National Security Brief: Hagel Defenders Beat Back Neocon Smears

While the Washington Post editorial board is the latest to come out swinging against Chuck Hagel’s potential nomination as the next Defense Secretary (CAP’s Matt Duss is “[t]rying to remember the last time the Washington Post editorial board was right about anything foreign policy-related”), the paper’s columnist Dana Milbank had words for those calling the former Republican senator an anti-Semite. “The Hagel hit is wrong on the merits, but it’s particularly egregious because the former senator from Nebraska is among the best and bravest public servants. He was an enlisted man in Vietnam, earning two Purple Hearts in jungle combat. In his legislative career, he was a powerful voice against the chicken hawks who have recklessly sent American troops to their deaths,” Milbank wrote in a column today. Others came out defending Hagel as well: John Judis at the New Republic and the Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart and Andrew Sullivan.

In other news:

  • What’s the Post ed board’s main critique of Hagel? The Nebraska Republican once said the Pentagon’s budget is “bloated,” while current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticized military spending cuts. But Panetta himself has said there is waste in the DOD budget and just yesterday said that Hagel is “smart” and “capable.” Even Panetta’s predecessor Robert Gates, also a Republican, has said DOD needs to trim the fat. “The culture of endless money that has taken hold must be replaced by a culture of savings and restraint,” he said in 2010.
  • Defense News reports: House and Senate lawmakers have agreed on a final bill authorizing the Pentagon to spend $631 billion in 2013, while also limiting DoD’s ability to deploy military spies and enter the biofuels industry. The bill stops short of mandating a new U.S.-based missile shield, and green-lights new multiyear contracts
  • The New York Times reports: An independent inquiry into the attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans on Sept. 11 sharply criticized the State Department for a lack of seasoned security personnel and for relying on untested local militias to safeguard the compound, according to a report by the panel made public on Tuesday night.