February 22, 2013
Chuck Hagel (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Chuck Hagel (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Chuck Hagel and his White House handlers have apparently decided that the best tactic for their bloodied nominee is to stonewall the Senate. We’ve seen that his approval rating is going down over time. Every speech that turns up adds fuel to the fire of his opponents and reveals a man with animosity toward our most reliable ally in the Middle East.

That means that he refuses to supply information on a long list of investments, will not make accessible his speeches in the last five years (e.g. a 2011 speech at Cameron University) and is denying information about the groups and foreign countries supporting him and/or his organizations (e.g. Atlantic Council). As of this writing he hasn’t even responded to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s inquiry as to whether he accused Israel of approaching “apartheid” and called Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu a “radical.”

An aide to a GOP senator tells me, “Hagel told Senator Levin during his nomination hearing that ‘Everything that is out there that we can find we’ll make every effort to get it and provide it.’” That didn’t happen, however. “Hagel’s flip-flop from his pledge to Senator Levin and stonewalling by his White House handlers reflects a not so thinly veiled contempt for the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities,” the aide says.

Today, for the first time in the Hagel proceedings, the liberal B’nai Brith put out a statement, nearly encouraging the Senate to delay the vote:

B’nai B’rith International remains concerned with many aspects of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel’s responses to questions during his confirmation hearing for the position of secretary of defense. Since then, more questions have been raised about Hagel’s views on a number of important issues.

During the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Hagel did not assuage our reservations on how he would approach such topics as terrorism, Iran and Israel. We urge all Senators, as they prepare to vote, to carefully review Hagel’s record and hearing responses to determine his qualifications for the post.

We are concerned that Hagel, unlike the vast majority of his Senate colleagues, underestimates the threat of the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Hagel was in the minority when 88 of his then-Senate colleagues called on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah has been a global terror group since it was founded some 30 years ago. Its decades of terror include the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 241 Marines, soldiers and sailors, and the July 2012 attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria that killed five Israelis, their Bulgarian bus driver and wounded 30 others. After a six month investigation, the Bulgarian government issued a report unequivocally blaming Hezbollah for that attack.

We are troubled that Hagel, during his confirmation hearings, undermined the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He appeared to endorse a policy of containment of a nuclear Iran before being advised that containment was not administration policy.

In recent days, Hagel has disavowed, or said he didn’t remember, making certain past comments about Israel. At a 2007 speech he is said to have referred to the U.S. State Department as “an adjunct of the Israeli foreign minister’s office.”

Our hesitation on his nomination is based on our uneasiness with such updates to his record.

B’nai B’rith International expresses the expectation that members of the Senate will give his record a thorough review prior to the vote.

Perhaps the group was incensed by Sen. Chuck Schumer’s false accusation that no Jewish group opposed Hagel.

In any event, many senators remain deeply troubled by Hagel and/or peeved about his snubbing of the Senate. Perhaps Sen. Schumer would heed B’nai Brith’s advice and support the Senate’s right to gather relevant information and have a comprehensive debate on Hagel. Better yet, perhaps Hagel should be recalled, since Schumer finds his emoting so convincing.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.