WASHINGTON Despite Republican misgivings, President Barack Obama announced Monday that he will nominate former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary, calling him “the leader our troops deserve.” He also chose White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
Controversy surrounds both choices, but the president called on the Senate to quickly confirm both.
“The work of protecting our nation is never done. We’ve got much to do,” Obama said at the East Room announcement. “My most solemn obligation is the security of our people.”
Obama announced his choice of Hagel, a political moderate who represented Nebraska in the Senate, even as critics questioned the pick over issues including Hagel’s views on Israel and Iran.
Facing a potential fight to get Hagel confirmed by the Senate, Obama praised his independence and bipartisan approach, and said that Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, understands war is not an abstraction. He also praised Hagel, 66, as one who could make “tough fiscal choices” in a time of increasing austerity.
Brennan, 57, a 25-year CIA veteran, is a close Obama adviser who has served in his present post for four years.
The president praised him as one of America’s most skilled and respected intelligence professionals. Obama said Brennan and Hagel understand that “the work of protecting our nation is never done.”
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.