Obama Names Chuck Hagel for Defense, John Brennan for CIA
Hagel, who has been criticized by the Republicans for his position on Iraq, Iran and Israel, said he's eager to "set the record straight" about where he stands on issues. Photo by CNN
US President Obama has nominated former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the CIA.
"Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve," Obama said at a press conference, flanked by both men and their predecessors, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and acting CIA chief Mike Morell. "He is an American patriot."
Turning to Brennan, a 25-year veteran of the CIA, Obama said he was one of the "most skilled and respected" members of his national security team, contributing "strong analytic insights" and "invaluable perspective."
"I hope that the Senate will act on these confirmations promptly," Obama said. "When it comes to national security, we don't like to leave a lot of gaps between the time that one set of leaders transitions out and another transitions in, so we need to get moving quickly on this."
Obama also laid out a vigorous defense of Hagel's record, in spite of the controversial remarks, praising him as a "champion of troops, veterans and their families," noting his leadership at the USO and Department of Veterans Affairs and on Capitol Hill pushing for a post-9/11 GI bill.
Referring to some of Hagel's more controversial views, Obama even praised Hagel's "willingness to speak his mind even if it wasn't popular, defied conventional wisdom."
Top Senate Democrats told ABC News there is no guarantee Hagel will win confirmation.
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