Graham threatens to hold up Hagel vote over Benghazi attack

Israel/Palestine

Senator Lindsey Graham is dragging the Benghazi embassy attack into the debate over the appointments of John Brennan to be CIA chief and Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation this morning, Graham threatened to hold up confirmations of both of Obama’s nominees until the president”details his actions” the night September 11, 2012 when our embassy in Libya was attacked. CBS:

Graham said he’s going to urge the message among his colleagues, “No confirmation without information,” and will place a hold on the confirmation votes – an action any Senate member reserves the right to take – until the White House explains its garbled talking points following the Libya attack…….

“I’m not going to stop until we get to the bottom of it,” Graham said. “We know nothing about what the president did on the night of September 11, during a time of national crisis, and the American people need to know what their commander-in-chief did, if anything, during the eight-hour attack.

“…I don’t know what the president did that evening,” he continued. “I don’t know if he ever called anyone…”

Appearing in the same segment, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., called Graham’s threat to stall the nominations “unprecedented and unwarranted,” and said he hopes the Senate gets a chance to vote on Hagel and Brennan. House

This desperate move suggest that rightwingers are tapped out on ways to go after Hagel, so they’re pulling out all the stops. And it’s not Brennan they’re after.

Another issue the Republicans are using is alleged foreign investment in several companies Hagel worked for over the years. The New York Times reports:

In a strongly worded letter to Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the committee’s top Republican, [Senate Armed Services chair Senator Carl]  Levin said that he had “read with some concern” a Wednesday letter from Mr. Inhofe and 25 other Republican senators. Mr. Levin said the letter appeared “to insist upon financial disclosure requirements that far exceed the standard practices of the Armed Services Committee and go far beyond the financial disclosure required of previous secretaries of defense.”

The letter, which was drafted in the office of Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, asked Mr. Hagel to provide, among other things, the amount of foreign financing over the past decade for seven companies he had worked for. The letter also asked Mr. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, to disclose the amount of foreign financing over the past five years for the Atlantic Council, a centrist foreign policy group, where Mr. Hagel has served without compensation as the chairman of the board of directors.

The Times says that Hagel is likely to be confirmed on a party line vote in committee, 14-12, and that Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, wants to hold the vote early this week. But Tom Ricks of Foreign Policy says it’s 50/50 that Hagel will withdraw. He pushes the name of interventionist Michele Flournoy:  

He has the votes, but not much else. His big problem is that no one much wants him running the Pentagon. Congressional Republicans consider him a traitor. Congressional Democrats see him as anti-gay and anti-abortion, undercutting their support for him. And Northeastern Democrats (and some others) worry about his stance on Israel. Democratic support in the Senate appears more dutiful than passionate.

Notice that Hagel’s criticism of Israel is concerning to Northeastern liberals. Chris Matthews and Saturday Night Live can’t say this.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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