Hagel, Brennan nominations planned for Monday
January 6th, 2013
12:44 PM ET
2 years ago

Hagel, Brennan nominations planned for Monday

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama plans to announce former Sen. Chuck Hagel as his nominee to become the next defense secretary and Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan as the nominee for CIA director on Monday, administration officials told CNN.

Two sources close to Hagel have also been told to expect the defense secretary announcement on Monday, and additional sources - a senior administration official and a source familiar with the nomination - said Obama spoke to Hagel Sunday by telephone.

The White House was calling senators' offices Sunday to inform them Hagel's nomination is imminent and to help build support for it, a source familiar with the nomination said. CNN reported Friday that the White House had told some senior members of Congress to expect the tapping of Hagel, and another source with knowledge of the nomination called it "locked down."

At the CIA, Obama plans to nominate Brennan to replace retired Gen. David Petraeus and acting CIA Director Michael Morell, according to a senior administration official. The announcement is expected Monday afternoon at the same time Obama nominates Hagel, the official said.

Petraeus stepped down from his post in November amid revelations he had engaged in an extramarital affair with his biographer. Morell, a career intelligence officer who was serving as the spy agency's deputy director, stepped in as acting CIA director upon Petraeus' resignation.

For Hagel, getting to the Pentagon will mean overcoming already vocal opposition from pro-Israel groups and others who object to his stance on Iran and Hamas. He has also faced opposition from gay rights groups, who were strong supporters of Obama's election campaigns, for a comment Hagel made in 1998 in which Hagel questioned whether a nominee for ambassadorship was suitable because he was "openly, aggressively gay." He apologized for that remark in December.

On Sunday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham labeled Hagel's expected nomination as "in your face," expressing concerns on CNN's "State of the Union" about Hagel's past positions on Iran and Israel, which have been the subject of scrutiny since his name was first floated as a potential defense secretary five weeks ago.

MORE: GOP Senators: Hagel in for a fight

Republicans have also struck upon comments in a 2007 interview that some perceive as anti-Jewish, when Hagel said the "Jewish lobby intimidated lawmakers."

They've also lambasted positions Hagel took as a GOP senator, including his opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran, as well as votes opposing the labeling of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. He also opposed the "surge" of troops in Iraq favored by then-President George W. Bush and members of his administration.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said Sunday that Hagel would receive a "thorough vetting" just like any other presidential nominee.

"Whoever is nominated for secretary of defense is going to have to have a full understanding of our close relationship with our Israeli allies, the Iranian threat, and the importance of having a robust military," McConnell said on ABC's "This Week." "So whoever that is I think will be given a thorough vetting. And if Sen. Hagel is nominated, he'll be subjected to the same kinds of review of his credentials as anyone else."

A veteran of the Vietman War, Hagel served, by a clerical mistake, side by side with his younger brother, and earned two Purple Hearts, one of those for saving his brother's life.

His time in Vietnam would end up forging his thoughts about combat for the rest of his life, and defining his tenure on Capitol Hill as a U.S. Senator with an independent streak, often sidestepping his Republican colleagues.

"Not that I'm a pacifist, I'm a hard-edged realist, I understand the world as it is, but war is a terrible thing. There's no glory, only suffering," he is quoted in his 2006 biography.

If he is confirmed, Hagel will face the challenge of closing the final chapter on the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and oversee the continued footprint of a smaller U.S. training force there.

MORE: Hagel's defense posture forged by war experience

Hagel has been critical of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. In 2009 he opposed Obama's move to surge 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, telling the National Journal, "I'm not sure we know what the hell we are doing in Afghanistan."

Perhaps the most immediate issue facing Hagel if confirmed as defense secretary would be the future of the Pentagon's budget. Hagel has said in the past that be believes the Pentagon's budget is overweight.

"The Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated," Hagel said in a September 2011 interview with the Financial Times. "So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down.”

CNN's John King, Athena Jones, Gloria Borger, Mark Preston, Dan Lothian, Lesa Jansen, Mike Mount, Kevin Bohn and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Chuck Hagel • CIA • Department of Defense
soundoff (269 Responses)
  1. 111Dave111

    Good Comment 'Faux School': Americans "can see how self-destructive the GOP and supporters have become. Hagel will get crucified by his own party haters".

    Support Fmr. Senator Chuck Hagel, who stands with America, A Patriot!

    January 7, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Dnick47

    The pro-Israel lobby in this country is strong because many Christians misinterrupt the Scripture. "Not all Isreal is Isreal," wrote St. Paul, the Israel spoken of in the New Testament are the ones twho accept Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ – Most Jew living today reject that strongly and even persecute Christian missionaries; therefore, there should not be a religious reason to support the current State of Iseael.

    January 7, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  3. david

    please mr president nominate this man. he will save american lives and defend western existence. It Shows the president is a genius and one of the few american patriot

    January 7, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  4. 111Dave111

    Vietnam veteran and a decorated, enlisted man.

    Perfect for a Defense Secretary.

    January 7, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  5. gladiatorgrl

    love how Obama just keeps schooling the GOP

    January 7, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  6. annieL

    Maybe it's finally time for Israel to make peace with its neighbors and pay its own defense/offense bills. We can't afford Social Security and Medicare to SAVE lives over here, or so Republicans tell us. Maybe it's also time for Lockheed and GE to turn their swords into plowshares and put all that technical knowledge and invention into green energy technology instead of Earth-scorching weapons that turn green to brown and black. Wouldn't that be a hoot? If Hagel can lead us in those directions, God bless him.

    January 7, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. MakeThemEatCake

    John Tighe

    Obama is a Liberal.
    Yeah....
    Just keep thinking that, and ignore all of the ways that he acts like a Moderate Republican.

    He is a liberal in the eyes of staunch right wing conservatives. anyone that does not toe the republican line of money first, people second is a liberal. In the black & white state of today's political arena he is a liberal.

    January 7, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  8. rs1201

    If obama has any brains..he would not propose hagel for sec. of defense. Any Congressman up for reelction in 2014 would not vote yes for this nomination. Hagel is anti-gay and anti-Israel. He lumps Jews and Israel into one unit...something that anti semites usually do. he doesn't belong in that office and my prediction is that he will not be confirmed.

    January 7, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. 111Dave111

    I think Obama could go back in time and nominate Ronald Reagan, and these people would object, just to object.

    The Objectionist Party

    January 7, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  10. DaveF

    I wish that all study the history of Israel since 1947. First there have been 5 wars between Israel and the Arab States where all called for tthe destruction of Israel. (I know that Iran is not Arab). Add thousands of rockets raining down on the civilian population of Israel. Although the above ss important I feel as most important is that the Palistianians want East Jersulem as their Capital. This will never happen!!!! The holiest site for Jews is the Western Wall which is in East Jerusalem directly next to the Al Aqsa Mosque. Giving East Jerusalem to the "Palis" would be like giving "Mecca" to the Jews.

    January 7, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. 111Dave111

    Go 'Republican grandma':
    "At least he is a veteran. What's wrong about having different opinion with your own party? It means he is the one that is not insane. I voted Obama over Romney because he is not crazy. It is a simple choice. I do not agree with gay marriage but so what? It is their choice to get married to whoever they choose.
    This nomination is about finding the right person you can trust and not crazy."

    "What's wrong about having different opinion with your own party?"

    We need more independent thinkers.

    January 7, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. The Realist

    He's a well qualified nominee.

    We have no doubt that he'd serve with distinction.

    It's long past time for the "Israel Lobby" to be crushed and flushed.

    January 7, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. Ancient Texan

    Hagel posed as a Republican, but always took Liberal stances; favored Hamas and Al Queda and Iran, but Disrepected our only true ally in the area, Israel.

    January 7, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. william

    Wow, Brennen and Hagel. Maybe Mr. Obama is figuring this Presidency stuff out.....

    January 7, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  15. william

    Hagel/Christie in 2016!

    January 7, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  16. charlie

    For those on the "Left" that have issues with Hagel...Your Supreme Leader has your best interests at heart, just trust him. Always blame and fight the Republicans. You can NEVER agree with them. If you do agree with a Republican on any issue, then you must be a moron.

    January 7, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  17. Grumpster

    Obama could pick Boehner for this job and the GOP would find something to complain about and then fight it.

    January 7, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. Military and Know It

    President Obama plans to nominate Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Mind you now, that Hagel only reached the rank of Sergeant (E-5) in the military and would now oversee all 4-star generals. This action by our current president clearly shows that Obama has no understanding concerning our military. Generals are not going to respect or work for a E-5. This is just plain nuts.

    January 7, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. abmri60

    Hagel is seen as being hostile to Israel, and soft on Iran.

    January 7, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. spent

    I am a Viet Nam Vet. and I think this sucks. But then again, it is Obama.

    January 7, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  21. CarolO

    Republicans continue to fight every Obama pick of HIS administration as possible. Chuck Hagel is a war hero, receiving the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He was an infantry squad leader, as was his brother.

    John McCain is called a "war hero" by graduating 4th from the bottom of a class over almost 850 others, crashing 4-5 planes and sitting in a POW camp. The difference in these two men is that Hagel is honest with how he thinks, isn't constantly in the face of TV camera's and always acts in the "good of country" no matter his political position.

    January 7, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. Larry in Houston

    To be perfectly honest, it's getting more difficult now days to find a majority in Congress who isn't Jewish – Unlike 1948 – or 1967 – when the Majority in Congress – ( their backgrounds back then) – were mostly Jewish – Now Days, our Congress has many Backgrounds, such as brittish /scottish / Irish / german / ( and the list goes on) Heritage. SO – this being said, It's going to be very difficult (now days) to send more Resources ( this means more money) to places such as Isreal, as opposed to other countries such as Great Brittan / Germany / Spain / Greece / Ireland / Scottland / and the like.

    January 7, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. rschier

    "Hagel is seen as being hostile to Israel, and soft on Iran."

    and.... ?

    January 7, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Thank God He Can't Run Again

    Terrible choices, from a terrible president

    January 7, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  25. rschier

    "but Disrepected our only true ally in the area, Israel."

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha......more comic relief ?

    January 7, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11