Hagel asked to explain why Iran is ‘legitimate’

January 31, 2013

Pressed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to explain statements earlier in his confirmation hearing that the Iranian government is "legitimate," defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel clarified what he meant.

Gillibrand expressed concern that Hagel was saying that the current Iranian regime is a legitimate government, saying that she did not think so.

"What I meant to say, should have said, is that it's 'recognizable,'" Hagel said of the Iranian government. "It is recognized at the United Nations. Most of our allies have embassies there. That's what I should have said."

Gillibrand issued a less-than fully supportive statement of Hagel's nomination a few weeks ago, saying she would wait to render judgment until after his confirmation hearing. Part of her concerns are with how Hagel's previous statements and actions jive with her advocacy as a senator for Israel, gay rights and women's issues -- three areas of concern Hagel would face as he works on military and personnel policy as the next defense chief.


Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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