Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today announced on the Senate floor that he will oppose the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to serve as secretary of defense.
"Senator Hagel's views about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions and the best way to counter that threat are significantly inconsistent with my own, inconsistent with America's responsibilities at this moment in history, and inconsistent with the security needs of our country and the survival of our friends," said Coats in his speech on the Senate floor.
"Elections have consequences and a president has a right to his own advisors," added Coats. "However, this usual tolerance of alternative views has its limits. For me, the limit is when a nominee for such a high position as the secretary of defense holds a point of view that places the United States in greater danger. I believe this is the case with this nominee."
Coats raised concerns about Hagel's views on the Iranian nuclear threat. As the former co-chair of a project on Iran at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Coats pressed for a comprehensive effort to raise the stakes on the Iranian regime to end its weapons program.
"I have concluded that when Senator Hagel pays lip service now to the contention that ‘all options are on the table,' it does not reveal his real, instinctive, and strong disinclination to consider military force if all other options fail and it becomes necessary," added Coats. "For me, that is very nearly a disqualifying position for a secretary of defense."
Coats also highlighted Hagel's contradicting statements during his testimony today regarding containment as another reason to question this nomination.
"My concern was heightened when Senator Hagel, in testimony before the Armed Services Committee, referred twice to his support for containment," said Coats. "Only when someone handed him a note presumably reminding him that the administration's formal position did not support containment did he correct himself and say he didn't support it either. What are we to conclude relative to what he truly believes and where he actually stands on a number of issues vital to our national security?"
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