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. vince

    I not see why the 'Israeli Lobby' comment is surprising – it's well known there is a strong Israeli Loby in DC. At some point point people are going to have to realize that Israel has no interest in peace with the Palestinians - else they would have stopped settlement construction decades ago. Having a more 'balanced' approach to Israel is proably the best thing we could do at this point. I am not anti-Israel but their govt structure makes it impossible to pass any kind of meaningful proposal since any small party can derail the govt (and has - and an excellent case study of why you dont want a multi-party democracy..). Only US pressure will get Israel to move towards peace - nothing else will.

    January 6, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  2. rob

    Hagel is clearly a bigot who should not even be considered for the post.

    January 6, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. Greenspam

    Republicans don't need to haggle when it comes to Hagel.

    January 6, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. Brian_pdx

    All this worry over his comment that the Jewish lobby has too much influence proves the Jewish lobby has too much influence. Hegel is very qualified and the Senate has bigger fish to fry than blocking a qualified candidate.

    January 6, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  5. Nitwit GOP

    Mitch McConnell, the Devil incarnate in the Senate...if people like him did not exist, this would would be a better place indeed.

    January 6, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. Larry Hoover

    Lindsey and McCain are afraid someone will mess up their War Party. Hagel is the right man for these times.

    January 6, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  7. Larry L

    @HokeyPokey
    ===================================================================================================
    Why would we want a Republican war hero and American patriot as Secretary of Defense? Is Israel the reason we maintain a Department of Defense? Are you (you, yourself -personally) ready to die for the defense of Israel?

    January 6, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  8. Larry L

    Is Hagel's reluctance to support gay people a reason to reject him as Secretary of Defense? How much of the job is linked to that ideology? Did Donald Rumsfeld support gay rights? Did George W. Bush? How many Republicans supported the position on accepting gay people in the military? Should we exclude all of those who rejected that change?

    January 6, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  9. independent

    In your face man, take that, yah, I'm nominating someone so extreme you'll never accept him. He's...get this...a Republican. Yeah man, take that. A Republican, how radical is that. That'll teach you guys to mess with me. LOL

    January 6, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  10. Meli

    Well this could get interesting.

    January 6, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  11. Joe

    Israeli lobby supporters are crying foul, too bad so sad, enough is enough.
    Israel is not a friend of the US or Canada. Hope Hagel gets the nomination.

    January 6, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  12. bigjohn

    like it matters who in and who's out. the whole world is broke because of these idiots we nominate day in and day out. nothing get done and we stay broke. i get a 50 cent raise and the the insurance go's up and and the bull taxes that get's kicked back to everyone one in congresses pockets.

    January 6, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  13. trex

    ...This is GREAT............Ttard gop voting AGAINST A FELLOW REPUBLICAN.....................cant make this up, folks.

    January 6, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  14. Dan

    Hagel is not qualified for the role , the lack of understanding of the Middle East is astounding. We the people need folks in leadership roles that understand who our friends are and are not. Israel is an extension of the US in the Middle East, plain and simple.
    Respectfully,
    California Republican

    January 6, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  15. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He has served and knows what is going on. I see his statements in the past as a problem but nothing that can't be overcome. If he can state some way to get the Pentagon under control in terms of its spending, that would impress me.

    January 6, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  16. Joe M.

    Just goes to show you that Obama simply wants to take the impossible/ "my way or the highway" path every time. Democrats hate the nomination. Republicans hate the nomination. With all of the fighting that will be upcoming in the next 2 months, why was this pick necessary?

    January 6, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  17. TJ

    If AIPAC hates him, Obama couldn't have picked a better person. Maybe Hagel will tell Israel to go fight its own wars instead of expecting U.S. soldiers (at U.S. taxpayer cost) to fight as an Israel proxy.

    January 6, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  18. Sherman

    Let's hope Hagel's nomination be a warning to Israel that Obama will not tolerate Israel's anti peace stance.

    January 6, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  19. KEVIN2121961

    Excellent Choice.

    January 6, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  20. Ja Jitsu

    I did not vote for Obama. Evangelicals unit to defeat Hagel.

    January 6, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  21. dstar

    Hope he gets confirmed. It should be an absolute requisite for every Defense Secretary to have served, to know firsthand what war really is.

    January 6, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  22. stevephoenix

    Hagel is by his record anti-abortion, anti-affirmative action and anti-gay.
    But certain "liberals" will twist themselves into pretzels to excuse Hagel's deplorable homophobia and to support this guy because he is anti-Israel. Why? Because they are anti-Semites.

    January 7, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Thank God
    Finally we can rid ourselves of Israel!!!!!

    January 7, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Best Choice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    FInally Finally Finally!!!!!
    Our biggest headache, the biggest obstacle to peace will finally be exposed!!!

    January 7, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  25. villainbeats

    Hagel is a great choice. One of the better Republicans out there.

    January 7, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
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