Hagel, Brennan nominations planned for Monday
January 6th, 2013
12:44 PM ET
10 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. alex

    I am astonished that an American hero and patriot cannot hold critical opinions about a foreign state because the lobby of that state has such sway over US Congress; I am disgusted, I served the US military and will make it a mission in life to oppose this disgusting lobby going after one of us.

    January 7, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  2. William

    Finally a man who will expose Israel and all of its atrocities!!!!!
    Maybe we can get the 150 Billion we have given them in AID back and make them accountable for their Warm Crimes.
    Especially the USS Liberty!!

    January 7, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  3. pw

    Strange – all we seem to care about in our policy making is keeping Israel happy, and yet Israel doesn't really seem to care one way or another how its polices affect others as long as they benefit Israel.

    January 7, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  4. Chedar

    This Hagel is even a Repub and they are ready to screw him both left and right. Poor guy. Stop dancing around and appoint the guy.

    January 7, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  5. Hulot

    As long as he is not a lackey to special interest groups, especially the Israel lobby, he’s my man.

    January 7, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  6. K Hansen

    He looks a lot like the CEO of JP Morgan Chase Bank Jamie dimon.. Eerily similar.. I've heard he is the top choice for the treasury position in his cabinet

    January 7, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  7. John Tighe

    Obama is a Liberal.
    Just keep thinking that, and ignore all of the ways that he acts like a Moderate Republican.

    January 7, 2013 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  8. Mike

    Hagel for president 2116

    January 7, 2013 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  9. Steve

    Any senators or congressmen who put Israel interest against USA interest first should be ashamed of himself or herself
    And should move and live in Isreal

    January 7, 2013 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  10. znn

    this guy seems great – an independent thinker, and a combat veteran to boot. i hope he gets the post!

    January 7, 2013 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  11. Bob

    The guy has two Purple Hearts and served in combat. He saved his brother's life. As for his positions on Israel, who cares? What does Israel have to do with our national interest?

    January 7, 2013 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  12. usadownthedrain

    Congress should say No to the Obama puppet, Hagel.

    January 7, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  13. Randall Norris

    This is the problem with US/Israeli relations. Anyone who opposes the settlements, or war crimes being committed in the territories, or the welfare money we are giving to Israel, automatically "hates" Israel. That is the same attitude we see in the non negotiations. Israel doesn't want to negotiate; it wants to dictate. It has always seen its problems as mere public relations problems–they just don't understand! When, in fact, the problems are real problems which have solutions that may not be to the liking of Israel. Like, admitting they have nuclear weapons but want no one else in the region to have them? Now that makes sense, in their world. Not in mine.

    January 7, 2013 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  14. TJ

    If AIPAC hates Hagel, he's the perfect choice in my mind. Time for those freeloaders to go fight their own wars on their own dime.

    January 7, 2013 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  15. kingfisher123

    why is that every American politician is expected to give his/her full support to Israel as requirement to serve his country? Is Israel the unofficial 51st state? Is American economy so dependent on Israel? Can someone give me no-nonsense answer?

    January 7, 2013 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  16. rednaxelat

    great. the guy who came to power by counting the votes on his own voting machines, and getting away with it even though the results wildly diverged from the exit poles. just the sort of guy we need in a position of power over one of the most corrupt industries the world has ever known.

    January 7, 2013 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  17. Dustin

    Great. Another politician as SecDef... what could go wrong?

    January 7, 2013 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  18. Tari Torch Sweeney

    Really. Lindsay Graham needs to be quiet and go home. And, the only reason anything "...might go down in flames..." is because the Republicans are angry and jealous people, many of whom resent Obama and his winning of a second term. They are determined to make life hell for the next four years. The man was elected. Now work with him. Get over it.

    January 7, 2013 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  19. Johnny

    Senator Hagel's nomination will be contentious but he will be approved by the Senate Armed Services committee (controlled by Democarts) and the committee's approval will be sent to the full senate where his former colleagues will approve his nomination by a majority vote. He will be swore in as the next Secretary of Defense. The House of Representatives has no say in the presidential appointments. He has the President's confidence and will proved to be a good SecDef.

    January 7, 2013 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
  20. Brad76

    He looks like he's all business.

    January 7, 2013 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  21. David

    The Republicans only know how to whine. They whine to be the contrarian. They whine even against Hagel, a Republican. At the current rate the Republicans will whine themselves out of existence, as a Party.

    January 7, 2013 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  22. jkantor267

    Another joke appointment by the joke in charge.

    January 7, 2013 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  23. foreigner

    I am not American but I could not stand the arguments against Hagel's nomination from a bunch of idiots : 1. Are you questioning the patriotism of a guy who fought for his country? 2. Who is there to deny the pro-Israeli lobby is powerful? Oh, because he called pro-Jewish that changes the fundamental argument? 3. His view against appointing an openly gay person as an American diplomat, for which he later apologized, was not based on homophobia or irrational fear : he was questioning whether he was the best person to promote American interest in countries where homosexuality is not accepted or is illegal.

    January 7, 2013 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  24. Berel Dov Lerner

    Pres. Obama has repeatedly stated that the USA will not allow Iran to go nuclear, and he needs a Sec. of Defense who will make the implicit threat of military action believable to the Iranians. Hagel's appointment will send a signal to Iran that it can go forward with it's nuclear weapons project without fear of military intervention.

    January 7, 2013 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  25. MSL58

    Let's see:

    1) Anti-gay
    2) Anti-semitic
    3) Pro-Iran

    Spunds like a good choice to me!

    January 7, 2013 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
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