The third former secretary of defense for President Barack Obama has come forward to criticize the president’s leadership.
Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Foreign Policy magazine that the Obama White House wanted to destroy him even after he resigned from his position.
"They already had my resignation, so what was the point of just continuing to try to destroy me?" Hagel said, referring to unnamed sources who commented in press reports about him after he left office in November 2014.
"I don't know what the purpose was,” Hagel added. “To this day, I'm still mystified by that. But I move forward. I'm proud of my service."
Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska and a Vietnam veteran, said he "would have preferred that my days as defense secretary not end that way."
Hagel was the third person to serve in the position under Obama.
Hagel’s two predecessors were also highly critical of Obama after leaving their post.
Obama’s first secretary of defense, Robert Gates, also a Republican kept on from the Bush administration, and longtime Democrat Leon Panetta, Obama’s second defense secretary, criticized Obama in their memoirs, asserting that the White House interfered in Pentagon business too often.
Hagel disagreed with Obama administration officials over the Syria policy. Obama told him to stand down forces after Syrian dictator Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his people in August 2013. Assad had stepped over the “red line” that Obama previously warned about.
"Whether it was the right decision or not, history will determine that," Hagel told Foreign Policy. "There's no question in my mind that it hurt the credibility of the president's word when this occurred."