January 6th, 2013
01:41 PM ET

Hagel nomination announcement planned for Monday

By CNN Political Unit

President Barack Obama plans to announce former Sen. Chuck Hagel as his nominee to become the next defense secretary on Monday, administration officials told CNN on Sunday.

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."

One senior administration official on Sunday said Obama also planned to unveil his nominee for permanent CIA director at the same time as the Hagel announcement, though late in the day other officials sent mixed signals about a potential CIA announcement coming on Monday.

At the CIA, the short list to replace retired Gen. David Petraeus includes Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan and acting CIA Director Michael Morell, according to a source.

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.

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.

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, Gloria Borger, Mark Preston, Dan Lothian, Lesa Jansen, Mike Mount and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. SnowElves

    I'm a democrat, but I really like Hagel and cannot stress how important it is to have someone like him for the job. Hagel is not stupid. Why is it that the US was one of 9 nations to vote against a Palestinian state? Why is it that nations around the world overwhelmingly voted for Palestinian statehood? Is it because the UN is biased against Israel? No, because the UN created Israel and Israel has violated more UN Resolutions than all other nations of the world combined. Is it because the world is anti-Semetic? No, because Palestinians are ethnically Semites too. The truth is, we only see things from the perspective of Israel and we are not being presented with the full story.

    So what is the full story? Well for one, the only nation in the Middle East to reject a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone is not Iran, its Israel. This means that Israel has nukes, although they will never admit to it. The truth is, Israel doesn't want peace. For any peace process to exist, all parties must participate. But Israelis find it much easier to get Big Brother USA to do their dirty work for them. I'm so fed up with Israelis exploiting our country. My taxes just went up and it barely touched our deficit, and he are the arrogant Israelis concerned with Hagel because he would like to see the Israel-Iran dispute settled peacefully. No, they would rather us go to war for their sake because they won't be paying the tab or shedding blood! Stay the hell out of our government Israel!

    January 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  2. Matt

    We have to mop up in Mali, but it is the gold card that will decide if we won.

    January 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  3. thelastindependent

    "...[perceived} as anti-Jewish" for saying that "Jewish lobby intimidated lawmakers"? That's not anti-Jewish, that's the plain truth. The people in Congress are afraid that he'll expose how much the Jewish lobby has paid for their campaigns.

    January 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  4. Lyndsie Graham

    I'm all for the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Sec. of Defense. At least, he wasn't always "politically correct" as the right-wing fanatics put it and that makes them angry indeed.

    January 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Reply
    • thelastindependent

      I am upset about the anti-gay remarks in made, but the guy did apologized for that, so lighten up. Plus, he'll want to shrink the bloated Defense budget.

      January 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  5. Aislinn O'Dubhthaigh

    If "hate" is an emotion in which you feel, viscerally, a negative feeling toward the object – then I can say without any "hate" that American Jews wield far, far too much power, in proportion to their numbers, and its about time we began to gently roll it back – especially in the area of foreign policy. And banking – that's no canard... how can Jews chair virtually every federal agency with oversight of banking or finance?? {irs until recently, cbo, cftc, fdic, sec, fed, about half of the regional fed banks, national economic council, council of economic advisors, the office of budget and management – to name most of them!}

    It's supposed to be some grave sin that Hagel, once, used the term "Jewish Lobby". This is like calling Egypt a "Muslim country" – no one gets a sudden attack of 'being offended' because Egypt has a sizable non-Muslim minority. Moreover, the myriad Jewish groups, from ADL to AIPAc to JINSA {an organization, of which Richard Perle is a member, and which seems to prove that Hagel's term *should* be acceptable} seem to spend their time either declaring any criticism of Israel as 'anti-Semitism' or reminding us all what victims this most privileged, wealthy, powerful minority in America is.

    Look, my grandfathers fought in WWII. We're Celtic. We owe the Jewish people absolutely nothing.

    The US military is mostly poor kids, mostly black, hispanic, Irish and Scots-Irish. Jews are over-represented in banking, in media, in law, in medicine, and in Ivy League admissions {Jews are 2% of the country, but 20% or so of admissions at most Ivy schools – this means non-Jewish whites are the most actively discriminated against given the set asides for "minorities"!!}.

    Enough of this running in fear from "the smear". Enough of wealthy American Jews who don't serve in our military trying to construct a wearped foreign policy in which a tiny foreign country to which most Americans could not move, nor marry a denizen of by law – somehow is the most important consideration.

    Israel has killed Americans in the Lavon Affair and USS Liberty incident, and quite possibly had some role in other incidents, including stealing US technology and selling it to China.

    PUT AMERICA FIRST.

    And it's time to acknowledge that a recitation of facts can not be "anti-semitic" and anyone so claiming is just trying to dissemble and lie and hide the truth from the average American.

    No war with Iran.

    Netanyahu has been crying wolf since 1992 [google it!] and has met with various rabbis who have taken the most racist, xenophobic portions of the Talmud literally [yes, they exist, and no – it's not usually a 'mistranslation'] – indeed if you search youtube for 'netanyahu' and 'messiah' you will be shocked.

    And you will be shocked once you realize how well organized the 'Jewish lobby' is in opposing a very qualified American patriot – all because he doesn't put Israel first.

    PUT AMERICA FIRST.

    January 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  6. Star-Spangled Bullsh!t

    Hagel won't kiss Israel's @ss, that and the fact that neocons and chickenhawks despise him. I like it.

    January 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply

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