Battleland

Hagel (continued)

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MC1 Chad J. McNeeley / DoD

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his wife, Sylvia, visit Arlington National Cemetery's Section 60, where many veterans of the Afghan and Iraq wars are buried, Feb. 14.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta flew home to California late Thursday, but unfortunately – for him – his job went with him, too.

He was hoping that the Senate would confirm former Republican senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to take his place, but Senate Republicans blocked that from happening late Thursday afternoon. Earlier, at the Pentagon, he had said he was looking forward to getting “the hell out of town at the end of the day” — for keeps. “I feel like it’s Groundhog Day around here.”

But it wasn’t in the cards dealt on the Senate floor. Hagel “has the support of this body, a majority vote of this body,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. “At a time when America faces so many threats…it’s tragic they’ve decided to filibuster this qualified nominee.”

Senate critics have contended Hagel has been too tough on Israel and not tough enough on Iran, and have demanded more financial information from him. They’re also using Hagel as a cudgel to batter President Obama on the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three fellow Americans at the hands of terrorists last Sept. 11 at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. “There seems to not be much interest to hold this president accountable for a national-security breakdown that led to the first ambassador being killed in the line of duty in over 30 years,” Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. “No, the debate on Chuck Hagel is not over. It has not been serious. We don’t have the information we need. And I’m going to fight the idea of jamming somebody through until we get answers about what the president did personally when it came to the Benghazi debacle.”

Reid called for a vote to halt debate on Hagel’s nomination. It failed because Reid and the Democrats couldn’t get five GOP senators to join them and produce the 60-vote margin needed to end debate. But enough GOP senators, including John McCain of Arizona and Graham, agreed they will vote to shut off debate following next week’s Senate recess.

Following that vote, expected Feb. 26, the Hagel nomination will move to a straight up-or-down vote in on the Senate floor. He’s expected to win that, absent some new information tossed over the transom in the next 10 days. For some GOP members, that was a key reason to push for the delay.

The White House was displeased. “We have 66,000 men and women deployed in Afghanistan,” it said in a statement, “and we need our new secretary of defense to be a part of significant decisions about how we bring that war to a responsible end.”

But the White House probably wasn’t as upset as Panetta. A senior aide says he will stay on the job until Hagel is confirmed. Panetta was expecting to be relaxing on his walnut farm in Montery, Calif., next week. Instead, once again, he’ll have to cross the country, and the Atlantic, to attend a top-level NATO confab on the war in Afghanistan in Brussels.

Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 9.08.05 PM

(Your Battleland scribe chatted about this Thursday night on PBS’s NewsHour with Todd Zwillich of public radio and Magaret Warner of the NewsHour here.)

2 comments
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Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

White House: "We need our new secretary of defense to be a part of significant decisions about how we bring that war to a responsible end.”

There are so many things wrong with that statement. A few:
--Decision-making is better done by someone with experience, not as OJT.
--Okay, Uncle Leon is not the man you want, but would Hagel be any better?
--What significant decisions need to be made? None. We're outa there, and how we arrange the furniture as we leave has no importance.
--Bring the war to a responsible end? It was irresponsible in the first place, that's obvious, so how can an ending be responsible?
--The US is mostly powerless to affect the situation after forces are removed. Current peace talks don't include the US, but Pakistan Afghanistan and UK.
--Decisions on Afghanistan should be made by Afghans not be US politicians.
--We know where President Karzai stands on US decision-making:
news report: Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the greatest threat to Afghanistan is not the Taliban but rather the interference by foreign powers.The Afghan president made the remarks in an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper and ITV television station, published late on Sunday. He also said the security situation in southern Afghanistan had been far better before foreign troops arrived.

Congress is making a stand against the imperial presidency in the Hagel affair. Good for them.Obama & Co. have been duplicitous on Benghazi -- make 'em pay.

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Hagel (continued)
White House: "We need our new secretary of defense to be a part of significant decisions about how we bring that war to a responsible end.” 

No, that's being done by others. What we need is a  new secretary of defense who knows something about management of large industrial enterprises to be a part of making decisions that bring common sense and business acumen to a totally screwed-up enterprise that is the current Department of Defense. We DON'T need another unqualified political hack.

The evidence is clear. Just look at what a vacuum at the top has created.

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