When Senator Hagel’s name first surfaced as a potential nominee for Secretary of Defense, I had genuine concerns over certain aspects of his record on Israel and Iran. Once the President made his choice, however, I agreed to keep these reservations private until I had the opportunity to discuss them fully with Senator Hagel in person.
In a meeting Monday, Senator Hagel spent approximately 90 minutes addressing my concerns one by one. It was a very constructive session. Senator Hagel could not have been more forthcoming and sincere.
Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him.
In his statement, Schumer recounts questioning Hagel on his past positions on Hezbollah, Iran, Israel, and the “Jewish Lobby.” Hagel recanted many of his previous positions. However, regarding Hagel’s statement on the “Jewish Lobby,” Schumer announced that, “Senator Hagel understands the sensitivity around such a loaded term and regrets saying it.” Notice that while he regrets saying it, Hagel did not disavow the idea of a pernicious “Jewish Lobby” controlling American politics.
While there was hope that Chuck Schumer might oppose Hagel as he had opposed Chas Freeman, the anti-Semitic diplomat whose nomination for the National Intelligence Council he helped stop, it is not particularly surprising that he has failed to take a stand against Hagel. While Schumer purports to be one of the leading Democrats on Middle East policy, he also had no problem with the Democrats removing support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from their party platform, and did not even know the president’s position on Jerusalem.
The question remains, who is the real Chuck Hagel? Is he the man those on the left have been celebrating for opposing any military option on Iran? Or is it the Hagel whose “’top priority’ as Secretary of Defense would be the planning of military contingencies related to Iran?” While Hagel may be trying to spin his way out of these past statements, he has yet to abjure his dangerously misguided views on slashing military spending and the surge in Iraq. Despite Schumer’s blessing, Chuck Hagel is still the wrong choice for secretary of defense.