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. Roy

    Finally, a Defense Secretary that has experienced the horrors of war and hated it. AIPAC must be squirming and I love it. Maybe we can step back and take a long hard look at the military complex and review our failed foreign policy based on 'pre-emptive strikes', drone attacks, and empire building.

    January 6, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  2. Jimbo

    Good for President Obama. Hagel is just the kind of DOD head we need. Enough of Benji Nettenyahoo's threats. The U.S. comes first, not Israel.

    January 6, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. LastoftheZucchiniFlowers

    I have been waiting for Hagel to return to the public sector ever since he left the Senate and am thrilled that President Obama has the foresight and intelligence to nominate him. Hagel is smart, tough and doesn't tolerate insanitea-partiers at all. He will be approved and will do outstanding work despite the neanderthals in the GOP who continue to hallucinate that it is 1955. Evidently they learned NOTHING from their hideous defeat last November. Hagel lives in the present and the lame duck GOP dunces will now have to go home understand, finally, that it IS THE Twenty-First Century and the Country will NOT GO BACKWARDS.

    January 6, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. Republicans = Endangered Species

    Withholding judgement unit Senate hearings are held.

    January 6, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  5. smknbluebear

    It does not matter who is elected or nominated in Washington because the Pentagon and the CIA run things.
    Just ask Eisenhower, JFK, MLK, RFK.....

    January 6, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. hawaii guy

    Let's see what terrorism Mossad will launch on us if Hagel is nominated. Make aurora and Newtown look insignificant is my guess.

    January 6, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  7. Mel

    Have to give it to the pres. STONES

    January 6, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  8. humuncoloid

    You do the Hokey-Pokey, and you shake it all about.

    January 6, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  9. helensadornmentsblog

    I have always had great respect for Chuck Hagel. Wonderful pick Obama!

    January 6, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. jarda cervenka

    people who sent comments just do not understand that Israel is the only single truly democratic country in all of Africa and deserves unqualified sympathy and help from us. Hagel should not be nominated. Why my favorite Obama is such uneducated bum in foreign policy, which requires toughness with mohamedans on all fronts? They praise him for "restraint". Restrain with criminals and killers of women?

    January 6, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. BelladonnaCove

    @ J C : America needs to cut all ties with Israel and be its' enemy. That is how the U.S will move forward.
    Israel has never been our ally and can offer us Americans nothing in the mideast.
    So Hagels' appointment is a good thing for this country. I don't understand why we're not bombing Israel –makes no sense considering how dangerous Israel is to the U.S.

    January 6, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  12. labman57

    "Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said any defense nominee must have "a full understanding of our close relationship with our Israeli allies, the Iranian threat, and the importance of having a robust military." "

    Seriously? Chuck Hagel, recipient of two purple hearts while serving in Vietnam, experience working in the Veterans Administration as a strong advocate for the health and welfare of military veterans, and key roles on the Senate's Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees while serving in Congress.
    I suspect he understands the U.S. military and world affairs a tad better than does Uncle Mitch.

    January 6, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  13. 7113

    The looser in charge just picked another looser, suprised he did not pick Hanoi Jane for the job.

    January 6, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. 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. :)

    January 6, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  15. hawaii guy

    Watch how fast the Zionists come up with pedophile accusations or some other bs against Hagel, cause that's how they play. Or the standard mass terrorism against more children or planes into buildings etc. I do wish the house and senate had the guts this guy has to stand up to them, his gay bashing is simply stupid and antiquated though. On that he is totally out of touch.

    January 6, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. Name lynn

    obama made his choice who he wants to be in that seat. An he did now what kind of man hagel is time, will tell an them white house leaders an them republicans in for a rude awakeing

    January 6, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  17. DC INsider

    Hagel is anti Israel; anti gay; and soft on Iran. Obama does not want him to head DOD – Obama wants to create a diversion away form the debt ceiling and expense cut negotiations and will use the Hagel discussions to do so -- Obama hopes to deflect the conversation and also show the GOP to be obstructionists

    For Obama to state that his top two priorities right now are immigration and Hagel si preposterous -- We have thes sequesterd cuts looming; the debt ceiling crisis; and the continuing resolution - all of them are far more imporatant

    January 6, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  18. Mayor of NYC

    Because former Senator Chuck Hagel feels that's his priorities should first be to his country he is labelled anti-Israel by the neo-con legions.

    Perhaps we should nominate Avigdor Lieberman for Secretary of Defense?

    January 6, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  19. Los gatos Man

    We , the people , the voters ,must vote out of the office ,those Senators or Congressman who put the interest of Israel more than the USA.

    January 6, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  20. larry5

    Trouble isn't here right now but it's coming.....

    January 6, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  21. Smeagel4T

    Once again the GOP is busy doing what the wealthy welfare queens want them to do. Hagel is viewed as a threat to the military-industrial complex and their bloated flow of welfare bucks. I wonder if Hagel will do the right thing and demand that the Pentagon actually be able to audit its books before it gets another dime in bloated welfare to handout to the military-industrial complex. The Pentagon has so much bloated corporate welfare floating through it that it hasn't been able to audit its own books in decades. The GOP likes to blather about government being run more like a business, but yet they keep pushing more and more dollars onto a department of that business that can't even account for what it's done with the last trainload of dollars it received.

    January 6, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. Lisa

    @Big Bird Johnson and others.....why do we have to unwaveringly support Israel? Why is that a criteria for OUR defense secretary?

    If he can get us out of Afghanistan and pare down the "bloated" Pentagon budget – go Chuck!

    January 6, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  23. g

    you won,t find to many republicans Isreal does not own

    January 6, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  24. major345175

    Hagel. Great American Hero. America FIRST. He will be nominated.

    January 6, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  25. scars

    He gets labeled as "anti-Jewish" for saying that AIPAC intimidates lawmakers. Yet, his nomination is in danger because the Jewish lobby doesn't like his stance on Israel. Maybe Israel just doesn't like him because he is a man who has the guts to say the truth. But you know, that is what REAL friends do. They support you when you are right and they call you out when you're making mistakes. We haven't really been a friend to Israel. We've been an ENABLER. It is about time that we are able to make policy decisions based on what is good for the USA without worrying what Israel will say about it. And for heaven's sake ... the guy is a REPUBLICAN who served in Vietnam. He is some liberal peacenik ...

    January 6, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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