September 30, 2014

Sen. Fischer grills Sen. Hagel on Ground Zero report (AUDIO)

Sen. Deb Fischer told former Nebraska United States Senator Chuck Hagel Thursday she has reservations about his nomination as Secretary of Defense.

Fischer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, thanked Hagel for his service to Nebraska and the country and commended him on his willingness to continue to serve the country as Defense Secretary.

“But I need to be honest with you, after our meeting last week, I still have some concerns about your nomination,” Fischer stated when it came her turn to ask Hagel questions. “Many of my colleagues are concerned that you’ve changed your views and I share that concern, but I must admit that I’m more worried that your views have not changed.”

Fischer focused on Hagel’s participation in a group called Ground Zero, which advocates for a world free of nuclear weapons. Hagel was a co-author of the Global Zero U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission Report issued in May of 2012 entitled, “Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Strategy, Force Structure and Posture.” [PDF of Global Zero report]

Fischer asked Hagel if he agrees with the report’s contention that the United States I-C-B-Ms have lost their central utility.

“The title of the report was ‘Modernizing Our Nuclear Strategy’ not eliminating it,” Hagel replied.

“Correct, but do you agree with the statement made in the report, that the ICBMs, that force has lost its central utility?” Fischer asked.

“That’s not what the report says,” Hagel responded.

“I have it sited, Senator,” Fischer interrupted. “And with respect I can enter that it into the record, but it is sited in the report.”

Hagel characterized the report as one similar to what a think tank would issue, a report that considers a number of possible future scenarios.

Fischer asked Hagel if he supports the unilateral reduction of the United States’ nuclear arsenal that she claimed the report implies.

“When you co-author a report, I think you should be able to answer if you agree with statements that are made in the report,” Fischer said.

“I do not agree with any recommendation that would unilaterally take any action to further reduce our nuclear warheads or capability,” Hagel responded.

AUDIO: Sen. Deb Fischer questions Sen. Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearing. [10:45]