President Obama nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel as his next Secretary of Defense Monday afternoon, urging the Senate to "act on these nominations promptly," but the conservatives behind ChuckHagel.com were already acting on promoting their dark vision of a Hagel Pentagon. The Emergency Committee for Israel, headed by Weekly Standard editor and vocal Hagel critic William Kristol, recently purchased the ChuckHagel.com domain name and pointed it to a website whose design veers toward the apocalyptic: Hagel's head and torso are set against what appear to be dark, foreboding clouds. A featured video is even more straightforward — as the narrator intones, "For Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel is not a responsible option," Hagel's face, reflected on a piece of glass, spontaneously shatters. Here's the GIF:
Beyond its front page, the site comprises a video reel of politicians and TV anchors denouncing or discussing Hagel's record; a collection of critical quotes from Democrats, Republicans and "opinion leaders" (including ECI board member William Kristol); and fact sheets on Hagel's views toward Israel, Iran, Syria, and terrorism. A representative quote from the "terrorism" section:
In 1998, Hagel appeared to mimic the talking points of Syria’s dictator. “Mr. Hagel met in Damascus in 1998 with the terror-sponsoring dictator, Hafez Al-Assad, and returned to tell a reporter about the meeting, ‘Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.’”
The site's Whois records suggest that the Emergency Committee for Israel obtained the domain on January 2, 2013. The group likely paid a hefty sum: the domain has been registered since at least 2002, when Hagel was serving as Senator of Nebraska, and probably grew in value as his name surfaced as one of Obama's likely picks for Secretary of Defense.