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Obama picks Hagel for defense, Brennan for CIA
Published Monday 07/01/2013 (updated) 09/01/2013 13:40
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US President Barack Obama (Reuters/File)
By Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday nominated former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the CIA, potentially setting up a Senate confirmation battle on two fronts and establishing a tough tone to start his second term.

Mindful of the concerns about both Hagel and Brennan on Capitol Hill, Obama spoke at length about each in a White House ceremony, then turned over the microphone to outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and acting CIA Director Mike Morell to provide testimonials about their chosen replacements.

Obama urged the Senate to move quickly in confirming Hagel, a military veteran who served in Vietnam, and Brennan, who spent 25 years at the CIA.

"I hope that the Senate will act on these confirmations promptly. When it comes to national security, we don't like to leave a lot of gaps between the time that one set of leaders transitions out and another transitions in. So we need to get moving quickly on this," Obama said.

If confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, Hagel and Brennan would fill out a national security team that Obama is building for his second term in office. He has already nominated Democratic Senator John Kerry as his secretary of state to replace the well-regarded Hillary Clinton.

Hagel clearly faces the toughest fight.

While senators are normally inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to someone from their ranks, this was not the case with Hagel, a maverick former senator from Nebraska.

As Hagel's name was floated for the post in recent weeks, many Republicans and some Democrats reacted with alarm, expressing deep concerns about past statements the moderate Republican has made. He has offered controversial views on key US ally Israel, once complaining about the power of the Jewish lobby in Washington and urging direct talks with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Past remarks seen as disparaging to gays have drawn the ire of gay rights groups. A group called the Log Cabin Republicans published a full-page ad in The Washington Post that attacked "Chuck Hagel's record on gay rights."

Obama could also face opposition from human rights groups over his choice of Brennan, a CIA veteran who withdrew from consideration for the spy agency's top job in 2008 after questions were raised about his views on "enhanced interrogation techniques" - which are widely considered to be torture - that were used on terrorism suspects during the Bush administration.

Brennan would succeed retired General David Petraeus, who resigned in November after he was brought down by a sex scandal that involved an extramarital affair with his biographer.
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1 ) ian / australia
08/01/2013 02:44
2013 shaping up as quite promising so far. Hamas and Fatah becoming best buds. President "revenge-is-a-dish-best-served-cold" Obama sending signals to PM Netanyahu with Chuck Hagel for SoD. Europe pissed off and reportedly (according to Israeli report) devising its own 2SS, no Israeli input required. And postage stamps, letterhead and ICC membership etc. for new State of Palestine. Yep. So far a good year.

2 ) Chuck / USA
08/01/2013 09:52
Hagel has made many enemy's in both parties while serving as a US Senator. I serious doubt he'll get enough votes to be approved as Secy. of Defense.

3 ) Mel / USA
08/01/2013 17:08
Brennan is(still)a LYING,anti-democracy,pro-Drone assassin Bush/Cheney-ite who kisses AIPAC butt,which is good for any fascist-Zionist minority,but BAD for global majority,democracy,human rights &USA's global image! Anyone who puts FASCISM above rule-of-law democracy is bad for USA & GLOBAL Jewry! Hagel is a good man,STRONG in ethics,CAUTIOUS,&doesn't tolerate FASCISM,or religious extremism,of ANY KIND! Hagel's'enemies'=imperialists,fascists&sycophants. ERGO,he's GOOD FOR US,Israel & PALESTINE!

4 ) Reader / from Edmonton
08/01/2013 21:12
It's good to know which of our politicians are financed by foreign governments.

5 ) Colin Wright / USA
08/01/2013 21:18
To Mel #3 '...Hagel's'enemies'=imperialists,fascists&sycophants. ERGO,he's GOOD FOR...Israel...' That'd be a non-sequitur. Unless, of course, your argument is that enemies are good for Israel.

6 ) Mel / USA
09/01/2013 00:35
#5:Colin,My point is not to confuse Judaism with POLITICAL ZIONISM!FOREIGN Israel & its ZIONIST occupation of Palestine is the OPPOSITE of democracy,tolerance,equality of freedoms!So all who support Zionism are NO TRUE friends,of rule-of-law democracy,international/Constitutional laws,tolerance & FAIR DIALOGUE(all supposed"values"of America).Israel &USG are SO symbiotic coz they're mainly controlled by racists,exceptionalists,or cowards!Hagel has no time such,or FOREIGN leeches,who'd RUIN USA!

7 ) Terry / Sweden
09/01/2013 13:23
The nomination of Hagel can be regarded as a slap in Nutty-Yahoo's face by Obama because Nutty-Yahoo fervently supported Romney during the US elections.
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