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. jimmy

    israel's lack of compassion for US in difficult times and continuous desire to be recognized as the ones being oppressed just baffles me.they are the ones running their war machine on our tax payer money for their own benefits and still we are not allowed to even question their demonic actions against the world peace. Hagel is the right choice and has the majority support of the public

    January 7, 2013 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  2. wastewater1

    Another Jew hater – 50% of this nation voted to oust this Obama who left our brave men behind as he watched along w/Hillary Clinton the "Benghzai Massacre" – enough is enough!

    January 7, 2013 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  3. I listen to Faux, but didn't finish High School!

    It's just too funny how many of you can't see through Obama's strategy. You all get caught up with simple minded opinions and rants. Obama has chosen a repuke so the rest of the country can see how self-destructive the GOP and supporters have become. Hagel will get crucified by his own party haters; to include tea baggers and that is what the contry will see. And of course Obama and dems will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    January 7, 2013 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  4. tet1953

    So Obama nominates a GOP for SecDef. What's the response of the GOP? lol Lindsay Graham for example: "It looks like Obama's second term is going to be an in-your-face term."

    January 7, 2013 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  5. Mcds

    Hagel would be an excellent sec of defense. He is bipartisan. The Repubs don't want him because they are bitter he was against Bush's Iraq war...

    January 7, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  6. KEVIN2121961

    Hagel tells the absolute TRUTH. Many politicians and their super wealthy financial supporters don't like this.

    January 7, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  7. IceMan

    "Hagel has said in the past that be believes the Pentagon's budget is overweight."

    He's got my vote.

    January 7, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  8. kendra shatel

    President Obama as prove that he is a good president that protect us the GOP need to set down because he is the Chief Commander

    January 7, 2013 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  9. Richard D'Addario

    Chuck Hagel will make a good Defense Secretary. Battle tested in Vietnam, he understands the personal cost of war and that wars should only be fought if there is a clear and overriding national security reason to do so. He's not afraid to take on lobbyists which have mostly served to corrupt our political process, a refreshing change from the way business is done in Washington. We are lucky that Chuck Hagel wants to serve his country once again in this difficult and stressful position.

    January 7, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  10. Steve

    ROFL Hagal is a joke..only person to vote AGAINST sanctions on Iran..and hes going to stop Iran from getting nukes? 350 million peopke in the US this is best Obama can do? Looks like were going to have some more Benghazi's....

    January 7, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  11. Awetmedic

    Has Grover told the GOP (Grover Owned Politicians) which way to vote on this guy?

    January 7, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  12. clarke

    Looks like a good choice.

    January 7, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  13. sameeker

    Obama should get credit for choosing people from both sides of the aisle for his administration. Would the republicans try to be as bipartisan?

    January 7, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  14. Dr Fredrich

    Sen Hagel would make an excellent Chief of CIA. Even though he has made contrversial comments that went against the repub elite, they turned out to be the best and more practical wisdom. This is because Sen Hagel has the perspective of the enlisted man in cobat who has to pay for national foreighn policy with their lives. That is probably why POTUS Obama nominated him. An excellent choice.

    January 7, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  15. Jack Be Humble

    In primary elections, the extremists in the Republican Party have proven they would rather see a bad Republican lose than a Democrat win.

    January 7, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  16. Brian Smith

    Perhaps with Hagel, the world truly will become a better place. With Kerry we all know it'd be the same as yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

    January 7, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  17. jdun

    Of course he can't be accepted as defense secretary. He questions the need for war, he questions Israel's moves to create more settlements in occupied territory, he sees the immense waste and fraud in the military industrial complex, and he knows the soldiers are the only ones paying the price for our aggressive policies. How can he be accepted by paid off senators like Graham?

    January 7, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  18. BO Lies

    Can this man at least regulate his fluid intake and not faint and bang his head on the floor?

    January 7, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  19. Marl

    Just what I need – an anti-Semite ... what is President Obama thinking!!

    I like you, dear President – and voted for you both times – but THIS is a slap in the face of decent people whose lives are affected daily by the likes of people like hagel (yes, lower case!)

    January 7, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  20. quinLee

    nothing NEW here. Same unreasonable thugs exploiting ignorance and hatred to push their agenda. How else can you explain record filibusters from the right, many against issues previously deemed non-political and others they previously supported or initiated. To Palin's credit, "Going Rogue" seems to be an accurate term describing today's GOP. But then again even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    January 7, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  21. Stephen Daugherty

    I think Obama could go back in time and nominate William F. Buckley, and these people would object, just to object.

    January 7, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  22. Angel

    Anyone that the President appoints is gonna get rejected no matter how good he or she is. The party of no shall carry on as usual.

    January 7, 2013 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  23. hubert39

    Who started the rumor that Israel was our ally? They are not our ally. They are our welfare nation. Since 1948. Allies help one another when one is in trouble. They help each other when in a war. What is Israel famous for? Sinking our ship, the USS LIberty. They have a pro war- hawkish goverment in power now. Not all Israelis agree with trying to conquer the Middle East and the world. Some want peace. Of course they kill their own leaders when they talk of peace.

    January 7, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  24. Joe Lubus

    A thousand cheers for Sen Hagel.. " "Jewish lobby intimidated lawmakers." "I'm a senator of the United States above all"!!
    Obama, do NOT back off !!!!. People of the USA – Israel is your WORST enemy along with US zionist jews.
    Glad I don't live there.

    January 7, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  25. Ray

    We need more politicians and political appointees who put America first and not Israel. Hagel is an excellent choice for Sec Def. Hagel has nothing to prove and will do what is right for the USA. He is the right man at the right time.

    Here is another example of someone referring to the "Israel Lobby" and then that lobby, which supposedly doesn't exist, rises up in an attempt to take them out.

    Too many of our Senators and Representatives are too beholden to the Israel Lobby and to their nutty christian constituents who blindly support Israel because that's where Jesus came from.

    I am retired US military by the way...

    January 7, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
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