News / USA

Hagel Faces Tough Questions at Nomination Hearing

Hagel's Future at Pentagon Clouded by Stormy Senate Hearingi
X
February 01, 2013 3:07 AM
Confirmation of President Barack Obama’s choice for U.S. Defense Secretary is uncertain after a contentious hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Former Senator Chuck Hagel faced hours of intense and sometimes combative questioning Thursday, even from his one-time colleagues in the Republican Party. VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

Hagel's Future at Pentagon Clouded by Stormy Senate Hearing

Michael Bowman
Senate confirmation of President Barack Obama’s pick to be U.S. defense secretary remains uncertain after a contentious hearing before the Armed Services Committee.  Former Republican senator Chuck Hagel faced hours of intense and sometimes combative questioning from one-time colleagues.
 
If Hagel’s goal for his confirmation hearing was to win the backing of Republican lawmakers, his exchange with Senator John McCain seemed ominous.

McCain repeatedly asked if Hagel regretted his opposition to the 2007 U.S. troop surge in Iraq.

“The question is: were you right or wrong? That is a pretty straightforward question,” he said.

Hagel declined to answer. “I am not going to give you a ‘yes or no.’  I think it is far more complicated than that. As I have already said, my answer is: I will defer that judgment to history,” he said.

McCain fired back.

“I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir. And you are on the wrong side of it.  And your refusal to answer whether you were right or wrong is going to have an impact on my judgment as to whether to vote for your confirmation or not,” he said.

Chuck Hagel
  1. Chairman of the Atlantic Council public policy group
  2. Co-chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
  3. Republican U.S. senator from 1997-2009 representing Nebraska
  4. Served in Vietnam in 1968, where he earned two Purple Hearts
  5. Born in 1946 in Nebraska
Hagel was also put on the defensive over past votes and statements concerning Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s backing for international terrorism, Israel’s influence in U.S. politics, and the necessity of America’s nuclear arsenal. Hagel repeatedly proclaimed his support for Obama administration policies, regardless of past statements or actions.

“I am on the record on many issues. But no one individual vote, no one individual quote, no one individual statement defines me,” Hagel said.

Republican Senator James Inhofe was not impressed.

“Senator Hagel’s record is deeply troubling and out of the mainstream. Too often, it seems, he is willing to subscribe to a worldwide view that is predicated on appeasing our adversaries while shunning our friends,” he said.

Hagel rejected the allegation. “My overall worldview has never changed: that America has and must maintain the strongest military in the world, that we must lead in the international community to confront threats and challenges together,” he said.

The hearing was not entirely hostile. Democratic Senator Carl Levin noted Hagel’s service as an enlisted soldier in the Vietnam War.

“It would be a positive message for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in harm’s way around the world to know that one of their own holds the highest office in the Department of Defense, and that he has their backs,” Levin said.

Hagel appears to have the support of Democratic senators, who hold a majority in the Senate. But he would need at least five Republican votes for confirmation if any senator used a procedural maneuver to force a three-fifths vote on his nomination.  He would succeed outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks to service members and civilian employees at the Pentagon after being sworn in, Feb. 27, 2013.
  • Outgoing Senator Chuck Hagel greets supporters after a farewell news conference in Omaha, Nebraska, December 18, 2008.
  • Then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, David Petraeus, and Chuck Hagel ride in a helicopter, Baghdad, Iraq, July 21, 2008. (US Army)
  • Then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joe Biden, left, laughs as then Senator Chuck Hagel dresses up as Biden for Halloween, October 31, 2007, on Capitol Hill.
  • Then President George W. Bush and then Senator Chuck Hagel embrace at the Airlite Plastics Company in Omaha, Nebraska, May 12, 2003.
  • Then Senator Chuck Hagel, left, and Senator John Kerry, shake hands while with other senators who served in Vietnam at the 15th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, March 7, 1997.
  • Chuck Hagel (right) standing outside tents in Vietnam, circa 1968. (Library of Congress)

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid