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President's choices for defense and CIA

President's choices for defense and CIA

President Barack Obama was due to nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency later yesterday, two potentially controversial picks for his second-term national security team.

Hagel has faced tough criticism from congressional Republicans who say the former Republican senator is anti-Israel and soft on Iran. Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, withdrew from consideration for the spy agency's top job in 2008 amid questions about his connection to criticized interrogation techniques during the George W. Bush administration.

Along with secretary of state nominee Senator John Kerry, Hagel and Brennan would play key roles implementing and shaping Obama's national security priorities.

In nominating Hagel, Obama signaled he is willing to take on a tough confirmation fight. The 66-year-old moderate Republican has criticized discussion of a military strike by either the US or Israel against Iran. He also irritated some Israel supporters with his reference to the "Jewish lobby" in the United States. And he has backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for future peace talks in Afghanistan.

Brennan, the president's top counterterrorism adviser, was deeply involved in the planning of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. And he has led efforts to quell the growth of terror organizations in Yemen and elsewhere.

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