Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is "likely" to be named the next Secretary of Defense by President Obama, Bloomberg is now reporting. Hagel visited the White House to discuss the position December 4, and has passed the vetting process, according to the news site. Update: NBC News quotes a White House official saying, "I can say there will be no new cabinet secretaries announced this week."
In 1968, Hagel served as an infantryman in Vietnam, where among other awards, he got two Purple Hearts. (Hagel and his brother Tom were both squad leaders.) The two-term Republican is known for criticizing his own party during the Iraq war, which he voted for.
In 2005, he began criticizing the George W. Bush administration, comparing the worsening Iraq war to Vietnam. When then-Vice President Dick Cheney said the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes," Hagel told CNN, "Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we're taking... If that's winning, then he's got a different definition of winning than I do."
Over the next few years, Hagel's criticism of Bush intensified, and in 2007, he told Esquire:
"The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore... He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes."
Hagel decided not to seek reelection to the Senate in the fall of 2007. In 2008, his name was floated as a potential running mate for Obama. Hagel didn't endorse a presidential candidate in that election, but he criticized his colleague Sen. John McCain for his hawkish statements on Iran. Hagel said:
"We know from past campaigns that presidential candidates will say many things. But once they have the responsibility to govern the country and lead the world, that difference between what they said and what responsibilities they have to fulfill are vastly different. I'm very upset with John with some of the things he's been saying. And I can't get into the psychoanalysis of it. But I believe that John is smarter than some of the things he is saying. He is, he understands it more. John is a man who reads a lot, he's been around the world. I want him to get above that and maybe when he gets into the general election, and becomes the general election candidate he will have a higher-level discourse on these things."
All that might help explain why last week The Hill reported that if Obama picked the Republican for a cabinet position, Republicans would have "concerns."
Right now, Hagel chair's Obama's Intelligence Advisory Board. He also sits on Deutsche Bank’s Americas Advisory Board, which the Free Beacon points out is reportedly being investigated for violating sanctions against Iran. Deutsche Bank denies the allegations.