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Sen. McCain: Hagel 'not qualified' for Defense secretary job

| Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 8:21 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain said Chuck Hagel is not fit to run the Pentagon while predicting that the former lawmaker will receive a Senate vote, barring further disclosures about his past statements.

“I do not believe that Chuck Hagel, who is a friend of mine, is qualified to be secretary of Defense,” McCain, R-Ariz., said on CNN's “State of the Union” program on Sunday.

Democrats, who have a majority in the Senate, scheduled a vote for Tuesday on Hagel's confirmation.

McCain said on NBC's “Meet the Press” program last week that Hagel “will probably have the votes necessary” to win confirmation.

Hagel, 66, a Nebraska Republican who served two terms in the Senate, has met challenges from members of his party because of his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran, his comment in 2006 about the influence of what he called “the Jewish lobby” and his statements against the U.S. troop buildup in 2007 that hastened the end of the Iraq war.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., questioned whether Hagel could be effective, given that at least 35 Republicans are still expected to vote against him.

Some Republicans pushed to delay consideration of Hagel's nomination, partly to press the Obama administration for more information about its response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on U.S. missions in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

McCain, asked about the possibility that he would put a “hold” on the nomination of John Brennan to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said he is seeking information from the nominee about the Benghazi attack as well as his position on the interrogation technique known as “waterboarding.”

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