The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 7, 2013

Obama prepares for fight with Hagel, Brennan

WASHINGTON — Digging in for a fight, President Barack Obama riled Senate Republicans and some Democrats, too, on Monday by nominating former senator and combat veteran Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon and anti-terrorism chief John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Hagel and Brennan, in separate Senate confirmation hearings, will face sharp questions on a range of contentious issues, including U.S. policy about Israel and Iran, targeted drone attacks and harsh interrogation tactics. Of the two men, Hagel is expected to face a tougher path, though both are likely to be confirmed.

Hagel would be the first enlisted soldier and first Vietnam veteran to head the Pentagon.

"These two leaders have dedicated their lives to protecting our country," Obama said, standing alongside them and the men they would succeed during a ceremony in the White House East Room. "I urge the Senate to confirm them as soon as possible so we can keep our nation secure and the American people safe."

For Obama, a pair of combative confirmation hearings could turn into a distraction as he opens his second term. But the president signaled he was ready to take that risk.   

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, has been criticized as hostile toward Israel and soft on Iran. Opponents also have highlighted his 1998 comments about an ambassador nominee whom he called "openly, aggressively gay" -- a comment for which he recently apologized.

Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, was under consideration to run the agency after Obama won the 2008 election but withdrew his name amid criticism from liberal activists who questioned his connection to the harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA during the George W. Bush administration.

One of Hagel's toughest critics, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called his former colleague's foreign policy views "outside the mainstream" and said he would be "the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of Israel in our nation's history."

Perhaps even more concerning for Hagel's prospects has been the tepid response from some Democrats. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said Hagel had earned the right to a full and fair confirmation hearing, but he reserved judgment on whether he would back him. And Maryland's Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said he and other lawmakers "have questions that have to be answered" specifically on Hagel's views on Iran and Israel.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • American doctor in Africa gets treatment for Ebola BOONE, N.C. (AP) — An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Salmonella Outbreak Trial [Duplicate] Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia ATLANTA (AP) — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georg

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals WASHINGTON — For the 8 million people who persevered through all the technical travails in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enroll

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped c

    July 27, 2014

  • Solar car race to end at University of Minnesota MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A cross-country solar car race is set to finish at the University of Minnesota on Monday. About 10 solar cars from colleges around the world are competing in the eight-day, 1,700-mile American Solar Challenge. The race began July

    July 27, 2014

  • Dozens of oil trains pass through Minnesota weekly Railroad documents released by the state Department of Public Safety show about 50 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota are passing through Minnesota each week.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medical Marijuana [Duplicate] Wanted: Manufacturers for Minn. medical pot program After the long slog to legalize medical marijuana, the state's real work has begun to get the unconventional medicine in severely ill patients' hands by this time next year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Minneapolis to NYC flight diverted to Milwaukee MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis to New York City has landed safely in Milwaukee after it was diverted. Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo says the crew chose to divert the flight Saturday morning out of an abundance of caution a

    July 26, 2014

  • Hamas rejects 4-hour Gaza war truce extension BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Hamas official says the group has rejected a four-hour extension of a humanitarian truce proposed by Israel. Sami Abu Zuhri sent a text message to reporters Saturday, saying: "No agreement to extending the calm for an

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona execution renews debate over methods SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A third execution by lethal injection has gone awry in six months, renewing debate over whether there is a foolproof way for the government to humanely kill condemned criminals, and whether it's even worth looking for one. Death

    July 26, 2014