Hagel: Distortion of my record ‘astounding’

walks into a meeting on Capitol Hill in 2008. (Sarah L. Voisin/Washington Post)
Former senator Chuck Hagel on Capitol Hill in 2008. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Now that he's formally been nominated as secretary of defense, former senator Chuck Hagel is pushing back on the critics who have questioned his fitness for the post.

In an interview with the Lincoln Journal-Star published just after President Obama's announcement, Hagel said he has been "hanging out there in no-man's land unable to respond to charges, falsehoods and distortion." 

Now, he's free to say: "The distortions about my record have been astounding."

To those who claim he is not supportive of Israel, he said, there is "not one shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli, not one vote that matters that hurt Israel." He didn't sign on to unilateral Iran sanctions because he doesn't think they work. He didn't sign some letters from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee because they're "counter-productive."

He did not address critics who emphasize his past support for "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and his opposition to a gay ambassador. 

But Hagel was also somewhat conciliatory in the interview, emphasizing that the president makes the policies and that his job is to give advice. In the Senate, he said, "All I ask is a fair hearing, and I will get that." Here's how various senators are lining up

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Natalie Jennings | January 7, 2013