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

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs