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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 Inhofe.
Senator Reed.

Senator REED. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
First, I would ask unanimous consent that several letters of support,
including one from 13 former Secretaries of Defense, Secretaries
of State, and National Security advisors, strongly endorsing
Senator Hagel's nomination, be placed in the record.

Chairman LEVIN. It will be placed in the record.

[The information referred to follows:]


Senator REED. Mr. Chairman, I think the President chose wisely.
There are very few people in this country with the experience, as
a combat infantryman, decorated and wounded, as a business leader,
as the second leader of the Veterans Administration, as U.S.
Senator, as someone who every day understands that the decisions
we make will be carried out by young Americans, actually looked
in the face of young Americans, who has seen them suffer and die
for this country. And I think that quality is, if not unique, extraordinarily
part of the nominee before us. So, again, I think the President
made a wise choice.
I think Senator Inhofe's discussions of the zero growth is an opportunity
for a quote, and let me quote. ""There is one way safely
and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that
is to reduce the need for it. This is why we are trying to do in negotiations
with the Soviet Union. We are not just assessing limits on
a further increase in nuclear weapons. We seek instead to reduce
the number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear
weapons from the face of the Earth.'' President Ronald Reagan in
his second inaugural address.
So the notion of Global Zero is not something unique. I would
also point out that as signatories to the nuclear disarmament treaty,
the Nonproliferation Treaty, Article 11 undertakes to commit at
least to a treaty ultimately on general and complete disarmament
under strict and effective control.
So this is an aspiration that the United States has embraced for
a very long time under presidents of both parties. And I think as
Senator Hagel pointed out, this is not unilateral disarmament. This
is a long process of making sure we have the nuclear weapons in
place to deal with appropriate challenges, some of them very different
than the Cold War, but the aspiration is important. And it
is has been a bipartisan and constant for decades. Is that a rough
summary of what you might agree to, Senator?

Senator HAGEL. Yes, it is, Senator. Thank you.

Senator REED. The other issue is that there were several specific
points raised with your record, and let me give you the opportunity
to respond, if you will, to the questions that Senator Inhofe posed
with respect to votes. If you have the list before you or----

Senator HAGEL. The what? I'm sorry?

Senator REED. Senator Inhofe posed several issues about a 2007
vote, a 2006 resolution with Hezbollah, 2003 Syrian sanctions, et
cetera. You were prepared to comment. I think it is appropriate
that you have an opportunity to comment. If you want to do so
now, I would invite you to do so.

Senator HAGEL. Well, and I would be glad to further comment for
the record because I have none of those specific quotes in front of
me, and which I will, Senator, listing every vote I took.
I would say, though, included in those votes, which I do recall
some of them, were a vote in 1998, a vote in 2000, a vote in 2006,
specifically against Iran, sanctioning companies, unilateral sanctions,
that in any way assisted in Iran's building their capability
of nuclear weapons or rocket or missiles. I voted for those.
I recall signing a letter--a Warner-Levin letter in 2002 to the
President of the United States regarding anti-Semitism in Russia.
I wrote a letter to President Clinton specifically in 1999 recommending
to President Clinton a number of steps that he take with
President Yeltsin regarding anti-Semitism in Russia. I remember
specifically there were two unanimous consent resolutions in 2006
against Hezbollah, against Hamas, against Syria, and Iran that we
had unanimous consent, I supported on the floor of the Senate.
So there is a more complete record, Senator, than just one, or
two, or three, or four, and those are some of them that I recall. As
I noted in one of the responses back to Senator Inhofe, I did not
take any action on any vote, as I suspect every colleague has the
same way to approach votes, on this specific issue, on Hezbollah,
Hamas, which I am on the record many times designating and saying
that Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist organizations. I am on
the record many times in speeches, and on the floor of the Senate,
and in the book I wrote in 2008 saying that Iran is a state sponsor
of terrorism. That is not new. That is in my record.
But the way I approached every vote I ever took in the Senate
was based on what I thought could be most effective, what was--
at the time what was the situation at the time, how could we do
this smarter and better. I have always believed that the President
of the United States is the elected leader of America. He has within
his responsibilities, and I believe it is clearly articulated Article 2,
to conduct foreign policy. I always thought the best way to deal
with foreign leaders was let the President do that directly, for us
to communicate with the President.
I do not think there was a letter that I can recall I signed to a
President on any of these issues that I agreed with it that I did
not sign. So it was never a matter of differing objectives here. It
was a matter of how best we could do it.
I mentioned in 2008, the Secretary of State did not want one of
those unilateral sanctions to go forward during the Bush administration,
wrote a letter, 2001, which is one of the issues that Senator
Inhofe brought up. The Bush administration was opposed to a 5-
year renewal of ILSA.
Now, I am not saying that is right or wrong, but every one of the
decisions I made, every vote I cast, was based on at the time what
I thought made the most sense.

Senator REED. Senator, you have clearly stated that you are supportive
of the President's efforts to support the state of Israel. And
you have indicated specifically the example Iron Dome. I recall a
statement recently by Defense Minister Barach that he has seldom
seen or never has seen the same level of military support to the
state of Israel that he has seen in the last several years.
And you are, I presume and I hope, fully prepared to carry out
that same effort, that same level of support, because of the vital
interests that we share with the state of Israel.

Senator HAGEL. Well, I am, and I have a record on that. In my
book in 2008, interviews, speeches, I have always said I am a supporter
of Israel. In some cases I have said I am a strong supporter
of Israel. In some cases I have even written, and I think it is in
my book, that we have a special relationship with Israel. We always
have had.
So I have never voted against Israel ever in the 12 years I was
in the Senate whether it was military authorizations, additional
supplemental appropriations. The record is very clear on that.
I might add, as long as we are on this subject, that--and Senator
Nelson may have a clearer view of this since he was just in Jerusalem,
there have been a couple of recent statements made by the
current Israeli ambassador to the United States, the former Israeli
ambassador to the United States, now the deputy foreign minister
of Israel, that were fairly positive about me.
So I think all the Israeli leaders I have dealt with over the years
and met--and I have been to Israel many times. The first time I
was--the first two times I was in Israel was when I was the head
of the USO. I kept the Haifa USO open. We did not close it. There
was a lot of pressure when I took over the World USO to close
USOs around the world, and we did. There was a lot of pressure
to close the Haifa USO. I am the one that made the decision not
to do that.
The former chief of Naval Operations of Israel, Admiral Zev
Almad, who has recently been interviewed about me, has strongly
supported me and said specifically that I was a strong friend of
Israel. The current--now the USO is closed, but the current then
director of the USO, a lady by the name of Gila Garrison, who lives
in Haifa, said I was a strong supporter and friend of Israel.
So I think my record is pretty clear on my support of Israel, and
I would, of course, continue to support the President's policies. And
I think he has been as strong a supporter of Israel as maybe any
President since 1948 when Harry Truman helped give birth to
Israel. This President has been there. As he said, I have Israel's
back--$3.1 billion in assistance, almost $300 additional million out
of the Defense Department for Iron Dome, what we are doing with
David Sling Arrow. I am a strong supporter of all those programs
and will continue to support them.

Senator REED. Thank you.


Chairman LEVIN. Thank you, Senator Blunt.
Senator Reed.

Senator REED. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Hagel, we have listened all afternoon to a series of questions
about what you said in 2002, in 2006, in 2007. I expect,
though, if you're confirmed as the Secretary of Defense the President
of the United States will not turn to you and ask you about
your floor speeches, as elegant as they were. He will ask you if
you're prepared to advise him on matters of literally life and death,
that you have prepared the Department of Defense to address
every contingency in a thoughtful way, knowing the costs and the
benefits; that he assumes, as I do and as you've stated repeatedly,
your staunch commitment to our allies, in particular in the context
today of the state of Israel; and that you are fundamentally committed
to the welfare of our troops and families because you have
seen as a soldier that ultimately they are the difference in our military.
So looking not backwards to a series of individual quotes and
footnotes and etcetera, but looking ahead, if you are there and the
President turns to you, can you give us--and I think you can; I'm
convinced of that--the confidence that you will be prepared to give
him the advice he needs to make life and death decisions which he
as Commander in Chief must make?

Senator HAGEL. Senator, when the President asked me to consider
this job I didn't want another job. I was not looking for another
job. Lilibet and I had a pretty good life since I left the Senate,
nothing personal. But the friendships that we've maintained
here and valued here and the experiences we had here we will
treasure for always. Highest privilege of my life, serving in this
I say that because I wasn't looking for another job. The President
asked me to come see him and we had a long conversation one
night, just the two of us, over an hour. And we talked about the
job, the world, security, the future. And within the context of that
conversation, we got down into what about this job.
I didn't try to sell him on the job, that I could do it. In fact, when
he asked me about why am I qualified or why would I be uniquely
qualified, I said I'm not. There are a lot of very qualified Americans
who could do this job. I don't think a lot of them in the sense that
they're out there everywhere. I think there are some qualifications
for this job. But I'm not the only one.
And I said: Mr. President, I'm not going to sit here and try to
convince you that I'm the right person. You know me, you know my
record, you know what I believe. I've had the opportunity to work
with him pretty closely over the last four years as I served as cochairman
with you and Senator Levin's former colleague, Senator
Dave Boren from Oklahoma, on the President's Intelligence Advisory
Board. That's allowed me to stay pretty current with intelligence
and make a contribution maybe a little bit there. In the last
four years I've served on Secretary Gates's, Secretary Panetta's Policy
Advisory Boards.
So I do have some understanding, as I told him, of this. But why
I think when Lilibet and I talked about it I agreed to go forward
with this is because of the tremendous opportunities and the important
time that we are living in and the opportunities we now
have to help make a better world. I think the next few years are
going to be as defining and as important in this country truly as
any few years post-World War II.
I told the President he was here at a very defining time, and if
I can help him do that, if I can help this country, I want to do it.
The experiences I'll bring to the job, Senator, you know. I think I've
got a pretty varied background on a lot of things. I think always
in the end, like any job, judgment is the ultimate determinant of
everything. I think experience is a factor, varied experience, responsible
experience. But that all adds up to judgment. And I hope
if I'm confirmed I can do those things to give the President and this
country wise, informed, honest advice, and I will do everything
within my power to do that.

Senator REED. Thank you very much.


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