EXCLUSIVE: Team Hagel goes on the offensive

After weeks of taking punches on the ropes, Chuck Hagel is ready to fight back. Hagel’s confirmation team is about to go on the offensive, the E-Ring has learned, with a vigorous public showing of the former senator’s record, right as his Senate confirmation is being readied. The first volley from "Team Hagel" comes via ...

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

After weeks of taking punches on the ropes, Chuck Hagel is ready to fight back. Hagel's confirmation team is about to go on the offensive, the E-Ring has learned, with a vigorous public showing of the former senator's record, right as his Senate confirmation is being readied.

The first volley from "Team Hagel" comes via a seven-point “myths vs. facts” sheet authored by officials working on Hagel's confirmation late Friday. The document, an exclusive early copy of which was obtained by the E-Ring, hits back on the biggest criticisms leveled at the senator by his detractors: including issues about his support for Israel; questionable comments on gay rights; that he is soft on Iran, Hezbollah, and nuclear weapons; that he would "gut the defense budget"; and lacks management experience to run the 3 million-man Defense Department.

"Team Hagel will continue aggressively working to ensure the American people have all the facts about his views on the vital issues he would deal with as secretary of defense," an official working on Hagel's confirmation process told the E-Ring on Friday. "This effort will build on the strong support that so many veterans, former military and diplomatic officials, and national security commentators gave Senator Hagel this week as he was nominated to be defense secretary."

After weeks of taking punches on the ropes, Chuck Hagel is ready to fight back. Hagel’s confirmation team is about to go on the offensive, the E-Ring has learned, with a vigorous public showing of the former senator’s record, right as his Senate confirmation is being readied.

The first volley from "Team Hagel" comes via a seven-point “myths vs. facts” sheet authored by officials working on Hagel’s confirmation late Friday. The document, an exclusive early copy of which was obtained by the E-Ring, hits back on the biggest criticisms leveled at the senator by his detractors: including issues about his support for Israel; questionable comments on gay rights; that he is soft on Iran, Hezbollah, and nuclear weapons; that he would "gut the defense budget"; and lacks management experience to run the 3 million-man Defense Department.

"Team Hagel will continue aggressively working to ensure the American people have all the facts about his views on the vital issues he would deal with as secretary of defense," an official working on Hagel’s confirmation process told the E-Ring on Friday. "This effort will build on the strong support that so many veterans, former military and diplomatic officials, and national security commentators gave Senator Hagel this week as he was nominated to be defense secretary."

In the document, Hagel gets backing from Danny Ayalon, the Israeli deputy foreign minister and former Israeli ambassador to the United States. "I know Hagel personally," Ayalon says, calling Hagel a "fair interlocutor" who believes in the "natural partnership" between the two countries.  

On Iran, the team argues Hagel is "clear eyed" about Iran’s influence on terrorism in the region. "Senator Hagel is committed to President Obama’s goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He believes that all options must be on the table — including military options — to achieve that goal."

On gay rights, the team notes Hagel has won the support of the Human Rights Campaign and former Amb. Michael Guest, who is openly gay and said, "If Hagel says he would fully implement the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ I take him at his word.”

Here is the document.

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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