Printed on: January 08, 2013

Key nominees named


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Digging in for a fight, President Barack Obama riled Senate Republicans and some Democrats, too, on Monday by nominating former senator and combat veteran Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon and anti-terrorism chief John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Hagel and Brennan, in separate Senate confirmation hearings, will face sharp questions on a range of contentious issues, including U.S. policy about Israel and Iran, targeted drone attacks and harsh interrogation tactics. Of the two men, Hagel is expected to face a tougher path, though both are likely to be confirmed.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, has been criticized as hostile toward Israel and soft on Iran. He would be the first enlisted soldier and first Vietnam veteran to head the Pentagon.

Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, was under consideration to run the agency after Obama won in 2008 but withdrew his name amid criticism from liberal activists who questioned his connection to the harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA during the George W. Bush administration.