Chuck Hagel Hub
Confirmation hearings are currently underway for Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Watch them LIVE HERE.
Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade reports on some written responses Hagel gave to advance policy questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Hagel reiterated his promise to commit to 'DADT' repeal and LGBT military families and move quickly on extending troop benefits currently prohibited by DOMA:
Since the time “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was lifted in September 2011, Pentagon officials have consistently said they’ve been reviewing the benefits that could be extended to gay service members. However, no action has been taken.
Hagel addressed this ongoing review at the Pentagon in response to a question on the status of this report and the timing when the group is expected to produce it.
“I understand that this review is not taking the form of a report, per se, but has involved assembling detailed information on individual benefits (including whether each such benefit might be made available under current law, and options for how to do so) to support decision making by the senior civilian and military leadership of the Department, and also that those decisions are currently under active consideration,” Hagel wrote. “If confirmed, I will review the work that has been undertaken during the course of the benefits review and will work closely with the Department of Defense civilian and military leadership to move forward expeditiously on this issue.”
Johnson also says at least one protester shouted at Hagel prior to the hearings, telling him to make good on his promises.
We'll report on other developments as they come...
Hearings are underway for the confirmation of Chuch Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
The New York Times today has a piece about the myriad groups trying to hold-up Chuck Hagel's confirmation as the next Defense Secretary.
Such organizations, anonymous and amorphous, are a direct descendant of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling giving nameless dollars even more power in the electoral sphere. Yet none of these anti-Hagel groups really think they can use their new positions to actually stop the former Republican senator's confirmation. They just want to erode the president's political capital.
Jim Rutenberg reports: "[At least seven groups are] organizing to stop Mr. Hagel's confirmation, a goal even they acknowledge appears to be increasingly challenging. But the effort comes with a built-in consolation prize should it fail: depleting some of Mr. Obama's political capital as he embarks on a new term with fresh momentum."
One of these groups is Use Your Mandate, which launched itself last week with a series of ads denouncing Hagel's past comments about gay people and Israel.
Most LGBT activists wondered whether this "pro-gay" group really had roots in the equality movement, or if it was just a smoke screen for GOP machinations. Not surprisingly, it was the latter:
[Use Your Mandate] has no Web site and it only lists as its address a post office box in New York. But paperwork filed with the Federal Communications Commission link it back to Tusk Strategies, a bipartisan political group founded by Bradley Tusk, a former strategist for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.
In an interview, Mr. Tusk would only identify its financiers as Democratic "gay and L.G.B.T. people who have been active in campaigns around the country."
Yet federal records show that Use Your Mandate uses Del Cielo Media, an arm of one of the most prominent Republican ad-buying firms in the country, Smart Media, with clients that have included the presidential campaigns of former Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. of Utah and Senator John McCain of Arizona; the 2010 Senate campaign of Christine O'Donnell, who was known for positions against homosexuality, in Delaware; and, as it happens, the Emergency Committee for Israel.
And there you have it...
As Senator John Kerry sat before his peers today to begin confirmation hearings for his Secretary of State nomination, a Code Pink activist stood up to protest drone and other targeted killings in the Middle East. You can watch the Talking Points Memo video, via Joe.My.God, AFTER THE JUMP.
Before that, though, take note that Kerry was asked about former Sen. Chuck Hagel's Defense Secretary nomination, a nomination marred by controversy over comments about gay people and Israel, and that Kerry said he thinks Hagel is a "strong patriotic former senator."
[GOP Sen. Bob] Corker asked Kerry whether Hagel's past involvement with Global Zero, an international group promoting the elimination of nuclear weapons, would be appropriate at the Defense Department.
"I think he is a strong patriotic former senator, and he will be a strong secretary of defense," Kerry responded. "And I think some of the things that have been -- some of the efforts to color Senator Hagel's approach on some of these things don't do justice."
"I don't think Hagel's going to sit there and going to go over to the Defense Department and a proponent [of Global Zero]," Kerry added.
Watch the protest video AFTER THE JUMP.
HRC President Chad Griffin spoke with Andrea Mitchell about Obama's inaugural address:
"The President really has begun his legacy on this issue. This civil rights moment in our history. He has done that in his first term and it's now time to take it to the next step and to really fully bring about full and complete equality under the law. Because as long as our government discriminates, it gives license to everyone else to discriminate."
Griffin also talked about Chuck Hagel:
"We've accepted his apology with regard to what he said. I look forward to hearing how he plans to fully implement the repeal of DADT and bring about equal benefits to all our men and women serving in uniform in this country."
Mitchell also asks about DOMA, Prop. 8, and the Supreme Court.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...