January 8, 2013

President digs in for fight over Hagel, Brennan nominations

Maine's two U.S. senators both say they will reserve judgments until the end of the confirmation process.

By JULIE PACE The Associated Press

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AGE: 66

EDUCATION: Graduate, Brown Institute for Radio and Television, Minneapolis, 1966; bachelor’s degree, history, University of Nebraska, Omaha, 1971.


Chairman of the Atlantic Council and the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee;

co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and member of the Defense Policy Board.

U.S. senator, 1997-2009;

president, McCarthy & Co., an investment banking firm based in Omaha, Neb., 1992-1996;

president and chief executive officer of the Private Sector Council, a nonprofit business organization in Washington, D.C., 1990-1992;

co-founder and director of two cellular telecommunications companies, 1982-1987;

deputy administrator, U.S. Veterans Administration, 1981-1982;

manager of government affairs, Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 1977-1980;

assistant to Rep. John Y. McCollister, R-Neb., 1971-1977;

newscaster and talk-show host in Nebraska, 1969-1971;

Army, including service in Vietnam, 1967-1968.


AGE: 57

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree, political science, Fordham University, 1977; master’s degree, government, University of Texas at Austin, 1980.


Assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, 2009-present;

president and CEO of The Analysis Corporation, McLean, Va., 2005-08;

interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center, 2004-2005;

director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, 2003-2004;

CIA deputy executive director, 2001-2003.

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

Perhaps even more concerning for Hagel's prospects has been the tepid response from some Democrats. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said Hagel had earned the right to a full and fair confirmation hearing, but he reserved judgment on whether he would back him. And Maryland's Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said he and other lawmakers "have questions that have to be answered" specifically on Hagel's views on Iran and Israel.

Obama called Hagel "the leader our troops deserve" and someone who could make "tough fiscal choices" in a time of increasing austerity. The Pentagon is facing the potential of deep budget cuts in the coming months.

Hagel has criticized discussion of a military strike by either the United States or Israel against Iran. During his tenure in the Senate, he voted against unilateral economic sanctions on Tehran, although he supports the joint international penalties Obama also prefers. Hagel also irritated some Israel backers with his reference to the "Jewish lobby" in the United States.

The White House focused instead Monday on the military record of Hagel, who was awarded two Purple Hearts.

"Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction," Obama said. "He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that's something we only do when it's absolutely necessary."

The president, who prefers to keep a tight inner circle, has close ties to both Hagel and Brennan.

Obama and Hagel served together in the Senate and made several trips overseas. Brennan has become one of the president's most trusted advisers, working with him during the planning of the raid that led to the death of Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.


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