President Obama announced Monday his nominations to fill upcoming vacancies in his national security team. To be the new director of the CIA, the president has tapped John O. Brennan, his current chief counterterrorism advisor who describes himself as “neither a Republican nor a Democrat.” And for defense secretary, Obama has nominated former Republican U.S. Senator for Nebraska Chuck Hagel. Each pick has drawn criticism in certain Republican and Democrat circles.
Despite being considered the less controversial of the two nominees, Brennan represents to some an affirmation of the administration’s support for drone strikes; a policy that as counterterrorism advisor he has strongly advocated.
Hagel’s record in the Senate on both foreign and domestic policy issues has led many Republicans and some Democrats to indicate that they would not support him serving as the chief executive officer of the Defense Department. As a Senator in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Nebraska Jewish groups and press say Hagel was not very engaged with them, and the Senator’s past comments about Israel and the “Jewish lobby” have left many Republicans questioning the Defense Secretary-nominee’s commitment to what is considered America’s closest ally in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Hagel’s voting record on LGBT issues and past comments regarding openly gay diplomatic nominees has drawn criticism from some liberal groups.