Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

January 7, 2013

Sources: Obama to nominate Hagel as Pentagon chief

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary, a senior administration official said Sunday, choosing a former Senate colleague and a decorated Vietnam veteran and signaling he’s ready for a contentious confirmation fight likely dominated by questions about Hagel’s stands on Israel and Iran.

Obama, who avoided a Capitol Hill battle by deciding not to nominate U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his first choice for secretary of state, went ahead with Hagel, 66, even as leading Republicans announced their opposition — though they stopped short of saying they might try to block Hagel.

Seeking to soften the ground, the White House was alerting Senate Democrats that Hagel’s selection as the successor to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Obama’s second-term Cabinet was imminent, according to a congressional official.

Obama, who returned to Washington on Sunday from his Hawaiian vacation, was expected to nominate Hagel on Monday. Congress is on break this coming week.

The officials requested anonymity in order to discuss Hagel’s nomination ahead of Obama.

Hagel, a moderate Republican, built a strong relationship with Obama during their travel as senators. But the former Nebraska lawmaker has faced withering criticism from Congress since emerging as the front-runner for the Pentagon post.

Hagel is the second straight Obama favorite for a top national security post to face criticism from Capitol Hill even before being nominated. Rice withdrew her name from consideration for secretary of state amid charges from GOP senators that she misled the public in her initial accounting of the attacks on Americans at a diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

After Rice withdrew, Obama named Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, to lead the State Department. Kerry is expected to be easily confirmed by his longtime Senate colleagues.

If confirmed, Hagel would take over a Pentagon that faces budget cuts and a scaling back of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to meet with Obama in Washington this week to discuss the U.S. presence in Afghanistan after the war formally concludes at the end of 2014.

Hagel is likely to support a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, said earlier Sunday that he was reserving judgment on whether to support Hagel. But he predicted the former Nebraska senator would face serious questions about his stands on Iran and Israel.

Any nominee must have “a full understanding of our close relationship with out Israeli allies, the Iranian threat and the importance of having a robust military,” McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Hagel has criticized discussion of a military strike by either the U.S. or Israel against Iran. He has also backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for talks on future peace in Afghanistan. Some lawmakers have been troubled by his comments and actions on Israel, including his reference to the “Jewish lobby” in the United States.

“This is a controversial pick,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN. “He is an antagonistic figure when it comes to the state of Israel. It’s a signal you’re sending to Iran at the worst possible time and to our allies.”

McConnell, R-Ky., said Hagel, who left the Senate in 2009, has “certainly been outspoken in foreign policy and defense over the years. The question we will be answering, if he’s the nominee, is do his views make sense for that particular job?”

McConnell said he would “wait and see how the hearings go and see whether Chuck’s views square with the job he would be nominated to do.” He added, “I’m going to take a look at all the things that Chuck has said over the years and review that, and in terms of his qualifications to lead our nation’s military.”

The second-ranking Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said in a statement that making Hagel defense secretary would be “the worst possible message we could send to our friend Israel and the rest of our allies in the Middle East.” Cornyn did not say he would try to block a Hagel nomination.

Obama, in an interview that aired last week on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” called Hagel “a patriot” who “has done extraordinary work” in the Senate and on an intelligence advisory board.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Hagel “is a serious candidate if the president chooses to name him.”

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Palestinian rivals to try again for unity deal

    Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah agreed Wednesday to form a unity government and hold new elections — a potentially historic step toward mending the rift that has split their people between two sets of rulers for seven years.

    April 24, 2014

  • Obama administration weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release — and expecting thousands to take up the offer.

    April 24, 2014

  • Earns Facebook_Stew.jpg Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

    Facebook’s earnings nearly tripled and revenue grew sharply in the first quarter, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Georgia Gun Bill_Stew.jpg Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

    Criticized by one group as the “guns everywhere” bill, Georgia took a big step Wednesday toward expanding where licensed carriers can take their weapons, with the governor signing a law that allows them in bars without restriction and in some churches, schools and government buildings under certain circumstances.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clemson Spring Game F_Stew.jpg Clemson’s Swinney won’t change after complaint

    Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday he wouldn’t change procedures after the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter of complaint expressing concerns about the football program’s connection to the coach’s Christian religion.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1800, Congress approved a bill establishing the Library of Congress.

    April 24, 2014

  • Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

    A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.

    April 23, 2014

  • ‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in South Sudan slaughter

    Gunmen who targeted both children and the elderly left “piles and piles” of bodies — many of those in a mosque — in a provincial capital in South Sudan, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official in the country said Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Obama_Stew.jpg Obama views mudslide scene

    Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wall Street_Stew.jpg Earnings and corporate deals lift U.S. stocks

    Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results