Washington (CNN) – Former members of Congress and foreign policy professionals are coming to the defense of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who’s expected to be tapped as the nominee for Defense Secretary.
Known as the Bipartisan Group, they have letters published in several publications defending Hagel, who has come under harsh criticism from some members of Congress and conservative activists over past positions not supporting sanctions against Iran and what some of them consider a dovish defense point of view. Also some pro-Israel lobbyists believe he has not been supportive enough of the Jewish state. Hagel also opposed the surge of troops in Iraq pushed by the Bush administration.
In one of its letters the group said, “We write to you, Mr. President, in support of Senator Hagel because we believe our polarized political life is much in need of leaders with the kind of bipartisanship and independence of conscience and mind that Chuck Hagel’s service to our country has exemplified.”
Among its notable members are Former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, Former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, Former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, Former Sens. David Boren, Nancy Kassebaum-Baker and Gary Hart.
To help get its message out the Bipartisan Group in the last few weeks approached the Podesta Group, one of Washington’s leading lobbying and public relations firms, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Some of the members have been doing television interviews as well to help defend Hagel and his record.
The criticism of Hagel before there is even a formal nomination “is not acceptable” and “unseemly,” according to this source and that is the motivation for the actions by these notable foreign policy veterans – “to show he has a record” and to defend it, this source added. “Premature judging…is unfair.”
The source would not detail the group’s future plans if Hagel is nominated but said “they will continue to speak out, to push back.” The source was not authorized to speak for attribution about the group’s activities.
A spokesman for the Podesta Group declined comment saying it does not speak about its clients.
Several members did not return CNN’s calls and emails seeking comment about the group and its plans.
Hagel should be nominated, supported, and confirmed. Thank goodness for the Bi-Partisan Group to voice support for Hagel, against neocon and partisan smears, during an unseemly public pinata process for potential nominees.
Senatorial courtesy will ensure Hagel's nomination easily.
I don't understand these politicians that criticize Hagel or any other person in congress for opposing the troop surge in Iraq. This is a war we never belonged in from it's beginning. The American public was told lies by Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and the entire Bush Administration in order to start this war and should face criminal action for it. Instead these current day neo-cons are still acting like it was a legitimate cause. Their dishonorable cause cost the lives of many Americans. The real reason for the neo-cons not backing Hagel is because in 2008, Hagel had the guts to stand up and say that John McCain was not qualified to be president of the United States.
I want a secretary of defense whose primary goal is the defense of the United States and not Israel. Many of the Congress seem to have a different loyalty.