Hagel defends record in opening statement


In his opening statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, will defend his record, answer criticisms and declare that his "overall worldview" has been consistent throughout his career.

"I am on the record on many issues," he plans to say, according to prepared remarks for the confirmation hearings. "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."

Hagel has been criticized for past comments on Israel and opposition to some Iran sanctions. In his opening statement he emphasizes that he is "fully committed to the president’s goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" and that "all options must be on the table to achieve that goal." He also promises to "ensure our friend and ally Israel maintains its Qualitative Military Edge in the region."

On the Pentagon's budget, which opponents allege he would gut, Hagel will say he is "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."

To those concerned by his support for a movement to abolish nuclear weapons, Hagel will pledge his commitment to "maintaining a modern, strong, safe, ready, and effective nuclear arsenal."

And in acknowledgement of his past opposition to letting gays serve openly in the military, Hagel will affirm that he is "fully committed to implementing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" as well as providing "equal benefits to the families of all our service members."

In the days leading up to the hearing Hagel has gone on a charm offensive to beat back critics, meeting with more than 50 senators and leaders of special interest groups.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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