You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Former senator Hagel in mix to serve as SecDef

Dec. 13, 2012 - 06:17PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 13, 2012 - 06:17PM  |  
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., could serve as Pentagon chief in the next Obama administration.
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., could serve as Pentagon chief in the next Obama administration. (AP)
  • Filed Under

Susan Rice has withdrawn from consideration to be secretary of state, a move that could pave the way for former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel to become defense secretary.

The White House announced Rice's decision in a statement Thursday, with President Obama praising her efforts as U.N. ambassador and blasting Republicans who have been sharply critical of Rice. The announcement set off a firestorm in Washington, with speculation flying about what the decision means for Obama's second-term Cabinet.

Obama praised Rice as an "extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant" who has played "an indispensable role in advancing America's interests."

The president also responded to recent criticism from GOP lawmakers about Rice, and comments she made after a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Libya that later were proved inaccurate: "I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks."

Those GOP senators had vowed to block her nomination if Obama tapped her for secretary of state.

One, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., issued a statement minutes after the White House announcement expressing his "respect" for Rice's decision. Graham also said he is "determined to find out what happened before, during, and after the attack" at the Benghazi diplomatic facility.

Rice's withdrawal could set up a scenario under which Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., becomes Obama's pick for secretary of state. Kerry had been mentioned as a possible defense secretary pick, but if he goes to Foggy Bottom, insiders say Hagel likely would replace Leon Panetta as defense secretary.

The White House's announcement set off immediate buzz around Washington.

Christopher Preble of the CATO Institute, in a statement released shortly after the Rice news was revealed, said speculation that Hagel would become defense secretary "should be welcomed by anyone frustrated by years of war and foreign meddling, and out-of-control spending at the Pentagon."

Hagel, a former Nebraska senator, is now chairman of the Atlantic Council.

During his 12 years in the upper chamber, he served on the Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees, among others.

Hagel has the respect of both Republicans and Democrats, and insiders say his nomination likely would sail through the Senate with little resistance unlike Rice.

In recent years, Hagel has been a co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and is a member of the Defense Policy Board, which reports directly to the secretary of defense. Hagel also is member of several corporate boards for major corporations such as Chevron.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Navy Times

This Week's Navy Times

Go mustang
LDO and warrant careers offer more authority, a pay hike and big retirement payout

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook