“Will he stand up and go against some of the ill-suited policies that I see right now as far as our national security?” West asked, citing as one example defense sequestration, which will cut $500 billion from the Defense Department over 10 years beginning in 2013 unless fiscal cliff negotiations change things.
“Or will he just be a rubber stamp for the president? So I appreciate his service to the nation, but some of the statements that he’s made and some of the policy stances that he’s taken when he was a senator are of concern.”
West, who lost his bid for re-election in November and will leave Congress in January, is not the only military veteran in Congress to express concern about Hagel’s potential nomination.
Republican Congressman-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghan wars, opposed Hagel in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
Sens. John McCain, who spent over 5-years imprisoned during the Vietnam war, and Lindsey Graham, a JAG officer in the Air Force, have also expressed concern about some of Hagel’s past statements and positions.
On “Meet the Press” Sunday, President Obama finally publicly defended Hagel while emphasizing he has not yet decided who to nominate for the post.
“I’ve served with Chuck Hagel,” Obama said. “I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate [and] somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam.”