tv CNN Newsroom CNN January 7, 2013 9:00am-11:00am PST
can reach part of it? >> right. that's where we're talking about this diminished capacity. there's something going on -- anybody looking at this goes oh, my god, how could any normal, rational, sane person -- >> how could he not be crazy? >> how could he not be crazy, exactly. diminished capacity says essentially that you can't meet the requirements of, say, murder, which requires this premeditation, deliberation, this intent to kill. but you can still be held criminally responsible for a lesser crime such as manslaughter. >> i got five seconds left. is this an attempt to save his life from the death penalty? >> ultimately, that would be a huge win. >> darren kavinoky, your show "deadly sins" starts saturday. >> this saturday. >> congratulations. great show. it's nice to see you. thanks for coming in. >> thank you. >> happy new year. that wraps it up for me. i am fresh out of time. thanks for watching. suzanne malveaux is going to take the baton from here with
news from international. >> welcome to cnn newsroom. i'm suzanne malveaux. president obama is announcing his new cabinet choices that will shape the future of the u.s. military as well as defense policy and intelligence gathering. the next hour, two more cabinet nominees will be named. former senator chuck hagel for defense secretary and homeland security adviser john brennan for cia director. he has already picked senator john kerry as his nominee for secretary of state. president's choice, chuck hagel for defense secretary already coming under some fire. some republicans point to comments that hagel made back in 2007, that they perceive as anti-jewish. here is how south carolina lindsey graham described the decision to nominate hagel. >> this is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of israel. i don't know what his management experience is regarding the pentagon. little, if any. i think it's an incredibly
controversial choice. and it looks like the second term of barack obama is going to be an in-your-face term. >> want to bring in our white house correspondent brianna keilar. we no that the white house has been calling out, trying to reach senators and get some support for hagel here. we're also hearing from jim acosta, trying to push back on this idea that he's anti-israel, that comments on the jewish lobby were poorly worded and he has apologized. are they confident they'll be able to push that nomination through and get a confirmation? >> reporter: talking to sources here, they feel pretty good about it. as you know, there are even democratic senators that have concerns. talking with sources at the white house, there is a sense that a number of things that chuck hagel will have to answer for in a confirmation process but there is a feeling here that he has good answers to the questions he will be asked and he may be able to win over some
people. as you know, for instance, the comments where he said jewish lobby, when he was talking to a reporter instead of saying pro-israel lobby. that, the white house said, was something that was very much inartful and not meant to be offensive and that he has apologized for. the other issue, a lot of criticism youf heard from senators like lindsey graham, that hagel has been soft on iran. the white house feels if he is able to talk about his record -- for instance, having issues with unilateral sanctions but not sanctions against iran, which he supported as a senator, that he will be able to make his case. >> brianna, it's interesting we heard from the anti-defamation league this morning. and he's saying, i'm quoting here, senator hagel would not have been my first choice but i respect the president's prerogative. i trust that the confirmation process will provide an opportunity for senator hagel to address concerns about his positions. he goes on to say i particularly hope senator hagel will clarify
and explain his comments about the jewish lobby that were hurtful to many in the jewish community. it seems in some way they are throwing him a lifeline, giving him some wiggle room here, even perhaps some political cover to tell the president and the white house, we're willing to listen to the explanations that hagel is going to give and ultimately we will be happy -- we'll be okay with supporting his nomination. >> i think that is a fair assessment, suzanne. because the possibility of a hagel nomination has been out there for so long, there has been a lot of time for critics to launch a campaign against hag hagel, should they want to. that would include apec, leading pro-israel lobby here in washington. it and it hasn't, which has been viewed with some positivity by the white house. during this confirmation process, that isn't doomed and
they think ultimately will succeed. >> brianna, we'll get back to you. obviously the nomination ceremony taking place in about an hour. the president also picking his chief counterterrorism adviser to take over the cia. john brennan spent 25 years working at the spy agency. if he is confirmed, he would replace general david petraeus, who resigned after admitting to an affair. our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr, is joining us for that part of the story. let's talk about the past here a little bit. he was considered a shoo-in for the nomination but he came under criticism for the harsh interrogation techniques that many considered torture. dropped out of the running. do you think he has put that to rest or will he face more questions about it? >> suzanne i think it is absolutely inevitable, he will face questions about all of that at a confirmation hearing. what his role was in the
interrogation, the enhanced -- techniques may not be well and fully understood even now. the questions he will get asked is what did he know about them? did he support them? does he believe that enhance ed interrogation techniques, which many people flat out say is torture, does he believe they're useful? did they give and result in any useful information, the people who were waterboarded, other enhanced interrogation techniques, did the intelligence community ever really get anything out of that that it could use to track down other terrorists or foil terrorist plots? these are some of the key questions he still is going to face. >> barbara, i imagine he will get tough questions about the deadly attack on the u.s. mission in benghazi as well. what was his role and how do we expect that to play out? >> i think he will, especially depending on if and when secretary of state hillary clinton testifies. he may very well be the next
person up in front of the tv cameras, in front of the committees to talk about benghazi and senators will want to ask him again what he knew. what was the intelligence that he might have had or seen about terrorists threats at that benghazi compound, what did he know afterwards? how quickly did he know it was a terrorist attack? and still these questions that keep circulating. did the administration know more and know it more quickly about what happened in benghazi than they were willing to tell the public? >> i want our viewers to take a look at this photo. it's a familiar one. perhaps they hadn't noticed that brennan -- played a major role in the raid of killing osama bin laden. he is actually the one that is looking behind, standing by hillary clinton as this raid is being carried out. describe for us the relationship between the president and brennan. >> see, this is what's going to be absolutely key, isn't it? i mean, he has been at the
president's hand for all of these years now during the first term, working out of the white house, can basically walk into the oval office if he needs to and speak to the president, call him 24 hours a day with any of the latest intelligence information the president needs. once he moves to the the cia that becomes very different. the way it works, the very fabric of how the president is constantly informed about threats against the united states, to some large extent, they come from those top white house advisers. he will now be at the cia and he will have all of those responsibilities, still talking to the president but not as close, perhaps, as he has been. >> all right. barbara starr, thank you, barbara. appreciate it. want to talk more about john brennan's nomination. peter bergen is joining us. you and i have talked numerous times about the drone program here. and the support for the drone program is very controversial.
there are some critics who say these strikes are actually not accurate enough, that there are a lot of civilian casualties. do we think that brennan would be the kind of leader who would expand the program perhaps in yemen, pakistan and other hot areas? >> suzanne, as you know, the principle architect, arguably, in yemen. he has traveled to yemen several times since the christmas day attempt in yemen to bring down u.s. flight over detroit. in the foundation that i work, new america foundation, in addition to cnn, we track that and we find that pakistan is going down rather dramatically, compared to 2010. it's expanding rapidly in yemen. one strike two years ago and there were probably -- at least 46 in this past year. so, he has presided over this policy.
surely, it will be a topic at his nomination, whether you think of it negatively or positively. >> do you think it will have an impact by people who say this is not the way of doing things, going to war and going after terrorists? >> i doubt it, suzanne. i think there's broad support for this in general in washington and in congress. dealing most directly with the drones is satisfied in her own mind and has said publicly that the drones don't kill a lot of civilians, there's a great deal of caretaken with this. bro broadly speaking in americas there is a kind of consensus that the drones, at least the public feels these are a reasonable way to go after terrorists. you april 30th, 2012, woodrow wilson center, he said essentially that ethical,
legal -- we take great efforts to make sure we don't have civilian casualties. these are very discriminatory weapons. an investigation of this in geneva this year and look into the american drone program. >> peter bergen, thank you so much. we appreciate it. coming up at the top of the hour, 1:00 pm eastern, the announcement of the president's cabinet nominees. and bashar al assad said that the enemies of his regime are going to hell. jenna shared her recipe with sharon,
both his friends and enemies are troubled by president bashar al assad's latest show of defiance. speaking before a crowd of cheering supporters, the embattled leader delivered his first public address in six months, laying out terms for a peace plan that, of course, keeps himself in power. he ruled out any talks of the opposition, calling them enemies of god who will go to hell. those are his words. hala gorani is joining us to tell us about this. this was in damascus, the opera house. very deliberate here. >> it makes him look statesman like, and the carefully picked crowd, of course. kind of laughably, that ended up mobbing him at the end of his one-hour speech, we saw, as broadcast by syrian television and we also had it on cnn. blaming outside forces and terrorists for attacking the state of syria, vowing to defend
syria and certainly not offering to step down, which is something that, of course, western leaders have asked him to do. he is not signing on to that. it must be a big disappointment for all those in the u.n. clearly now president bashar al assad is saying i am sticking to it until the end. >> who are these people? you eluded to the fact that it's laughable that they have him practically mobbing him. does he have any real support still inside his country? >> that's a very good question. obviously they are going to pick people who are, perhaps -- i'm guessing here, employees of ministries, people close to the state, people who are picked from his inner circle and close to him. but does he still have supporters? he certainly -- in syria, you have portions of the population against the rebel movement. not least members of his religious minority, and others. christians and others on the
fence as well. what this tells you, though, this type of speech, is that this is not going to be solved diplomatically. there's really very little chance of that happening. >> i imagine people were pretty disheartened when he heard that his enemies are going to hell. that is not an opening for talks or anything else that might be optimistic in terms of getting these sides together. >> absolutely. look, this speech was given at the opera house in damascus. you have to remember and put this in context. a couple of miles away you have rebels knocking on the door of the syrian regime. whether or not his downfall is imminent, i don't think it is. it will take a lot longer than people are guessing it could take right now. it could be months. you're seeing very incremental advances by rebels and you're seeing the syrian regime able, more or less, aimed at pockets of the opposition. echoing the position of senior administration officials who have spoken to cnn over the last few months he is not something who advocates intervention on
any level. this was back in may, as published by foreign policy magazine. the last thing you want is an american or western-led invasion into syria. >> is part of the problem that there has not been a more robust international presence inside of that country or is it more or less the fact that they really can't identify who these rebels are, this opposition? they can't get control over who these different groups are inside of the country? >> again, that's a very good question. i think it's a combination of the two things. on one hand you can really not defeat the syrian army of bashar al assad, despite all the defections without really arming the rebel forces. on the other hand, who are the rebel forces? you're seeing more and more foreign fighters, more of the tactics of al qaeda in iraq. you have these two things. perhaps a year ago if intervention had happened it would have been cleaner or
simply simpler. right now no matter how you look at it, it will be a mess. after two years of bloodshed the israeli government is trying to call and do everything it can to keep the violence in syria from spilling over into their country. the solution? building a fence. i plugged in snapshot, and 30 days later, i was saving big on car insurance. with snapshot, i knew what i could save before i switched to progressive. the better i drive, the more i save. i wish our company had something this cool. you're not filming this, are you? aw! camera shy. snapshot from progressive. test-drive snapshot before you switch. visit progressive.com today.
there is growing concern that the civil war in syria is going to spill over into neighboring countries. benjamin netanyahu says his country plans to build a fence along its border with syria. i want to bring all sara sidner to talk about this. making his announcement in front of the council yesterday, saying
the syrian government as you know stable. what kind of threat is he specifically talking about and how did he back that up? how did they respond? >> reporter: look, israel has been concerned for some time now because as the months go on, the situation inside of syria keeps deteriorating. the fence, though, in particular, is about one particular issue that the prime minister said he is concerned about. that is the potential of jihadists now fighting against the al assad regime ending up crossing the border into israel and starting violence here, starting violence in golan heights and moving forward to create more headaches for the israeli military inside of israel. the issue with the fence is that it looks like they would like to construct a steel fence, very tall. one that has all sorts of technological advancements, such as cameras, motion detectors and radar, suzanne. >> is there any evidence that there are jihadists crossing from syria to israel or is that
just something he is concerned about that might happen in the future? >> reporter: yes, there is a concern in that manner. let me explain to you, because we've talked about this before. just the last couple of months of 2012, you will remember that there were some incidents where mortars came over the cease fire line and some of them landed within the no-man zone there, the demilitarized zone. there was also gunfire that ended up in the golan heights as well. there were no injuries, but a lot of concern, not knowing exactly where that might be coming from. also, there were tanks from the al assad regime that ended up in that demilitarized zone. though they were pointing to syria. at one point, israelis decided they were going to fire warning shots. they did fire warnings shots. the concern is that jihadists are going to start a fight. so far they've not been involved
in any way in that conflict. they're very concerned about it, spilling over into the borders and having to deal with yet another threat. suzanne? >> appreciate it. palestinians there trying to pull together now as a single people, doing it by rebranding themselves. we'll explain how. wow. it's the honey, it makes it taste so... well, would you look at the time... what's the rush? be happy. be healthy.
many orthodoxed christians around the world. telling his followers, do not be afraid. there have been concerns that the country's new constitution could lead to stricter islamic law in that country. they make up just 10% of egypt's population. messages of support to the family of missing fashion director vittorio miss tonni. >> wife, pilot and co-pilot. they left friday morning at 11:30 friday morning only ten miles having left, they know that the 71-year-old venezuelan born pilot spoke to the mainland. that was the last we heard. >> missonni company is well-known for dressing celebrities in its pattern knitwear and signature zigzag
stripe. it became more popular when it produced a cheaper line for target stores back in 2011. it is a controversial private trip to north korea not backed by the u.s. government. former governor bill richardson and google ceo eric schmidt flew to north korea. we are told it is a private humanitarian visit. it is thought that richardson might try to negotiate the release of an american prisoner. less than an hour from now, taking a look at those pictures in the corner of your screen. looking to see who actually goes through the gate there. the president will be announcing nominations for two key positions of his administration, secretary of defense and the head of the cia. we'll bring it to you live. watching live pics of the white house there. special coverage begins right after the break.
people really love snapshot from progressive, but don't just listen to me. listen to these happy progressive customers. i plugged in snapshot, and 30 days later, i was saving big on car insurance. with snapshot, i knew what i could save before i switched to progressive. the better i drive, the more i save. i wish our company had something this cool. you're not filming this, are you? aw! camera shy. snapshot from progressive. test-drive snapshot before you switch. visit progressive.com today.
i'm wolf blitzer in washington with cnn special coverage as president obama prepares to announce two major cabinet nominations. it all happens in about 30 minutes from now in the east room of the white house. we'll bring it to you live, every step of the way. the stakes right now are very, very significant. the president, first of all, will nominate the former senator from nebraska, chuck hagel, to be the next secretary of defense. he will also nominate his
homeland security adviser at the white house, john brennan, to become the next cia director. both of these men have certain controversies. they will be grilled during their confirmation hearings in the senate. some republicans, for example, point to comments that senator hagel made back in 2007 that they perceived as being anti-jewish or anti-israel and they also say he's soft on iran and sanctions toward iran. he was criticized following an ambassadorial nominee, quote, aggressively gay back in the '90s during the clinton administration. he has since apologized for those comments. brennan has been criticized for the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and more recently for the controversial drone program in afghanistan, pakistan, yemen and elsewhere. we're covering all angles of these two nominations. chief national correspondent john king is here in washington with me as is our national
political correspondent jim acost acosta, standing by on capitol hill. breeian keilar is live from the white house. gloria borger is here as well, our chief political analyst. we've got a lot to discuss. let's take a first look at senator chuck hagel. john, let's talk about senator hagel. he was well known as a senator from nebraska, foreign relations committee, member of the intelligence committee. he has been out of the public view by and large since retiring from the senate. >> teaching at georgetown university, head of a foreign policy think tank called the atlanta council. he has been active in washington but out of the public eye, obviously. you know some of the controversy. interesting here, the criticism of mr. brennan is that he's too tough, too muscular, the drone strikes. the criticism of senator hagel, democratic president picking a republican. and the criticism from fellow republicans is that he's too soft, not strong enough on israel, not tough enough on
iran. it's an interesting policy divide. as you know from this town, some of it is personal. a once close relationship with fellow vietnam veteran john mccain. they separated. part of it is policy. part of it is personal. if you do the math right now, he has a tougher hill than most nominees to climb. the president likes him. the president is comfortable with him. senator hagel will have to do a little diplomacy in the halls of the senate. he knows how that works. >> in the east room for this announcement. the president will nominate whom he hopes will be his next defense secretary and his next cia director. does he really have any chance of not being confirmed right now, gloria? >> well, i think it's going to be a long battle, and i think it could be a tough battle for him. >> very hard for democrats to go against the president's nominee. >> well, it will. but i was told today by a senior democratic congressional aide
that there are at least ten democrats right now who he said are either undecided or concerned about chuck hagel. now that tonight mean they are no votes, wolf. but it means they will be called upon to answer an awful -- he will be called upon to answer an awful lot of questions about issues that john was talking about, about israel, about sanctions on iran and about how tough he is. now from the president's point of view, politically, isn't it a good idea to have a republican, if you're going to downsize the pentagon, democrats are often charged with being soft on defense. if you're going to downsize the pentagon, you're going to get out of afghanistan, isn't it a good idea to have the republican running your pentagon? that's their point of view. >> does a republican or group of republicans decide to filibuster? >> you need 60 votes. >> for the hold. then you raise the bar to the 60
votes. there are wounds from losing the election to president obama. conservative base of the republican party is not happy with this initial deal on the fiscal cliff. so they're looking for republicans to plant flags. now taxes and spending has nothing to do with chuck hagel except for gloria's point about a downsizing at the pentagon. chuck hagel has been on the record saying it's too bloated. while it's not connected to some of the other games of political chess in washington, in some ways everything is connected. >> the white house makes the calculation that if republicans are going to oppose chuck hagel because he ended up being opposed to the war in iraq, that's a fight the white house is happy to have. more than half of the public is opposed -- was opposed to the war in iraq, too, in the end. this is something that they feel they can do. they wouldn't have nominated him, wolf, if they didn't think he would get confirm but it's a political fight that they shouldn't shy away from.
>> i'll bring jim acosta in this conversation in a moment. brianna keilar is standing over at the white house. john, despite this buildup in recent weeks against chuck hagel from various angles said i'm going to fight for my guy, put his name up for nomination, especially in light of what happened to his nomination for ambassador susan rice. she withdrew her name for consideration in the aftermath of the benghazi comments she made. the president was willing to fight for hagel. what does that say about this president of the united states? >> number one, he wants to prove, i won the election. thank you very much. i should get my team. look at his resume, military service. it's hard to argue he's not qualified to be defense secretary. some people will raise questions about management experience. is he ready to do that? but the president number one, i'm willing to spend some political capital. we thought it might come over susan rice. it's now going to come over chuck hagel. he carried over george w. bush's
defense secretary, bob gates, put his former rival at the state department. here is a guy who doesn't face re-election. he wants his team, people he's comfortable with. he wants people he's like-minded with and decided i'm going to have my guys in the second term. if i have to get a little bruised up to get them, i'll do it. >> their bond kind of goes back to iraq, being two senators who ended up opposing the war. and i think they became close. >> they traveled to iraq. >> don't forget they -- they traveled to the middle east together. and i think there's something else that if you talk to people in the administration, this is a president who believes that chuck hagel will not be intimidated by those generals. and that was very important, i remember, as barack obama went through the process of deciding what to do in afghanistan. he ended up going for the surge, but he went through this -- remember that whole long strategic review of afghanistan? one of his key concerns, if you talk to his advisers, was he
needed to make this decision without feeling like he was being pushed into it. and i think he feels that chuck hagel would not be pushed around, if you will, by the generals. >> hear the former sergeant during the vietnam war will not be intimidated by these generals. i know chuck hagel. he is a very tough guy, smart guy. jim acosta is standing by. let's dig a little bit deeper now, jim. what are you hearing not only from democrats but republicans on the hill about this other republican, chuck hagel. what's the loudest outcry, for example, coming from his own party, the gop? >> i think, wolf, you have to start with what lindsey graham said on state of the union. he said he would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward israel in our nation's history. that is very tough talk coming from a senator from chuck hagel's own party. he served two terms as united states senator from the
republican party and i talked to administration official over at the white house about some of those comments from lindsey graham. and getting to what swron king and gloria borger were talking about a few moments ago, there was a feeling over the white house that some of this is a little bit of a grudge that's being held by some of these senators because of chuck hagel's eventual opposition to the war in iraq. he made some very tough statements about the surge and the wisdom of the surge. i talked to an administration official about this over the phone earlier this morning. listen to this comment that i got from this official. he said it's one thing to posture on a talk show. it's another thing to look a two-term senator in the eye and say i'm voting against you because you turn against the war in iraq. then that official went on to say if the republicans want to vote against chuck hagel, this would be another example of the republican party, in the words of this official, being in the political wilderness. it does seem, to a certain extent, that the white house is readying itself for some political combat when it comes
to dealing with this nomination. and you mentioned earlier some of those comments that chuck hagel made back in 2006 when he said, quote, the jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here on capitol hill, talking about pro-israeli groups in washington, d.c. that has been, perhaps, maybe the most toxic or radioactive comments he has made that he has had to explain. i did talk to the person to whom chuck hagel made those comments, aaron david miller, middle east analyst here in washington. i'll be interviewing him later on this afternoon. he defends chuck hagel and says when he made those remarks he did not mean to say that -- anything that sounds anything remotely close to being anti-semitic or anti-jewish. i'll be hearing from him. he said that those comments have sort of been hijacked, the term he used, to really railroad chuck hagel's nomination here. there are obviously very touchy
subjects that chuck hagel will have to work there. at this point not hear iing fro enough republicans and democrats to say that this nomination is doomed by any stretch. wolf? >> i suspect once he testifies before the senate armed services committee, he will underscore his deep commitment to a strong u.s./israeli relationship. i have no doubt about that. he will answer a lot of these questions during the course of intense questioning as well. everyone stand by. we're getting closer to the top of the hour when the president will be in the east room of the white house, not only to announce the nomination of chuck hagel to be the next defense secretary but john brennan to be the next cia director. we're taking a close look at john brennan. who is he? his credentials and track record here in washington as we wait for the president of the united states. [ male announcer ] this is sheldon, whose long dy setting up the news
try capzasin-hp. it penetrates deep to block pain signals for hours of relief. capzasin-hp. take the pain out of arthritis. getting closer to the top of the hour where the president will make a couple of major announcements here in washington, nominating john brennan to be the next director of the cia. the key position had been filled by general david petraeus, who you will remember, stepped down in november after an extra marital affair with his biographer. from his role in the hunt for osama bin laden to his bush era interrogations, cnn's chris lawrence takes a closer look at the man who could be the next
head of the cia. >> reporter: john brennan is the white house's point man for targeting terrorists, an office in the west wing and the ear of president obama. >> going to the cia, you are further away from the west wing of the white house and immediate access to the president. >> reporter: but in a way, brennan would be coming home. he joined the cia after reading a want ad in the newspaper, learned arabic and became a station chief in saudi arabia. >> al qaeda is on the ropes. >> reporter: brennan with his a candidate for cia director four years ago, but he pull ed out o contention when critics slammed his involvement in bush-era interrogations. the job went to leon panetta and later david petraeus. but the former general had a culture clash with some career cia analysts. following outsiders, panetta and petraeus, it may be easier for brennan. >> here is a guy who understands us and will have our backs and
defend us. >> reporter: brennan was intimately involved in the run-up to the assault on osama bin laden. >> at one point the analysts came back in and said, well, you know, whoever is living in this compound has a dog and very observe ant, muslims don't have dogs. brennan had been on the bin laden account himself for 15 years. and he remembered that, in fact, laden had a dog when he was living in sudan. >> reporter: he supported the raid but afterwards initially implied that bin laden was armed when he wasn't. he suggested that bin laden cowardly used a human shield when he did not. >> there was a female that was, in fact, in the line of fire that reportedly was used as a shield to shield bin laden from the incoming fire. >> reporter: brennan broke new ground last year. >> we can be more transparent and still ensure our nation's security. >> reporter: the first official to publicly explain how the
government uses drones to target terrorists. >> he was in the room when these decisions were made. this surely will come up in his confirmation hearing. >> reporter: so will accusations that brennan helped manipulate leaks to boost the administration's national security credentials. unlike the adviser job, which does not need congress' approval, this time brennan will have to face his critics head on. chris lawrence, cnn, washington. >> and cnn's national security analyst peter bergen is joining us right now. give us your quick reaction. what do you think, john brennan as the next cia director? >> well, he has lived of the last four years, basically, in a basement office in the west wing and has been in the room for all these major decisions. he is almost a lifetime veteran of the cia, station chief in
saudi arabia. he speaks arabic, which is quite useful when one of the biggest problems facing the president in his second term is the future direction and shapening of the arab awakening or arab spring. he will, of course, be a lightning rod for the controversy surrounding so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which are shown in the film "zero dark thirtiy" which millions of americans will see in the next few days when it gets released nationally. and also the drone campaign, which the united nations has recently said it will start an investigation of. >> but barring some major surprise, it would be amazing to me, extraordinary if he did not get confirmed. i suspect he's going to easily go through that confirmation process. do you have any inside information, peter? i know you watch this closely, why the president felt more comfortable with brennan to be his cia director than mike morel, the acting cia director,
since petraeus stepped down back in november? he was the number two in the cia. i assume he will stay on as number two. >> i think, you know, brennan, at the end of the day, enjoys sort of two-fold advantage, i think. one, he is a real cia insider, spent most of his career there. on the other hand he is also an outsider who spent four years at the white house. director of the cia is a highly political position. you're dealing with congress, the white house. i think, you know, brennan has all that. mike morel is also very capable, acting director of the cia. he has been a lifetime, you know, within the agency and doesn't have this very close, personal bond with obama. one other thing, wolf, which i think is important, brennan was somebody like chuck hagel who got involved in the obama presidential campaign long before people thought obama was really, you know, going to be able to challenge hillary clinton. and i think that kind of thing goes a very long way with the people making the decisions in obama's inner circle about who gets which job.
>> peter, stand by. we'll continue to assess both these nominations, john brennan to be the next cia director and chuck hagel to be the next secretary of defense. coming up in a few minutes we're going to the white house. much more coverage after this. e, and they have to move it over? my doctor does not have to do that anymore. [ male announcer ] for every 2 pounds you lose through diet and exercise alli can help you lose one more by blocking some of the fat you eat. feels great. [ male announcer ] simple. effective. take that, 50 pound thingy. let's fight fat with alli. learn more, lose more at letsfightfat.com. learn more, lose more ♪
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waiting to hear from the president of the united states. he will make two nominations, the secretary of defense and the next cia director. how did the former senator of nebraska, chuck hagel, find himself to be the president's nominee for the next secretary of defense? our pentagon correspondent barbara starr takes a closer look. >> reporter: chuck hagel's view of today was shaped when he served with his brother, tom, in vietnam. he recalls being burned in a land mine attack. >> the pain and we didn't have any medics there with us. we did have some guys that were in pretty bad shape. the morphine and everything was used for them. >> the brothers saved each other's lives in combat. >> thinking to myself, you know, if i ever get out of all of this, i am going to do everything i can to assure that war is the last resort, that we as a nation, a people, calls upon to settle a dispute. the horror of it, the pain of it, the suffering of it.
>> reporter: after coming home, hagel worked briefly as a newscaster, then had a career in business before entering public service as a senator from nebraska from 1997 to 2009. most recently, he has taught at georgetown university while co-chairing the president's intelligence advisory board. what everyone who knows him well will tell you, chuck hagel has independent views on national security. it's caused him problems. to the dismay of fellow republicans, hagel opposed the troop surge in iraq, as did president obama. but then opposed obama's surge in afghanistan. he has called for deep cuts in defense spending. reshaping spending, dealing with iran's nuclear programs and being ready for potential involvement in the war in syria are all top priorities this winter. that means the political buzz saws are out again. like hagel, william cohen was a
republican senator before he was bill clinton's secretary of defense. >> i think he will face the same challenge in terms of people on the democratic side saying, hey, wait. we've got some pretty talented people that could step in at a moment's notice and fill that spot. and the republicans will say, why are you helping out a democratic administration? >> reporter: one key republican already is challenging hagel. >> i am concerned about many of the comments that he made and has made, like reference to, quote, jewish lobby, which i don't believe exists. i believe a pro-israel lobby exists. >> reporter: other insist hagel is not anti-israel. >> he belongs to a tough-minded, in this case, republican view of israel that, in fact, accepts the reality that while the united states and israel are very close allies and will remain close allies, their views
on every issue cannot be expected to coincide. >> reporter: critics in the gay and lesbian community have turned around their opposition to hagel. in 1998, hagel opposed james hormel, an openly gay man to an ambassador post. he now says my comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. they do not reflect my views. i apologize to ambassador hormel and any lgbt americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. >> barbara starr is joining us right now. on that last point that you just made, i assume he is totally committed to making sure equal rights for gays and lesbians serving in the united states military will be fully honored, no going back to don't ask, don't tell or anything along those lines? >> well, that's absolutely right, wolf. when you are the secretary of defense in this country, you carry out the president's
policies. this is mandatory. there's no choice on these matters. so by accepting the nomination and being willing to serve as secretary of defense, he will have to do this. in fact, many members of the gay and lesbian community are looking for additional rights to be granted to them when they are partners of either those serving in the military or in the military themselves. i think for most americans one of the -- besides all of the questions we've discussed here, what would lead to troops being taken into another conflict, into another war after so many years in iraq and afghanistan? that may be the real bottom line for many people outside of washington. and that means hagel is going to have to give his view of how he sees syria, iran, north korea, the real threats out there from al qaeda and where he feels he would recommend the use of military force. >> we're going to pick up that. we're only a few moments away
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senator from nebraska, chuck hagel, as secretary of defense. and john brennan to be the next director of the central intelligence agency. john kerry of massachusetts has already been picked as his nominee to become the next secretary of state. joining us now to discuss what's going on with all these nomination nominations, our white house correspondent brianna keilar, at the east room of the white house, and jim acosta at capitol hill and chief national correspondent john king and chief political analyst gloria borger. let's going to to the white house first. brianna, set the scene for us, and walk us through what we're about to see. >> reporter: we're here in the east room, wolf. we're expecting president obama will come out and say, obviously, a few words about former senator chuck hagel. we're also expecting in attendance the acting director of the cia and that we will be seeing john brennan here. obviously, as you know, wolf, some of the major issues that we
expect critics already talking about having, for instance, with chuck hagel, that that perhaps may not be something that the president addresses very overtly. this will be something that the white house continues to push back on as they have. for instance, his remarks before when he referred to the leading pro-israel lobby as the jewish lobby. that is something that hagel has apologized for. i will tell you here at the white house, not just on the issue of calling apac the jewish lobby but also on criticism that he has been not tough on iran, that these are things that the white house feels he will have a chance to answer for during the confirmation process, he will be asked these questions. he will get tough questions. the sense coming from sources here at the white house is that he has good answers and that he will be able to win some people over. even though, as you know, there are some democratic senators who have concerns about hagel's nomination, in particular, there's a sense here at the white house that he will be able to convince them.
>> all right. stand by, brianna. we'll be able to go to the east room as soon as the president is there with his nominees and others. i'm curious to see if the secretary of state, hillary clinton, will be there as well. she went back to work earlier in the day, following a four-week absence as a result as a concussion, flu, concussion and blood clot in her head. i'm happy to report that she is back to work. let's see if she is in the east room for these nominations as well. jim acosta is standing by at capitol hill. how tough of a confirmation process is it likely to be for hagel and brennan for that matter? >> reporter: i think it remains to be seen at this point, wolf. we did hear tough comments from lindsey graham yesterday. the senate minority leader, mitch mcconnell, is was a bit more open minded on some of the sunday talk shows. there will be tough questions for chuck hagel but that he will
get the same kind of vetting that any nominee would get up here. we'll have to see what happens with that. in terms of john brennan, in terms of what everybody has been saying over the last hour, john brennan's nomination appears to be much less controversial. there are items i'm sure he will be asked about with respect to his support for enhanced interrogation techniques and the use of drones and that sort of thing. i'm sure that will come up with some of the more liberal members of the senate once that gets going. but the real battle now is about chuck hagel. john kerry, you just mentioned him a few moments ago. the incoming -- or expected to be incoming secretary of state senator from massachusetts, almost night and day in terms of what you hear in the background noise in the capital with respect to john kerry. i remember when you were talking to olympia -- not olympia snowe but kcollins.
she was saying john kerry would make a fine secretary of state. you are not hearing -- senators are not coming out of the woodwork to say that about chuck hagel, at least not at this point. dick did your burbin was say iie of the union" yesterday it's not the course of overwhelming approval you heard for john kerry. there will be a tough fight for chuck hagel coming up. wolf? >> john, thanks. we'll come back to you as well. let me bring in john king and gloria borger. john, first to you. clearly, he's qualified to be the secretary of defense, serving on the president's foreign intelligence advisory board, serving on the defense advisory board, chairman of the atlantic council, major think tank here. served on various committees for over a decade. some of the statements, votes, some of the positions he has taken over the years have raised
questions. >> that's all fair game, anything that's public record. they are fair game. he has been an opponent of some of the iranian sanctions, one of the pressing -- >> i want to be precise on this he is an opponent of unilateral sanctions. he supports multilateral, multinational sanctions, opposing unilateral saying they're not that effective. on that he could make a good argument. >> a strong argument, that they won't be effective. he will have to make that argument. he has talked in the past about maybe you should have conversations with people like hamas and hezbollah. he is not alone in saying that. a lot of people say that, including barack obama, the candidate for president. maybe you want to have conversations with people first, give them a chance and see if they'll change their ways before you push them off. his past comments on gay rights, ambassador in the clinton administration, which he has apologized for some of his criticism or probably not -- the best way to put is not use of diplomatic language when it comes to the power of israel and the pro-israel lobby. it's a statement of fact in
washington, d.c. that the government of israel and the pro-israel lobby is quite powerful and it does intimidate some people on capitol hill. he was too candid to say some of those things? probably. he has his vietnam war history. the thing that puts him out of place in today's republican party -- some of it is personal. remember, you had a group in the senate. john kerry, a democrat. bob kerrey, a democrat. chuck hagel, john mccain. a group of vietnam veterans back in the bush administration who were more, i would say, in the colin powell wing of the republican party. war is a last resort. if you do have war, use overwhelming force. and then the neo con movement came in. you will have philosophical arguments over america in the world and the use of force. >> as john just points out,
these two men were great buddies once upon a time. >> both vietnam veterans. >> both vietnam vets, decorated heroes and they were really close. then they started splitting over the questions of the use of force. then they split, of course, when barack obama ran for president. chuck hagel's wife endorsed barack obama when he was a candidate. chuck hagel stopped short of it. lots of republicans don't believe hague sl a republican, by the way. mitch mcconnell, leader of the republicans in the senate yesterday hold his fire, as jim was pointing out, hold his fire. didn't come out against the nominati nomination. everybody has their own political calculations when it comes to a presidential n nomination. lindsey graham, for example, very much opposed to chuck hagel. facing a tough re-election fight back home. does he run to his right on
this? when you look at these senators you have to look at each of their political situations as they head into it, including pro-israel democrat. >> we'll seat president and his nominees for cia director position as well as the secretary of defense. our special coverage will continue right after this. chronic osteoarthritis pain. imagine living your life with less chronic low back pain. imagine you with less pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is fda-approved to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain. one non-narcotic pill a day, every day, can help reduce this pain. tell your doctor right away if your mood worsens, you have unusual changes in mood or behavior or thoughts of suicide. antidepressants can increase these in children, teens, and young adults. cymbalta is not for children under 18.
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we're back, watching what's going on for the east room of the white house. the president will be walking in with his nominees to become the next secretary of defense and the next director of cia. we're talking about chuck hagel being the next defense secretary, assuming he will be confirmed by the senate. and counterterrorism adviser to be the next director of the central intelligence agency. barbara starr is standing by. are you hearing any criticism from within the pentagon, either the military or civilian areas of the pentagon of the next defense secretary, assuming he is confirmed, barbara? >> well, not at this point,
wolf. but, you know, we'll see how it goes. the pentagon is well on the track to wrapping up the war in afghanistan. hagel, that will be one of his major jobs. one of the interesting issues is how much he will move to cut the defense budget in the face of what will be happening on capitol hill with further discussions post fiscal cliff, if you will. hagel is a big proponent of trying to cut what he believes is a blow in defense spending. at this point there are many in the pentagon who say there's plenty to come but they don't want to go too far. he may run into some resistance there. in the last couple of minutes, senior defense official has told me that tonight senator hagel and defense secretary leon panetta will be having dinner so they will sit down and have their first transition discussion, if you will, and the transition effort will now begin. hagel will get the briefings. he will get the information he needs to get ready for that confirmation hearing.
and, you know, this will begin to shape how the confirmation hearing looks. i think that fundamentally, the issues for hagel are cutting defense spending and for everyone -- pardon me -- for everyone to get a better idea in today's world where will chuck hagel fall on the issue of how and he to commit military force. wolf? >> looks like the folks are getting in, the family members for the nominees. they'll be sitting up front in the east room of the white house. you can see everyone is in place. this is an important moment. the president's national security team will be in place for the second term if, in fact, all of these nominees are confirmed and a lot of our viewers. of course, we'll remember that john kerry was nominated by the president to be the next secretary of state, succeeding hillary clinton. he is expected to sail through his confirmation process. john brennan is about to be nominated as next director of the cia. i assume he will sail through as well.
although there will be serious questions raised on drone strikes and pakistan, afghanistan and yemen and elsewhere, enhanced interrogation techniques and other sensitive areas, what's going to happen to detainees at guantanamo bay in cuba. the most controversial nominee will be chuck hagel, former republican senator from nebraska, who the president wants him to succeed leon panetta as the next secretary of defense. that confirmation process will begin fairly soon. they've done all the vetting, gone through all the background checks. chuck hagel does have government experience since leaving the senate. he will be in the president's foreign intelligence advisory board as well as on the defense advisory board. defense department's advisory board as it's called. he has been very much involved in these areas, not only there, but also at the atlanta council, a major think tank here in washington and he has been teaching at georgetown university. fairly well known to those of us who have been covering
washington for a long time. less well known outside of washington but we're about to learn a lot more, especially during the extensive q & a. here comes the president right now with the entire team, the current members of his cabinet as well as his nominees. >> please have a seat. >> as president and commander of chief my most solemn obligation is the security of the american people. we've met that responsibility over the last four years, the war in iraq, beginning a transition in afghanistan, by decimating the al qaeda core and taking out osama bin laden. by disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless american lives. among an outstanding national security team i am especially grateful to leon panetta, who
has led the cia and our military with incredible skill. leon, after nearly five decades of service, you have more than earned the right to return to civilian life. i'll have much more to say about leon's distinguished service in the days ahead. today i simply want to convey both to you and to sylvia the eternal gratitude of the nation. thank you so much. i also want to thank michael morel, who has earned the admiration of all of us who has worked with him across the government and here in the white house. in moments of transition, he has guided the cia with a steady hand as acting director not once but twice. and he is a consummate professional. everyone in the white house who works with him, everybody across agencies who works with him
considers him to truly be one of the most outstanding national security team members and so, michael, on behalf of all of us, thank you. and marybeth, for your continued service. as these leaders now, the work of protecting our nation is never done. and we've still got much to do. ending the war in afghanistan and caring for those who have born the battle. preparing for the full range of threats from the unconventional to the conventional, including things like cyber security. and within our military, continuing to ensure that our men and women in uniform can serve the country they love no matter who they love. chuck hagel for secretary of defense and john brennan for director of the central intelligence agency.
chuck hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. he is an american patriot. he enlisted in the army and volunteered for vietnam. as a young private and then a sergeant he served with honor alongside his own brother. when chuck was hit by shrapnel, his brother saved him. when his brother was injured by a mine, chuck rivged his life to pull him to safety. to this day, chuck bears the scars and the shrapnel from the battles he fought in our name. chuck hagel's leadership of our military would be historic. he would be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as secretary of defense. one of the few secretaries who had been wounded in war and the first vietnam veteran to lead the department. as i saw during our visits together to afghanistan and
iraq, in chuck hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength. they see one of their own. chuck is a champion of our troops and our veterans and our military families. as a leader at the va, he fought to give our veterans the benefits they deserve. as head of the uso, he devoted himself to caring for our troops. having studied under the g.i. bill himself, he led the fight for the g.i. bill so today's heroes can get their education too. having chaired my advisory board he knows that our intelligence collect, analyze and depend on good intelligence and chuck recognizes that american leadership is indispensable in a dangerous world. i saw this in our travels together across the middle east. he understands that america stands strongest when we stand with allies and with friends. as a successful businessman, he also knows that even as we make
tough fiscal choices, we have to do so wisely, guided by our strategy and keep the military the strongest fighting force the world has ever known. maybe most importantly, chuck knows that war is not an abstraction. he knows that sending young americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that's something we only do when it's absolutely necessary. my frame of reference, he has said, is geared towards the guy at the bottom who is doing the fighting and the dying. chuck, our troops will always know, just like sergeant hagel was there for his own brother, secretary hagel will be there for you. finally, chuck represents the bipartisanship that we need more of in washington. he has earned his respect of
national security and military leaders, republicans and democrats, including me. in the senate, i came to admire his courage, his judgment, his willingness to speak his mind, even if it wasn't popular, even if it defied conventional wisdom. that's exactly the spirit i want on my national security team. when it comes to the defense of our country, we are not democrats or republicans. we are americans. each of us has a responsibility, chuck has said, to be guided not by the interest of our party or our president even, but by the interest of our country. so, chuck, i thank you for agreeing to serve once more in the interests of our country. now while i'm on the subject of patriots, let me say a few words about john brennan. in john brennan, the men and women of the cia will have the leadership of one of our
nation's most skilled and respected intelligence professionals. not to mention that unique combination of smarts and strength that he claims comes from growing up in new jersey. a 25-year veteran of the cia, john knows what our national security demands, intelligence that provides policy makers with the facts. strong analytic insights and key understanding of a dynamic world. given his extensive experience and travels, which include, by the way, traveling through the arabian peninsula where he campd with tribesmen in the desert, john has an invaluable perspective on the forces, history, culture, politics, economics, the desire for human dignity driving so much of the changes in today's world.
having held senior management, analytic and operational positions at the agency, he has the range of capabilities we need, technical and human. he literally built and then led the national kourncounterterror center and knows the risks that our counterterrorism agents face every day. he has lost colleagues and friends, heroes whose stars now grace that memorial wall. the last four years as my adviser for counterterrorism and security, he has developed and overseen our comprehensive counterterrorism strategy, collaborative effort across the government, including intelligence and law enforcement agencies. think about the results. more al qaeda leaders and commanders have been removed from the battlefield than at any time since 9/11. their communications, recruiting, training, finances, were all under enormous strain,
all of which make it is harder to plan and carry out larger scale attacks against our homeland. and our entire team, including our exceptional director of national intelligence will remain relentless against al qaeda and its affiliates. in all this work, john has been tireless. people here in the white housework harder, but john is legendary even in the white house for working harder. he is one of the hardest working public servants i have ever seen. i'm not sure he has slept in four years. when i was on martha's vineyard, john came and did the press briefing. it was in the summer. it's august. he's in full suit and tie. and one of the reporters asked him, don't you ever get any down
time? john said, i don't do down time. he's not even smiling now. >> there's another reason i value john so much. that is his integrity and commitment to the values, the finest as americans. he has worked to embed our efforts in a strong, legal framework. he understands we are a nation of laws. in moments of debate and decision, he asks the tough questions and he insists on high and rigorous standards. time and dwen he has spoken to the american people about our strategies because he recogniz s s that we need to be as transparent as possible. i'm deeply grateful for your extraordinary service.
i'm even more grateful for kathy's willingness to put up with you and i am grateful to both of you for your willingness to take this assignment. today i can say to the men and women of the cia, in director john brennan, you will have one of your own, a leader who knows you, who cares for you deeply and who will fight for you every single day. and he will have a leader who has my complete confidence and my complete trust. as i said, the work of defending our nation is never done. my number one criteria in making these decisions was simple. who is going to do the best job in securing america? these two leaders have dedicated their lives to protecting our country. i am confident they will do an outstanding job. i urge the senate to confirm them as soon as possible so we can keep our nation secure and
the american people safe. i want to invite each of these leaders on stage to say a few words, starting with mr. leon panett panetta. >> first of all, let me express my deepest gratitude to the president for giving me the honor and the privilege of serving in your administration these last four years as director of the cia and now secretary of defense. i have been extremely proud to be part of your national security team, mr. president and to be proud of what it has accomplished in your first term. looking ahead to the second term, i want to commend president obama on his decision to nominate chuck hagel as the next secretary of defense. and let me add, as former
director of the cia, to commend the president for his choice of john brennan. i've had the opportunity to work with john on counterterrorism issues these last four years. he knows the cia. he will be a strong leader of that great intelligence agency. i've also known chuck for a long period of time as well. i had the opportunity to work with him closely, particularly in his capacity as chairman of the president's advisory board. i greatly appreciate the work he has done to strengthen our intelligence enterprise. it has been extremely important to our ability to improve our intelligence capabilities. and as secretary of defense, i also benefited from his work when he served on our defense policy board. chuck hagel is a patriot. he is a decorated combat veteran
and he is a dedicated public servant. i believe his experience, his judgment, his deep understanding of the security issues facing this country make him the right choice to be secretary of defense. as for me, after close to 50 years of serving the american people, which began in 1964 when i served as a first lieutenant in the united states army and then in both the legislative and executive branch positions in washington, the time has come for me to return to my wife, sylvia, our three sons, their families, our six grandchildren and my walnut farm. dealing with a different set of nuts. i want to deeply thank my family
for giving me the fullest measure of love and support during my many absences from home, throughout my long career and public service. but i will leave washington with a very deep sense of pride in what we have accomplished during these last four years, being on the president's national security team. as both director of the cia and as secretary of defense, i have always believed that our fundamental mission is to keep america safe, to keep america secure. and because of the outstanding dedication of our intelligence and military professionals, america is safer and more secure than it was four years ago. and we have reached a turning point after more than a decade of war. and on that, as we have reached that turning point, we've developed a new defense strategy for the 21st century.
we have, with john's leadership, decimated al qaeda's leadership and weakened their effort to attack this country. we have brought wars in iraq. we will bring the war in afghanistan to an honorable conclusion. we have opened up opportunities for all americans to serve in our military. and we continue to strongly support our forces, our families and our wounded warriors. these are some of the achievements that i am proud of. let me close by expressing my profound gratitude. to the outstanding team of military and civilian staff and leaders that i've had the honor to serve with at the department of defense and at the white house. in particular, let me deeply thank the outstanding men and women in uniform, who i have had the privilege to serve and to lead. those who put their lives on the
line every day on distant battlefields for this country. their sacrifices teach us that freedom is not free, a strong democracy depends on a strong defense, but you can also not have a strong and stable defense without a strong and stable democracy. as we continue to confront strategic challenges and fiscal austerity, my hope for the future is that the sense of duty our service members and their families exhibit every day inspires the leaders of this nation to have the courage to do what is right. to achieve the american dream, to give our children a better life and to build a more secure future. chuck?
>> thank you, mr. president. i'm honored by your trust and confidence in me and not unmindful of the immense responsibilities that go with it. i want to also acknowledge my wife, lilybeth and my son who is back, attend iing his first dayf classes at depaul university, and to my daughter. and to my friend, leon panetta. thank you for your extraordinary service to our country over so many years in so many capacities. you are one of the premiere public servants of our time. to follow you at the department of defense will be a most challenging task. but i will try to live up to the standards that you, bob gates and others have set for this job and this nation. let me also express my deep
appreciation and congratulations to my friend, john brennan, and to also acknowledge the president's confidence and trust in john brennan. thank you, john, for your service and what you will continue to do for our country. to mike morel, who i have gotten to know over the years, not just serving on the senate intelligence committee but also as the president has noted, the privilege of co-chairing the president's intelligence advisory board with former senator dave warren. thank you, mike, for your continued service. mr. president, i'm grateful for this opportunity to serve our country again. especially its men and women in uniform and their families. these are people who give so much to this nation every day with such diagrgnity and selflessness. this is particularly important at a time as we complete our mission in afghanistan and
support the troops and military families who have sacrificed so much, over more than a decade of war. i am also grateful for an opportunity to help continue strengthen our country and strengthen our country's alliances and advance global freedom, decency and humanity as we help build a better world for all mankind. i will always do my best. i will do my best for my country, for those i represent at the pentagon and for all our citizens. mr. president, i will always give you my honest and most info informed counsel. thank you very much. >> mr. president, thank you for your very kind remarks and thank you for the trust that you placed in me when you asked me to be acting director twice. i have had the honor of knowing and working with john brennan
for the last 20 years. we have worked particularly closely the last three years. john brennan is an intelligence professional with deep experience in our business. a public servant with extraordinary dedication and a man of deep integrity. with senate confirmation, i know that he will be an outstanding director of the central intelligence agency. as the president noted, john started his career at cia and spent nearly a quarter century. so this is a homecoming for john. john, on behalf of the talented and dedicated men and women of cia, it is my deep honor to say welcome home.
>> mr. president, it is, indeed, a tremendous honor to be nominated fob the director of the central intelligence agency. the the women and men of the cia are among the most dedicated, courageous, selfless and hardworking individuals who have ever served this country. at great personal risk and sacrifi sacrifice, they have made countless invaluable contributions to our national security and to the safety and security of all americans. most times their successes will never be known outside the hollowed halls of langley and the oval office. leading the agency for which i served 25 years will be the greatest privilege as well as the greatest responsibility of my professional life. mr. president, i want to thank you for your confidence in me, but even more for your confidence and constant support to the cia and to those who serve in the intelligence
community. they need and deserve the support of all of their fellow americans, especially at a time of such tremendous national security challenges. if confirmed as director, i will make it my mission to ensure that the cia has the tools it needs to cope our nation safe and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms and the values that we hold so dear. i am especially proud to stand here today with such patriots as leon panetta, chuck hagel and michael morell. it was a tremendous honor to serve with leon over the past four years and i very much look forward to the opportunity and privilege to serve with another of america's great patriots, chuck hagel. and i am especially proud and touched to be able to stand here today with my close friend and colleague, michael morell, who epitomizes what it means to be an intelligence professional. michael's leadership at the cia
as well as his 32-year career has been nothing short of exemplary. michael, i very much look forward to working with you in the weeks, months and years ahead. i also look forward to working with congress. as our national security rests on the ability of the executive and legislative branches of our government to work as a team. while the intelligence profession often times demands secrecy, it is critically important that there be a full and open discourse on intelligence matters with the appropriate elected representatives of the american people. although i consider myself neither a republican or democrat, i very much look forward to working closely with those on both sides of the aisle. finally and most importantly, to my wife, kathy and to my children, kyle, jacqueline, kelly, to my parents in new jersey, a shout out. owen, who is 92 and my mom, dorothy, who is 91. my brother, tom and sister
kathleen and my jersey roots, i could not be where i am today without their love, their patience, their understanding and their support. and there is no way that i can begin to row pay that except to say i think i'm going to need it for a little bit longer. so, again, mr. president, i am deeply grateful for this opportunity. it will be bittersweet to leave all of my close colleagues and friends here at the white house and at the national security staff i've come to work with and respect so deeply over the last four years. but if confirmed by the senate, i will consider it to be the honor of my life to serve as the 21st director of the central intelligence agency. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> these are four outstanding individuals. we are grateful to all of them. i want, in particular, to thank mike morell and leon panetta for their extraordinary service. and i just want to repeat, i
hope that the senate will act on these confirmations promptly. when it comes to national security, we don't like to leave a lot of gaps between the time that one leader transitions out and another transitions in. we need to get moving quickly on this final point i'll make, one of the reasons i am so confident that chuck hagel will be an outstanding secretary of defense and john brennan will be an outstanding director of the intelligence agency is they understand that we are only successful because of the folks up and down the line in these respective institutions. the folks on the ground who often times are putting their lives at risk for us. and are often times at great remove from washington and its politics.
who have those who have been in the field, been in the heat of battle, who understand the consequences of decisions we make in this town and how it has an impact and ramifications for everybody who has to execute our national security strategies, that's something invaluable. it will provide me the kinds of insights that i need in making very difficult decisions, but it will also mean that these folks are going to be looking out for the people who work for them and that's something that i think in these leadership position sincere absolutely critical. i'm looking forward to working with these two gentlemen. they will be outstanding. thank you very much, everybody. >> that's it, almost half an hour for the president to make his formal announcement. chuck hagel to be the next secretary of defense and john brennan to be the next cia
director. colin powell strongly endorsing chuck hagel to be the next defense secretary. more than ever, he writes, we need that kind of independent and emboldened leader who thinks out of the box, endorsing chuck hagel. gloria borger, john king is here. there will be tough questions he will ask. i assume he will be thoroughly prepared and answer those questions directly and to the point. >> right. i think what we heard from the president today really gives us a look into his mind and what he was thinking. >> into the president's? >> into the president's mind. earlier on, we were talking about how he wanted somebody in chuck hagel who wouldn't be intimidated by the generals. today we heard the president say over and over again that in both places, in the cia and at the pentagon, he has chosen somebody who is one of your own, he said. somebody in chuck hagel who is geared towards the guy at the
bottom, who is doing the fighting and the dying. i think this is the case he's making to the american public, which is these people understand the organizations they're about to lead from the ground up. i think that was so important in the president's thinking in nominating both these men and we heard it directly from him today. >> and we heard from the armed services committee chair, they would like this confirmation process to begin very soon. senate foreign relations committee, john kerry, secretary of state, armed services committee. the intelligence committee will take a look at john brennan. >> so will the chairman of the committee during the event issues his statement saying i endorse you. let's get this process moving. that tells you chuck hagel's chances of being confirmed multiplied exponentially. that doesn't mean if they get it out of the committee -- if the chairman endorses you, trust me, he has done the math.
possibly could be a filibuster. you get -- the power is very interesting. divide in the republican party. colin powell lived it during the bush administration. i think what's significant today is the personal. to gloria's point he emphasized both john brennan and chuck hagel rose up through the ranks at the cia and the military. personal biographies, the president hopes, gets them through. bob gates, came to like and trust him quite a bit. at first that was continuity because of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. took the secretary of state. their relationship got better. in the second term he wants people he knows, he likes and trusts. he's not as worried about the politics. he wants his guys, if you will. >> he does like chuck hagel a lot. vice president joe biden likes chuck hagel a lot, too. i personally eyewitnessed that
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critics and supporters of former senator chuck hagel are already speaking out we've heard from both sides. >> i met him actually a few months before he was elected as senator from the state of nebraska. in all our conversations, i was always impressed with his amazing knowledge, with his integrity, with his ability to speak his mind so i think this
will be a wonderful choice for our government to have a voice for security and safety for the middle east. >> we faced with the pentagon enormous problems. right now we're trying to get our troops out of a war we didn't win and at the same time the pentagon is about to be hit with a cascading flood of cuts. and for that kind of an environment, you don't need somebody who is an outsider who doesn't have the practical experience and who's nakedly ambitious for the job. >> tom cotton is a republican congressman, veteran of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. thank you for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. good to be here with you. >> why do you oppose the nomination of chuck hagel to be defense secretary? >> wolf, the president said that
chuck hagel is the leader our troops deserve. i couldn't disagree any more strongly. our troops deserve much better than a man who voted to send them to war when it was popular and then abandon those very troops when it was unpopular. i would know, wolf. i was one of those troops. i returned from iraq in november 2006 with my platoon from the 101st airborne just as chuck hagel was writing that we couldn't achieve victory in iraq, that time for more troops had passed and it was time to withdraw. he just didn't oppose the surge, wolf. he called it the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country's history since vietnam. he delayed emergency funding for the troops. he voted to require a hasty withdrawal. he denied success after two years when everyone recognized we had succeeded. he even said we are fighting a war for oil which aligns more closely with code pink than it does president obama. >> do you believe going to war in iraq was years ago?
>> i do believe it was the right decision. i believe that chuck hagel must have thought it was the right decision 2002 when he voted for it. >> let me ask -- you don't believe iraq had anything to do with al qaeda or the attack on 9/11? >> the evidence is inconclusive there, but i know that saddam hussein was widely believed by all western intelligence agencies, not just the united states, but western european countries not in a rush to war to have weapons of mass destruction. our sanctions regime was beginning to crumble and we couldn't be able to contain saddam hussein if we hadn't confronted him at the time. >> with hindsight, he didn't have weapons of mass destruction, didn't have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. all the commissions point out he had nothing to do with the attack on 9/11. and he was being contained by the u.s. and the international community. are you happy with what is going on in iraq right now ten years later, looking at the situation, given the trillions that the united states spent the thousands of american lives lost, the tens of thousands of
iraqi lives lost, the question is do you believe the u.s. made the right decision to go to war in iraq? >> i do believe we made the right decision, wolf. i believe the war did not go very well in the early years. but president bush and his lowest political moment had his finest hour when he recommitted to victory in 2006 and 2007 against all odds, against chuck hagel's own best counsel. do i like status of iraq right now? not as much as i would. i wish president obama had kept a few more stay behind troops there as generals recommended but it was an honorable and noble cause and we fought hard for victory. chuck hagel and none of the other opponents of the surge told me or my troops at the time that we couldn't achieve victory there. >> i see nuri al maliki's government going close to iran, forging an alliance, going after
sunnis, destroying so many of the democratic traditions so many of us would like to see with occurrkurdistan in the nor moving to an independence. was it worth it? was it worth it based on this current situation in iraq now moving away from the u.s. toward iran, was the price that we paid in blood and treasure worth it looking back over these ten years? i ask these questions only because chuck hagel made it clear he doesn't think it was worth it, and you're saying it was worth it. >> wolf, i think those are all reasonable questions and also troublesome trends. we might not be seeing them today in 2013 if the president hadn't withdrawn all troops from iraq last year. you have to make decisions based on the information at hand. in 2002, chuck hagel agreed the vast majority of the united states senators that we should go to war in iraq. in 2006 and 2007, no longer popular, he disagreed we should recommit ourselves to victory. those are questions he's going to need to explain at his
hearings and i found it very puzzling that neither the president nor chuck hagel addressed any of the points that have been raised by his critics. i admire chuck hagel's service. i admire the service of all of our veterans, but vietnam veteran service alone cannot be the sole qualification for serving as secretary of defense. he needs to explain his dangerous views on iran and hezbollah and hamas. and his view contrary to secretary of defense panetta that the department of defense's budge set blot is bloated and n be peared down. >> those questions will come up during extensive hearings before the senate armed services committee and i'm sure all of those questions will be raised. let's continue this conversation down the road. like you, i watched what happened in iraq up close. and i saw it unfold i'm very, very, very worried now looking where the regime in baghdad is moving, i'm very worried and i ask myself the serious question,
was it worth in blood and treasure that was lost? we can continue this conversation, congressman, down the road. congressman tom cotton. thanks, also, by the way, for your service in iraq and afghanistan. i know you had nothing to do with the policy, you went there as an honorable patriotic american and we welcome you to washington now as the united states congressman. >> thank you, wolf. i appreciate it. >> let's bring our national security contributor fran townsend who is joining us right now. fran, you're on the advisory board of the cia. what do you think of brennan becoming -- assuming he's confirmed -- the next cia director? >> you know, wolf, as you realize, when i was in the white house, john was not only serving in the cia, but he was instrumental in frankly sort of the founding director of what is now the national counterterrorism center. and it was john's vision, john's leadership that stood up that initial body that is today the national counterterrorism center which integrates information. john and i, our careers during the course of public service,
have very much -- we worked together throughout probably 20 or 25 years in various positions. it is true what john says. like john, i never thought of myself as an allegiance to any particular party it was to the mission. and i think john really epitomizes that sense of public service. he has been an extraordinary public servant, extraordinary patriot, and, you know, during this -- it has been a real tumultuous time, the bombing at coast where the cia lost officers. you've been through the sort of -- the leading of general petraeus from cia under a sort of embarrassing circumstances. what they need is someone they can follow, who understands their mission, can lead them and i think john will do an extraordinary job. >> i just got a statement from senator john mccain. who writes this, i appreciate john brennan's long record of service to our nation, but i have many questions and concerns about his nomination, especially what role he played in the
so-called enhanced interrogation programs while serving at cia during the last administration and his defense of those programs. i plan to examine that closely. what exactly was his role, brennan's role in those enhanced interrogation techniques which some critics call torture? >> you know, wolf, look, all -- that issue, benghazi, all of that is appropriate and will be on the table during john's confirmation hearing. but we should remember during the period of the bush administration when there was this program of enhanced interrogation techniques, john was in a career position, not a policymaking position. i can't speak to what his level of awareness was about that program, but i will tell you he certainly was not in a position to advocate in terms of the policy of the administration. that wasn't his role at the time. as i mentioned, the real role he had during most of that period was at the terrorist threat integration send attorney the standing up of that body that
was meant to integrate counterterrorism information. so senator mccain is quite correct, he'll have the opportunity to ask those questions as will other senators. but i think what you're going to find is he was not in a policymaking position. >> fran townsend, thanks very much. we're going to continue our special coverage, an important day as the president puts together his national security team for the second term. stay with us.
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