Hagel letter disavows alleged old comments on Israel
February 18th, 2013
05:21 PM ET
2 years ago

Hagel letter disavows alleged old comments on Israel

(CNN) - In a letter sent to one of his sharpest critics Saturday, Chuck Hagel stated he could not remember and disavowed a report from 2007 where the Defense Department nominee was characterized as describing the State Department as an "adjunct" to the Israeli government.

That was how a blog post written in 2007 wrote about Hagel's speech on U.S. policy towards Iran. Hagel wrote to his critic Sen. Lindsey Graham, saying "I do not recall making any such statement, or ever making any similar statement. I completely disavow the content of the alleged statement attributed to me." Read that letter provided to CNN by a source here.

Graham said in an appearance on Fox News Sunday that the letter satisfies his questions about the comment, which was described but not quoted in that 2007 post.

"Well, if in fact that's true, that would end that matter," Graham said. "So, I'll just take him at his word unless something new comes along."

But had Hagel not repudiated the alleged comment, that combined with his remark the same year that the "Jewish lobby intimidated lawmakers" would show Hagel's view "of the Israeli-U.S. relationship [was] way out of mainstream," Graham said.

Hagel's views towards Israel and Iran, as well as his position on nuclear arms, have been at the crux of Republican concerns with his nomination. They also demanded additional information from the Obama administration about the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which was provided late last week.

GOP senators stalled Hagel's nomination last week with a filibuster, though it is expected to pass in a vote when lawmakers return from this week's recess.

In his letter, Hagel wrote, "Over the course of my career, both in and out of government, I have given many speeches and interviews and made countless remarks affirming the vital importance of the United States' special relationship with Israel - one that is based upon our shared values and security interests."

He sent the letter to Graham and Sens. Kelly Ayotte, also a critic of Hagel; Carl Levin, chairman of the committee considering Hagel's nomination; and James Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Hagel said his remarks in the 2007 speech "expressed support for the Bush Administration's on-going diplomatic efforts in the Middle East at that time." Sen. John McCain, another persistent questioner of Hagel, said Thursday the Republican criticism of their former colleague goes back to "ill will" towards him "because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly."


Filed under: Chuck Hagel • Lindsey Graham
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. BeverlyNC

    Hagel does not need to do anything else. He is qualified. He served in one of America's most awful wars with distinction while cowards like Bush Jr and Cheney got many deferments and hid from serving. However they and other Republicans are always ready to send other people's children to fight their war games.
    Republicans need to stop obstructing every single act, law, or bill President Obama puts before them. 386 filibusters is betrayal of the People and then Republicans do one more filibuster on Hagel's nomination.
    How about jobs, economic recovery, education priorites, a livable wage to move people into the middle class and off welfare, new energy reseach, infrastructure to equal the other modern nations, and increased healthcare for our veterans damaged by the Bush and Cheney fraud wars??
    Enough is enough. Republicans have no interest in working for progress on any issue. In 2014, let's get rid of every Republican up for re-election so we can have the votes in both Houses to get real bills passed and end this traitorous use of the filibuster to make sure nothing gets done.

    February 18, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Who cares what the backwoods teahage from nh Kelly ,graham and the other gop bafoons say, they will be in the dumpster of history with the rest of the gop after 2014 mid terms . I didn't know the three stooges worked for the Israeli goverment??????

    February 18, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  3. DorisV

    Hagel may have questions about our close ties to the government of Israel and the monies we give them for weapons and other things. Many taxpayers have similiar questions and doubts. The Israeli government is just as much at fault as is Hamas. Takes two to make an argument. Israel did some nasty things to Palestinians in 1948 and continues to harass the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank on a daily basis. They continue to build settlements on Palestinan land and force people out of their homes. As for Sen. Graham, may the gods have a special place for him in the afterlife.

    February 18, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  4. Donna

    Of course he will deny it. The event wasn't recorded. But maybe multiple people will come forward and confirm what he said. ANd if that happens, he is toast. He's an unqualified idiot anyways. The country can do MUCH better than him. He proved that during his confirmation hearings.

    February 18, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  5. Pete

    He's a decorated vet and is currently against this war and because he was against Bushs advocating war he's an anti republican even if he is one if that makes sense but nothing from McCain,Graham and company ever do right!!But because he sides with Pres.Obama on anything he is now a threat ,the enemy,such idiocy from the republicans ever since the presidents inaugeration,the ole white racist party going the way of the dinosaur,extinct!!

    February 18, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    I can't wait to help kick out repubs and baggers in 2014

    February 18, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. MikeB

    John McCain is lying. His trouble with Hagel has nothing to do with what Hagel said about Bush. It's about Hagel not supporting McCain in 2008. No one holds a grudge longer than this old man.

    February 18, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Has the GOP establishment forgotten that midterm elections are coming up?

    February 18, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  9. Pander Bear

    Graham said in an appearance on Fox News Sunday that the letter satisfies his questions about the comment, which was described but not quoted in that 2007 post.

    "Well, if in fact that's true, that would end that matter," Graham said. "So, I'll just take him at his word unless something new comes along."

    Translation: Well Hagel caught me using hearsay to describe his viewpoint that obviously never had so I'll just wait until some other piece of unsubstantiated garbage arrives in my inbox which I will blow out of proportion and in effect endanger the country by depriving the Defense Department of leadership because I hate Obama sooooo much.

    February 18, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. Name lynn

    Hagel if you dont remember what you saying or writing, whats the purpose of being a senator. What is the problem now you see obama is getting medal awards he knew nothing about, yet you saying something like this.

    February 18, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  11. Larry L

    Hagel is qualified, a war hero and good for the country. In their attempt to discredit the President Obama Administration, Republicans oppose anything good for the country. Therefore, Republicans oppose Hagel.

    February 18, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  12. Carl

    There is the stupidity of Obama. There were a whole raft of good choices for the position, but Obama chose this washed up guy because he too hates israel.

    February 18, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  13. Geezer

    Israel says, "Jump!," the U.S. says, "How high,". Hagel gets an "A" for understanding.

    February 18, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. Ancient Texan

    He is unqualified, but will be aligned with Obama and say yes everytime he is prompted.

    February 18, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  15. Evergreen

    Sec of Def only focus is the security of US and its military. The Secretary is not responsible for policy decisions. I really try to be fair and open minded...but it is really getting hard with people like Graham, McConnell, and McCain (who I considered voting for in 2000).

    February 18, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    It is a shame what they are doing to a real war hero. Hagel actually fought in Nam and was wounded.

    February 18, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. ghostriter

    But hey, republicans are willing to hold up the nomination until all reasonable questions have been asked and answered. Of course, the questions stopped being reasonable when they said that they were holding him up over Benghazi, tax records (think back to 2012 as to why that is hilarious) and an old grudge.

    February 18, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  18. Jackson

    "Jewish lobby intimidated lawmakers" Er...What part of that statement does Graham disagree with?

    February 18, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. Jeff Spangler

    Heck, even Israeli news outlets refer to "the Jewish lobby". This is a thin excuse for the continued exercise of good old-fashioned GOP obstructionism.

    February 18, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  20. SilentMajorityMember

    I have never ever doubted the Republicans' patriotism till the Hagel's confirmation hearing where I was truly shocked to see US senators McCain, Graham, Cruz, etc.etc. acting on behalf of a foreign government....These folks were openly pushing a specific foreign country's interest and agenda against US President and his cabinet member nominee. According to what I am told one has to register in order to be a lobbyist and agent on behalf of an alien country otherwise any such activity is unlawful. Shouldn't FBI investigate the matter? I hope the Attorney General would look into this issue as soon as possible.

    February 18, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  21. Thomas

    The is the United States of America , Not the United States of Israel !

    February 18, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  22. MaryM

    "GOP senators stalled Hagel's nomination last week with a filibuster, though it is expected to pass in a vote when lawmakers return from this week's recess. " Enough of the obstruction, repubs. Americans are sick and tired of you.
    2014 is just around the corner. You will be voted out because of your hubris

    February 18, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  23. K from AZ

    LIAR & HYPOCRITE! Fits right in with this administration!

    February 18, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. fernace

    It never ceases to amaze me how mean the GOT-Party is to their own! Just because this guy has found favor w/a President they can't stand (who's trying to be respectful & inclusive by choosing 1 of theirs), they block & obstruct again! Talk about cutting your nose off....& wasting Our time & $$$$ we supposedly don't have! How About that "less government," y'all! Pass or fail the dude already, let's get to the real issue: the American financial situation, which affects all of us, this very minute!!

    February 18, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  25. Joel Pressman

    Hagel's biggest sin is that Obama nominated him. The GOP has blocked judges for several years now, just because Obama nominated them. They hate government, unless it is to force vaginal probes on women, so what do they care if it can't function?

    February 18, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
1 2