The Cable: President Barack Obama is expected to name Chuck Hagel as his choice for defense secretary as early as Monday, as critics of the former Nebraska senator prepare to go to war to fight his expected nomination.
White House officials and sources close to Hagel declined to confirm to The Cable that Hagel is the president’s choice to be the replace Leon Panetta at the helm of the Pentagon, but several sources close to the process said have told The Cable that the White House and Hagel have been in touch on a regular basis and that Hagel is indeed the expected pick. Decisions about the timing and logistics of the announcement are being finalized now.
The Cable had previously confirmed that Hagel successfully complete the vetting process, as have Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy.
Meanwhile, Hagel’s detractors are moving forward with their campaign against the nomination, which has been expanding ever since The Cable first reported in November that Hagel was in consideration for the Pentagon post. That campaign has included anonymous Senate aides calling Hagel an anti-Semite, the Washington Post editorial board writing that, “Chuck Hagel is not the right choice for defense secretary,” and the Emergency Committee for Israel, which counts among its board members Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, running a television ad criticizing Hagel’s opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran. “For secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel is not a responsible option,” the ad claims.
“Even if one left aside Chuck Hagel’s dangerous views on Iran and his unpleasant distaste for Israel and Jews, a dispassionate analyst would have to conclude that the case for Hagel is extraordinarily weak,” Kristol wrote in an editorial Friday, in which he urged Obama to choose Carter, Flournoy, or Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. [Continue reading…]