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Former Republican Senator Hagel has criticised discussions of a military strike by either the US or Israel against Iran.
US President Barack Obama was expected to nominate John Brennan as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as the new head of the Pentagon, White House officials have said.If confirmed, Mr Brennan will replace Gen David Petraeus, who resigned last year after admitting to an affair. Chuck Hagel is to be put forward as the president’s next defence secretary, replacing Leon Panetta. Both appointments are expected to be formally announced later on Monday and must be confirmed by the Senate. Mr Brennan, a CIA veteran, is currently Mr Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser. He was heavily involved in the planning of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Although put forward for the role in 2008, Mr Brennan withdrew his name amid questions about his connection to interrogation techniques used during the administration of George W Bush. Mr Hagel, a moderate senator from Nebraska, has faced criticism from some fellow Republicans who say he is hostile to Israel and soft on Iran. He has criticised discussion of a military strike by either the US or Israel against Tehran. The nomination would need approval from the Senate, where the former Nebraska senator and Vietnam veteran is likely to face questions over his attitude to Israel, and past calls for military cuts, Al Jazeera says. Some Republicans already have declared their public opposition to Hagel replacing Pentagon chief Leon Panetta in Obama’s second-term Cabinet. Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, said earlier on Sunday that he was reserving judgment on whether to support his former colleague, Hagel. But he predicted the former Nebraska senator would face serious questions about his stands on Iran and Israel.Any nominee must have “a full understanding of our close relationship with out Israeli allies, the Iranian threat, and the importance of having a robust military”, McConnell said on ABC television’s “This Week”. The former Nebraska Senator has also been attacked by gay rights groups for remarks in 1998 questioning whether an “openly aggressively gay” nominee could be an effective US ambassador. He apologised for the comments last month saying they were “insensitive”.Hagel has criticised discussion of a military strike by either the US or Israel against Iran. He also has backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for talks on future peace in Afghanistan. Some lawmakers have been troubled by his comments and actions on Israel, including his reference to the “Jewish lobby” in the US.