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. Mohammad Goldstein

    The things he's being criticized for are exactly the reasons he should be confirmed. Since when does the Jewish lobby run this country? Is the U.S. not sovereign? It's only helping to bankrupt us. He is spot on with regards to Iran. They are a world problem not a U.S. problem. Any action against them should go through the U.N. regardless of how ineffective an organization it is.. Lastly and most importantly, he understands sacrifice and the price of blood when deploying our sons and daughters to a foreign country. There are far too few of those in our government.these days.

    January 6, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. Vern

    This is simply going to be another embarrassing moment for the Republican Party. They're going to fight the nomination of a well-respected, lifelong Republican, who, in the estimation of the New GOP, which is heading further and further to the right, isn't a good enough choice. He's not conservative enough for them. But, instead of heeding what the electorate said in the November election, which is the nation is tired of their standoffish antics, they will continue to bury themselves with battles that don't need to be fought.

    Ronald Reagan would be incredibly embarrassed as to where his party has gone in the last 2 decades.

    January 6, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. WDinDallas

    The Pentagon is bloated! Heck, put him in charge of HHS.

    January 6, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. TooTiredToCare

    Obama continues to stun America by putting up questionable people for cabinet positions. It is almost as though he is trying to seem stupid.

    January 6, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. AlFranken

    So the GOP can pin the next Benghazi conspiracy on their own next time.

    January 6, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Patrick

    I'm g@y and I don't mind the comments he made about the g@y ambassador. They were a long time ago and he's since apologized. He's highly qualified and for some reason the Republicans don't want him in that position. That's good enough for me.

    January 6, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Alicia

    Does it really matter who fills that post?..anyone that does will take orders from the U.N. and globalist. The Pres. just reaffirms it and it becomes public. (at least, the things they only want you to know about)

    January 6, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. HokeyPokey

    Hagel is inept, loose with his mouth, and changes positions to benefit himself despite what is good for the US. To even nominate him for Defense Secretary is proof that our President and his Administration are woefully out of touch. Thank goodness his appointment will fail in Congress.

    January 6, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Ben

    HAGEL is the man.just what we need at this time. Good choice obama.

    January 6, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. Big Bird Johnson

    Why would Obama pick such an unqualified person who has publicly displayed hate towards israel? I hope Congress decides not to confirm him.

    January 6, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. phil john

    Let those Lawmakers question an merican hero because he puts US interest first. Then the voters will know where their loyalty stand.

    January 6, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  12. FloydZepp

    Hagel would probably make an adequate SECDEF. The Momentum of the DoD outstrips its leadership in the 5-sided puzzle palace anyway.

    January 6, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Lisa Jett

    Hagel trashes gays in 1998, and it takes him 12 years to apologize? Seriously? How can his apology be viewed as sincere coming after so much time and conveniently a month before this nomination. Wrong guy for the job for sure.

    January 6, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. JC

    The Israeli-US alliance is the biggest lie ever told. The oppressed (Jews) have become the oppressors (Israel). If you disagree with the Israel you are labeled an anti-semite just like if you disagree with Obama you are labeled a racist. Use your common sense, fact check the information and understand U.S. interests. It is not always the good guys who are the police (world police). Cheers from Canada.

    January 6, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. Obozo

    what's matter when a big sand bag is already in WH, one more sand bag does change the court for the next 4 years!

    January 6, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. Tim Ghoen

    Thank goodness Leon Panetta is heading out – the weekly flights to CA on the taxpayer dime were a little much. However, Hagel as a replacement is wrong, morally, ethically, and from a qualifications standpoint. He makes Panetta seem like a genius.

    January 6, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. searchingintruth

    I think it's possible for Hagel to disagree with some Israeli positions, and yet be strongly supportive of Israel. When Israel disagrees with us, we don't consider them to be traitors, of course, but rather friends that sometimes respectfully disagree. Lets get real. Nobody agrees about everything all the time.

    January 6, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    USA is not State or a Province of Israel....and the president can choose any US citizen to represent USA.
    Bibi does not care if his policy hurt USA or not...

    January 6, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. El Morya

    I cannot believe that Americans are becoming so blind as to get PERMISSION from the Israel Lobby to decide an important post like this. Who are these Senators and Congressman serving, Americans or Israelis? Why so blind; can't you Americans ever see who's running your precious Country? WAKE UP before is too late.

    January 6, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. Soldier Boy

    So has the number of military veterans with DC political experience dwindled to the point Obama has to appoint a radical Islamic sympathizer that hates Israel? I'd rather have the first female secretary of defense.

    January 6, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. AgonyF

    Haggle for Hagel.

    January 6, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. Shirley

    Hagel is a realist–Israel does not deserve all the financial suspport that the U.S. affords it. The Pentegon DOES need paring. He served in Vietnam–probably unlike the many posters here who criticize him. Good choice, President Obama!

    January 6, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. C

    I absolutely love Hagel and his nomination by Obama. Nominating a Sec of Defense who seeks peace through strength, rather than through inciting conflict has been unheard of. I believe Obama is making a clear statement to the neo-cons that support the perpetual war's the U.S. wages, while sending a message to the Israelis. No more needless wars based on profits and lies....

    January 6, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. Matt

    Great, another Republican SecDef. Talk about surrendering the mantle of being a strong C-I-C.

    January 6, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. kotter49

    I notice that Mitch McConnell, who is questioning Hagel's lack of a blind allegiance to Israel received $285,000 from AIPAC.

    January 6, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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