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Hagel 'Doesn't Recall' Remark on Israel Controlling State Dept.

Sen. Graham said that he has accepted a new disclaimer from Chuck Hagel disavowing one of his many offensive statements about Israel.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/18/2013, 10:14 AM

former senator Chuck Hagel
former senator Chuck Hagel
Reuters

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that he has accepted a new disclaimer from President Obama’s defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) disavowing one of his many offensive statements about the state of Israel.

Graham told “Fox News Sunday” that he received a new letter from the beleaguered nominee in which Hagel claimed he “did not recall” the odious statement-- allegedly made during a speech at Rutgers University in 2007--  in which he argued that the State Department is controlled by the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office.

“Well, if in fact that’s true, that would end the matter,” Graham said, adding, “I just take him at his word unless something new comes along.”

“I'm glad he answered my question about a very disturbing comment he allegedly made,” he told Fox News.

Graham joined fellow Republicans in filibustering Hagel's nomination on Thursday, marking the first time a defense secretary has been filibustered in the Senate.

Graham is continuing to seek more information from the Obama administration this week on the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. embassy in Bengazi, Libya, which resulted in the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The senator warned last week that he would hold off approval of both Hagel and John Brennan, Obama's nominee for CIA director, until he receives more answers.

During the interview, however, Graham indicated that he would support ending debate on Hagel when the Senate returns from recess next week, despite considering him “one of the most radical and unqualified choices” to be defense secretary.

Hagel’s numerous other anti-Jewish and anti-Israel comments include the former senator claiming that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people" in Congress into “doing dumb things”; that the Jewish state is keeping the “Palestinians caged up like animals” and that Israel has kept the Palestinian people “chained down for many, many years.”

He has further come under fire for his feeble position on military action against Iran, his willingness to open direct talks with Hamas, his opposition to declaring Hizbullah a terrorist organization, as well as a long list of other highly provocative issues and associations.