Former Top Military Officials Back Hagel’s Defense Secretary Bid

Chuck Hagel received two new high profile endorsements on Sunday for his bid to be the next Secretary of Defense. Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden and retired Army General Stanley McChrystal said on CNN’s State of the Union that Hagel is a good choice to take over for outgoing Pentagon chief Leon Panetta.

Hayden, former National Security Agency head during the Bush administration and CIA Director in both the Bush and Obama administrations, said Hagel is someone “you could talk to” and “have an honest dialogue” with. When host Candy Crowley asked the former generals if they see “any red flags” that would disqualify Hagel, McChrystal, most recently the top allied commander in Afghanistan, said “no” while Hayden said, “not at all.”

CROWLEY: From what you know of Chuck Hagel…what sort of reception would he get from the military.

HAYDEN: I think he will be fine. I know Senator Hagel. He was on my oversight committee when I was in the intelligence community. He was a member, and this is not a universal condition, he was a member that you could talk to, have an honest dialogue, not necessarily disagree but on a personal basis, have a candid exchange of views. You could always speak with him and frankly given my time in uniform, that’s a tremendous attribute. So I actually think this will work out well.

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The “neocon smear machine” and other well-financed right-wing groups are trying to derail Hagel’s Defense Secretary bid but the former Republican senator from Nebraska has received widespread, bipartisan support from former top foreign affairs and defense officials in recent weeks and key senators have said they would vote to confirm Hagel.