National Security Brief: Republicans Getting Desperate On Hagel

Foreign Policy magazine reported on Tuesday that Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee are looking for ways to hold up the committee’s vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense. Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said they want more information on the contents of Hagel’s private speeches he gave in recent years and who paid for them. The committee Republicans also seem to think they see an issue regarding an alleged sexual harassment incident between two former Hagel staffers during his time in the Senate. A former top Hagel staffer said the matter was handled internally and was not brought to the senator’s attention but Sessions says he wants to know more. “It should be analyzed and we should find out what happened,” Sessions said. “I know the staff is looking at it. Pretty soon we’ll get a final report on what the facts are.”

While CNN reported on Tuesday that “there are now at least five Republican senators who would oppose a filibuster of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense, all but ensuring the embattled nominee will be confirmed in the coming days,” other desperate Republicans are calling on President Obama to withdraw Hagel’s nomination.

In other news:

  • The AP reports: Uncomfortable with the Obama administration’s use of deadly drones, a growing number in Congress is looking to limit America’s authority to kill suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens. The Democratic-led outcry was emboldened by the revelation in a newly surfaced Justice Department memo that shows drones can strike against a wider range of threats, with less evidence, than previously believed.
  • Global Security Newswire reports: Senior Obama administration officials in the last week have launched a series of trips to foreign capitals in what experts described as a push to reinvigorate President Obama’s nuclear arms control agenda as he begins his second term in office.
  • The White House announced that Obama will travel to the Middle East his spring, visiting Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. +972 Magazine’s Noam Sheizaf urges Obama to push Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for peace with the Palestinians.
  • Reuters reports: Turkey must speed up its reforms of legislation such as the sweeping anti-terrorism laws under which dozens of journalists have been jailed, the head of the Council of Europe said on Tuesday.