Full Text Obama Presidency November 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on the Resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

Source: WH, 11-24-14 

State Dining Room

11:10 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: About a year ago, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was visiting our troops in the Republic of Korea thanking them for their service and answering their questions, and they asked about the usual topics, about our national security, the future of our military. And then one soldier, a sergeant from Ohio asked him, what was the most pertinent question of the day, which was what was your favorite college football team. To which Chuck replied, born and raised in Nebraska, I don’t have a choice; I am a strong Cornhuskers fan.

Now there was a time when an enlisted soldier might have been reluctant to ask that kind of question of the Secretary of Defense. But Chuck Hagel has been no ordinary Secretary of Defense. As the first enlisted combat veteran to serve in that position, he understands our men and women like few others, because he’s stood where they stood, he’s been in the dirt and he’s been in the mud, and that’s established a special bond. He sees himself in them and they see themselves in him. And their safety, their lives, have always been at the center of Chuck’s service.

When I asked Chuck to serve as Secretary of Defense we were entering a significant period of transition. The draw-down in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready. Over nearly two years, Chuck has been an exemplary Defense Secretary, providing a steady hand as we modernized our strategy and budget to meet long-term threats, while still responding to immediate challenges like ISIL and Ebola. Thanks to Chuck, our military is on a firmer footing, engaged in these missions and looking ahead to the future.

Now last month, Chuck came to me to discuss the final quarter of my presidency and determined that having guided the department through this transition, it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service. Let me just say that Chuck is and has been a great friend of mine. I’ve known him, admired him and trusted him for nearly a decade since I was a green-behind-the-ears, freshman senator, and we were both on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If there’s one thing I know about Chuck, it’s that he does not make this or any decision lightly, this decision does not come easily to him, but I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have had him by my side for two years. And I am grateful that Chuck has agreed to stay on until I nominate a successor and that successor is confirmed by the Senate. Which means that he’ll continue to guide our troops at this challenging time.

I’ll have more opportunity to pay tribute to Chuck’s life of service in the days ahead. For now, let me just say this: Chuck Hagel has devoted himself to our national security and our men and women in uniform across more than six decades. He volunteered for Vietnam and still carries the scars and shrapnel from the battles that he fought. At the VA, he fought to give our veterans, especially his fellow Vietnam veterans, the benefits they had earned. As head of the USO, he made sure America always honors our troops. As a Senator, he helped lead the fight for the post-9/11 GI Bill, which is helping so many of our newest veterans and their families realize their dreams of a college education. As Secretary, Chuck has helped transition our military and bolstered America’s leadership around the world. During his tenure, Afghan forces took the lead for security in Afghanistan. Our forces have drawn down. Our combat mission there ends next month, and we’ll partner with Afghans to preserve the gains we have made.

The NATO Alliance is as strong as it has ever been, and we have reassured our allies with our increased presence in Central and Eastern Europe. We’ve modernized our alliances in the Asia Pacific; updated our defense posture and recently agreed to improve communications between the U.S. and Chinese militaries. Chuck has been critical to all these accomplishments.

Meanwhile, Chuck has ensured that our military is ready for new missions. Today our men and women in uniform are taking the fight against ISIL in Iraq, in Syria, and Chuck helped build the international coalition to ensure that the world is meeting this threat together.

Today our forces are helping to support the civilian effort against Ebola in West Africa, a reminder, as Chuck likes to say, that America’s military is the greatest force for good in the world.

Finally, in a very difficult budgetary environment, Chuck has never lost sight of key priorities. The readiness of our force and the quality of our life of our troops and their families. He’s launched new reforms to ensure that even as our military is leaner, it remains the strongest in the world and so our troops can continue to get the pay, the housing, the healthcare, the childcare that they and their families need — reforms that we need Congress to now support.

At the same time, after the tragedies we’ve seen, Chuck has helped lead the effort to improve security at our military installations and to stamp out the scourge of sexual assault from the ranks.

Chuck, I also want to thank you on a personal level. We come from different parties, but in accepting this position you send a powerful message — especially to folks in this city — that when it comes to our national security and caring for our troops and their families, we are all Americans first. When I nominated you for this position, you said that you’d always give me your honest advice and informed counsel. You have. When it’s mattered most — behind closed doors, in the Oval Office –you’ve always given it to me straight. And for that I will always be grateful.

I recall when I was a nominee in 2008, and I traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq. Chuck Hagel accompanied me on that trip along with Jack Reed. And it’s pretty rare at a time when sometimes this town is so politicized to have a friend who was willing to accompany a nominee from another party because he understood that whoever ended up being President, what was most important was that we were unified when we confronted the challenges that we see overseas. And that’s the kind of class and integrity that Chuck Hagel has always represented.

 

Now, Chuck, you’ve said that a life is only as good as the family you have and the friends you surround yourself with. And in that, you are blessed. I want to thank Lilibet, your son Ziller and your daughter Allyn for the sacrifices that they’ve made as well. I know that as reluctant as we are to see you go, they are equally excited to getting their husband and father back. And I’m sure the Cornhuskers are also happy that a fan will be there to cheer them on more often.

Today, the United States of America can proudly claim the strongest military the world has ever known. That’s the result of investments made over many decades, the blood and treasure and sacrifices of generations. It’s the result of the character and wisdom those who lead them, as well — including a young Army sergeant in Vietnam who our rose to serve as our nation’s 24th Secretary of Defense. So on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Chuck. (Applause.)

SECRETARY HAGEL: Thank you very much.

Mr. President, thank you -– thank you for your generous words, for your friendship, for your support which I have always valued and will continue to value. And to my not old, but my longtime, dear friend Vice President Biden, who I have always admired and respected, and both the President and I have learned an awful lot from the Vice President over the years -– thank you. And I want to thank the Deputy Secretary of Defense who is here, Bob Work, and the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Marty Dempsey, who also is here. I want to thank them for being here this morning.

I also want to thank you both for your tremendous leadership of the Defense Department and what you mean to our men and women and their families all over the world; and for the honor I’ve had to serve with each of you and the privilege it’s been in every way.

And I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon. Without their support and wise counsel over the last couple of years our many accomplishments, and the President noted some, I have been part of that -– but it’s a team. It’s all these tremendous men and women, as you know Mr. President, that make this happen and I couldn’t be prouder of them and what we have accomplished over the almost two years that I’ve had the honor of serving in this position.

And as the President noted I have today submitted my resignation as Secretary of Defense. It’s been the greatest privilege of my life; the greatest privilege of my life to lead and most important, to serve — to serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families. I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished during this time. We have prepared ourselves, as the President has noted, our allies and Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in Afghanistan. We bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships while successfully responding to crises around the world.

And we’ve launched important reforms that the President noted — reforms that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in decades to come. I believe we have set not only this department –- the Department of Defense -– but the nation on the stronger course toward security, stability and prosperity. If I didn’t believe that, I would not have done this job.

As our country prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving I want to –- you, Mr. President, and you, Vice President Biden, -– acknowledge what you have done and how grateful I am to both of you for your leadership and your friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve our country once again.

I will continue to support you, Mr. President, and the men and women who defend this country every day so unselfishly; and their families, what they do for our country, so unselfishly. And as I have said –- and as the President noted –- I will stay on this job and work just as hard as I have over the last couple of years, every day, every moment, until my successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.

I’d also like to express my gratitude to our colleagues on Capitol Hill — my gratitude to them for their support of me, but more importantly their support of our troops and their families and their continued commitment to our National Security.

I also want to thank my international counterparts for their friendship and their partnership and their advice during my time as Secretary of Defense. Their involvement with me and their partnership with me — in so many of these important areas as we build these coalitions of common interests as you have noted, Mr. President –- are so critically important and to them, I am grateful I will be forever grateful.

And finally I’d like to thank my family. My wife Lilibet, who you have mentioned, Mr. President, who was with me this morning as she has been with me throughout so many years, and during so many tremendous experiences. And this experience and opportunity and privilege to serve as Secretary of Defense has been one of those; and to my daughter Allyn and my son Ziller.

Mr. President, again, thank you. To you and to all of our team everywhere, as we know Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, it is a team effort. And that’s part of the fun of it, to help build teams and to work together to make things happen for the good of the country and make a better world. For all of that I am immensely grateful. And to all of you, your families, happy Thanksgiving. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 11:25 A.M. EST

Political Musings November 24, 2014: Obama forces Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign over war with ISIS

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama forces Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign over war with ISIS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned on Monday morning, Nov. 24, 2014, the New York Times was the first to break the story. President Barack Obama asked Hagel to step-down based on the way the war against ISIS, the Islamic…READ MORE

Political Musings September 4, 2014: Damage control for Obama, Biden’s tough response on ISIS as Congress plans war

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Damage control for Obama, Biden’s tough response on ISIS as Congress plans war

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The news of the beheading of another American journalist by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) commenced a new round of responses from President Barack Obama and his administration and differing levels of how to militarily respond to…READ MORE

Political Musings September 4, 2013: Obama garners House leadership support, while Congress drafts Syria resolutions

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama garners House leadership support, while Congress drafts Syria resolutions (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Video
President Barack Obama after meeting with Democratic and Republican House of Representatives leaders in the Cabinet room in the White House on Sept. 3, 2013, gained the support of the leaders of both parties in his quest to acquire Congressional…READ MORE

Political Headlines July 6, 2013: President Barack Obama: US not backing any Egyptian party or group

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: US not backing any Egyptian party or group

Source: USA TODAY, 7-6-13

Hagel also spoke to Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday to discuss Egypt and “matters of mutual security concern in the Middle East,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in the statement….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines May 25, 2013: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s US Military Academy Commencement Address — Tells West Point Cadets Sexual Assault Is a ‘Profound Betrayal’

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Chuck Hagel to West Point Cadets: Sexual Assault Is a ‘Profound Betrayal’

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-25-13

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking at the commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told cadets that sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a “profound betrayal” and charged them with the responsibility to stamp out the sexual assault problem plaguing the military….READ MORE

United States Military Academy Commencement

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, West Point, N.Y., Saturday, May 25, 2013

Source: DOD, 5-25-13

General Huntoon, thank you.

I am not unaware, especially on a rainy day, that graduates, their guests, and their families, prize brevity.

No, I’m not finished.

I told my wife last night that the last thing I want you graduates to remember is your Secretary of Defense droning on and on and that it’s raining.  I want you to remember me and your experience here with far more positive memories.

First, let me thank you very much for this privilege to participate in such an important and historic occasion for all of you and for this institution.

Secretary McHugh, General Odierno – distinguished West Point Class of 1976 – we’re still figuring out of he has problems that he left behind here that we haven’t uncovered yet.  If he’s walked everything off, then we can be sure he’s clean.

Members of Congress, West Point alumni and distinguished guests: I really am honored to be here with you to help celebrate this Class of 2013 and their families.

I’ve been looking forward to my visit to West Point since I was informed that I was asked to be your speaker.  I’ve traveled to West Point over the years as a United States Senator many times and was always inspired by my visits and but I was mostly inspired by the conversations with the cadets.  A long-time friend, who is no stranger to this institution, who has given me years of sage advice, came with me today – Harry Walters.  Harry’s a member of the Class of ‘59.  As you all know, Harry was the starting fullback on that great undefeated Black Knights team when Pete Dawkins won the Heisman Trophy.  You also know that Harry was an Assistant Secretary of the Army and Administrator of the Veterans Administration under President Ronald Reagan.  I always feel better when Harry’s around.  Harry, thank you for what you have meant to this institution and our country.

I also want to acknowledge another good friend and distinguished West Point graduate, who you all know, my friend and former Senate colleague, Senator Jack Reed, Class of ‘71.  Jack and I got to the Senate the same year, 1996.  He’s been not only a friend and colleague but a confidant who has given me wise counsel over the years and continues to do that.  As you may know, Senator Reed is the only West Pointer in the Senate.

Congratulations to the parents of the West Point Class of 2013.  This is your day too.  I know how very proud you are of these young American leaders.  Four years have passed since you performed the “90 second goodbye” at Eisenhower Hall, and first saw your sons and daughters march in formation on the way to Trophy Point.  At every step these cadets have benefited from your love, your support, and your reassurance.  So thank you, thank you all.

To the faculty and the staff: thank you.  We are grateful for your hard work in molding these young Army leaders.  Many of you are combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank you for your service, and thank you for sharing your experience, and for helping prepare these future officers for the challenges that lie ahead.

I also want to recognize and welcome the members of the Class of 1963, celebrating their 50th anniversary.  ‘63 is my vintage.  You have built an enduring bond with these graduates.  You welcomed the Class of 2013 as they reported to these grounds on R-Day, took part in their oath ceremony and spent time with them over the last four years.

To the class of 2013: congratulations!  We’re all very proud of you.

Like every man and woman who has stepped forward to serve in uniform, you made a courageous decision to offer yourself for a very purposeful life.  This institution has educated, trained, and inspired you to help shoulder the wheel in defense of our nation.  You’ve learned the meaning of duty, honor, and country.  And you will now be asked to lead our nation’s soldiers, an awesome responsibility.

My time in the Army shaped me forever, as it did for so many in this stadium today.  And while tactics, techniques and training have all surely changed in the decades since I was in the Army and since many of you who have served, the basic principles of soldiering and leadership remain the same.  Character and courage are still the indispensable requisites of both life and leadership.

In Vietnam, I learned that combat is a furnace that can consume you, or it can forge you into something better and stronger than you were before.  But it requires leaders to help bring the best out in all of us.

Many of you in the Corps of Cadets with prior service have already learned these hard truths of war.  You have also seen what is expected of young officers in today’s military – new demands of a shifting and complicated world.

Great leaders are men and women who know who they are, what they believe, and where they want to go.  Great leaders listen.  And they listen carefully.

Behind my desk in the Pentagon hang the portraits of two of the Army’s greatest leaders – men who played defining roles in shaping America and the world: Dwight David Eisenhower, West Point Class of 1915, and George Catlett Marshall.  They each embodied every dimension of leadership – in particular, they were intense listeners and deep thinkers.  And they knew when to act and when not to.  There are differences and there consequences for both.  They were never intimidated by failures or mistakes.  We all have them, we all make them.  But they learned and made adjustments and made wiser decisions as a result of those experiences.

The most important part of leadership is taking responsibility for your actions and decisions, and holding all around you accountable.

The military career of General Eisenhower provides one of the greatest examples of this kind of accountability.  You all, I’m sure, know the story.

On the eve of the Normandy invasion which he would command, Eisenhower scribbled a message on a piece of paper in the event that D-Day was a failure.  Eisenhower’s framed words hung in my Senate Office for twelve years.  They read: “Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops.  My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available.  The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do.  If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.”

That is accountability, and I often think of that story when I look at Eisenhower’s portrait in my Pentagon office.  Eisenhower’s simple and honest statement should be a guiding point for all of us in positions of authority and responsibility, and for all of you as you embark upon your military careers.

Remember always that the coin of the realm of leadership is trust.   In preparation for your career, you have been taught how to shoot an azimuth – how to use a compass to set your course toward an objective.  You’ve scrambled through these granite hills as new cadets and yearlings, learning how to guide yourselves.  Then you roamed them again as rising firsties, learning how to guide others.  You know by now that the greatness of leaders lies in their ability to shoot an azimuth that is straight and true, even under hostile fire or trying circumstances.  Adjust, adapt, be agile and be flexible, but don’t get thrown off course by the always-present distractions and uncontrollables of life.  For they will always be present.

Leaders don’t cut corners.  When you are faced with difficult decisions, you will always know that the right thing to do…is the right thing to do.  Do it.  Listen to yourself and be guided by what you believe is right.

Standing against the crowd and choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong, as the Cadet Prayer prescribes, can be very lonely and frightening at times.  And it requires immense moral courage.  But it will serve you well over the long haul and throughout your life.

As you embark on your new profession, you are charged with the clear responsibility of helping ensure that the Army is prepared for the future, just as you have been prepared here on the Hudson.  Pay attention to your environment and all around you, and listen carefully to your NCOs.  For your NCOs will help you engage and navigate, and they’ll keep you out of the deep ditches of command.

The Army you enter today is emerging – and in many ways recovering – from more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  During what has been the longest period of sustained combat in American history, the ground forces have shouldered a very heavy burden – doing the fighting and dying, and adapting under fire to a kind of conflict far different than what the Army’s leadership trained and prepared for after the Cold War.

A new Army is being shaped and you will not only be present in that new Army that’s being shaped.  You will have the responsibility of helping shape it and you will have the responsibility of helping lead it, and this all during a very complicated and uncertain time in the world.  The past decade reinforced a consistent theme in the history of America’s armed forces:  we can never predict when, where and how we will be called upon to fight.

The only thing we can predict is that wars are unpredictable, and they remain a fundamentally human endeavor.  Those who believe that war can be waged with precision from a distance, with minimal personal risk, would do well to remember this lesson.

These great uncertainties have implications for the kinds of thinkers and leaders the Army and America will need you to be.  The challenge you will face is how to build on the skills honed during the past decade of war while preparing for conflicts that are likely to take on a new and unfamiliar form – and to do this in an Army that will have fewer people and less money than it’s had in recent years.

You are entering the military at a time when the world is undergoing historic transformation.  A new world order is being constructed.  This moment, like others before it, calls for American leadership and engagement.  That leadership will include continuing to build coalitions of common interests and strengthening alliances and forging new ones.

The words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his Fourth Inaugural on January 20, 1945 echo even more loudly today, when he said: “We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations, far away…We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.”

Understand that there are rarely quick and easy solutions to every problem, there are evolving solutions, that require managing problems to the higher ground of resolution…and ultimately to a solution.  Too many costly strategic and tactical mistakes have been made by not appreciating this complicated reality in world affairs.

All this will matter little if the Army you lead is not maintained as a ready, disciplined, and cohesive force.  As the Army returns to garrison after more than a decade of constant deployments, some of the strains and stresses placed on soldiers and their families are easing.  At the same time, budget constraints are forcing the Army – along with all our services – to curtail training and cancel exercises, impacting readiness and morale.  Meanwhile, other threats to the health and quality of the all-volunteer force are increasing – alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and mental illness, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

You will need to not just deal with these debilitating, insidious and destructive forces but rather you must be the generation of leaders that stop it.  This will require your complete commitment to building a culture of respect for every member of the military and society.  Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred trusts.  This scourge must be stamped out.  We are all accountable and responsible for ensuring that this happens.  We cannot fail the Army or America.  We cannot fail each other, and we cannot fail the men and women that we lead.  As President Obama said yesterday at the Naval Academy: “These crimes have no place in the greatest military on earth.”

While the Army today continues to be under stress, it is also far more professional, adaptable, lethal, and capable than it has ever been.  It is likewise growing more diverse.  We are all benefiting from the continued expansion of opportunities for women to serve in our military.  The United States military has long benefited from the service of gay men and lesbians.  Now they serve openly with full honor, integrity, and respect.  That makes this Army stronger.

You know from your time here at West Point you will continue to learn from the work of generations of leaders – all generations of Army leadership – as you confront the new challenges of today and tomorrow.

This morning I have focused on your responsibilities – to the soldiers you will command, and to the institution that you will lead.  But the Army also has obligations to you.  In particular, it has a responsibility to put in place a culture and an organization that enables you to grow and succeed.  I know our leaders sitting here today and all of Army’s leadership across the globe work every day to achieve that accomplishment, an important objective that never, ever ends.  America will always need an Army that cultivates its best and brightest leaders, provides them and their families with incentives to remain in service, we always take care of our people.  You must always take care of your people.

In preparing for today, I reflected on many of my own experiences.  I reflected on my own experiences in particular during my days in the Army and all the great opportunities I’ve had in my life to serve this country.  And I thought about what insights I might be able to leave you with and not minimize the opportunity you’ve given me to be with you today.

That reflection brought me to a concluding observation.  It’s a reflection not about my own experience, not about me, but rather, it’s about someone else.  A professional soldier who walked these grounds as a young cadet fifty years ago.

Robert George Keats was a member of West Point’s Class of 1965.  He was an outstanding writer who helped put together General Douglas MacArthur’s memorial articles.  He established West Point’s history club and became its first President.  After graduation, he completed Airborne and Ranger schools, married his high school sweetheart, and volunteered for duty in Vietnam.

A few months after arriving in Vietnam, Captain Keats took command of my company – B Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division.  Within ten days of taking command, on February 2, 1968 – shortly before his 24th birthday – he was killed.  I was there.

Captain Keats is buried at West Point Cemetery, alongside other heroes of the Long Gray Line – including 33 of the more than 90 West Point graduates who have died in uniform since September 11, 2001.

One of Captain Keats’ brothers, Walter Keats, and his West Point roommate, Robert Scully, are here with us today.

At Captain Keats’ funeral service a letter he had sent as a cadet was read aloud.  He wrote of being an idealist, committed to upholding and defending American values and virtues.  His letter included the following words: “I am in a fight to save the ideal now.  I shall be until the day I die.  The world can only be saved by people who are striving for the ideal.  I know we shall win, it can be no other way.”

Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember, that like Robert George Keats, you chose to be a soldier at a defining time in our nation’s history.  You too are fighting for an ideal – as the Class of 2013 motto says, you are “defending the dream.”

America needs you, and it will count on you to uphold this ideal.  In Captain Keats’ words, “It can be no other way.”

Thank you for what you will do for our country and your families – and God bless you all.

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: Chuck Hagel sworn in as Defense Secretary & first remarks at the Pentagon

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Chuck Hagel sworn in, first remarks at the Pentagon (video)

Source: Politico, 2-27-13

Chuck Hagel was sworn in Wednesday as defense secretary — President Barack Obama’s third in just over four years — and said that one of his highest priorities will be ensuring fair treatment of troops, veterans and their families….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement from the President on the Confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense

Source: WH, 2-26-13

With the bipartisan confirmation of Chuck Hagel as our next Secretary of Defense, we will have the defense secretary our nation needs and the leader our troops deserve.  From the moment he volunteered for military service in Vietnam, Chuck has devoted his life to keeping America secure and our armed forces strong.  An American patriot who fought and bled for our country, he understands our sacred obligations to our service members, military families and veterans.

I will be counting on Chuck’s judgment and counsel as we end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, stay ready to meet the threats of our time and keep our military the finest fighting force in the world.  Most of all, I am grateful to Chuck for reminding us that when it comes to our national defense, we are not Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans, and our greatest responsibility is the security of the American people.

Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Senate Confirms Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary with Vote of 58-41

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate Confirms Hagel as Defense Secretary

Source: WSJ, 2-26-13

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Chuck Hagel as the nation’s next defense secretary largely along party lines, after several Republicans earlier in the day ended their effort to stop a vote on the former senator….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Senate clears path for final vote on Chuck Hagel’s defense secretary nomination

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate clears path for final vote on Hagel nomination

Source: WaPo, 2-26-13

Former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) bid to win confirmation as the next defense secretary cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, beating back a Republican effort to block his nomination almost two weeks after GOP senators launched a filibuster. Following a 71 to 27 vote, Hagel is now poised for a final confirmation vote later Tuesday or early Wednesday over Republican objections to his views on Middle East security….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Statement on the Unprecedented Republican Filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s Nomination

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Reid Statement On Unprecedented Republican Filibuster Of Hagel Nomination

Source: Reid.Senate.gov, 2-14-13

Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement after Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary from receiving an up-or-down vote, continuing the first-ever filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee. The vote was 58-40 with one Senator voting present:

“In a time of war and threats to Americans at home and abroad, Senate Republicans are waging the first-ever filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee. Despite unprecedented responsiveness and transparency from the White House, Republicans have constantly invented new pretexts for opposing Senator Hagel’s nomination, and Republicans continued their embarrassing display of disregard for our national security by blocking Senator Hagel’s nomination today.

“Watching Republicans with otherwise distinguished records on national security place their desire to please the Tea Party ahead of doing the right thing for our troops is one of the saddest spectacles I have witnessed in my twenty-seven years in the Senate.

“Senator Hagel is a decorated war veteran, an expert on national security issues and the right man to lead the Pentagon in these troubling times. Democrats will continue to fight for Senator Hagel, and we will reconsider his nomination in the coming days. Some Republican senators have said that they will change their votes, and allow his nomination to proceed at some point in the future. I will take them at their word, and I will hold them to their pledge.”

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Blocks Hagel Nomination

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Senate Blocks Hagel Nomination

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-15-13

US Senate

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will have to stay on the job a little bit longer.

As expected, the Senate on Thursday failed to invoke cloture, essentially cutting off debate and not moving closer toward final passage of Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next defense secretary.

The vote was 58-40. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, voted present. Four Republicans voted with the Democrats to end debate.

This marks the first time a Cabinet nominee has ever been blocked on a cloture vote….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Republicans block Chuck Hagel nomination for defense secretary

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Senate Republicans block Hagel nomination for defense secretary

Source: WaPo, 2-14-13

(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Senate Republicans have blocked former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) nomination for secretary of defense, filibustering his confirmation amid demands for more time to study their former colleague’s speeches and finances after leaving the Senate in 2008. It is the first time a national security Cabinet nominee has ever faced a filibuster…..READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Chuck Hagel blocked: Harry Reid says he doesn’t have the votes

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Chuck Hagel blocked: Harry Reid says he doesn’t have the votes

Source: Politico, 2-14-13

Chuck Hagel’s path to the Pentagon struck another major roadblock on Thursday when Senate Republicans kept up their threat to filibuster, throwing the nomination into limbo as Congress prepared to quit town for a weeklong recess….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Republicans have the votes to filibuster on Chuck Hagel

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Senate Republicans have the votes to filibuster on Hagel

Source: Washington Post, 2-14-13

Senate Republicans have secured enough votes to mount a filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid announced Thursday, increasing the stakes in the showdown over the former GOP senator’s bid….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 12, 2013: Chuck Hagel’s Secretary of Defense Nomination Heads to Senate After Partisan Committee Vote

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Hagel Nomination Heads to Senate After Partisan Committee Vote

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-12-13

US Senate

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….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 11, 2013: Sen. Lindsey Graham Threatens to Hold Up Confirmation Vote on Chuck Hagel, John Brennan Nominations

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Sen. Graham Threatens to Hold Up Vote on Hagel, Brennan Nominations

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-11-13

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham says until he knows exactly how President Obama acted immediately after the U.S consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked last Sept. 11, he will attempt to hold up confirmation votes on the White House picks for secretary of defense and CIA director.

Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, the South Carolina Republican said, “We know nothing about what the president did on the night of Sept. 11, during a time of national crisis, and the American people need to know what their commander-in-chief did, if anything, during the eight-hour attack.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines February 10, 2013: Lindsey Graham threatens to hold up confirmations of John Brennan, Chuck Hagel

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Lindsey Graham threatens to hold up confirmations of John Brennan, Chuck Hagel

Source: WaPo, 2-10-13

The South Carolina Republican wants more answers from the administration about the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, and threatening to hold up the president’s nominees for defense secretary and CIA director until he gets them….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines February 8, 2013: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta’s Speech at his Farewell Ceremony — Transcript

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Panetta Calls Leading Troops Greatest Honor

Source: DOD, 2-8-13

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta walks away the podium after giving his remarks during an armed forces farewell tribute in his honor on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 8, 2013. Panetta is stepping down as the 23rd defense secretary. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade

In one of his last speeches as defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta praised service members as talented men and women, noting they have done everything the nation has asked them to do and more. “I will have no greater honor in my life than to have been able to lead them as secretary of defense,” Panetta said during a farewell ceremony in his honor on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 8, 2013.

Farewell Ceremony

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, Joint Base Myer-Henderson , Friday, February 08, 2013

Source: DOD, 2-8-13

Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Mr. President, I am deeply touched by your moving words about me, about my family, and, more importantly, about the men and women who serve in the Department of Defense.  All of us all truly honored by your presence, and I thank you.

Let me also take this moment to thank Michelle and Jill Biden for the outstanding work that they’ve done in leading the Joining Forces Initiative, which has provided great support for military families who have done so much for us.

Marty Dempsey, I appreciate your kind remarks.  Marty and I have testified before Congress — this is 11th time, yesterday, that we’ve done that, and we’ve also done 10 press conferences together.  We are developing a very convincing case for collecting hazard pay in these jobs.

As we used to say when I was in the Army, there isn’t anyone I’d rather be in the foxhole with than Marty Dempsey.  I cannot tell you what a privilege it has been to work with you and to work with all of the service chiefs.  We’ve dealt with some very tough issues, and there is no way that I could have done this job without your support, without your loyalty, and without your dedication.

Members of Congress, leaders of the administration, leaders of the Department of Defense, distinguished guests, many dear friends who we’ve known over the years, Sylvia and I are very thankful to all of you for coming here today.  This is, without question, the fanciest sendoff I’ve ever gotten in Washington.

Let me remember the words of President Harry Truman, who once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”  And that’s just what I did.

And I am grateful that Bravo is here today.  Bravo was in all of the meetings when we planned the bin Laden operation, and he also sat in on many of the sensitive meetings and discussions that I had at the Pentagon.  And I want you to know that he has never told a soul what he heard.

He is definitely not a leaker, at least according to that definition of the word.

You’ve heard of the movie Zero Dark Thirty?  The producer is seriously considering a new movie about Bravo, entitled Zero Bark Thirty.

It’s been 50 years of public service, and I have always and will always cherish the deep and lasting friendships that I’ve made here in Washington.  And I’m extremely grateful that so many of those friends could be here this afternoon.

I have spent a long time in this town.  As the son of immigrants, as the president pointed out, I have truly lived the American dream.  Being an Italian-American in Congress, at senior levels in the executive branch, has been for me a very unique experience.  I have never lost my awe by the sight of the Capitol and the White House at night.  It still is a very special experience.

I can also remember when I was first elected to the House of Representatives, there was a member of that — I think the President may recall — by the name of Frank Annunzio from Chicago, who came up to me and said, “Panetta, that’s Italian.”  I said, “Yes, it is.”  He said, “Good.”  He said, “I want you to join the Italian caucus.”  Of course, I was not going to say no to an Italian from Chicago.

He said, “Great.”  He said, “We don’t do much on issues, but we eat good.”

And that was true.

Many years later, when I came to Langley as President Obama’s Director of Central Intelligence, I got a mug from my family with a big CIA, standing for “California, Italian, American.”

In all seriousness, Mr. President, I want to express my deepest thanks to you for the opportunity to serve this country again as a member of your Administration.  It has been a tremendous honor and a tremendous privilege these past four years, and especially now as the 23rd Secretary of Defense.

I hope that in some small way I have helped to fulfill the dream of my parents, the dream that they wanted and the dream that all of us want, of giving our children a better life.

It’s been for me a hell of a ride.  I will never forget the pride and exhilaration when I walked out of the White House after the president announced the success of the bin Laden operation and I could heard the chants of those people who were gathered around the White House and in Lafayette Park yelling, “USA, USA.”   Thank you, Mr. President, for your strong support in what was a very tough decision.  The memory of that operation and the team that helped put it together, both the intelligence team and the military team, will be with me forever.

I’ll remember traveling to combat theaters and bases around the world, looking into the eyes of brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line every day for this country.  I’ll remember the moments when we’ve honored veterans of past wars and when we’ve been inspired by servicemembers and wounded warriors returning from today’s wars.

And I’ll always remember the moments of grief, when this nation has rendered final honors to our fallen heroes and when we’ve had to comfort their families.  Writing notes of condolence to those families who have lost loved ones has been for me one of my toughest jobs.  These moments of selflessness, these moments of sacrifice, of courage, of heroism, give me a renewed sense of pride in our country, and it gives me an optimism for the future.

I’ve witnessed a new generation of Americans ask themselves what they could do for their country, and I have seen the profound difference that talented men and women with a sense of duty and sacrifice can make in the life of this nation and in the life of our world.

For more than a decade of war, our democracy has depended on the men and women of the United States military to bear the awesome burden and to preserve our freedom.  They have done everything the nation asked them to do, and more, and I will have no greater honor in my life than to have been able to lead them as Secretary of Defense.

I learned a long time ago that there’s not much you can accomplish in Washington on your own; you need a team behind you.  And at the Department of Defense, I’ve been blessed with an exceptional team, from senior civilian and military leaders, all the way down the chain of command.  And together, I’m proud of the important achievements that we’ve been able to accomplish for the nation.

We’ve developed and we have begun implementing a new defense strategy for the 21st century that protects the strongest military power in the world and meets our responsibility to fiscal discipline.  We’re bringing, as the president said, more than a decade of war to a responsible end, ending the war in Iraq, giving the Iraqi people a chance to secure and govern themselves.  And in Afghanistan, our campaign is well on track to completing that mission.  We’re committed to an enduring relationship with the Afghan people so that they, too, can govern and secure themselves in the future.

We’ve kept pressure on al-Qaeda, and we’re going after extremists wherever they may hide, and we have shown the world that nobody attacks the United States of America and gets away with it.

We are keeping faith with and caring for our returning veterans and wounded warriors.  I am particularly proud that we have expanded opportunities for everyone to serve in our military.  In our democracy, in a democracy, everybody should be given a chance to meet the qualifications needed to serve this country.  This is a basic value that we fight to protect.

Despite the progress we’ve made together, there’s no question that there remain some very significant challenges, the dangers and instability abroad, budget constraints, political gridlock here at home.  But one thing I have learned is that you cannot be involved in public service and not be optimistic about the future.

I am confident that under the leadership of the president and the leaders in the Congress, that we can and we must stay on the right path to build the military force we need for the 21st century.  Winston Churchill once wrote, “The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope.”

This is a time of uncertainty, but my career in public service gives me hope that the leaders of this nation will come together to resolve the challenges facing this country and to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.  We’ve overcome wars, we’ve overcome disasters, we’ve overcome economic depressions and recessions, we’ve overcome crises of every kind throughout the history of our country.  And throughout our history, the fighting spirit of our fellow Americans has made clear that we never, never, never give up.  Our forefathers, the pioneers, the immigrant families that came here all fought together to give our children that better life.  We cannot fail to do the same.

None of us in public service could carry on that fight without the love and support of our families.  Everything I’ve been able to accomplish in my wife — in my life — wife and life together — has been because of the support of my family — my immigrant parents, my family, my sons, their families, but most of all, Sylvia.

We’ve been married 50 years.  She has endured extended absences and long hours and the demands that come with public service, but she has always been there.  And I will never be able to thank her enough for her constant love and support.  Her Valentine gift is both of us going home together.

It has been the honor of my life to have served in the position of Secretary of Defense.  And wherever I go and whatever I do, I will thank God every day for the men and women in this country who are willing to put their lives on the line for all of us.  They have responded to the call of the bugle with courage and with selfless dedication to country.

My prayer as I leave is that we all have the same courage and dedication to protecting our nation, the United States of America, the home of the free and the brave.

God bless America, God bless you, and God bless the men and women of the Department of Defense.

Political Headlines February 8, 2013: President Barack Obama Bids Farewell to Departing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

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Obama Praises Panetta for Decades of Public Service

Source: DOD, 2-8-13

President Barack Obama hugs Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta during the armed forces farewell tribute to honor him on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 8, 2013. Panetta is stepping down as the 23rd defense secretary

DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

President Barack Obama praised retiring Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta for nearly 50 years of public service and for protecting the dream his parents sought when they came to the United States from Italy. Obama spoke during an armed forces farewell ceremony for Panetta on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 8, 2013. Panetta is stepping down as the 23rd defense secretary….READ MORE

President Obama Bids Farewell to Leon Panetta

President Obama on Friday praised outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for strengthening the military and making the nation better prepared to meet future challenges.

“No one has raised their voice as firmly or as forcefully on behalf of our troops as you have,” Obama said at a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. “You’ve served with integrity and decency and grace. You’re a reminder of what public service ought to be….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 8, 2013: Panel Vote on Chuck Hagel’s Confirmation Hasn’t Been Rescheduled

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Panel Vote on Chuck Hagel’s Confirmation Hasn’t Been Rescheduled

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-8-13

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Whatever happened to Chuck Hagel’s nomination to become the next secretary of defense?

Following a contentious hearing last week in which Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee raised serious concerns about President Obama’s pick to head the Pentagon, a vote was scheduled by the panel Wednesday to determine if the nomination would advance to the full Senate.

However, GOP questions about fees Hagel collected for speeches and other matters forced Democratic Committee Chairman Carl Levin to postpone the vote….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines January 31, 2013: Chuck Hagel’s Opening Remarks at Senate Confirmation Hearing — Transcript

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Text of Chuck Hagel’s Opening Remarks

Source: NYT, 1-31-13

The following is Chuck Hagel’s opening remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee, as prepared for delivery.

Related

Thank you Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Inhofe, and Distinguished Members of the Committee. I am honored to come before you today as the President’s nominee to be Secretary of Defense.

I want to thank my friends Sam Nunn and John Warner for their support, encouragement, and friendship over many years. These two distinguished Americans represent what’s best about American public service and responsible bipartisanship. They have embodied both in their careers and are models for each of us.

To my family, friends, and fellow veterans who are here this morning – and those who are not – thank you. A life is only as good as the family and friends you have and the people you surround yourself with.

I also want to thank my friend Leon Panetta for his tremendous service to our country over so many years. If I’m given the privilege of succeeding him, it will be a high honor.

Finally, I want to thank President Obama for his confidence and trust in me. I am humbled by the opportunity and possibility he has given me to serve our country once again.

I fully recognize the immense responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense. I assured the President that if I am confirmed by the United States Senate, I will always do my best for our nation and for the men and women – and their families –

who are called on to make the enormous sacrifices of military service. Their safety, success, and welfare will always be at the forefront of the decisions I make.

I also assured the President that I would always provide him with my most honest and informed advice. I make that same commitment to this Committee and to the Congress. If confirmed, I will reach out to the members of this Committee for advice and collaboration. It will be a partnership, because the national security challenges America faces require it.

Our nation’s security is the highest priority of our leaders and our government. We cannot allow the work of confronting the great threats we face today to be held hostage to partisanship on either side of the aisle, or by differences between the bodies represented in Articles I and II of our Constitution. The stakes are too high. Men and women of all political philosophies and parties fight and die for our country. As this Committee knows so well, protecting our national security or committing a nation to war can never become political litmus tests. I know Secretary Panetta has put a strong emphasis on reaching out to the Congress. I, like Leon, come from the Congress, and respect and understand this institution’s indispensable role in setting policy and helping govern our country.

We are all products of the forces that shape us. For me, there has been nothing more important in my life – or a more defining influence on my life – than my family. Whether it was helping my mother raise four boys after my father – a World War II veteran – died suddenly at age 39 on Christmas Day, or serving side by side my brother Tom in Vietnam, or the wonderful miracle of my wife Lilibet and me being blessed with two beautiful children. That is who I am. We each bring to our responsibilities “frames of reference” formed by our life’s

experiences. They help instruct our judgments. We build out from those personal foundations by continually informing ourselves, listening, and learning.

Like each of you, I have a record. A record I am proud of, not because of any accomplishments I may have achieved, or an absence of mistakes, but rather because I’ve tried to build that record by living my life and fulfilling my responsibilities as honestly as I knew how and with hard work. Under-pinning everything I’ve done in my life was the belief that we must always be striving to make our nation a better and more secure place for all of our people.

During the twelve years I had the privilege of serving the people of Nebraska in the United States Senate, I cast over 3,000 votes and hundreds of Committee votes. I’ve also given hundreds of interviews and speeches, and written a book. So, as you all know, I am on the record on many issues.

But no one individual vote, quote, or statement defines me, my beliefs, or my record. My overall worldview has never changed: that America has and must maintain the strongest military in the world; that we must lead the international community to confront threats and challenges together; and that we must use all tools of American power to protect our citizens and our interests. I believe, and always have, that America must engage – not retreat – in the world. My record is consistent on these points.

It’s clear that we are living at a defining time. Our nation is emerging from over a decade of war. We have brought our men and women in uniform home from Iraq, and have started to bring them home from Afghanistan.

That does not mean the threats we face and will continue to face are any less dangerous or complicated. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Recent events in Mali and Algeria remind us of this reality. Twenty first century complexities,

technologies, economies, and threats are bringing the seven billion global citizens closer together. And as our planet adds another two billion people over the next 25 years, the dangers, complications, and human demands will not be lessened, but rather heightened.

Despite these challenges, I believe we also have historic opportunities to help build a safer, more prosperous, more secure, more hopeful and just world than at maybe any time in history. Yes, the curse of intolerance, hatred, and danger exists around the world, and we must continue to be clear-eyed about this danger – and we will be. We will not hesitate to use the full force of the United States military in defense of our security. But we must also be smart, and more importantly wise, in how we employ all of our nation’s great power.

America’s continued leadership and strength at home and abroad will be critically important for our country and the world. While we will not hesitate to act unilaterally when necessary, it is essential that we work closely with our allies and partners to enhance America’s influence and security – as well as global security. If confirmed, I will continue to build on the efforts of this administration and of former Secretary Gates, Secretary Panetta, and Secretary Clinton to strengthen our alliances and partnerships around the world. I will also look forward to working with my former Senate colleague and friend, John Kerry, in this effort.

As I told the President, I am committed to his positions on all issues of national security, specifically decisions that the Department of Defense is in the process of implementing. This includes the Defense Strategic Guidance the President outlined in January 2012. Allow me to briefly address a few of those specific issues now.

First, we have a plan in place to transition out of Afghanistan, continue bringing our troops home, and end the war there – which has been the longest war in America’s history. As you know, discussions are ongoing about what the U.S. presence in Afghanistan will look like after 2014. The President has made clear – and I agree – that there should be only two functions for U.S. troops that remain in Afghanistan after 2014: counterterrorism – particularly to target al Qaeda and its affiliates, and training and advising Afghan forces. It’s time we forge a new partnership with Afghanistan, with its government and, importantly, with its people.

Second, as Secretary of Defense I will ensure we stay vigilant and keep up the pressure on terrorist organizations as they try to expand their affiliates around the world, in places like Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa. At the Pentagon, that means continuing to invest in and build the tools to assist in that fight, such as special operations forces and new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technologies. And it will mean working hand-in-hand with our partners across the national security and intelligence communities, to confront these and other threats, especially the emerging threat of cyber warfare.

Third, as I have made clear, I am fully committed to the President’s goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and – as I’ve said in the past – all options must be on the table to achieve that goal. My policy is one of prevention, and not one of containment – and the President has made clear that is the policy of our government. As Secretary of Defense, I will make sure the Department is prepared for any contingency. I will ensure our friend and ally Israel maintains its Qualitative Military Edge in the region and will continue to support systems like Iron Dome, which is today saving Israeli lives from terrorist rocket attacks.

Fourth, while we pursue the reductions in our deployed stockpiles and launchers consistent with the New START Treaty, I am committed to maintaining a modern, strong, safe, ready, and effective nuclear arsenal. America’s nuclear deterrent over the last 65 years has played a central role in ensuring global security and the avoidance of a World War III. I am committed to modernizing our nuclear arsenal.

As we emerge from this decade of war, we also must broaden our nation’s focus overseas as we look at future threats and challenges. As this Committee knows, that’s why DoD is rebalancing its resources towards the Asia-Pacific region. We are in the process of modernizing our defense posture across the entire region to defend and deepen our partnerships with traditional allies, especially Japan, South Korea, and Australia; to continue to deter and defend against provocations from states like North Korea, as well as non-state actors; and to expand our networks of security cooperation throughout the region to combat terrorism, counter proliferation, provide disaster relief, fight piracy, and ensure maritime security.

I will continue this rebalancing, even as we continue to work closely with our longtime NATO allies and friends, and with allies and partners in other regions. At the same time, we will continue to focus on challenges in the Middle East and North Africa, where we have clear national interests. Rather, it is a recognition that the United States has been and always will be a Pacific power, and the Asia- Pacific is an increasingly vital part of the globe for America’s security and economy. That’s why we must become even more engaged in the region over the coming years.

Doing all of this and much more will require smart and strategic budget decisions. I have made it clear I share Leon Panetta’s and our service chiefs’ serious concerns about the impact sequestration would have on our armed forces. And as someone

who has run businesses, I know the uncertainty and turbulence of the current budget climate makes it much more difficult to manage the Pentagon’s resources. If confirmed, I am committed to effectively and efficiently using every single taxpayer dollar; to maintaining the strongest military in the world; and to working with Congress to ensure the Department has the resources it needs – and that the disposition of those resources is accountable.

Even as we deal with difficult budget decisions, I will never break America’s commitment to our troops, our veterans, and our military families. We will continue to invest in the well-being of our all-volunteer force. And, working with the VA and other institutions, we will make sure our troops and their families get the health care, job opportunities, and education they have earned and deserve – just as I did when I co-authored the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill with Senators Jim Webb, John Warner, and Frank Lautenberg. This includes focusing on the mental health of our fighting force, because no one who volunteers to fight and die for our country should feel like they have nowhere to turn.

In my twelve years in the Senate, my one guiding principle on every national security decision I made and every vote I cast was always this: Is our policy worthy of our troops and their families and the sacrifices we ask them to make? That same question will guide me if I am confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Our men and women in uniform and their families must never doubt that their leaders’ first priority is them. I believe my record of leadership on veterans issues over the years – going back to my service in the Veterans Administration under President Reagan – demonstrates my rock-solid commitment to our veterans and their families.

We must always take care of our people. That’s why I will work to ensure that everyone who volunteers to fight for this country has the same rights and opportunities. As I’ve discussed with many of you in our meetings, I am fully committed to implementing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and doing everything possible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members. I will work with the service chiefs as we officially open combat positions to women, a decision that I strongly support. And I will continue the important work that Leon Panetta has done to combat sexual assault in the military. Maintaining the health and well-being of those who serve is critical to maintaining a strong and capable military, because an institution’s people must always come first.

As we look ahead to the coming years, we have an extraordinary opportunity now to define what’s next for America’s military and our country. It is incumbent upon all of us to make decisions that will ensure our nation is prepared to confront any threat we may face, protect our citizens, and remain the greatest force for good in the world.

If confirmed as Secretary of Defense, it will be my great honor – working with the President, this Committee, the Congress, and our military – to ensure our policies are worthy of the service and sacrifice of America’s finest men and women. Thank you. I look forward to your questions.

Political Headlines January 15, 2013: New York Dem. Sen. Chuck Schumer Decides to Support Chuck Hagel’s Nomination for Secretary of Defense

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Hagel Scores Backing from New York Dem. Chuck Schumer

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-15-13

Win McNamee/Getty Image

Chuck Hagel’s prospects just got a bit brighter. New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer offered his blessing Tuesday morning after a 90-minute meeting with Hagel Monday, saying he approves of President Obama’s pick despite previous reservations on Middle East policy.

“When Senator Hagel’s name first surfaced as a potential nominee for secretary of Defense, I had genuine concerns over certain aspects of his record on Israel and Iran,” Schumer said in a written statement. “Once the president made his choice, however, I agreed to keep these reservations private until I had the opportunity to discuss them fully with Senator Hagel in person.  Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency January 7, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech Nominating Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense & John Brennan as CIA Director

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Wants Chuck Hagel to Run the Pentagon

Source: WH, 1-7-13

President Obama announces Chuck Hagel as his nominee for Secretary of Defense (January 7, 2013)President Barack Obama announces former Senator Chuck Hagel, second from left, as his nominee for Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, second from right, as his nominee for Director of the CIA, during an announcement in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 7, 2013. Joining them are departing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, and acting CIA Director Michael Morrell, right. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, President Obama today announced two key nominations for his national security team. He tapped John Brennan to serve as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and he asked Sen. Chuck Hagel to serve as Secretary of Defense.

“Chuck Hagel’s leadership of our military would be historic,” he said. “He’d be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as Secretary of Defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war, and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department. As I saw during our visits together to Afghanistan and Iraq, in Chuck Hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength. They see one of their own.”

The President and Hagel have known each other for nearly a decade and served together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Hagel spent two terms in the upper chamber of Congress and helped to lead the fight for passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Under President Reagan, Hagel served as a deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration, and while co-founding his own business, he served as the CEO of the United Service Organization. He’s also co-chaired the Intelligence Advisory Board for President Obama.

“Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction,” President Obama said. “He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that’s something we only do when it’s absolutely necessary.”

At the event, Sen. Hagel thanked the President for the opportunity to again serve the United States and its men and women in uniform.

“These are people who give so much to this nation every day with such dignity and selflessness,” he said. “This is particularly important at a time as we complete our mission in Afghanistan and support the troops and military families who have sacrificed so much over more than a decade of war.”

Watch video of the event

President Obama Nominates John Brennan as CIA Director

Source: WH, 1-7-13

President Barack Obama listens to the remarks of John BrennanPresident Barack Obama listens to the remarks of John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, his nominee for Director of the CIA, during the announcement in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 7, 2013. The President also announced former Senator Chuck Hagel, second from left, as his nominee for Secretary of Defense. Joining them are departing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After announcing Chuck Hagel as his nominee for the next Secretary of Defense, President Obama today nominated John Brennan as the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Brennan, a 25-year veteran of the CIA, has served as President Obama’s Advisor for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security since 2009. “For the last four years,” President Obama said, “John developed and has overseen our comprehensive counterterrorism strategy — a collaborative effort across the government, including intelligence and defense and homeland security, and law enforcement agencies.”

President Obama called Brennan “one of the hardest working civil servants I’ve ever known” and said that he valued Brennan’s integrity and commitment “to the values that define us as Americans.”

“He has worked to embed our efforts in a strong legal framework,” the President said. “He understands we are a nation of laws. In moments of debate and decision, he asks the tough question and he insists on high and rigorous standards.”

President Obama also invited Brennan to say a few words.

“Leading the agency in which I served for 25 years would be the greatest privilege as well as the greatest responsibility of my professional life,” Brennan said.

Brennan explained that, if confirmed as CIA director, he would “make it my mission to ensure that the CIA has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe, and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms, and the values that we hold so dear.”

Remarks by the President in Nomination of Secretary of Defense and CIA Director

Source: WH, 1-7-13 

East Room

1:15 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Please have a seat.  As President and Commander-in-Chief, my most solemn obligation is the security of the American people.  Over the past four years, we’ve met that responsibility by ending the war in Iraq, and beginning a transition in Afghanistan; by decimating the al Qaeda core and taking out Osama bin Laden; by disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless American lives.

Among an outstanding national security team, I am especially grateful to Leon Panetta, who has led the CIA and our military with incredible skill.  Leon, after nearly five decades of service, you have more than earned the right to return to civilian life.  I’ll have much more to say about Leon’s distinguished service in the days ahead.  Today, I simply want to convey both to you and to Sylvia the eternal gratitude of the entire nation.  Thank you so much, Leon.

I also want to thank Michael Morell, who has earned the admiration of all of us who’ve worked with him across government and here in the White House.  In moments of transition, he’s guided the CIA with a steady hand as Acting Director — not once, but twice.  And he is a consummate professional.  As I said, everybody in the White House who works with him, everybody across agencies who works with him considers him truly to be one of our most outstanding national security team members.  And so, Michael, on behalf of all of us, thank you and Mary Beth for your continued service.

As these leaders know, the work of protecting our nation is never done, and we’ve still got much to do:  Ending the war in Afghanistan and caring for those who have borne the battle; preparing for the full range of threats, from the unconventional to the conventional, including things like cyber security; and within our military, continuing to ensure that our men and women in uniform can serve the country they love, no matter who they love.

To help meet the challenges of our time, I’m proud to announce my choice for two key members of my national security team — Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense and John Brennan for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve.  He is an American patriot.  He enlisted in the Army and volunteered for Vietnam.  As a young private, and then a sergeant, he served with honor, alongside his own brother.  When Chuck was hit by shrapnel, his brother saved him.  When his brother was injured by a mine, Chuck risked his life to pull him to safety.  To this day, Chuck bears the scars — and the shrapnel — from the battles he fought in our name.

Chuck Hagel’s leadership of our military would be historic.  He’d be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as Secretary of Defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war, and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department.  As I saw during our visits together to Afghanistan and Iraq, in Chuck Hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength.  They see one of their own.

Chuck is a champion of our troops and our veterans and our military families.  As a leader at the VA, he fought to give our veterans the benefits they deserved.  As head of the USO, he devoted himself to caring for our troops.  Having studied under the GI Bill himself, he helped lead the fight for the Post-9/11 GI Bill so today’s returning heroes can get their education, too.  Having co-chaired my Intelligence Advisory Board, he knows that our armed forces collect, analyze, and depend on good intelligence.

And Chuck recognizes that American leadership is indispensable in a dangerous world.  I saw this in our travels together across the Middle East.  He understands that America stands strongest when we stand with allies and with friends.  As a successful businessman, he also knows that even as we make tough fiscal choices, we have to do so wisely, guided by our strategy, and keep our military the strongest fighting force the world has ever known.

Maybe most importantly, Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction.  He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that’s something we only do when it’s absolutely necessary.  “My frame of reference,” he has said, is “geared towards the guy at the bottom who’s doing the fighting and the dying.”  With Chuck, our troops will always know, just like Sergeant Hagel was there for his own brother, Secretary Hagel will be there for you.

And finally, Chuck represents the bipartisan tradition that we need more of in Washington.  For his independence and commitment to consensus, he’s earned the respect of national security and military leaders, Republicans and Democrats — including me.  In the Senate, I came to admire his courage and his judgment, his willingness to speak his mind — even if it wasn’t popular, even if it defied the conventional wisdom.

And that’s exactly the spirit I want on my national security team — a recognition that when it comes to the defense of our country, we are not Democrats or Republicans; we are Americans.  Each of us has a responsibility, Chuck has said, to be guided not by the interest of our party or our President even, but by “the interests of our country.”

So, Chuck, I thank you and Lilibet for agreeing to serve once more in the interests of our country.

Now, when I’m on the subject of patriots, let me say a few words about John Brennan.  In John Brennan, the men and women of the CIA will have the leadership of one of our nation’s most skilled and respected intelligence professionals — not to mention that unique combination of smarts and strength that he claims comes from growing up in New Jersey.  (Laughter.)

A 25-year veteran of the CIA, John knows what our national security demands — intelligence that provides policymakers with the facts, strong analytic insights, and a keen understanding of a dynamic world.  Given his extensive experience and travels — which include, by the way, traveling through the Arabian Peninsula where he camped with tribesmen in the desert — John has an invaluable perspective on the forces — the history, the culture, the politics, economics, the desire for human dignity driving so much of the changes in today’s world.

Having held senior management, analytic, and operational positions at the agency, John is committed to investing in the range of intelligence capabilities we need — technical and human.  He literally built — and then led — the National Counterterrorism Center.  And he knows the risks that our intelligence professionals face every day.  John has lost colleagues and friends — heroes whose stars now grace that memorial wall at Langley.

For the last four years, as my Advisor for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, John developed and has overseen our comprehensive counterterrorism strategy — a collaborative effort across the government, including intelligence and defense and homeland security, and law enforcement agencies.

And so think about the results.  More al Qaeda leaders and commanders have been removed from the battlefield than at any time since 9/11.  Their communications, recruiting, training, finances are all under enormous strain — all of which makes it harder to plan and carry out large-scale attacks against our homeland.  And our entire team, including our exceptional Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, will remain relentless against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

In all this work, John has been tireless.  People here in the White House work hard.  But John is legendary, even in the White House, for working hard.  (Laughter.)  He is one of the hardest-working public servants I’ve ever seen.  I’m not sure he’s slept in four years.  (Laughter.)  When I was on Martha’s Vineyard, John came and did the press briefing — this is in summer, it’s August, he’s in full suit and tie.  And one of the reporters asked him, don’t you ever get any down time?  And John said, “I don’t do down time.”  (Laughter.)  He’s not even smiling now.  (Laughter.)

There’s another reason I value John so much, and that is his integrity and his commitment to the values that define us as Americans.  He has worked to embed our efforts in a strong legal framework.  He understands we are a nation of laws.  In moments of debate and decision, he asks the tough question and he insists on high and rigorous standards.  Time and again, he’s spoken to the American people about our counterterrorism policies because he recognizes we have a responsibility to be [as] open and transparent as possible.

And so, John, you’ve been one of my closest advisors.  You’ve been a great friend.  I am deeply grateful for your extraordinary service.  I’m even more grateful for Kathy’s willingness to put up with you.  And I’m grateful to both of you for your willingness to take this assignment.

Today, I can say to the men and women of the CIA:  In Director John Brennan you will have one of your own; a leader who knows you; who cares for you, deeply; and who will fight for you every single day.  And you’ll have a leader who has my complete confidence and my complete trust.

As I said, the work of defending our nation is never done.  My number-one criteria in making these decisions was simple — who is going to do the best job in securing America.  These two leaders have dedicated their lives to protecting our country.  I’m confident they will do an outstanding job.  I urge the Senate to confirm them as soon as possible so we can keep our nation secure and the American people safe.

And so, Chuck and John — congratulations.

And with that, I want to invite each of these leaders on stage to say a few words, starting with Mr. Leon Panetta.

SECRETARY PANETTA:  First of all, let me express my deepest gratitude to the President for giving me the honor and the privilege of serving in your administration these last four years as Director of the CIA and now as Secretary of Defense.  I have been extremely proud to be part of your national security team, Mr. President, and to be proud of what it has accomplished in your first term.

Looking ahead to the second term, I want to commend President Obama on his decision to nominate Chuck Hagel as the next Secretary of the Defense.  And let me also add, as former Director of the CIA, to commend the President for his choice of John Brennan.  I have had the opportunity to work with John on counterterrorism issues these last four years.  He knows the CIA.  He will be a strong leader of that great intelligence agency.

I’ve also known Chuck for a long period of time as well, and I had the opportunity to work with him closely — particularly in his capacity as Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.  I greatly appreciate the work he has done to strengthen our intelligence enterprise.  It has been extremely important to our ability to improve our intelligence capabilities.  And as Secretary of Defense, I also benefited from his work when he served on our Defense Policy Board.

Chuck Hagel is a patriot, he’s a decorated combat veteran, and he is a dedicated public servant.  I believe his experience, his judgment, his deep understanding of the security issues facing this country make him the right choice to be Secretary of Defense.

As for me, after close to 50 years of serving the American people — began in 1964 when I served as a first lieutenant in the United States Army, and then in both the legislative and executive branch positions in Washington — the time has come for me to return to my wife Sylvia, our three sons, their families, our six grandchildren, and my walnut farm — (laughter) — dealing with a different set of nuts.  (Laughter.)

I want to deeply thank my family for giving me the fullest measure of love and support during my many absences from home throughout my long career in public service.  But I will leave Washington with a very deep sense of pride in what we have accomplished during these last four years being on the President’s national security team.

As both Director of the CIA and as Secretary of Defense, I have always believed that our fundamental mission is to keep America safe, to keep America secure.  And because of the outstanding dedication of our intelligence and military professionals, America is safer and more secure than it was four years ago, and we have reached a turning point after more than a decade of war.

And on that, as we’ve reached that turning point, we’ve developed a new defense strategy for the 21st century.  We have, with John’s leadership, decimated al Qaeda’s leadership and weakened their effort to attack this country.  We have brought wars in Iraq and we will bring the war in Afghanistan to an honorable conclusion.  We’ve opened up opportunities for all Americans to serve in our military.  And we continue to strongly support our forces, their families, and our wounded warriors.  These are some of the achievements that I am proud of.

Let me close by expressing my profound gratitude to the outstanding team of military and civilian staff and leaders that I’ve had the honor to serve with at the Department of Defense and at the White House.  In particular, let me deeply thank the outstanding men and women in uniform, who I’ve had the privilege to serve and to lead, those who put their lives on the line every day on distant battlefields for this country.  Their sacrifices teach us that freedom is not free; a strong democracy depends on a strong defense.  But you can also not have a strong and stable defense without a strong and stable democracy.

As we continue to confront strategic challenges and fiscal austerity, my hope for the future is that the sense of duty our servicemembers and their families exhibit every day inspires the leaders of this nation to have the courage to do what is right, to achieve the American Dream, to give our children a better life, and to build a more secure future.

SENATOR HAGEL:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I’m honored by your trust and your confidence in me, and not unmindful of the immense responsibilities that go with it.  I want to also acknowledge my wife, Lilibet; my daughter, Allyn; and our son, Ziller, who is in Chicago today, we hope, back attending his first day of classes at DePaul University.  (Laughter.)

And to my friend, Leon Panetta, thank you for your extraordinary service to our country over so many years in so many capacities.  You are one of the premier public servants of our time.  To follow you at the Department of Defense will be a most challenging task, but I will try to live up to the standards that you, Bob Gates and others have set for this job and this nation.

Let me also express my deep appreciation and congratulations to my friend, John Brennan, and to also acknowledge the President’s confidence and trust in John Brennan.  Thank you, John, for your service and what you will continue to do for our country.  To Mike Morell — who I have gotten to know over the years not just serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but also, as the President has noted, the privilege of co-chairing the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board with former Senator Dave Boren — thank you, Mike, for your continued service.

Mr. President, I am grateful for this opportunity to serve our country again and especially its men and women in uniform and their families.  These are people who give so much to this nation every day with such dignity and selflessness.  This is particularly important at a time as we complete our mission in Afghanistan and support the troops and military families who have sacrificed so much over more than a decade of war.

I’m also grateful for an opportunity to help continue to strengthen our country and strengthen our country’s alliances, and advance global freedom, decency, and humanity as we help build a better world for all mankind.  I will always do my best.  I will do my best for our country, for those I represent at the Pentagon, and for all our citizens.  And, Mr. President, I will always give you my honest and most informed counsel.  Thank you very much.

ACTING DIRECTOR MORELL:  Mr. President, thank you for your very kind remarks, and thank you for the trust that you placed in me when you asked me to be Acting Director twice.

I have had the honor of knowing and working with John Brennan for the last 20 years.  We have worked particularly closely the last three years.  John Brennan is a intelligence professional with deep experience in our business, a public servant with extraordinary dedication, and a man of deep integrity.  With Senate confirmation, I know that he will be an outstanding Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

As the President noted, John started his career at CIA and spent nearly a quarter century.  So this is a homecoming for John.

John, on behalf of the talented and dedicated men and women of CIA, it is my deep honor to say, welcome home.

MR. BRENNAN:  Mr. President, it is indeed a tremendous honor to be nominated to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  The women and men of the CIA are among the most dedicated, courageous, selfless and hardworking individuals who have ever served this country.  At great personal risk and sacrifice, they have made countless invaluable contributions to our national security and to the safety and security of all Americans.  Most times, their successes will never be known outside the hallowed halls of Langley and the Oval Office.

Leading the agency in which I served for 25 years would be the greatest privilege as well as the greatest responsibility of my professional life.  Mr. President, I want to thank you for your confidence in me, but even more for your confidence and constant support to the CIA and to those who serve in the intelligence community.  They need and deserve the support of all of their fellow Americans, especially at a time of such tremendous national security challenges.

If confirmed as Director, I will make it my mission to ensure that the CIA has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe, and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms and the values that we hold so dear.

I’m especially proud to stand here today with such patriots as Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel and Michael Morell.  It was a tremendous honor to serve with Leon over the past four years, and I very much look forward to the opportunity and privilege to serve with another of America’s great patriots, Chuck Hagel.

And I am especially proud and touched to be able to stand here today with my close friend and colleague, Michael Morell, who epitomizes what it means to be an intelligence professional.  Michael’s leadership at the CIA, as well as his 32-year career, has been nothing short of exemplary.  Michael, I very much look forward to working with you in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

And I also look forward to working with Congress, as our national security rests on the ability of the executive and legislative branches of our government to work as a team.  While the intelligence profession oftentimes demands secrecy, it is critically important that there be a full and open discourse on intelligence matters with the appropriate elected representatives of the American people.  Although I consider myself neither a Republican nor a Democrat, I very much look forward to working closely with those on both sides of the aisle.

Finally, and most importantly, to my wife Kathy; to my children Kyle, Jaclyn, Kelly; to my parents in New Jersey, a shout-out — (laughter) — Owen, who is 92 and my mom, Dorothy, who is 91; my brother Tom and my sister Kathleen and my Jersey roots:  I could not be where I am today without their love, their patience, their understanding and their support.  And there is no way that I can ever repay that, except to say I think I’m going to need it for a little bit longer.  (Laughter.)

So again, Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for this opportunity.  It will be bittersweet to leave all of my close colleagues and friends here at the White House and at the national security staff, who I have come to work with and respect so deeply over the last four years.

But if confirmed by the Senate, I will consider it to be the honor of my life to serve as the 21st Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, these are four outstanding individuals.  We are grateful to all of them.  I want, in particular, to thank Mike Morell and Leon Panetta for their extraordinary service.  And I just want to repeat, I hope that the Senate will act on these confirmations promptly.  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.

The final point I will make:  One of the reasons that I am so confident that Chuck Hagel is going to be an outstanding Secretary of Defense and John Brennan is going to be an outstanding Director of the Central Intelligence Agency is they understand that we are only successful because of the folks up and down the line in these respective institutions — the folks on the ground who are oftentimes putting their lives at risk for us, and are oftentimes at great remove from Washington and its politics.

To have those who have been in the field, who have been in the heat of battle, who understand the consequences of decisions that we make in this town and how it has an impact and ramifications for everybody who actually has to execute our national security strategies, that’s something invaluable.  It will provide me the kinds of insights that I need in making very difficult decisions, but it will also mean that these folks are going to be looking out for the people who work for them.  And that’s something that, I think, in these leadership positions is absolutely critical.

So I’m looking forward to working with these two gentlemen.  They are going to be outstanding.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
1:42 P.M. EST

Political Headlines January 7, 2013: President Barack Obama Nominates Chuck Hagel to Lead Defense Department, John Brennan to CIA

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Taps Chuck Hagel to Lead Defense Dept., John Brennan to CIA

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-7-13

The White House

President Obama moved to round out his second-term national security team Monday, nominating former Sen. Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense and counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to lead the CIA.

Obama launched a vigorous public defense of Hagel, whose anticipated nomination had already stirred opposition on both sides of the aisle.  He called the Nebraska Republican the “leader that our troops deserve” and a “patriot,” who served heroically in combat, saving the life of his brother….

Turning to Brennan, Obama said the 25-year veteran of the CIA was one of the “most skilled and respected” members of his national security team, contributing “strong analytic insights” and “invaluable perspective.”….READ MORE

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