Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is in Israel, working out deals for the V-22 and helping to firm up plans for future military aid. Stay tuned to DefenseNews.com, where we’ll have updates as news breaks.
The scene for about five hours Thursday afternoon on the Senate side of the Capitol was nothing shy of controlled chaos. Senators, staffers and journalists darted about from gaggle to gaggle, meeting to meeting like frenzied bees around a nest.
Check DefenseNews.com for our coverage from a memorable Thursday — there’s more to come in the next few days as we wrestle with what it all means. But it’s the nature of the journalism business that some things don’t make it into published coverage. After the jump are some leftover nuggets from your correspondent’s notebook and recorder as we mop up the messy first round of the Hagel nomination. More
Today is the day so many have been waiting for. No, it’s not Super Bowl Sunday. Yet. Rather, former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about his nomination to replace Leon Panetta as defense secretary.
Since Hagel’s name was floated for the post in early December, Hagel has been sharply criticized by his former fellow-GOP senators and pro-Israel groups for his past comments on the U.S.-Israel alliance, whether the Pentagon budget can and should be trimmed, how to confront Iran over its nuclear arms program, gay rights and the proper size of the U.S. nuclear arms fleet. Expect questions on all those topics. Another likely line of questioning could come from Republicans about allegations that Hagel is hard on staffers.
In answers to written policy questions provided to the panel this week, Hagel largely tried to align himself with the views of President Barack Obama. For instance, he took the same tone as Panetta, saying pending defense sequestration cuts would undermine U.S. military power. Defense News senior reporters John T. Bennett and Marcus Weisgerber will be here throughout the hearing — yes, including on a possible second day — live blogging the action. Please check back early and often for updates.
5:49 p.m. — Sen. Levin gavels this epic hearing to a close. Thanks for stopping by. ANALYSIS: Not a dominating performance by Hagel. He labored a bit, and seemed to contradict himself at times. Doubt he lost any Democratic support, however. — John T. Bennett
5:42 p.m. — Sen. Cruz calls Hagel “the most antagonistic” member in Senate (ever?) against Israel, and most unwilling (ever?) to confront Iran. Levin asks Cruz to submit any remaining questions for the record, but never looked directly at Cruz, instead icily gazing straight ahead. There’s tension there. – John T. Bennett
It took lawmakers nearly 10 hours last week of sometimes-substantive, sometimes-political hearings to sort through the Benghazi scandal and Sen. John Kerry’s nomination to be secretary of state. Could it take longer for a Senate panel to grill Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s pick to be defense secretary?
“It’s possible,” Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin, D-Mich., told Defense News on Tuesday. “It depends on how the [Thursday] hearing goes. I just don’t know.”
Levin was clear that he has yet to formally schedule a second Hagel confirmation hearing. But it’s clear the chairman has thought about it. More
Most American voters believe during his second term President Obama’s top global priorities should be focusing on the sluggish global economy, keeping Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear arms and ending the Afghanistan war, according to a new poll.
Combating terrorism is less on voters’ minds than those issues, states the Better World Campaign poll of 900 registered U.S. voters, released Wednesday morning. More
The anti-Chuck Hagel factions had their say, some of them on Sunday morning political talk shows. This morning, the Obama administration is trotting out its chief national security fixer: former Secretary of State and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. (ret.) Colin Powell.
Hagel has endured an onslaught of criticism from advocates of massive Pentagon budgets, pro-Israel groups, gay rights organizations and Iran hawks since even before President Obama last week formally nominated him to be defense secretary. In sending Powell to the highly rated Sunday show, the White House is sending in one of the most-respected national Republican figures and a respected national security leader. Powell’s comments are most likely aimed at moderate Republican and Democratic senators, many of whom have yet to declare how they will vote on Hagel’s nomination.
But will the move substantially help Hagel? One source who has been involved in numerous SecDef confirmation processes says no. More
It’s an open secret the U.S. defense sector would celebrate a return to the Senate by Scott Brown. Just following the campaign cash shows that. Officially, Brown says he’s mulling whether to seek the seat that is expected to be vacated if Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is confirmed soon as secretary of state.
But the defense sector will have to wait several months for a special election for a return of perhaps its favorite senator from a traditionally liberal-leaning northeastern state. And, in the meantime, Kerry’s seat could be filled by a longtime thorn in its side: former liberal firebrand Rep. Barney Frank. More
All it takes in Washington these days to turn an opinion into an industry is a little planning, a few meetings, a coordinated plan and enough dollars. The latest example of this is the ever-growing and -sophisticated campaign against President Obama’s nomination of former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel for defense secretary.
A loose confederation of Republican lawmakers and pundits, pro-Israeli organizations and gay rights groups have mobilized to mount a collective push to convince enough GOP and pro-Israeli senators to shoot down the Hagel nomination. More
Mere days after announcing that he would be retiring from politics, Israel’s Minister of Defense Ehud Barak visited the Pentagon Nov. 29. Despite the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, as well as drama at the U.N. surrounding Palestine’s newly increased status in the body, the two men enjoyed a day of discussion, possibly tinged with a hint of bromance. More photos after the break More
As tensions in the Middle East continue to rise surrounding the ongoing skirmishes across the Gaza border, several news agencies reported that a member of parliament in Bahrain had staged his own protest, lighting an Israeli flag inside of parliament… More