Hagel, Brennan nominations planned for Monday
January 6th, 2013
12:44 PM ET
1 year 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. gangbusters

    Since when does a persons opinion have ANYTHING to do with national defense. He made a comment about gays. Big whoopie doo. That has nothing to do with defense. As far as Isreal, I feel they are in our best interest and I support them, just not unconditionally. Nobody's perfect as the Isrealie's can be affrontive at times, the same as we all can.
    At least this man does not seem to be in cahoots with the big war machine conglomerate businesses and cares for his troops and his nation.

    January 6, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. StillKillingEm

    Israel remains the lodestar of our Middle East policy after 60+ years, without regard for the rest of the region or the world. Everyone seems blind to the realities of change since 1948, and it's long overdue for some heavy DoD dude to speak his mind, tell the truth, and shake up the GOP, the Israel lobby, the military and the administration. Cheers and happy hopes for Hagel's nomination to pass!

    January 6, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. apostle14

    The Israel Firsters and their fifth column in congress haven't realized that their ship has sailed. They still think things are as they were before the election or even a few years ago. The fact that Obama chose Hagel should be a clear indication of where Obama stands. They will not get their illegal war of choice. The amount of times senator Graham mentioned Israel in the CNN interview this morning astounded me. If you just materialized on the planet you would think Israel is a state in the US. Hagel is exactly what we need to get us weaned off this Israel leech. He is a genuine American hero and will get confimed. The days of the anti American influence of AIPAC, and their Israel Frster ilk are numbered. It's just that they're slow to recognize it. Thank God.

    January 6, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. riightospeak

    Sen. John McCain, Lindsey Graham,Mitch McDonald should be shipped to Israel without a pension. They have done enough damage to our country and are rich enough.

    January 6, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. DasBoot

    Another Obama appointment doomed to go down in flames

    January 6, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. DNA

    Good choice!

    January 6, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. MSL58

    Let's see:
    1) Anti-Semitic
    2) Homophobic
    3) Pro-Iran

    Sounds like a good choice to me!

    January 6, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. timelord7202

    At first, I was skeptical, as Hagel is known for voting on bills that give taxpayer funded handouts to corporations that offshore (helping them indirectly create a security risk, but most people probably don't need the full explanation), but as defense secretary he might do a better job.

    Either which way, Obama knows more than everyone else (his total supporters, total detractors, and everyone totally in between). Most of his other pics seemed like good candidates, so...

    January 6, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. timelord7202

    @DNA (Jan 6 @ 4:52)

    Why? What has he done to deserve your blessing?

    You do know he (with the majority) voted NO to a bill that would have halted subsidy going to corporations that offshored in 2005, yes? His actions propped up companies that hurt America... at least in 2005, but your post suggests you have more information that makes "good choice!" a viable comment. Please dish.

    January 6, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. alpeaston

    This is some sort of creepy political back room deal – for whatever reason – I can't begin to know! Hagel is a right wing homophobe who believes that an insincere – too little too late -apology to the LGBT community will suffice for years of his unbrilded hatred and bigotry (as is and was common among the GOP faithful). Obama, though usually decent with the gay community, has betrayed us with this appointment! Shame on Hagel and shame on Obana! The House and Senate should block his appointment!

    January 6, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. empresstrudy

    He hates gays and Jews. He's got the worst reputation of anyone ever in the Senate in terms his rampant psychotic abuse of his own staff. Most Republicans NOW say they won't support him. He sits on the boards of oil companies. He takes money from Iran. He's a huge fan of Hezbollah and Hamas.

    He's the perfect Obama flunkie.

    January 6, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. I will wait

    The normal Obama haters attacking his "left wing agenda" by nominating a republican for Sec of Defense. If he nominated Mitt for an office I am reasonably sure these same haters who spoke well of Mitt during the campaign would be moaning and groaning about how Mitt isn't qualified.

    January 6, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. andy

    why dont we just nominate Nathan Yahoo for the job since he is controling our country anyway

    January 6, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. Billy Bob

    Hagel needs to make it clear that the US is a province of "Greater Israel", and that, the US will do anything to further Israel's hegemony in the region. I don't want to hear any of this "independent stuff", when it comes to Israel, which is the most important thing in the entire world

    January 6, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. America First

    Maybe now those Israel first traitors won't get their war with Iran. First thing the Obamanation has done right in four years. Next, cut all foreign aid to zero.

    January 6, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. Ben

    70% of Americans don't want the US to act for Israel and 60% don't want the US to help Israel. Hagel represents Americans. We can find out who is representing Israel instead of the US by who opposes him.

    January 6, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. FOX NEWS: The dung beetle of journalism.

    Hagel has not disparaged Israel, he voiced strong support for Israel, but not to the point we put their welfare above our own.

    The main reason the GOP thinks he is a slap in the face, as Prissy called it, is because Hagel is for paring down the military complex from which the GOP garners so much of their campaign donations.

    Young, brave Americans in, cash and coffins out, all in the name of patriotism and capitalism!

    January 6, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. Richard Smegma

    Another hack.
    Just does not matter with this prez in office.

    January 6, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Philip

    President Obama is finally doing the right thing, standing up to the military industrial complex and the ethnic group that is less then two percent of our population, yet has been running our foreign policy for far too long.

    January 6, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. maurodiroma

    Chuck Hagel is a courageous American and independent thinker. That the Israeli lobby will come down hard on him for his patriotism in expressing his views is a mark of honor!

    January 6, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. jim

    Except for being a clown, a homophobe and an anti-Semite... wait, that makes him a Democrat. Carry on, Obama.

    January 6, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. Dick Guzinia

    At least he has been shot at before, as opposed to Leon, Kerry, Rummy and all the other phonies.

    January 6, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. DJ

    Let's all say "don't be gay"! They can't lock up the majority of the US because we oppose gay marriage.

    Why does everyone in the liberal media think you can't speakout against it? Being gay is not the same as being brown, black, or whatever. It is a choice that people make. An unnatural choice at that. Stop with the gay bashing accusations just because people reject that lifestyle.

    January 6, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  24. Gonzo

    Hagel fits right in with Obama's philosophy of not doing anything to antagonize the Muslims. Obama is a Muslim, but I wonder where Hagel got his ideas.....

    January 6, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. sasss31

    Huge mistake by the President. People like me who supported the President are now going to bitterly oppose him on the issue; and bet that there are many moderate Democrats like me who oppose Hagel. Look, the Defense Secretary has to carry out the President's objectives. But having a Secretary of Defense who is weak on terror and an appeaser of evil regimes; and having made border-line anti-Semitic and truly homophobic comments is not someone we need representing us. It makes us appear weak. The Hagel nomination must be opposed by all of us who value freedom and human dignity for all people. Whether LGBT Americans or Iranians oppressed in Iran. We must stand for freedom and human dignity; something Hagel has consistently stood against. We need not an appeaser of evil. I think that the President made a huge mistake and that Hagel's nomination will end up being a loser for the President as his nomination simply won't get through the Senate. Big mistake Mr. President..

    January 6, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
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