News / USA

Obama Nominates New Defense, Spy Chiefs

Obama Picks Hagel, Brennan for Pentagon, CIA Postsi
January 08, 2013 1:42 AM
President Barack Obama has nominated former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be U.S. Secretary of Defense, and his counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency. VOA senior White House Correspondent Dan Robinson reports.
Obama Picks Hagel, Brennan for Pentagon, CIA Posts
President Barack Obama on Monday nominated former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be his new secretary of defense. Obama also chose counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the CIA.  
Obama made his choices official in the White House East Room with Hagel and Brennan standing by his side.
The president noted that Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran, would be the first person of enlisted military rank to serve as secretary of defense.
"He understands that sending young Americans to fight, bleed in the dirt and mud, that is something that we only do when it is absolutely necessary.  My frame of reference, he has said, is geared toward the guy at the bottom who is doing the fighting and the dying," he said. 
Chuck Hagel

  • Was chairman of the Atlantic Council public policy group
  • Co-chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
  • Republican U.S. senator from 1997-2009 representing Nebraska
  • Served in Vietnam in 1968, where he earned two Purple Hearts
  • Born in 1946 in Nebraska
Hagel served two terms as a senator from the Midwestern state of Nebraska.  He gained a reputation as someone who is willing to break with his own party on key issues.
Hagel paid tribute to departing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and members of the armed forces.
"I am also grateful for an opportunity to help continue to strengthen our country and strengthen our country's alliances and advance global freedom, decency and humanity, as we help build a better world for all mankind," he said. 
Hagel has faced sharp criticism from some Republican senators, and pro-Israel groups, who say he has shown hostility toward Israel and weakness on how to deal with Iran.
Senate minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell spoke Sunday on NBC television's "Meet the Press" program. 
"I think there will be a lot of tough questions of Senator Hagel.  But he will be treated fairly by Republicans in the Senate," he said. 
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz appeared on the "Fox News Sunday" program.
"Hagel's record is very, very troubling on the nation of Israel.  He has not been a friend to Israel.  And in my view, the United States should stand unshakably with the nation of Israel," he said. 
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended Hagel on Monday. "Senator Hagel has been a staunch supporter of Israel, of the Israeli-American relationship, of U.S. support for Israel's security throughout his career," he said. 
Hagel also faced criticism from organizations representing homosexuals, and issued an apology in December for a comment in 1998 that disparaged a gay U.S. diplomat. 
John Brennan

  • 2009-present: Assistant to President Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism
  • 2005-2008: President and CEO of The Analysis Corporation
  • 2004-2005: Interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center
  • 2003-2004: Director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center
  • 2001-2003: CIA deputy executive director
John Brennan's nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency is expected to be less controversial, although he will face tough questions about the Obama administration's counterterrorism policy.
He has been the administration's key spokesman on the use of drones in targeted killings of suspected terrorists, calling them "legal, ethical, wise and highly effective."  
"If confirmed as director, I will make it my mission to ensure that the CIA has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe, and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms and the values that we hold so dear," he said. 
Brennan would replace Army General David Petraeus, who resigned in November because of an extramarital affair.
President Obama called Brennan a tireless worker for national security, saying he would bring extensive experience and insights to the job.
"John developed and has overseen our comprehensive counterterrorism strategy - a collaborative effort across the government including intelligence, defense and homeland security, and law enforcement agencies," he said. 
Obama said Brennan's work contributed to major successes against al-Qaida that have made it harder to plan attacks against the United States. The president called on the Senate to act as soon as possible on both nominations.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs