Controversial appointments as Obama hands Hagel and Brennan top jobs

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Controversial appointments as Obama hands Hagel and Brennan top jobs

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President Barack Obama is well into his second-term government reshuffle, announcing on Monday new appointments to the key national security and defence portfolios.

“I am proud to announce my choice for two key members of my national security team : Chuck Hagel for secretary of defence, and John Brennan for director of the CIA,” said the president.

Hagel is a decorated Vietnam veteran Republican often at odds with his party on foreign and fiscal policy matters. He became close to Obama when both opposed the second Gulf war. Yet Hagel divides people and is attacked from both left and right. Some are likely to oppose his nomination as defence secretary.

John Brennan remains tainted by the CIA’s use of torture when he was at the agency under George W. Bush, but he has been Obama’s counterterrorism advisor since he became president, and was one of the key planners behind the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Our correspondent in Washington is Stefan Grobe:

“Most observers believe that Hagel will eventually be confirmed by the Senate. Tradition holds that senators or ex-senators get an easy ride when up for cabinet posts. There is no evidence that any Democrat will oppose Hagel. And despite the vocal objections of a few Republican senators, only three have explicitly said they will vote against him.”