A few items that caught our attention today:
• Aaron Blake of The Fix wrote that the “growing chorus of criticism” over former senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), the president’s presumptive pick for Defense Secretary, represents a new normal for Cabinet nominations. Blake notes that many lawmakers seem bent on defeating Hagel’s nomination before it even happens, due to past comments about Israel and his policy positions on issues such as the defense budget.
• Columnist Walter Pincus wrote that the military seems to have money to spare, judging from comments by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and a House-Senate conference report on the fiscal 2013 defense bill.
• The State Department promised to beef up security at diplomatic posts in dangerous areas after a report found fault with the agency’s handling of such matters before the fatal assault on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.