The Corner

Is Hagel Toast?

Powerline’s John Hinderaker thinks former senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Obama’s defense secretary is already dead. He may be right.

Andrew’s post from last evening homes in on why. As Senator Ted Cruz pointed out in his superb questioning at the confirmation hearing (which irritated all the right people), Hagel has stonewalled the Senate regarding transcripts of his prior speeches. Hagel’s propensity to say stupid things is already notorious (see, e.g., the Let Freedom Ring USA video I mentioned yesterday). It’s thus hard to imagine that the substance of the speeches is the problem. No, the issue must be that Hagel has been giving speeches to, taking speaking fees from, and otherwise canoodling with what Andrew refers to as “unsavory” organizations. Two such groups might provide the coup de grace.

As John notes, Ben Shapiro has reported at the Breitbart site Big Peace that one of Hagel’s funding sources is a group purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.” That might make someone a good fit for president of Egypt, prime minister of Turkey, or any number of advisory posts on the White House staff. But given that being a “friend of Hamas” — at least the kind of friend who provides material support to that terrorist organization — is a crime in the United States, it may not be quite what the Senate is looking for in a secretary of defense.

Then there is Iran. My friend Sam Nunberg of The Legal Project alerts me that Hagel sits on the board of the Soros-supported Ploughshares Fund, a left-wing group that allegedly funds various organizations sympathetic to the mullahs’ regime and, as night follows day, hostile to Israel. One such group is the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which is basically the Iranian regime’s lobbyist in the U.S.

A few years back, the NIAC — channeling its inner Lance Armstrong — filed a bogus defamation suit against Seid Hassan Daioleslam, editor of an anti-regime group, for having the audacity to expose NIAC’s coziness with the mullahs. This was a bonehead move because it gave Mr. Daioleslam’s lawyers (including the Legal Project) the opportunity to exploit the searching civil discovery procedures available under federal law. Consequently, NIAC began to channel its inner Chuck Hagel by stonewalling the defendants and the court.

That evidently did not sit well with Judge John Bates of the district court in Washington, who threw out the defamation suit against NIAC and ordered sanctions for its failure to comply with discovery orders. The case was especially embarrassing for the Obama administration since, in e-mails that actually were disclosed, it became clear not only that NIAC had deep ties to the Iranian regime but that it is also an Obama fave — one whose top official, Trita Parsi, visits the White House, consults with Valerie Jarrett, briefs Secretary of State Clinton, lectures the CIA, and so on. (See Eli Lake’s report for the Washington Times.) 

Besides sitting on the board of a foundation that funds the NIAC, Hagel has had an ongoing relationship with the NIAC (and its precursor organization, the American-Iranian Council). As Ken Timmerman notes in the Washington Times, this has included giving speeches that rail against sanctions imposed to pressure Iran on its nuclear program, call for unconditional negotiations with the mullahs, etc. The NIAC, in kind, avidly supports Hagel’s nomination.

Hagel’s friends of the mullahs, especially if they turn out to be coupled with Friends of Hamas, may be too much for even Senate Democrats to bear. Obviously, if there were not grave concerns about Hagel’s nomination, Senate Armed Services chairman Carl Levin would not have postponed the committee’s vote. If he can’t get Hagel approved by the committee now, it doesn’t look like things are going to get better for the nominee as new information emerges in the coming days. Looks like the president better have a Plan B.

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