National Security Brief: Top Republican Calls Hagel ‘Smart’ & ‘Capable’

The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) provided a boost to Chuck Hagel’s chances of becoming the next Secretary of Defense just ahead of hearings on his nomination today, telling Yahoo News that the former Republican senator from Nebraska is a “smart, capable guy.” “He’s had a lot of opinions. He was particularly opposed to much of what the Bush administration was doing in foreign policy. That didn’t mean he wasn’t a capable senator or a forceful advocate,” McConnell said. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) on Wednesday became the first Republican to voice support for Hagel’s Defense Secretary bid.

In other news:

  • AFP reports: Niger said Wednesday it was ready to host a base for US drones monitoring movements by Al-Qaeda-linked groups currently based in northern Mali.
  • The Washington Post reports: American officials in Afghanistan have failed to verify that fuel purchased for Afghan security forces in recent years did not come from Iran, which would constitute a violation of U.S. sanctions, according to an inspector general report issued Wednesday.
  • Reuters reports: U.N. human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all half a million Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes. +972 Magazine has more.
  • The New York Times reports: Iran has told the United Nations nuclear supervisory body that it plans to install more sophisticated equipment at its principal nuclear enrichment plant, a diplomat said on Thursday, enabling it to greatly accelerate its processing of uranium in a move likely to alarm the United States, Israel and the West.

(Photo: Lincoln Journal Star)