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Obama taps Hagel for Pentagon, Brennan for CIA

By Julie Pace

AP White House Correspondent

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:47 a.m. HST, Jan 07, 2013


WASHINGTON » Despite Republican misgivings, President Barack Obama announced today he will nominate former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary, calling him "the leader our troops deserve." He also chose White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Controversy surrounds both choices, but the president called on the Senate to quickly confirm both.

"The work of protecting our nation is never done. We've got much to do," Obama said at the East Room announcement. "My most solemn obligation is the security of our people."

Obama announced his choice of Hagel, a political moderate who represented Nebraska in the Senate, even as critics questioned the pick over issues including Hagel's views on Israel and Iran.

Facing a potential fight to get Hagel confirmed by the Senate, Obama praised his independence and bipartisan approach, and said that Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, understands war is not an abstraction. He also praised Hagel, 66, as one who could make "tough fiscal choices" in a time of increasing austerity.

Brennan, 57, a 25-year CIA veteran, is a close Obama adviser who has served in his present post for four years.

The president praised him as one of America's most skilled and respected intelligence professionals. Obama said Brennan and Hagel understand that "the work of protecting our nation is never done."

Brennan withdrew from consideration for the spy agency's top job in 2008 amid questions about his connection to harsh interrogation techniques used during the George W. Bush administration.

Hagel, in brief remarks, thanked Obama "for this opportunity to serve this country again, especially its men and women in uniform. ... These are people who give so much to this nation every day."

Hagel voted for U.S. military involvement in the Iraq war at first but later opposed it. He broke ranks with other Republicans to support Obama for president in 2008.

If confirmed, he would replace Leon Panetta as defense secretary.

Obama said Panetta, standing with the others alongside the president, had "earned the right to return to civilian life."

Panetta was CIA director before Obama tapped him to be defense chief.

Along with secretary of state nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Hagel and Brennan would play key roles implementing and shaping Obama's national security priorities in a second term. All three men must be confirmed by the Senate.

In nominating Hagel, Obama signaled he is willing to take on a tough confirmation fight. Once Hagel emerged as Obama's likely nominee, GOP lawmakers began sharply questioning his commitment to Israel and his willingness to take a hard line with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

Of Brennan, Obama said he had an "invaluable perspective" on global affairs. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East and was once CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia. Brennan helped orchestrate administration policy in Yemen and the response to the Arab Spring, and played a role in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

"I will make it my mission to make sure that the CIA has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe and that its work always reflects the liberties, freedoms and values that we hold so dear," Brennan said in brief remarks.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., issued a statement shortly after the White House announcement on Brennan, saying he had "many questions and concerns about his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, especially what role he played in the so-called enhanced interrogation programs while serving at the CIA during the last administration, as well as his public defense of those programs."

Hagel, something of a maverick among Republican senators during his two terms, has criticized the discussion of a military strike by either the U.S. or Israel against Iran. He also irritated some Israel backers with his reference to the "Jewish lobby" in the United States. And he has backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for future peace talks in Afghanistan.

Obama said that when he and Hagel served in the Senate "I came to admire his courage and his judgment, his willingness to speak his mind even if it wasn't popular, even if it defied the conventional wisdom. That's exactly the spirit I want on my national security team — a recognition that when it comes to the defense of our country, we are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans."

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., has called Hagel's foreign policy views "outside the mainstream" and has said he would be "the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of Israel in our nation's history."

Although bracing for a confirmation fight over Hagel, the administration has expressed confidence both its nominees will be confirmed.

Supporters of Hagel's nomination have said it would be hard for Republicans to reject a former colleague, especially one who's a Vietnam veteran and served on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees.

___

Associated Press writers Robert Burns, Donna Cassata and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.







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EwaWarrior wrote:
Colt Brennan for CIA? Wow! (LOL)
on January 7,2013 | 08:51AM
false wrote:
What is the basis for the complaint about Hagel's reference to the "Jewish Lobby"? Should he have said "Israel Lobby" instead? While many American Jews are highly critical of Israel's policies, it undeniable the commanding organizations within the organized Jewish community lobby hard for the Israeli right wing.

Many of the Republicans who are attacking Hagel are indisputably anti-semitic, as they only support aggressive Israeli policies in order to help fulfill fundamentalist Christian prophecies about Armageddon. An essential part of that belief is that all Jews will be thrown into Hell unless they convert to Christianity. I don't know what can be more anti-semitic than the belief Jews deserve eternal damnation simply for being Jews.


on January 7,2013 | 09:28AM
CriticalReader wrote:
Hilarious that McCain and Graham are speaking for the GOP re: judgment and/or soundness of nominee choices. McCain chose Palin. Graham was sitting next to him on the campaign planes and buses whispering in his ear the whole time. And, an even lesser irony is that Hagel is from their own party (Obama has more respect for a GOPer than these two GOPers?). Sort of expected Graham in particular to become a respected leader in this country. He will irreparably damage any possibility of that if he leads a fight against Hagel. Gotta wonder if the GOP water fountains are tainted with some sort of lead source.
on January 7,2013 | 09:29AM
false wrote:
The censor does not allow you to post if you use the word J E W. Seriously? Can I use the word G E N T I L E? How's about Muslim? Protestant? Catholic? Christian?
on January 7,2013 | 09:31AM
CriticalReader wrote:
So make your point without using those words instead of complaining about not being able to use those words.
on January 7,2013 | 09:39AM
Kapakahi wrote:
What words would you suggest he use instead? Hebrew-American? The "Hebraic community"? Hebrew refers to a race. "Jew" might be defined by religion, culture or ethnicity. One can be a non-religious Jew, for example. Or even a non-Hebraic adherent to Judaism. "Jew" and "Jewish" are the appropriate and unavoidable words and should not trigger automatic review. Though in this case, it appears the review was only temporary.
on January 7,2013 | 02:19PM
CriticalReader wrote:
But it's the paper's website, so the paper gets to make the rules. All of the words you used seem like good alternatives to get the arguments across. And, if those words work instead, just use 'em. The paper doesn't care what you, false or I think, much less about what we have to say. They just provide a playground to make us keep coming back and add to their hit count. Of course the irony is that the base article talks about use of the word, and objections taken to the meanings and intent underlying the word. But, so what? You guys expect some sort of grand notion of integrity to be applied here? That hypocrisy be avoided? Are you kidding? This is modern America. A Mormon US Senator just plead guilty to drunken driving, and as far as I know, he's still a Mormon and still a US Senator.
on January 7,2013 | 07:10PM
false wrote:
The article can use the term "Je.wish Lobby." But the software will not allow me to address the issue? What does it say when it is assumed the proper word for a believer in Judaism cannot be used in a public forum? Whoever is in charge of this software is either anti-semitic or does not care about anti-semitism, as we are forbidden to talk about it.
on January 7,2013 | 09:38AM
hawaiikone wrote:
"Jew" (had to try)
on January 7,2013 | 11:53AM
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