What appears now to be President Obama’s imminent nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel has caused a firestorm of criticism from traitors in our midst. In particular, Senator Hagel is under attack because he was gutsy and honest enough to state an obvious fact about the disproportionate and decidedly negative influence various Israeli lobby groups exert over U.S. policy. Some may try to deny this fact, but I would submit that the mere fact that there is such uproar over this small statement made years ago proves how disproportionately powerful this lobby continues to be. Then Senator Hagel didn’t stop there and was brazen enough to also boldly state that U.S. interests should come first and that he swore an oath to the Constitution! How dare he put the U.S. first and swear allegiance to the Constitution and want to follow the rule of law! On second thought, how dare any American criticize him for taking that stand!
Let’s separate fact from fiction. Senator Hagel in my book is far from a perfect candidate for the position of Secretary of Defense, but the man has a lot going for him. For starters, he is a self-made millionaire and understands business. The Department of Defense is the world’s largest bureaucracy so we need a good manager to rein it in. Mr. Hagel has also openly made comments suggesting he recognizes that the interests and security of the U.S. should be placed ahead of other nations’ interests and that he recognizes the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land. This too IS a good thing for America! However, if you happen to believe that the best interests of a foreign nation should supersede those of the U.S. and you are not a foreign national, then you need to disclose yourself as an agent of a foreign government to the F.B.I. and the American public before suggesting Mr. Hagel is a bad guy for taking the side of the country he is sworn to protect.
Second, Mr. Hagel seems to recognize that the Constitution is an important and valid document. This is a vast improvement from his predecessors, which under Congressional Testimony seem to forget that the Constitution exclusively gives the power to declare war to the legislative branch of government (Congress). Both Panetta and Gates, when questioned directly by Congress on this subject, testified to the point that the authority to commit U.S. troops to war lie not with Congress, but the international community, whatever that is. What it isn’t though is Constitutional. Further, in the context of Hagel’s statements against the Patriot Act and then President George Bush’s constant push for the war in Iraq, it was quite clear that he was drawing a distinction between party politics and the best interests of a free nation. Again, this is commendable. Finally, Mr. Hagel voted in favor of Senate Amendment 2022, restoring habeas corpus, the right to due process, to American citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but voted against a similar resolution restoring it to non-U.S. prisoners detained at Guantanamo. This demonstrates Mr. Hagel understands that U.S. citizens have certain unalienable rights granted by the Constitution and are materially different than foreign combatants. The need to have a Secretary of Defense with this type of legal and ethical compass is even more important now after President Obama just signed into law the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively suspends habeas corpus and allows American citizens to be captured and indefinitely detained even while inside of the U.S. This latest law is draconian and the epitome of tyranny. Mr. Hagel may be one of the few that could achieve appointment while still imparting some balance.
Third, the man actually served in the U.S. military, has seen “ground” combat in Vietnam, and earned two purple hearts. Any one of these would clearly set him apart from his peers, but combined, suggests Mr. Hagel recognizes the dangers of useless wars with no winning strategy or end. His criticisms of the War in Iraq demonstrated that not only did he see Iraq for the massive waste of life and resources it was, but also was willing to stand up and say something about it when the rest of his Senate peers quietly walked in lockstep with the Republican Party. I for one believe anyone acting in the position of Secretary of Defense should know firsthand what it is like to be in combat, risk your life, and be put in a position where you must take the life of others. No text book, degree, or amount of empathy can replace the raw horror of war. As such, no one that hasn’t actually experienced war can truly appreciate what our troops are asked to do and properly formulate Department of Defense policy.
If not enough, Mr. Hagel serves on President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board. This is a senior position with access to highly classified information and is central to the development of security and defense policy at the Presidential level. As such, Mr. Hagel is in the know. What is funny is that he is criticized for his “soft” position on Iran, when he is one of the people who would be in the exact position to understand exactly what the U.S. is doing in respect to Iran, how well it has worked, and what the actual versus publicized threat of Iran really is to U.S. national security. Further, he would also be acutely aware of the degree to which countries like Israel have lobbied to inject their interests into our policy with respect to Iran and whether or not this was in the best interests of the U.S. Knowing all of this information, Mr. Hagel has come out against “hard” policies toward Iran as counter-productive and particularly against sanctions. Mr. Hagel was correct in his policy prescription toward Iran in part because he is privy to information most readers honestly are not. Second, specific to his opposition to sanctions, he was again correct in his policy prescription. Sanctions haven’t worked against Iran and have only complicated our negotiations, made life very difficult for the average Iranian, and bolstered the regimes propaganda that Iran’s ills are being caused by America. Finally, Mr. Hagel speaks first hand regarding the intimidation the Israeli lobby wields over U.S. policy makers. Note, Mr. Hagel’s statements regarding Israel never suggest he didn’t believe that Israel was a U.S. ally or that the U.S. and Israel would not continue to support each other. Mr. Hagel only stated that U.S. interests must come first. This clear state of mind and understanding of his responsibilities to “our” nation is of the utmost importance and I applaud him for telling the truth. If anything, one should be demanding why the media hasn’t raised such a cry for those nominees and candidates that haven’t taken such stances and seem to put America last. This is the real story of a seditious media that lacks any real accountability and has a clear bias against “U.S.” interests in its reporting.
No nominee is perfect and this is true with Mr. Hagel. Although, I would like to see other nominees and do believe based on the above Mr. Hagel is a better choice for Secretary of Defense than other potential candidates, he does have critical flaws. Specifically, even though he has voiced support for the Constitution, which today is exceedingly rare amongst politicians, he did support the Patriot Act after initially voting against it. He also voted for FISA, which among other classified powers, gave wide surveillance and warrantless wiretapping authority to the government. I believe the damage the Patriot Act and FISA have done to the freedom, liberty, and privacy of citizens is egregious and is difficult to reconcile with anyone truly respective of civil liberties and the Constitution. Perhaps the only defense of Mr. Hagel on these issues is that the most invasive spying, surveillance, and detention policies these acts proscribe were only written into law and passed after he left office. All considered, under the circumstances Mr. Hagel is likely the best nominee free Americans can hope for from this Administration, but the buyer should beware.
By Guiles Hendrik