Obama's 'in your face' cabinet picks: why he chose Chuck Hagel, John Brennan
President Obama officially nominated Chuck Hagel for Defense secretary and John Brennan for CIA chief Monday. Each brings a unique view of the organization he would lead.
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These include concerns from gay rights advocates who point to Hagel’s 1998 description of a nominee to be President Clinton’s ambassador to Luxembourg as “aggressively gay,” a comment for which he has since apologized.Skip to next paragraph
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Obama gave a subtle nod to the criticism, noting that the work of the new Defense secretary will include “continuing to ensure” that servicemen and women “can serve the country they love, no matter whom they love.”
“Quite frankly, Chuck Hagel is out of the mainstream of thinking, I believe, on most issues regarding foreign policy,” Graham told CNN, adding that if he is confirmed, Hagel “would be the most antagonistic secretary of Defense towards the state of Israel in our nation’s history.”
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky told ABC on Sunday that any nominee must have “a full understanding of our close relationship with our Israeli allies, the Iranian threat, and the importance of having a robust military.”
The question, Senator McConnell added of Hagel, “is do his views make sense for that particular job?”
Brennan, for his part, was forced to withdraw from the running for CIA chief early in Obama’s first term. Critics said he supported so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which many consider to be torture, during the George W. Bush administration.
He has also been pivotal in Obama’s stepped-up drone attacks on top Al Qaeda operatives, a controversial campaign that has been likened to extra-judicial killing.
During remarks at the nomination ceremony, Brennan said he would ensure that his work at the CIA “always reflects the liberties, the freedoms, and the values that we hold so dear.”
Hagel, who was a leader at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well, would be both the first enlistee and the first Vietnam veteran to serve as Defense secretary.
His goals, he said at the White House Monday, would be to “strengthen alliances” and to “advance global freedom, decency, and humanity.”
He also said he would work to help “military families, who have sacrificed so much over the decade of war.”
These are points the president emphasized Monday. At the VA, Hagel “fought to give our veterans the benefits they deserved.”
Today, “Chuck bears the scars, and the shrapnel, from battles he fought in our name,” Obama said. “Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve.”