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The Washington witch trial of Chuck Hagel

Under pressure over the issues of Iran and Israel at his Senate confirmation hearing, Obama’s nominee for defense secretary caves in completely.

Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearing of Chuck Hagel was something out of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” or the 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee sessions. “Senator Hagel, are you now or have you ever been a realist?” “Your soul is in peril, Senator – recant!”

And Hagel recanted, over and over again. Under pressure on Iran and Israel (among other taboo subjects), he apologized to his inquisitors for referring to the “Jewish lobby” (“I should have said ‘pro-Israel lobby’”), apologized for saying it “intimidated” people (“I should have said ‘influenced’”), caved in over saying the lobby had gotten Congress to do “dumb” things (couldn’t think of a dumb thing it had ever gotten Congress to do).

On Iran he recanted for opposing military force to stop it from going nuclear (“All options must be on the table,” and “My policy is one of prevention, and not of containment”), recanted for suggesting that the Revolutionary Guard was not a terrorist organization, also recanted for suggesting that Hezbollah was not a terrorist organization.

Best of all, he apologized for having said Israel was not justified in “keeping Palestinians caged up like animals.” (“If I had the opportunity to edit that, like many things I’ve said, I would like to go back and change the words and meaning. I regret using that choice of words.”)

What an embarrassing thing to watch. What a blood-chilling, Orwellian  bunch, these interrogators, especially Lindsey Graham. Feeding them is the most virulent branch of the pro-war/anti-Muslim lobby: Sheldon Adelson, the Emergency Committee for Israel and Weekly Standard magazine, led by their hit men William Kristol, Michael Goldfarb and Noah Pollak.

Hagel needs five Republican votes to get confirmed as secretary of defense; reports are that it’s touch and go. At this point, I don’t think it matters; he’s been so compromised, so smacked around by Israel’s enforcers, that he’d probably be afraid to say anything but “yes” to Netanyahu once he got to the Pentagon.

This was a spectacle of America and Israel at their worst. It was the worst of the Obama administration, too, a reminder of why this president’s second term is unlikely to be any better than his first as far as the Middle East is concerned.

Oh well. So much for Chuck Hagel. Another great white hope vanquished.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. dickerson3870

      RE: “What a blood-chilling, Orwellian bunch, these interrogators, especially Lindsey Graham. Feeding them is the most virulent branch of the pro-war/anti-Muslim lobby: Sheldon Adelson, the Emergency Committee for Israel and Weekly Standard magazine, led by their hit men William Kristol, Michael Goldfarb and Noah Pollak.”

      ALSO SEE: “The New McCarthyism of Jewish Organizations: Where Is Our Murrow?”, by Bernard Avishai, bernardavishai.blogspot.com, 12/26/12
      EXCERPT: “Which brings me to Sen. Hagel. I think it is time to acknowledge, bluntly, that certain major Jewish organizations, indeed, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations–also, the ADL, AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, political groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition, along with their various columnists, pundits, and list-serves–are among the most consistent purveyors of McCarthyite-style outrages in America today. Are there greater serial defamers of public officials in fake campaigns against defamation?”
      SOURCE – http://bernardavishai.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-new-mccarthyism-of-jewish.html

      Reply to Comment
    2. Adam

      If the ADL, AIPAC, etc. are all powerful, then why is a pro-Israel stalwart like Charles Schumer supporting Hagel? Could it be possible, despite the conspiriacy theories peddled by the anti-Israel left, that Jewish-American politicians are more loyal to their president than they are to pro-Israel lobbies?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Carl

      Adam it’s not a conspiracy theory. Like the NRA, AIPAC, et al are extremely effective – and hence powerful – pressure groups. Just as many politicians are afraid of contravening the official NRA line for fear of a media blitz against them along with a possible cutting of campaign funds, so politicians feel they have to stick to the AIPAC, et al version of what it is to be ‘pro-Israel.’

      I don’t see how admitting the efficacy of ‘pro-Israel’ lobbies implies that Jewish-Americans must have dual loyalties.

      Reply to Comment
      • weindeb

        Carl, I think many of the Israel- über-alles sorts here in America don’t so much “have dual loyalties” as one single honest loyalty, and that is to an Israel, right, wrong, or in-between. Otherwise, they might actually allow themselves just enough wisdom to realize that it’s highly possible that the interests of this tiny, right-wing, apartheid nation might not always be those of our country; in fact, definitely au contraire, unless you believe neocon philosophy is truly in our best interest.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bob D

          Why are the Jewish Zionist-leaning democrats supporting Hagel? Simple. They recognize Zealots like Avigor Lieberman and Netanyahu are actually bad for Israel. And they are disgusted by the zealotry of the Christian Zionists, who after all, look to the eventual destruction of the Jewish religion after the Moslem folks are wiped off the map.

          Reply to Comment
      • Adam

        Carl– Then how do you explain the fact that virtually every Democratic senator is supporting Hagel? None of them too concerned about voting against the AIPAC agenda.

        Reply to Comment
    4. aristeides

      Have to agree with Derfner. Hagel has proved himself a groveling worm. Is this what Americans need to control their military?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Roberto K

      How pathetic, now a warmonger for the US ruling class such as Hagel suddenly becomes a darling of the liberal left.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Richard Witty

      The hour of hearings that I saw were not disrespectful to him.

      ALL similar hearings are opportunistic.

      There is also a conspicuous theme of distrust of a republican who would consider taking orders from a democratic president, a black one at that, and worse than that a liberal.

      The “Israel Lobby” theme is NOT the only that is playing here.

      The Secretary of Defense is secondarily a councilor on foreign policy. He is the chair of the Joint chiefs of staff (defense branches) though. Their commentary is usually limited to feasibility and implementation of proposed policies and actions, NOT formulation of the policies.

      In that sense, a valid potential criticism of Hagel is that he might not follow orders if it conflicted with his own perspective. But, that view is put to rest BY what you describe as caving, his willing acquiescence to execute existing American defense policy.

      It is an irony that Kerry, who holds a number of similar perspectives to Hagel, but with more nuance and deference, passed as secretary of state so easily (a much more critical cabinet role).

      I’ve never been a particular fan of Hagel, independent of recent Israel issues.

      Schumer is a critical party in the discussion, and he has vacilated from skeptic to opposition to accepting to supporting now back to a more ambiguous stance.

      The senators themselves note threats in North Africa, Iran, Hezbollah, Salafists, other Muslim Brotherhood type perspectives. But, they have no clue as to how to deal with them.

      I personally find Iran and Hezbollah very threatening, ruthless, even if temporarily deterred. I find the ideologs that are willing to conduct organized suicide bombings to be very threatening.

      And, I don’t have a clue how to deal with them.

      Reply to Comment
    7. “he’s been so compromised, so smacked around by Israel’s enforcers, that he’d probably be afraid to say anything but “yes” to Netanyahu once he got to the Pentagon.” : No. These answers were undoubtedly vented by Hagel’s coaching pre hearing. The DOD can slow the President down, but I suspect Hagel will dutifully serve the President. I have no idea whether he will be confirmed–and, actually, don’t want to think about, as such a tight focus makes me a bit crazy.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Boxthorn

      Are all witches this incompetent?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Klil

      Regardless of what lip service he provides to the various Senators in his confirmation hearing in order to allow them to save face when not opposing him too harshly, the fact of the matter is that AIPAC et al. had failed in stopping his nomination to begin with. How many precedents are there of a nomination being ultimately denied? If they had been successful, then as with Susan Rice, he would simply not have been nominated, period.

      His nomination proceedings looks no more and no less ridiculously polarized on party lines than most pro forma Senate hearings.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Jan

      Yesterday’s witch hunt of Hagel proved that when he said that the Jewish Lobby intimidated lawmakers he was right. Too bad that he did not have the courage to stand up for what he had said earlier.

      When the Grand Inquisitor Lindsay Graham asked him to name anyone who had been intimidated he certainly could not give a name, though I could have and I suspect that he could have as well. My former member of Congress, now retired, told a small group of constituents that Congress is terrified of AIPAC.

      Furthermore Hagel could have said that almost every bill or resolution regarding the Middle East is either written by AIPAC or approved by AIPAC before it ever reaches the desk of a member of Congress or before it reaches the House floor.

      As far back as 1982 the Lobby was wielding its truncheon. When Israel attacked Lebanon in 1982 a Republican House member, Pete McCloskey, gave a speech attacking Israel for breaking the 9 month cease fire with the PLO and for its unprovoked attack. A few years later I met the Congressman and he told me that after his speech several House members approached him, thanked him for his speech and said that they wished that they had his courage. When he left the House Pete ran in the GOP primary for Senate. Lobby money poured in for his opponent and Pete’s political career was finished.

      Hagel did not have the strength of a Pete McCLoskey and he caved showing that the man has no principles at all.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Mikesailor

      I don’t think that the “pro-Israel” community and their media pundit allies understand the damage this contretemps over Hagel has caused within the American public. The Democrats wisely backed off Hagel understanding the optics were devastating: Was this Inquistition over the assertion that the US Secretary of Defense must swear fealty to Israel? The Dems understood that their voters (including American Jews) backed Obama and it would be unwise to go overboard with the Likudnik line. The Republicans, on the other hand, pushed the Likud-Netanyahu line so hard they came off as basically unpatriotic toadies to a foreign country: Israel. It is interesting to note that America’s remaining war, military readiness, high suicide rate in active duty and released personnel, and rampant sexual abuse problems within the ranks: problems over which the Secretary of Defense holds sway as a policy maker, were topics which held minimal or no interest to the inquisitors. I doubt any media organization will poll the American public on their reaction to this spectacle, but I think it safe to say the “pro-Israel” faction took a real black eye over this mess.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Adam

      Jan and Sailor Mike– You can’t have it both ways; you can’t claim that elected officials cower before the power of AIPAC and then rationalize that all the Democrats are supporting Hagel because of the “optics.” The fight over this nomination is about partisan politics, not about the power of Jewish or pro-Israel lobbies. The Republicans are giving Hagel grief because they are loyal Republican soldiers and not because they are in thrall to a foreign government. Both of you, however, see the world through the lens of age-old myths about Jewish power, when this is actually another one of many partisan battles between democrats and republicans. The vitriol of the republicans has nothing to do with AIPAC, etc; they are furious at one of their own for breaking ranks on many issues and not just about Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jan

        Adam – Are you not aware that the word “Israel” was used at least 10 times more during the hearing than the words “Afghanistan” or “Iraq?” One could easily have thought that Hagel was in the running for Israel’s secretary of Defence and not for an American office.

        As for Democrats backing Hagel, lets not forget that it is a Democratic, not a Republican president, who made this nomination.

        Hagel may well be confirmed but the leash will be on him. Too bad he didn’t have the guts to stand up and acknowledge that he was right all along when he refused to sign one of the numerous AIPAC originated letters, that he would have been right not to vote the way that AIPAC wanted him to vote.

        The proof is that Hagel rarely received contributions from pro-Israel groups while members of Congress who faithfully followed the AIPAC line were richly rewarded. Those who did not follow the line found money flowing into their opponents.

        Perhaps you are unaware that at their yearly conferences in DC, AIPAC can command the appearance of almost all our top officers in government as well as more than half the Congress. No other Lobby can make that claim. That means, Adam, that when it comes to Israel the Lobby is a very powerful group that helps write our laws, passes and writes resolutions, and cows members of Congress to dance to the Lobby’s tune. One only has to look back at the 29 standing ovations given in Congress to Netanyahu – almost more than has been given to any president and far more than given to any other foreign leader. The lemmings in Congress did what they knew they had to do and they did it.

        To say that the Lobby has no clout is to ignore the truth.

        Reply to Comment
    13. Jim Hyder (thedirtydemocrat)

      For McCain to question Hagel on Iraq is pretty lame when he did not know where the hell it was during his foul run for President in 2008. I only wish that Senator Hagel will be the next Secretary of Defense and make the Israel Lobby go home.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Adam

      What is the connection between McCain questioning Hagel about Iraq and the Israel lobby? Don’t you think McCain’s questions are driven by real policy differences he has with Hagel, not to mention his anger at Hagel for endorsing Obama in 2008? No doubt everything that bothers you in the world can be attributed to the “Israel Lobby.”

      Reply to Comment
    15. bluto

      It’s formulaic;

      Hagel ‘ON’ –> Iran ‘OFF’ –> Israeli Apartheid ‘OFF’ –> Israeli Lobby ‘OFF’.

      Let’s keep our mind on the prize here.

      The primary prize Obama is driving for is America’s own ‘clean break’ from the stranglehold of the Israeli Lobby as it currently stands, with it’s command of 99-0 Senate votes and all the rest of it’s fun and games

      But the key is still Iran

      For those who had given up on the permanent entrenchment of the Israeli Lobby – no war on Iran knocks the door down.

      The ONLY thing that matters right now is that Obama and Hagel stop Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby from forcing/mousetrapping the US into an attack on Iran – THAT’S IT.

      It’s a ‘single issue’

      If an Iran attack is stopped, Israeli Apartheid is without any effective cover and will be taken care of how Apartheid South Africa was taken care of – and then the Israeli Lobby no longer has any cover as well.

      With the Netanyahu-hoaxed/mousestrapped pushing of the US into a war with Iran STOPPED – it’s all over for Israeli Apartheid

      Hagel ‘ON’ = Iran ‘OFF’ = Israeli Apartheid ‘OFF’ = Israeli Lobby ‘OFF’

      (The Israeli Lobby ‘OFF’ = the 2nd American Revolution)

      Reply to Comment
    16. Watching Senator Hagel’s Senate confirmation hearing is like watching a mock Galileo Galilei inquisition, a recantment of facts based on evidence to satisfy the ignorant clergy and maintain the imperial power structure. That a US Senator is subjected to this kind of coercion and brutal interrogation by those in our Senate who are agents of a foreign power (Israel) should wake every American up to the reality that the US is totally controlled from the inside by Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • bluto

        The ‘Galileo’ inquisition – exactly right and very well said.

        The irony of the actual enforcer of the Lobby hectoring Hagel to dare to try to stand up to him was simply incredible

        Lindsey Graham is not intimidated by the Lobby because he IS the Lobby – he is the Lobby and he doing the Lobbys’ bullying for them

        That the Lobby uses cutouts like Graham rather than a Jew is just because they don’t want the spectacle of a Jew doing the bullying in front of the America

        Reply to Comment
    17. AIPAC owns Congress, and those who so harshly interrogated Hagel are acting agents for Israel disguised as US Senators. They are traitors to America.

      Israel is no friend of the US. Israel murdered and wounded 205 US sailors and marines when its forces purposely attacked an lightly-armed US Navy ship in an attempt to sink it.
      http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/ussliberty.html
      Israel has been stealing and selling US secrets and weapons to US adversaries for decades:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/israel-accused-of-selling-us-secrets-to-china-1510406.html

      http://www.ccun.org/News/2011/June/22%20n/Israel%20Sells%20$7%20Billion%20in%20Arms%20Exports,%20While%20Squeezing%20US%20Taxpayers%20of%20$3%20Billion%20in%20Annual%20Military%20Aid.htm

      It was US Congress’ support of Israel’s crimes that got our buildings attacked on 9/11 as evidenced on page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report, and as evidenced by this testimony:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1bm2GPoFfg&list=PLF81BB573C9C0C7B2

      That the US Congress and the Senators who trashed Hagel are supporting Israel, a racist aggressive and murderous entity that is so harmful to American interests should alarm every voter, and should prompt them to purge our government of these Israel-firsters who are making ever more enemies for the US.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Adam

      “AIPAC owns Congress, and those who so harshly interrogated Hagel are acting agents for Israel disguised as US Senators.”

      David Evans– You’re views come straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Anyone who doubts Lindsay Graham is an agent of Israel is a fool.

        Reply to Comment
        • Adam Schwartz

          Anyone who says Lindsay Graham, or any other other American politician for that matter, is an agent of Israel has a mind that’s been seriously warped by anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Or maybe they’ve been watching the career of Lindsay Graham and his fellow Israel-firsters in Congress.

            Reply to Comment
    19. Susan

      The phrase Jewish lobby rather than Israel lobby ignores the fact that some of the most powerful members of the pro-Israel lobby are Christians. I also think that power of the Israel lobby is overestimated. Much of its so-called power is illusory.

      David Evans, the lies you are repeating about the Liberty are just antisemitic conspiracy theories.

      Chuck Hagel has made statements that suggest that anyone who disagrees with him is putting Israel before the US.

      I don’t really have a problem with Hagel’s opinions, but I have a serious problem with the way he advocates for his ideas. Larry, its easy for you to ignore this you live in Israel. You don’t live in the US. No one will will questions your loyalty to America.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Epstein

      “Protocols of Elders of Zion?”
      You mean how Israel via AIPAC, ADL try to control American Politicians? Wall Street? AIPAC conferences has Americans Politicians repeat the same words. “Israel this and Israel that.” They sound like they’re all members of a Mind Controlling Cult when they get up to speak and take turns to repeat the same words over and over again.

      Anyone who doesn’t tremble before Israel is “AntiSemitic?”
      The Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adleson etc., are nice people I take it.

      Isn’t this just another form of Jewish Mother Emotional Blackmailing racket?…Agree with us or you are a Holocaust Denier, Blood Libel, Hate all Jews, or any other “hot button words” used endlessly as a method of controlling Washington.

      The trouble with Neocon Pro-Israel Bullies is how they become gutless cowards when their blackmailing racket doesn’t work. Then they suddenly become “Liberals.”
      (Or at least try to hide amoung Liberals.)

      Reply to Comment
      • Adam

        “Israel via AIPAC and the ADL controls Wall Street”?

        I think you’ve been exchanging bodily fluids with David Duke.

        Reply to Comment
    21. Epstein

      And if Christians Zionists are Pro-Israel…They have a VERY special reason for doing so.
      These same Christian Zionists some day are going to make things nice and hot for all Jews. So don’t get too smug and comfortable about their “Support.”
      You might not like what they have in mind.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Charles Caruso

      If Obummer picked Hagel, he must be a fink.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Arthur O'Connor

      Watch this video – a comprehensive tale of Israel ethnic cleansing told by an Israeli Jew – son of a General in Israel Armyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?…

      Reply to Comment
    24. LucyM

      You do realize that “great white hope” has racist origins and connotations. Unreal.

      Reply to Comment
      • It’s called a joke. I’m making fun of our left-wing dream that somebody will come along to knock out the right-wing powers-that-be – like the whites dreamt of a “great white hope” who could knock out Jack Johnson.

        Reply to Comment
    25. Masoud Jazayeri

      The world needs Chck Hagel to put the zionists in their place

      Reply to Comment
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