Saturday, May 23, 2015Saturday, May 23, 2015

Obama picks Brennan, Hagel to be new CIA, Pentagon chiefs

Published on Jan 8, 2013 10:27 AM
US President Barack Obama (centre) announces his nominees for new US Secretary of Defense former Republican US Senator Chuck Hagel (left) and new CIA director White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan (right) at the White House in Washington on Jan 7, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States (US) President Barack Obama on Monday nominated controversial former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon and proposed that hard-nosed counterterrorism czar John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The second term revamp to two pillars of Mr Obama's national security team is expected to win ultimate Senate approval, although Mr Hagel has been strongly criticised by fellow Republicans for his positions on Israel and Iran.

Mr Obama paid particular tribute to retiring Pentagon chief Leon Panetta before giving ringing endorsements to the "outstanding" Mr Hagel and Mr Brennan and urging the Senate not to dally in confirming their important appointments.

"Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. He is an American patriot," the president said, heaping praise on a war hero who was awarded two Purple Heart medals for his bravery as a soldier in Vietnam.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!