New evidence has emerged that a 2008 address to the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) by former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, was in fact a formal speech, contrary to the claims of the Obama administration. Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) provided Breitbart News with a still image of what the IPT says is Hagel addressing the ADC conference behind a podium with the group’s logo. Hagel was described as the event’s keynote speaker.
Video or text of the speech is thought to exist but has yet to be found or provided. A reporter from the Washington Free Beacon was told by the ADC that the speech is in an archive, but that it was unavailable. The ADC reportedly responded to further requests for information about the speech by accusing the Free Beacon of racism and indicating that it had reported the Free Beacon to “authorities.” The ADC also failed to turn over IRS 990 forms, according to the Free Beacon, which are meant to be publicly available upon request.
For his part, Hagel has attempted to excuse his failure to provide evidence of such speeches to the Senate, as requested, by testifying that many of his recent speeches were not written down, but extemporaneous: “I believe every paid speech I gave I didn’t have a prepared text. I gave it extemporaneously, which is something I’ve been doing for long before I left the Senate.” However, a speech without notes or teleprompters may still be a formal speech.
The ADC is known for taking staunch anti-Israel positions. According to the IPT, it has argued, for example, that Israeli leaders should be tried for war crimes. It also defended journalist Helen Thomas in 2010 when she said that Jews should go back to Europe and “[g]et the hell out of Palestine.” It has expressed admiration for Hagel in the past for standing up against Israel when few others in Congress would, declaring during the Second Lebanon War that everyone else “a lot of blood on their hands for remaining silent and for re-arming Israel.”
Hagel was the keynote speaker at the June 13, 2008 fundraiser for the ADC’s political action committee, the NAAA-ADC PAC (which appears to be defunct). The event was restricted to ADC members. In the 2008 election cycle, the PAC gave donations to Barack Obama, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, and outspoken anti-war congressman Dennis Kucinich. In 2010, the last year in which it made contributions, it gave to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and to Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), both of whom are known for anti-Israel positions.
On Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted, on straight party lines, to report Hagel’s nomination for consideration by the full Senate. Several Republican Senators said that they were concerned about the emergence of new speeches that Hagel had not previously disclosed. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) rejected requests for a hold on Hagel’s confirmation, and on Friday, the Senate is expected to face a cloture vote on Hagel’s confirmation. Republicans say they have the 41 votes necessary to block a vote from coming to the floor.