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Entries in Secretary of Defense (7)

Wednesday
Feb272013

Senate Confirms Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After a tough two-month battle characterized by tough interrogation and a partisan divide, the Senate voted 58-41 to confirm Chuck Hagel -- President Obama's nominee -- as secretary of defense Tuesday afternoon.

The vote was called at 5:07 p.m. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was in the chair.

Only four Republicans broke party lines to vote in Hagel's favor. They included Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Rand Paul of Kentucky, though Paul had voted against moving forward with the vote earlier Tuesday.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., did not vote.

Before a cloture vote to close the debate and bring Hagel's nomination to a vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., warned Republicans against continuing their partisan fight against the nominee.

"Senate Republicans have delayed for the better part of two weeks for one reason: partisanship," Reid said. "Politically motivated delays send a terrible signal to allies around the world, and they send a terrible signal to tens of thousands of Americans serving in Afghanistan, other parts of world and those valiant people who are serving here in the United States. For the sake of national security, it's time to set aside this partisanship."

The measure to move forward passed by a vote of 71-27. It needed at least 60 votes to pass.

Some Republican senators took the time before the vote to take a last stab at Hagel.

John Cornyn, R-Texas, who was one of 15 senators who sent a letter to Obama last week calling for him to withdraw his nomination of Hagel, said Hagel had proved that he's ill-prepared to assume the defense secretary post.

"There's simply no way to sugarcoat it," Cornyn said. "Sen. Hagel's performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee was remarkably inept, and we should not be installing a defense secretary who is obviously not qualified for the job and who holds dangerously misguided views on some of the most important issues facing national security policy for our country. Sen. Hagel is clearly the wrong man for the job."

The Senate returned Tuesday after a week off from debating Hagel's pros and cons.

Hagel succeeds Leon Panetta as defense secretary.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb122013

Hagel Nomination Heads to Senate After Partisan Committee Vote

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next secretary of defense has been sent to the full Senate, following a 14-to-11 committee vote that split along partisan lines. Tuesday’s vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee reflects how unpopular Hagel’s nomination has been among his former Republican Senate colleagues.

Two hours of debate prior to the vote were indicative of the partisan divide over his nomination.  Republicans assailed his Senate voting record and his qualifications for the job; some Democrats expressed lukewarm support and defended his character.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday he hopes to move the Hagel nomination to the full Senate sometime this week. He said that he will not honor any holds placed on Hagel’s nomination.

Meanwhile, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that while a number of Republican members of the Armed Services Committee have concerns about Hagel, he did not know if this was the view of everyone in the Republican caucus.

McConnell said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if there is a cloture vote on Hagel when his nomination goes before the full Senate.  A cloture vote requires 60 votes to end debate on the Senate floor.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan062013

Sen. Mitch McConnell: “The Tax Issue Is Finished”

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday he will not accept any new revenue in future deals with congressional Democrats and President Obama.

“The tax issue is finished.  Over. Completed,” McConnell said on “This Week.” “That’s behind us. Now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and that’s our spending addiction.

“We didn’t have this problem because we weren’t taxing enough,” McConnell added.

He blamed Obama and Democrats for waiting to resolve budget issues until the last minute.

 “Why we end up in these last-minute discussions is beyond me. We need to function,” McConnell said. “I mean, the House of Representatives, for example, passed a budget every year.  They’ve passed appropriation bills.

“The Senate Democratic majority and the president seem to like these last-minute deals.”

McConnell said that the biggest issue facing the country in the next year is the deficit and spending. And he predicted that the issue would occupy the congressional agenda in the first three months of the year, overtaking Obama’s other priorities, including gun control.

“But the biggest problem we have at the moment is spending and debt,” McConnell said. “That’s going to dominate the Congress between now and the end of March.  None of these issues, I think, will have the kind of priority that spending and debt are going to have over the next two or three months.”

On the expected nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as the secretary of Defense by Obama, McConnell said he would evaluate Hagel’s past statements before determining whether he could support his nomination in the Senate.

“I’m going to take a look at all the things that Chuck has said over the years and review that, and in terms of his qualifications to lead our nation’s military,” McConnell said. “The question we will be answering if he’s the nominee, is do his views make sense for that particular job?  I think he ought to be given a fair hearing, like any other nominee, and he will be.”

McConnell, who in 2008 praised Hagel for his clear voice and stature on foreign policy and national security, now says he will reserve judgment on his possible nomination until after a Senate confirmation hearing.

“I’m going to wait and see how the hearings go and see whether Chuck’s views square with the job he would be nominated to do,” he added.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun212011

Unanimous Vote Confirms Leon Panetta as Defense Secretary

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mark this as something one doesn’t hear every day on Capitol Hill: it’s unanimous.

The Senate Tuesday voted unanimously to confirm Leon Panetta to be the Secretary of Defense.  The vote of 100 to 0 was called by Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

Panetta, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will replace outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates who is retiring after serving in two administrations.  When Gates leaves at the end of June, Panetta’s first day as Defense Secretary will be July 1.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr272011

President Obama’s National Security Staffing Shuffles

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will announce Thursday some major staff shuffling in his national security team.

As ABC News has reported:

    * CIA director Leon Panetta will be nominated for Secretary of Defense;
    * International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander Gen. David Petreaus will be nominated to be CIA director;
    * Marine General John Allen will be nominated to replace Petraeus at ISAF in Kabul, Afghanistan; and
    * former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will be nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

These moves were several months in the making, the “culmination by a multi-month process of careful consideration by the president,” administration officials said, prompted by the decisions of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Gen. Karl Eikenberry (ret.) to exit the jobs they’ve held since 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Panetta was offered the job on Monday; he called President Obama back Monday evening and accepted the offer. Administration officials acknowledge that Panetta did so reluctantly, given his fondness for his current job at the CIA.

Administration officials referenced Panetta’s tenure at the CIA as evidence of the experience needed for his new role.

“Strong leadership, reinvigoration of institutional morale tremendously effective, very solid manager, obviously deep experience in budget and management of the government, has become over the last two plus years a close advisor to the president,” an administration official said, “Seen by the president as a very effective member of the team.”

President Obama met with Petreaus to discuss his potential new role on March 14 and 18. White House officials hope Petraeus, who will retire from the military to become CIA director, can take over at Langley in September, though he will stay in his current role until Allen has been confirmed and is prepared to assume command. 

Deputy CIA director Michael Morrell will serve as interim director.

Allen will serve as a special assistant to Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen in order to prepare for his new assignment, which they hope he will be able to assume in September as well.

President Obama met with Crocker on March 30 and offered him the position. Administration officials say they are seeking an early confirmation.

“We have laid this out in a way that we believe will provide for a seamless transition in each of these positions,” administration officials said. “That is no gap, no disruption in continuity in execution of policy.”

Copy 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Feb032011

Donald Rumsfeld's Memoir: No Regrets on Iraq War

Photo Courtesy - Sentinel HC(WASHINGTON) -- Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has no regrets about how the Iraq war was handled, according to leaked portions of his memoir.

The Middle East would be "far more perilous than it is today" with Saddam Hussein in power, Rumsfeld wrote in his new book, Known and Unknown: A Memoir -- slated to be released next week.

While the book's contents have been a tightly guarded secret, some revelations have already leaked out.

The book covers the span of an extraordinary career in Washington and beyond, as Rumsfeld himself recorded in real-time in thousands of pages of documents being released in conjunction with the book.

Elected to Congress from Illinois at age 30, he went on to serve in top posts in the Nixon and Ford administrations -- including Ford's White House chief of staff -- and was the nation's youngest ever as well as oldest ever Defense secretary, tenures separated by 24 years in the private sector.

In the memoir, Rumsfeld recounted a one-on-one meeting with President George W. Bush, who first asked for Iraq war plans just two weeks after the Sept. 11 attack -- before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

As defense secretary, Rumsfeld played a key role in the war on terror – often referred to as one of the architects of the war in Iraq.

In responding to criticism that he didn't authorize enough troops to fight in the war, he said that commanders never sent him a request for more forces in 2003.

But he wrote that, "in retrospect, there may have been times when more troops could have helped."

However, if there was one thing he regrets, it's not quitting after the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal.

Graphic photos showing physical and sexual humiliation of detainees at the prison in Iraq by U.S. soldiers touched off worldwide outage.

"Abu Ghraib and its follow-on effects, including the continued drum-beat of 'torture' maintained by partisan critics of the war and the president, became a damaging distraction," he wrote. "More than anything else I have failed to do, and even amid my pride in the many important things we did accomplish, I regret that I did not leave at that point."

Rumsfeld wrote President George W. Bush two letters of resignation but both were rejected.

He was dismissed by President Bush after Democrats took over Congress in Nov. 2006, after serving nearly six years as Defense Secretary in his second stint in the job he also held in the Ford administration.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan062011

Robert Gates’ Early-to-Mid-Year Departure Up in the Air

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After saying he would leave early-to-mid-year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is now sending a more vague message about his departure date.

PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer asked Secretary Gates Thursday about his timeline for departure.

"There was a report today, to be specific, that you might stay for the whole year.  You might stay for another year to the end of 2011.  Is that in the cards?," Lehrer asked.

Gates replied, "Well, we'll just see."

Earlier in the interview, when asked if he planned to leave this year, Gates merely answered, "Well, at some point."

An administration official explains to ABC News that not only will Gates have the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning in July, the summer is also when some officials anticipate the implementation of the repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell" to truly set in -- making Gates’ departure quite problematic if it were to occur then.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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