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Hagel refuses to tell Senate which foreigners have paid him

Chuck Hagel has told the Senate Armed Services that he will not provide foreign financial details for the corporate and nonprofit organizations he has been affiliated with since he left the Senate in 2009. He claims he cannot do so because of confidentiality agreements with the groups in question.

Hagel can, of course, ask the foreign groups in question to waive any confidentiality agreement he entered into. It’s not clear whether Hagel has made such a request.

If Hagel truly cannot disclose the foreigners who have paid him, then he is to be admired for living up to his agreement not to do so. However, I don’t see how the Senate can confirm as Secretary of Defense a man who has been receiving money from foreigners whose identities we are unable to learn. Would the government even grant a security clearance to a mid-level operative in these circumstances?

The foreigners suspected to be in question aren’t necessarily disinterested parties in defense related matters. A Senate aide says:

Committee members have specific concerns with regard to foreign contributions to the Atlantic Council by Saad Hariri (or the Hariri family), Dinu Patriciu, Kazakhstan, Bidzina Ivanishvili (his supporters/network) – and the nexus between Chevron’s investments in Kazakhstan and their involvement with Hagel at the Atlantic Council.

The aide adds:

He is basically telling Senators they have no right to know if he has been unduly influenced by foreign governments or foreign agents over the last five years. What is he hiding?

In light of Hagel’s unwillingness to provide basic information about who has been paying him, Republicans should do everything possible to block this nomination, including through a filibuster if necessary. Normally, a president is entitled to an up-or-down vote on a cabinet nominee. But not when the Senate lacks basic information pertaining to the sources of the nominees income and the extent to which those sources are foreign players in matters relating to defense policy.

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