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GOP Senator: Hagel 'Seems Clueless' on Policy Toward Iran

Senator Lindsay Graham urged the US President to reconsider his nomination, saying Hagel "seems clueless" on U.S. policy toward Iran.
By Annie Lubin
First Publish: 2/5/2013, 8:30 PM

Chuck Hagel at Senate hearing
Chuck Hagel at Senate hearing
Reuters

The confirmation of Chuck Hagel for Secratery of Defense has been met with its fair share of opposition from Washington. 

The latest voice of protest comes from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who urged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to reconsider his nomination of Hagel saying he "seems clueless" on U.S. policy toward Iran.

In a statement, the senator warned that Hagel is not right for the position, saying, "Chuck Hagel is a good man, but these are dangerous times." 

"What kind of signal are we sending to the Iranians when our nominee for secretary of defense seems clueless about what our policy is? I hope the Obama administration will reconsider his nomination," Graham wrote. 

Graham is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which may vote on Hagel's nomination as early as Thursday. 

Many lawmakers have accused Hagel of being anti-Israel and unprepared for the role of Defense Secretary. 

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that Hagel seemed “unimpressive and unprepared” during confirmation hearings last week.

During his conformation, lawmakers pressed Hagel to defend his highly controversial record on Israel, “the Jewish lobby,” Iran, and Iraq, among other highly significant issues facing the nation.

“The disconcerting thing for anybody that watched it is he seemed unimpressive and unprepared on the questions that quite frankly he knew was coming,” Gibbs told NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

In response to questions on how to deal with Iran, Hagel told the committee 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. My policy is one of prevention, and not one of containment and the President has made clear that is the policy of our government.”

However lawmakers were enraged after Hagel called the Iranian regime a "legitimate" government. Hagel later backtracked and said he should have used the word "recognizable."

During the tense confirmation hearings, a Republican senator asked Hagel about a 2003 statement in which he said that Israel keeps Palestinian-Arabs “caged up like animals” and whether he still holds that opinion.

“Like many things I’ve said, I would like to go back and change the words and the meaning,” Hagel said. “If I had a chance to go back and edit it, I would. I regret that I used those words."