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Chuck Hagel Tag

Chuck Hagel was Obama's third Defense Secretary--the other two: Robert Gates and Leon Panetta--to leave his position under difficult circumstances. As late as November 19, 2014, Hagel told Charlie Rose that he didn't wake up in the morning worried about his job, and in less than a week, on the 24th of November, news broke that Hagel had "stepped down."  Despite the rumors addressed by Rose, people were surprised by the news, and Joe Biden is reported to have been "ticked off" by the move. At the time, The New York Times reported that Hagel had stepped down "under pressure" from the White House.
Aides said Mr. Obama made the decision to remove his defense secretary on Friday after weeks of rising tension over a variety of issues, including what administration officials said were Mr. Hagel’s delays in transferring detainees from the military prison in Guantánamo Bay and a dispute with Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, over Syria policy.

It's not like this was unexpected. Chuck Hagel long has become the fall guy for Obama administration international failures, as we first noted in connection with the Taliban-Bergdahl swap, Taliban-Bergdahl swap unpopular, so … blame Hagel. The lone Republican in the cabinet, Hagel was supposed to lend credibility to Obama's downsizing of the military and retreat from international engagement. Hagel recently announced a realignment and refocus of the military, including some expanded capabilities. Now Hagel is resigning under pressure, according to numerous media reports. Via NBC News:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down amid criticism of the president’s national security team on a series of global issues, including the threat posed by the militant group known as ISIS. Senior defense officials confirmed to NBC News Monday that Hagel was forced to resign. The officials say the White House has lost confidence in Hagel to carry out his role at the Pentagon. According to one senior official, “He wasn’t up to the job.” Another senior administration official said that Hagel has been discussing a departure from the White House "for several weeks."
More to follow.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey went into detail Thursday about the threat ISIL ("ISIS") poses not only to minorities in the Middle East, but also to American interests both at home and abroad. Via Fox News:
"Jim Foley's murder was another tragic demonstration of the ruthless, barbaric ideology of ISIL. ISIL militants continue to massacre and enslave innocent people, and persecute Iraq's...minority populations. ... Given the nature of this threat, at President Obama's direction, and at request of Iraqi government, the United States military has provided assistance to Iraqi security forces in order to protect U.S. personnel and facilities, and support Iraq's efforts to counter ISIL in addition to providing humanitarian assistance."
Secretary Hagel said that he anticipates that more international forces will join the already-international efforts in the coming weeks. He also lauded the recent peaceful transition of power in Iraq, and promised assistance in exchange for political progress. He did not, however, downplay the risk that ISIL still poses:
We are pursuing a long term strategy against ISIL, because ISIL clearly poses a long term threat. We should expect ISIL to regroup, and stage new offenses, and the US military's involvement is not over. ... Our objectives remain clear and limited: to protect American citizens and facilities, to provide assistance to Iraqi forces as they confront ISIL, and to join with international partners to address the humanitarian crisis.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, along with Defense Department General Counsel Stephen Preston, appeared Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee for a hearing to address The May 31, 2014 Transfer of Five Senior Taliban Detainees. The agreement to release those five detainees when the U.S. arranged to recover Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from captivity has sparked controversy since those details became known. Another point of contention has been the Obama administration’s decision not to notify Congress of the exchange in advance.  Both of these were areas of focus that received much attention in Wednesday’s hearing. Hagel provided some insight into the negotiation process of the exchange at the start of the hearing in his prepared opening remarks, explaining that the opportunity came about quickly and many of the details had not been clarified until merely days before the exchange took place. This, he indicated, influenced the decision not to notify Congress in advance.  In addition, Hagel explained, there were concerns about potential leaks that could derail the process.
As the opportunity to obtain Sergeant Bergdahl’s release became clearer, we grew increasingly concerned that any delay, or any leaks, could derail the deal and further endanger Sergeant Bergdahl. We were told by the Qataris that a leak would end the negotiations for Bergdahl’s release. We also knew that he would be extremely vulnerable during any movement, and our military personnel conducting the hand-off would be exposed to a possible ambush or other deadly scenarios in very dangerous territory. And we had been given no information on where the hand-off would occur.
This sparked criticism from both sides of the political aisle. From the Wall Street Journal:

The polling is pretty consistent that the public is not buying Obama's spin on the trade of 5 senior Taliban Gitmo detainees for alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl. CBS News reports:
Just over a week after U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed by the Taliban, a CBS News Poll shows 45 percent of Americans disapprove of the deal that saw him released in exchange for five Taliban militants, while 37 percent approve of it. About one in five do not have an opinion. Views differ by political party: most Republicans disapprove of the deal, while just over half of Democrats approve. Among those who have served in the military, 55 percent disapprove of the prisoner swap. Most Americans -- 56 percent -- say the U.S. paid too high a price to secure Bergdahl's release. Among veterans, that figure rises to 65 percent. Republicans and independents say the deal cost the U.S. too much, while Democrats are more divided: 42 percent think the terms of the agreement were reasonable, but almost as many -- 39 percent -- say the U.S. paid too high a price.
Pew Research further finds:
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