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. Drudake

    He's right. US lawmakers ARE intimidated by the Israel lobby. Israel has about as much strategic value to the US as Upper Volta, yet we continually bend over (backward and forward) for them. I don't understand why we allow a foreign country so much influence over our policies.

    January 7, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  2. krj9

    Doesn't matter who Obama puts out there. The whining republicans will hate them. I wish they would move to texas and stick with faux news. Leave running the country to real Americans

    January 7, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  3. shelbyanne

    Why doesn't republican congress do their own work and stop picking fights with the President.

    January 7, 2013 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  4. Erasmus41144

    The hyperventilating about Isreal is just a smokescreen. Hagel is perceived as a threat to the Pentagon's cash flow. Given how much that budget is we should all be grateful that the CIC nominated a person experienced enough to call out the generals and contractors on their self-enriching bs.

    January 7, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  5. Derek J

    Hagel's comment about the openly, aggressively gay man not being a good candidate for an ambassadorship was not meant out of spite. Some countries have different values and would not effectively work with an openly gay person. Just as Afghanis inability to work with a women ambassador. If they they want a bearded man with one eye as ambassador, then you go find them a pirate.

    The comment is in no way indicative of Hagel's views on homosexuality, rather it's an indictment of foreign countries views.

    January 7, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  6. Doc1

    I am 17 years on active duty and post two deployments to Afghanistan. I want this man as SecDef. The controversial things he said in the past were hard truths. That's is what is necessary to take our military into the future.

    January 7, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  7. tom bhai

    Lindsey Graham can find fault with god. He is not a positive character in American Politics. He is the leader of "No Party". He is the master of Poking at other politicians, started with Bill Clinton impeachment.

    January 7, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  8. Patrick Middleton

    My father was Korean War Veteran U.S.M.C. Now buried Proud AMERICAN Too the bitter end and was a Republican as myself a Democrat
    We had opposing views for Sure .one thing he instilled in my Heart, is never turn away When Our Country Is Need ,And Defend Our Commander in Chief.period...as if he was the Leader of the GREATEST country on earth.And as much as i may not agree with a few past Alive and Expired.Put it this way I would Still take take a bullet for both Bush's and I have never served in our PROUD MILITARY SERVICE
    just a
    Proud American and pray in my humble way and will rise when NEEDED so too the Leaders of Our Great Nation don't waste our sparse moral resources and dedication, with selfish Buzz and wasted time.Japanese businesses used find the answer to fixing problem and less time on who too Blame. A great President JFK ask not what your country can do for you ask What Can (I) WE DO FOR OUR COUNTRY. Think ?????...more True inspiration..LESS BUZZ.

    January 7, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  9. sparky

    Hagel said he's the Senator from Nebrasks first, not the Senator from Israel. If he's getting flamed over a statement like that, then his persecutors need to be brought up on treason charges.

    Substitute "Israel" with any other country - France, Germany, China - and you'd say he's a patriot. Somehow, saying the same thing about Israel disqualifies you from being Sec. of the DoD.

    Yeah, right, those Senators aren't lapdogs for the Israel lobby. Line 'em up.

    January 7, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  10. rrb123

    The Israel Firsters and their fifth column in congress haven't realized that their ship has sailed. They still think things are as they were before the election or even a few years ago. The fact that Obama chose Hagel should be a clear indication of where Obama stands. They will not get their illegal war of choice. The amount of times senator Graham mentioned Israel in the CNN interview this morning astounded me. If you just materialized on the planet you would think Israel is a state in the US. Hagel is exactly what we need to get us weaned off this Israel leech. He is a genuine American hero and will get confimed. The days of the anti American influence of AIPAC, and their Israel Frster ilk are numbered. It's just that they're slow to recognize it. Thank God.
    Agree, when the money is to be spent here or when we donate money to other countries then republicans point out the deficit but, when billions is given to Israel each year then these republicans don't say a word. And, when anyone brings up these issues they tag them as anti-Israel. Are we Americans or Israelis?

    January 7, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  11. Jill-IN

    Hagel is a good man, good choice. Lindsay Graham is disgusting as usual.

    January 7, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  12. Jorge Sedano

    Just another political payback by out federal government. Positions are not relevant....

    January 7, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  13. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    Please consider publishing the following letter

    I fully support former Republican and Nebraskan Senator Chuck Hagel as the new Secretary of Defense. He is a decorated Viet Nam Veteran, principled, he dissented on Iraq and the military's involvement in many aspects of the war on terror and is very knowledgeable on defense.

    He will be able to wisely phase out the military involvement in the war on terror and manage the reduction in defense spending without adversely affecting the troops' health care, benefits, pay and the necessary effectiveness of our military. President Obama could not make a better choice.

    Harold Trainer, USAF
    Prospect, KY, 40059

    January 7, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  14. bugmetoo

    CNN spins it again. Many democrats are against his nomination also. Spin it for your master some more why don't you?

    January 7, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  15. Skyler

    Genius. Love this president. Reinforcing in the American psyche the Reps reputation for their knee-jerk "no" response to everything. Do-nothing house republicans – finished in 2014.

    January 7, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. SirLoveloch

    Concerning Israel: " The Truth Hurts" Just as law makers in FL are intimidated by Cuban ex Pats.

    January 7, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  17. Norm

    It's pretty obvious the GOP has learned nothing from the last election. The nation is demanding Congress stop doing nothing and start concentrating on the people's business. We still see, however, GOP lawmakers like McConnell and others continuing the same obstructionist tactics they used before the President was re-elected. Let me be blunt here. Obama could nominate the perfect candidate for DoD secretary, and they'd still find something to complain about. It's time this bums lose their jobs. They'll never change.

    January 7, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  18. ellid

    The Republicans are grasping at straws if they'll oppose *one of their own party*.

    January 7, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  19. Matk

    Brennan yes, Hagel no.

    January 7, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. Surfer George

    Not that it is EVER any different with any other President, but until President Obama is out of office, he will be fighting Republicans.
    About EVERYTHING and nothing... With and without logical reason.

    January 7, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  21. 111Dave111

    Right on 'znn': "an independent thinker, and a combat veteran to boot."
    Someone to put the American people and our war heroes #1!

    Chuck Hagel, American Patriot.

    January 7, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  22. Rosslaw

    So Miss Lindsey and Senator Squid are miffed that President Obama nominated an independent minded former Republican senator who actually served in Vietnam as a decorated, enlisted man, his main sin in the view of republicans who see that sort, i.e. enlisted personnel, as good for nothing better than opening doors and serving drinks. Oh, and Hagel is not nominated for the Israeli secretary of defense. Isreal already has one and he's commented that the cooperation between Israel and the US is outstanding.

    January 7, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. CharleeA

    @jarda cervenka you just said Israel is in Africa and you called Obama uneducated??

    January 7, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Bob

    Isreali boot-lickers need to get over themselves.

    January 7, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. Rod

    Listen, if Obama said he was going to take a bathroom break some Republican would have an objection to it. They object and have something sacastic to say when he takes a vacation (like no other President did that). I expect that if he nominated John McCain, Mitch Mcconnel, and Romney the Republicans would put up a fight. They are just trying to make the job harder for the nations first black President and most Americans are smart enough and can see through it. That's why he was elected to a second term and that's why he is telling the Republicans to go pound salt.

    January 7, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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