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Public Statements

Hearing of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services - Confirmation Hearing of the Nomination of the Honorable Charles T. Hagel


Location: Washington, DC


Chairman LEVIN. Thank you, Senator Udall.
Senator Wicker.

Senator WICKER. Let me just follow up on that. Does that mean,
though, a chaplain would have to perform a same sex marriage, in
your view, if he objected based on conscience?

Senator HAGEL. Well, I think the Pentagon regulations show,
Senator, that same sex marriage is legal in the nine states.

Senator WICKER. No, would a chaplain be able to bow out of that
procedure based on conscience.

Senator HAGEL. Certainly.

Senator WICKER. Okay.

Senator HAGEL. But what we do not want, though--Senator
Udall's point is someone to be denied to be married in a chapel or
a facility and so on, but certainly a matter of conscience, yes. What
I am talking about is a strict interpretation of defending the law,
which defends rights.

Senator WICKER. Thank you very much for clarifying that. And
thank you for calling early on. We had our conversation on January
8, and I appreciated that opportunity.
You just said that your statements over time have been--have
gotten a lot more attention than you ever dreamed possible. I hope
you agree that that is entirely appropriate in this context.
Chairman Levin mentioned in his opening statement that in
speaking your mind, you had terrible things that caused him concern.
He asked you about that. Senator Inhofe mentioned several
of your statements involved what some people feel are policy reversals
based on expediency. And so those are concerns.
You and I talked about two of these topics during our conversation,
and one of them was with regard to sanctions against Iran.
You told me in our conversation that you opposed unilateral sanctions
because they do not work and they isolate the United States.
Indeed you had made that statement to the Omaha paper just the
day before. ""I have not supported unilateral sanctions because
when it is us alone, they do not work and they just isolate the
United States,'' in the Omaha paper.
I will have to say that that statement seems to be in direct contradiction
to your letter to Senator Boxer one week later when you
told her, and I quote, ""I agree that with Iran's continued rejection
of diplomatic overtures, further effective sanctions, both multilateral
and unilateral, may be necessary.''
Now, a week before that you said that you have opposed them
because they do not work. Senator Levin mentioned in his statement
he disagrees that. He believes they do work. You gave him
an answer to that statement, and we have it on the record. But let
me just suggest to you, Senator, that if words have meaning, there
is no two ways about it. The statement that you gave in the Omaha
paper and that you gave to me the following day is substantially
and substantively different from what you wrote to Senator Boxer
a week later.
The Office of Secretary of Defense is one of the most powerful positions
in the country, and arguably in the world. And this official,
whoever he or she is, must lead with clarity and precision. And
people around the world need to rely on the clear meaning of the
words of the Secretary of Defense.
Now, the other thing we discussed that gave me concern during
our conversation on January 8th was your statement about the
Jewish lobby. And you told me that you have had apologized for
using that terminology, and you retracted the use of the term ""Jewish
lobby.'' What you said was the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot
of people up here. This was in a book--an interview that you gave
to Aaron David Miller. And you said, ""I've always argued against
some of the dumb things they do because I don't think it's in the
interest of Israel.''
Here is my problem with your position at this point. You have
corrected the term ""Jewish lobby,'' and I assume now the correct
term would be ""Israel lobby'' or ""Israeli lobby.'' Do you still stand
by your statement that they succeed in this town because of intimidation?
And that it amounts to causing us to do dumb things, because
I want to say this, Senator. You are here today as the potential
Secretary of Defense, and it would seem to me that however
you characterize them, you have suggested that there is an effective
lobby out there, whether you call them the Jewish lobby, the
Israeli lobby, or the Israel lobby, and that they succeed in doing
dumb things through intimidation, and that U.S. policy has been
the wrong approach because the intimidation has worked.
So when you talked about the Jewish lobby, were you talking
about AIPAC? Were you talking about NORPAC? Were you talking
about Christians United or Israel? And do you still believe that
their success in this town is because of intimidation and that they
are, as you stated, urging upon our government that we do dumb

Senator HAGEL. Well, first, I have never been accused of political
expediency. I do not do that. It probably has gotten me in some
trouble, Senator.
Second, to address the last comment, and then we will go back
sanctions. I have already said I regret referencing the Jewish
lobby. I should have said pro-Israel lobby. I think it is the only
time on the record that I have ever said that.
Now, you all have done a lot of work with my record, and, yes,
it is appropriate, by the way. Any nominee's record, what he or she
thinks, says, done, absolutely. I was on your side of dais for 12
years, so I understand that and that responsibility. So I do not
have any problem with that. So I have already noted that I should
have used another term, and I am sorry, and I regret it.
On the use of intimidation. I should have used ""influence,'' I
think would have been more appropriate. We were talking about in
that book, and you evidently read it, Aaron David Miller's book--
and, by the way, it is a book, The Much Too Promised Land. He
has spoken out directly over the last few weeks, written an op-ed
about my position because it has gotten some attention as you have
noted, and been quite favorable to me, and said much of that was
taken out of context, and he was offended by it. Those were his
Those of you know something about Aaron David Miller know
that he is Jewish. He is a highly respected individual who has
counseled presidents and secretaries of state. He also says in that
interview, which is a fairly short interview, he mentioned that I am
a strong supporter of Israel. That it is in the interview. So I think
that says something.
I should not have said ""dumb'' or ""stupid'' because I understand,
appreciate, there are different views on these things. We were talking
about Israel. We were talking about the Middle East. We were
not talking about Armenia, or Turkey, or the banking influence, or
chamber of commerce influence. That was the context of my comments
were about.
Your point on the unilateral sanctions conversation and the
quote, a couple of points. Let us go back to the ILSA vote, about
the original ILSA vote during the Clinton administration and connect
that to a comment I made in the World Herald about they do
not work. They are ineffective. And, by the way, I have already
noted for the record here that I have supported and voted for some
unilateral sanctions, and I think I noted three specific ones that I
But on your specific question about the specific comment. Just to
give you an example of partly what I was talking about. You were
not in the Senate at the time. Some were. But those who were here
in the Senate might recall the European Union's reaction to that
ILSA Act. I was not in the Senate when that was voted on originally,
so I did not have a vote.
But in 1998, the European Union passed a resolution against the
United States and threatened to take the United States to the
World Trade Organization. As a consequence, Secretary Albright
had to get into this, and as a consequence of that, President Clinton
had to sign a waiver to allow a French oil company not to be
part of that U.S. unilateral waiver.
Now I am not suggesting United States action should be hostage
to the European Union or any other country. But what I am suggesting
is many times there are consequences to these actions.
Now, every senator has their own position on these, exercise their
own judgment as they should, and cast their own vote. So I don't
think necessarily that there was a disconnect from what I said in
The World Herald to where I have been on international sanctions.
As to your specific point about supporting unilateral sanctions as
well as international sanctions in the letter to Senator Boxer, it is
a different situation to start with. We already have very effective
international sanctions on Iran.

Senator WICKER. Are you saying that those two statements do
not contradict each other, the one to the Omaha paper and the one
to Senator Boxer?

Senator HAGEL. There are two points to it. Let me finish if I
could, Senator, thank you, my second point.
My second point is this. Where we are with Iran today, the international
sanctions that have been placed on Iran, that puts Iran
and the United States in a far different place than where we were
in 2000, or 1998, or 2001 when I did not support the re-imposition.
And by the way, the Bush administration did not either. They did
not want a 5-year re-imposition for some of the same reasons that
I questioned that re-imposition of 5 years on ILSA.
But my point in making where we are today, connecting that to
unilateral sanctions, then we have got a different situation. Unilateral
sanctions, because we have already got strong international
sanctions, should be considered. I think the President is right to
consider those. I would support that because it is different than it
was in 2001 or 1998.

Senator WICKER. Thank you.


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