14 GOP Senators urge Obama to withdraw Hagel nomination
14 Republican Senators, led by Senate minority whip John Cornyn (Tx), have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to withdraw Chuck Hagel's nomination
to be Secretary of Defense.
While Senator Hagel’s erratic record and myriad
conversions on key national security issues are troubling enough, his
statements regarding Iran were disconcerting. More than once during the
hearing, he proclaimed the legitimacy of the current regime in Tehran,
which has violently repressed its own citizens, rigged recent elections,
provided material support for terrorism, and denied the Holocaust.
Regarding U.S. policy on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, Senator
Hagel displayed a seeming ambivalence about whether containment or
prevention is the best approach, which gives us great concern. Any
sound strategy on Iran must be underpinned by the highly credible threat
of U.S. military force, and there is broad bipartisan agreement on that
point. If Senator Hagel becomes Secretary of Defense, the military
option will have near zero credibility. This sends a dangerous message
to the regime in Tehran, as it seeks to obtain the means necessary to
harm both the United States and Israel.
Perhaps not coincidentally, we learn today that Iran is expanding its nuclear weapons operation.
The senators also focus on what a divisive figure Hagel has become and how little support he has:
It would be unprecedented for a Secretary of Defense to
take office without the broad base of bipartisan support and confidence
needed to serve effectively in this critical position. Over the last
half-century, no Secretary of Defense has been confirmed and taken
office with more than three Senators voting against him. Further, in
the history of this position, none has ever been confirmed with more
than 11 opposing votes. The occupant of this critical office should be
someone whose candidacy is neither controversial nor divisive.
The idea that Hagel is no worse or better than other candidates is
preposterous when one considers the records of former and current
officials such as Michele Flournoy and Ash Carter.
In contrast, in 2011, you nominated Leon Panetta, who was confirmed
by the Senate with unanimous support. His Pentagon tenure has been a
huge success, due in part to the high degree of trust and confidence
that Senators on both sides of the aisle have placed in him.
The senators argue,
“The next Secretary of Defense should have a similar level of
broad-based bipartisan support and confidence in order to succeed at a
time when the Department of Defense faces monumental challenges,
including Iran’s relentless drive to obtain nuclear weapons, a
heightened threat of nuclear attack from North Korea, potentially deep
budget cuts, a strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, military
operations in Afghanistan, the ongoing Global War on Terror, the
continued slaughter of Syrian civilians at the hands of their own
government, and other aftermath of the Arab Spring.”
Cornyn’s stature as not only a respected senior senator but also the
Republican whip suggests that opposition to Hagel is not lifting. The
names of those willing to sign onto the letter underscores that point:
Jim Inhofe (Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Armed Services
Committee; committee members Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Roger Wicker
(R-Miss.), David Vitter (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Mike Lee
(R-Utah); Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.),
Ron Johnson (R – Wis.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom
Coburn (R-Okla.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.). A source close to the
drafting process tells me not to “read too much” into who didn’t sign
the letter as many senators are on the road and could not get access to
Yesterday, Graham sent a letter to Hagel demanding to know if he made
the reported comments that Israel was approaching “apartheid” and the
Israeli prime minister was a “radical.” Moderate Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)
also spoke out against Hagel yesterday.
Hmmm. I wonder if there is any chance at arousing similar opposition to John 'al-Quds' Brennan's nomination to be director of the CIA.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Chuck Hagel, John Brennan, United States Senate