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August 1, 2015

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Berkley rips Hagel as potential defense secretary nominee

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Leila Navidi

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., attends the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City on Monday, May 28, 2012.

Since Shelley Berkley didn’t win her race for Senate, she won’t get to formally weigh in on any of President Barack Obama’s nominees to fill Cabinet positions.

But she’s making her opinion known about Obama’s rumored defense secretary pick nonetheless, and it’s scathing.

Reports have identified former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel from Nebraska as Obama’s most likely pick for the job, one of a number of departments that will be getting new chiefs next year.

Berkley has serious issues with Hagel’s past positions on Middle East issues.

“Chuck Hagel’s dismal record on issues affecting the Middle East stands in sharp contrast to the stated policies of our nation and he would be the wrong choice for America’s next Secretary of Defense,” Berkley said in a statement.

Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran with an extensive foreign policy career in the Senate, is probably best known for being the first Republican senator to speak out against the Iraq war.

But he has been outspoken on other Middle East issues as well, opposing military intervention in Iran under any circumstances and criticizing the pro-Israel lobby.

Berkley, a staunchly pro-Israel lawmaker — she said she ran for the Senate because she thought it would need a strong pro-Israel voice after Sen. Joseph Lieberman retires at year’s end — isn’t comfortable with that history.

Obama has not formally announced he will nominate Hagel to lead the Defense Department; Bloomberg News was the first to report that Hagel likely will be selected.

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