk, a Cypriot-flagged vessel chartered by Iran. The U.S. suspected the boat was ferrying weapons bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza, according to a defense official.
The vessel further aroused American suspicion by taking "deceptive maneuvers" after leaving Iran, the official said.
On Jan. 19, the U.S.S. San Antonio approached the Monchegorsk in the Red Sea and asked its captain for permission to search the ship, which was granted. The following day, an armed group of Navy personnel boarded the vessel and found artillery shells, according to two defense officials.
The Navy personnel searched the vessel again Jan. 21 and found machine-gun rounds, fuses and other armaments, the officials said. The ship's paperwork showed the weapons were bound for Syria.
The defense officials said the shipments appeared to violate a United Nations resolution barring Iran from exporting many kinds of weaponry. The resolution doesn't allow for the seizure of banned Iranian armaments, however, so the U.S. allowed the ship to continue its voyage, the officials said. A spokesman for the Iranian mission to the U.N. declined to comment.
The first search of the vessel took place hours before Mr. Obama was sworn in as president, and he would almost certainly have been briefed about the pending operation. The second search took place after Mr. Obama's inaugural, and he could have stopped the operation if he had chosen to. The State Department declined to comment on the naval operation.