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Coming Up: Obama To Nominate Hagel For Defense, Brennan For CIA
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 1:36 pm
President Obama is moving to fill two key posts on his national security team with the nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to be secretary of defense and current White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
We're updating this post as he speaks, so be sure to hit your "refresh" button. We've also added an audio player so you can, if you wish, hear NPR's coverage and the president's remarks.
Update at 1:35 p.m. ET. Hagel Pledges To "Always Do My Best":
In brief remarks, Hagel tells the president he will "always do my best ... for our country ... for those I represent at the Pentagon and for all our citizens."
Update at 1:30 p.m. ET. Panetta Is Off To Deal With "A Different Set Of Nuts":
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, after praising the choices of Hagel and Brennan, says that after 50 years in public service he's looking forward to returning to his walnut farm in California where he'll be "dealing with a different set of nuts." That gets a good laugh.
Update at 1:25 p.m. ET. Brennan Is "Tireless":
Turning to his remarks about Brennan, the president says he is "legendary ... for working hard. ... I"m not sure he's slept in four years." And Obama notes that with Brennan in a top counterterrorism position, "more al-Qaida leaders and commanders have been removed from the battlefield than at any time" since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. Hagel Knows War "Is Not An Abstraction":
Continuing to speak about Hagel's service as a young man, when he was twice wounded in Vietnam, the president says the former senator "knows that war is not an abstraction. ... [That] sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud is something we only do if it's absolutely necessary."
Obama also says Hagel "represents a bipartisan tradition we need more of in Washington."
Update at 1:18 p.m. ET. Hagel Is The Leader "Our Troops Deserve":
Recapping Hagel's service as an enlisted soldier in the Army during the Vietnam War, the president calls him a Pentagon leader "our troops deserve." As we noted earlier, Hagel would be the first enlisted man to serve as secretary of Defense.
Update at 1:14 p.m. ET. It's Begun:
The president, Hagel and Brennan are at the podium.
Our original post continues:
Hagel, 66, would replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who wishes to retire. He served two terms in the Senate before retiring in 2009. Hagel would be the first former enlisted man to run the Pentagon — he served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, receiving two Purple Hearts and other honors.
Brennan, 57, would fill the CIA post that opened up in November when Director David Petraeus resigned because of an extramarital affair.
Both nominees need to be confirmed by the Senate. They may face opposition, or at least some tough questions. As we wrote earlier today:
Hagel has already drawn opposition from some conservatives because he opposed the Bush administration's decision to go into war with Iraq and has supported efforts to include Iran in talks on Afghanistan. He has also drawn criticism for past remarks about the influence of what he referred to as the "Jewish lobby" and for a 1998 comment about a nominee for an ambassador's post who he said was "openly, aggressively gay." Hagel has apologized for that remark.
Brennan could be controversial because his previous work at the CIA included a stint as deputy executive director during President George W. Bush's administration at a time when waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods were used on suspected terrorists. His past comments defending some things that were done (though not waterboarding) have drawn criticism.