President Obama is moving to fill two key posts on his national security team with the nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to be secretary of defense and current White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The White House says the president will be announcing the news just after 1 p.m. ET. We’ll update this post he speaks, so be sure to hit your “refresh” button. We’ll also embed an audio player so you can, if you wish, hear NPR’s coverage and the president’s remarks.
Hagel, 66, would replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who wishes to retire. He served two terms in the Senate before retiring in 2009. Hagel would be the first former enlisted man to run the Pentagon — he served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, receiving two Purple Hearts and other honors.
Brennan, 57, would fill the CIA post that opened up in November when Director David Petraeus resigned because of an extramarital affair.
Both nominees need to be confirmed by the Senate. They may face opposition, or at least some tough questions. As we wrote earlier today:
Hagel has already drawn opposition from some conservatives because he opposed the Bush administration’s decision to go into war with Iraq and has supported efforts to include Iran in talks on Afghanistan. He has also drawn criticism for past remarks about the influence of what he referred to as the “Jewish lobby” and for a 1998 comment about a nominee for an ambassador’s post who he said was “openly, aggressively gay.” Hagel has apologized for that remark.
Brennan could be controversial because his previous work at the CIA included a stint as deputy executive director during President George W. Bush’s administration at a time when waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods were used on suspected terrorists. His past comments defending some things that were done (though not waterboarding) have drawn criticism.