Dem Senator: Hagel has Some Explaining to Do on Israel, Iran

A pro-Israel Democratic senator seen as one possible opponent of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) within President Obama’s own party said he wants to meet one-on-one with the nominee for Defense secretary.


Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has also been part of the bipartisan group of lawmakers in the upper chamber urging Obama to keep riding Tehran on its nuclear program and advocating a tough response should Iran keep plowing ahead.

“We believe there is no national security challenge that is more urgent and essential to resolve during your second term than Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” Cardin and 73 other senators wrote Obama a few weeks ago.

Today, the senator said key questions need to be answered by Hagel, who has discouraged any sort of military action against Iran or its nuclear facilities.

“The responsibility of Advice and Consent is an important Constitutional duty and I look forward to the confirmation process with my former Senate colleague Chuck Hagel. I will be requesting an opportunity to meet with him one-on-one to discuss many of the issues he will face as a key member of the President’s national security team,” Cardin said in a statement after Obama’s announcement.

“I have concerns based on positions he has taken and statements he has made on a variety of topics. Despite my reservations, I will not prejudge his nomination but will give him ample opportunity to explain himself and current thinking on the future state and scope of our military, relationships with our allies, including Israel, and how he believes we should address challenges to our national security like Iran.”


Cardin also alluded to Hagel’s problem on the left: calling President Clinton’s pick for Ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, “openly and aggressively gay” in 1998.

“I also want to be reassured that if confirmed, a Secretary Hagel would aggressively defend the forward progress made by the Department of Defense in removing discrimination based on sexual orientation from regulations and daily life among our troops,” Cardin said.


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