Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign - CNN

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign

Hagel's departure marks the surprise end to a short tenure in the Pentagon by one of the president's former Senate colleagues and comes as the U.S. military picks up its military campaign against terror groups in Iraq and Syria. We'll have the latest news here.

    News of Hagel's departure was broken by the New York Times, which published a story just after 9 a.m. Less than an hour later and we know the president is going to make the official announcement at the White House just after 11 a.m. ET.
    Hagel wrote to White House in October complaining about Syria policy

    We still don't know the details about why Hagel is leaving, whether he wants to go or whether the President asked him to. What we do know is that Hagel had recently raised alarm bells about the administration's Syria and ISIS policy.

    Here's what Barbara Starr wrote Oct. 30th: 

    Earlier this month, while on an trip to Latin America to discuss climate change, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagelsat down and wrote a highly private, and very blunt memo to National Security Advisor Susan Rice about U.S. policy toward Syria.

    It was a detailed analysis, crafted directly by Hagel "expressing concern about overall Syria strategy," a senior U.S. official tells CNN. The official directly familiar with the contents declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

    Hagel so far has not made his concerns public and is not likely to, according to the official. It comes at a time when the Pentagon is well aware there is growing, but anonymous chatter, that some White House officials are unhappy with Hagel's performance. So far there is no indication the President Barack Obama shares those views.

    The focus of the memo was "we need to have a sharper view of what to do about the Assad regime," the official said. The official refused to provide additional details, but did not disagree with the notion that Hagel feels the U.S. is risking its gains in the war against ISIS if adjustments are not made.



    Read Barbara's entire post HERE.


    Replacing Hagel 

    The official word of Hagel's resignation has not yet come, but already Washington has turned to the question of who will replace him.

    Jim Acosta reports that a senior administration official has three potential names off the bat: Michele Fournoy and Ashton Carter, both former Pentagon officials and Sen. Jack Reed, a West Point graduate and Rhode Island Democrat. In the waning years of a presidential administraton, it would be an interesting move for Reed to leave the Senate.

    Flournoy was the third ranking Pentagon official for most of President Obama's first term. Back in May Flournoy talked to CNN's Christiane Amanpour about Obama's foreign policy when he announced a policy shift back in May. That seems like a long time ago now, before further pivots to address ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

    by zbyronwolf

    McCain, who challenged Hagel, will lead confirmation hearings

    It should be noted that Hagel's successor will undergo confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee and next year it will be chaired by Sen. John McCain, an arch critic of the president on foreign policy.

    Hagel and McCain were longtime Senate colleagues and both are Vietnam veterans. They broke over the Iraq war and McCain put very pointed questions to Hagel at Hagel's confirmation hearing in 2013. This video is must-see Internet TV: 



    Flashback: McCain and Hagel square off at confirmation hearings 
    by zbyronwolf

    Why a former general can't be Secretary of Defense - 

    A note from Barbara Starr - 

    Just FYI before there is any speculation about a potential general/admiral becoming Secretary of Defense…there is this law….

    (a)There is a Secretary of Defense, who is the head of the Department of Defense, appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. A person may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.

    I'll bet he talks about Hagel...


    Hagel has been dodging questions about whether he would step down

    From CNN's Alexandra Jaffe - Hagel has been rumored to be on his way out for weeks, and as recently as last week dodged questions about his continued tenure at the Pentagon.

    “First of all, I serve at the pleasure of the President,” Hagel told PBS on Oct. 18th, asked whether he’d continue in the position. “I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity I’ve had the last two years to work every day for the country and for the men and women who serve this country. I don’t get up in the morning and worry about my job. It’s not unusual by the way, to change teams at different times.

    Pressed on whether he felt he still had Obama’s confidence, Hagel said, “Well, I don’t think I would be here if I didn’t. But you’d have to ask him that. I mean I see him all the time.



    Chuck Hagel interviewed on PBS by Charlie Rose 
    by zbyronwolf



    Can't wait for Hagel's book! 

    The two most recent Secretaries of Defense have both left office and written books with sections critical of President Obama. 

    Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Republican and the lone holdover from the Bush to the Obama administration and he was critical of the president's leadership style.

     Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on The Situation Room in January
    by zbyronwolf


    After Gates came Leon Panetta, who had worked for President Clinton as Chief of Staff and also headed the CIA. Panetta just recently wrote very critically of the President, particularly on the issue of ISIS and Syria.


    Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta interviewed by CNN's Gloria Borger 
    by zbyronwolf


    Consequences of the Midterm Election

    Senate Republicans will oversee the confirmation hearings for two of President Barack Obama’s most important Cabinet secretaries: Attorney General and Defense Secretary.

    Obama named Loretta Lynch as his replacement for Eric Holder on November 8; and we now wait to see whom the president will choose as Chuck Hagel’s successor.



    Obama thanks Hagel for speaking his mind in private

    In announcing Hagel's departure, Obama thanks Hagel for always "giving it to me straight" and speaking his mind behind the closed doors of the oval office. Obama notes that he and Hagel go back to Obama's term as a senator, when he and Hagel traveled abroad on an overseas trip together.
    Obama's Foreign Relations friends
    Hagel and Obama met when Obama was a new senator and Hagel was a veteran on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Members of that committee have been sprinkled around the Obama cabinet. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John Kerry were both top and long-serving members of that committee along with Hagel.
    Sen. Jack Reed - Not interested in Hagel's job

    A top Democratic voice on defense is Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island. But he's not interested in working as Defense Secretary, his spokesman Chip Unruh tells the Providence Journal.

    Senator Reed loves his job and wants to continue serving the people of Rhode Island in the United States senate,” said Unruh. “He has made it very clear that he does not wish to be considered for secretary of defense or any other Cabinet position. He just asked the people of Rhode Island to hire him for another six-year term and plans to honor that commitment.




    Dignified departure

    Barbara Starr notes on CNN that the perception at the Pentagon is that the White House is micromanaging strategy and national security. That's why, she says, it was important to have a dignified departure for Hagel. You saw President Obama speak very warmly about Hagel and they embraced at the end.
    Hagel was first former enlisted man to head Pentagon
    The most notable thing about Hagel's biography as Defense Secretary is that he is the first former enlisted man to head the Pentagon. He is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid notes that in his statement:
    Chuck Hagel is the first Vietnam veteran and enlisted man to have become Secretary of Defense. His exemplary record of service to our country in the military, as a Senator, and Secretary of Defense is outstanding. As a Senator, he was an independent voice in the Senate and a leader in the fight to get our Iraq policy right. He also worked hard to ensure that our men and women in uniform and our veterans had the resources they needed. I have enjoyed working with Chuck both as colleagues in the U.S. Senate and during his time as Defense Secretary. He is my friend and thank him for his service to our country.

    Here's the first CNN video report on Hagel's resignation... Jim Sciutto from Vienna (he's there reporting on nuclear talks with Iran) and Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.






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