Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) told Breitbart News Monday that it has uncovered additional speeches given by former Sen. Chuck Hagel, who is awaiting confirmation as Secretary of Defense.
The speeches suggest that Hagel may have misled the Senate Armed Services Committee twice during his confirmation hearing on Jan. 31: first, when he suggested that the controversy over his views was about “one individual” quote, vote, or statement rather than his consistent and strongly-held opinions over time; and second, when Hagel told the committee: “We have given the committee every copy of every speech that I have that’s out there, every video that I have that’s out there.”
In fact, there are many additional speeches “out there,” and they show Hagel’s long-standing devotion to the view that the U.S. should “engage” Iran and back away from traditional support for Israel.
Emerson told Breitbart News: “These are not once-off mistakes, as Hagel has described them. Hagel’s radical views on Israel and Iran are hard-wired, despite what he told the Senate during his confirmation hearing.”
Those speeches found by the IPT include three inside the committee’s five-year timeframe–none of which, apparently, were described by Hagel in his formal submissions. One was an address at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s annual conference in 2008, where Hagel spoke at a fundraiser for the group’s political action committee. The second was a speech at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in September 2008. Emerson said that IPT has not uncovered transcripts or videos of these speeches.
Other speeches uncovered by IPT include an address to the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC in 2007. A transcript of that speech does not exist, but IPT found a description of his remarks by an admiring blogger in attendance, who called Hagel the “highlight”: “Hagel scored a very big hit with the audience by recounting his run-ins with the so-called ‘Israeli lobby’ (that term has about as much finesse as the word ‘neoconservative’), in particular with one journalist who suggested that his support for Israel was not strong enough.”
Though the latter speeches fall outside the five-year window, they demonstrate a consistent commitment by Hagel to the view that the U.S. needed to change its relationship with Israel, refrain from the option of military force against Iran, and appease the demands of Arab states as well as the prejudices of anti-Israel activists.
New recordings of, transcripts of, and accounts of Hagel’s speeches are emerging almost daily. On Sunday, Breitbart News revealed the existence of video footage of remarks made by Hagel in 2008, during which Hagel suggested that the U.S. should not attack Iran even to defend Israel from existential danger, and also implied that Israel, not Iran, posed the greatest danger of a first nuclear strike in the Middle East.
Last week, Breitbart News highlighted a speech Hagel delivered in October 2007 to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in which the former Nebraska Senator said that the U.S. needed to “reverse optics” in its relationship with Israel in order to improve its diplomatic credibility.
The consistent pattern is not only that Hagel has expressed radical views, but that he has been sought out, and applauded, by those with even more radical views than he has been willing to express openly, including anti-Israel groups in particular.
Today, Senate Armed Services Committee chair Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that he would bring Hagel’s confirmation to a vote in the committee on Tuesday. Former Ranking Member Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared that he was satisfied by Hagel’s financial disclosures, and announced that he would oppose any effort by Republican colleagues to walk out of the vote.
Yet despite plans for a vote by the full Senate later this week, current Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) vowed to place a “hold” on Hagel’s confirmation once it reached the Senate floor “for as long as it takes,” saying that Hagel’s views on Israel in particular disqualified him.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also said that he would block Hagel’s confirmation, as well as the confirmation of CIA Director nominee John Brennan, until the Obama administration provides a full and truthful account of its conduct during and after the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya last September.