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story.lead_photo.caption John Brennan in 2010. - Photo by The Associated Press

— 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.

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  • RonalFos
    January 7, 2013 at 8:23 a.m.

    This is typical Republican tactic of of opposing Obama on everything, even on things and people they once were for. They are constantly willing to throw sand into the gears of good government for no other reason than hatred of the man who beat them.

  • FreeSpiritMan
    January 7, 2013 at 8:49 a.m.

    SRBROTHERINLAW ..........You first statement is not worthy of an answer, it's like me saying you are a muslim at heart. And what if he is, there is no religious litmus test for POTUS, you were ready to elect a Mormon, which many Christains believe is a cult.

    We do not have to kiss Israel's butt afterall:
    The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency's Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies. This means the CIA believes that U.S. national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.
    Jonathan Jay Pollard (born August 7, 1954, Galveston, Texas) is an American who spied for Israel. While working as an American civilian intelligence analyst, he passed classified information to Israel. He pled guilty and received a life sentence in 1987. As his crime occurred prior to November 1, 1987, he is eligible for parole, and may be released on November 21, 2015.[1][2]

    Israel granted Pollard citizenship in 1995, but denied until 1998 that it had bought classified information from him.[3] Israeli activist groups, as well as high-profile Israeli politicians, have lobbied for his release.[4] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced particularly strong support for Pollard, visiting the convicted spy in prison in 2002.[5][6] (His case was later linked to that of Ben-ami Kadish, another U.S. national who pleaded guilty to charges of passing classified information to Israel in the same period.[7][8]) Pollard renounced his United States citizenship and is now solely an Israeli citizen. He would be deported to Israel if he were released from prison.[9]

  • FreeSpiritMan
    January 7, 2013 at 9:29 a.m.

    One other note about Jonathan Pollard"
    Pollard eventually cooperated with investigators in exchange for a plea agreement for leniency for himself and his wife. Israel claimed initially that Pollard worked for an unauthorized rogue operation, a position they maintained for more than ten years, and agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for immunity for the Israelis involved.

    When asked to return the stolen material, the Israelis reportedly only turned over a few dozen low-classified documents.[37] At the time, the Americans knew that Pollard had passed tens of thousands of documents. When American investigators traveled to Israel they were treated with hostility from the moment they arrived in Israel to the moment they left.[37] The Israelis created a schedule designed to wear them down, including many hours per day of commuting in blacked out buses on rough roads, and frequent switching of buses[37] leaving them without adequate time to sleep and preventing them from sleeping on the commute.[37] The identity of Pollard's original handler, Sella, was withheld. All questions had to be translated into Hebrew and answered in Hebrew, and then translated back into English, even though all the parties spoke perfect English.[37] The Commander Jerry Agee remembers that, even as he departed the airport, airport security made a point of informing him that "you will never be coming back here again"; Agee found various items had been stolen from his luggage, upon his return to the United States.[37] The abuse came not only from the guards and officials, but also the Israeli media.[37]

    Aviem Sella, Pollard's initial Israeli contact, was eventually indicted on three counts of espionage by an American court.[38] Israel refused to allow him to be interviewed unless he was granted immunity. The United States refused because of Israel's previous failure to cooperate as promised. Israel then refused to extradite Sella, instead giving him command of Tel Nof Airbase. The U.S. Congress responded by threatening to cut aid to Israel, at which point Sella voluntarily stepped down to defuse tensions.[39

  • FreeSpiritMan
    January 7, 2013 at 10:06 a.m.

    Another friend of Israel?
    JERUSALEM — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Monday called for a gradual reduction of American foreign aid, delivering the message in an unlikely venue — since Israel is among the top recipients of American assistance.

    Paul, R-Ky., said the U.S. can’t afford to keep borrowing money and then handing it out to others, even to allies like Israel.

  • LevyRat
    January 7, 2013 at 10:11 a.m.

    First, get a life. Second, there should be no confirmation process for cabinet positions. If the President wants a person to serve, that should be the end of the discussion. If that person is or is not a poor choice, the President is ultimately to blame or receive credit.

  • trainingman
    January 7, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.

    I truly believe it is not an Obama, or whatever, I tell you it is all of them Congressmen, Senators, etc trying to look out from themselves and screwing everyone else!

  • 000
    January 7, 2013 at 4:34 p.m.

    wow! Obama in front of the Great Seal (see pic above) looks like christ in a byzantine painting. That halo is nice, he needs to wear it all the time.
    BS - Rand and I both believe we shouldn't be giving out our dollars in foreign aid. Israel or anybody else, for that matter. Give a starving third worlder a ton of food and when you come back the next year the only change is you now have two starving third worlders to feed. feed'em and breed'em. hell, it's like that in the U.S., come to think about it....

  • 000
    January 7, 2013 at 4:35 p.m.

    LevyRat is absolutely correct. Time to start feeding Obama the rope...

  • cliffcarson
    January 7, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.

    How many?

    "According to a report last month by academics at Stanford and New York universities, between 2,562 and 3,325 people have been killed since the strikes in Pakistan began in 2004."

    This is just Pakistan. Drone strikes are also carried out daily over Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, and who knows where else. I have seen reports that place the overall figure at over 6,000 civilians in the Middle East.

    This report said that 41 high value targets had been killed.

    My question is: How many innocent people have to be killed before it is called murder? One more report to chew on. One Government report said there were 3 to 9 civilians killed in 2012.

    Brannan is the architect of the Drone strikes.

    This horror story of the murder of innocents is one of the reasons that I said Obama should be impeached then turned over to International Courts. America is a Nation of better people than this.