msnbc | January 06, 2013
>> developing news now. moments ago nbc news confirmed that former republican senator from nebraska chuck hagel will in fact be nom nail theed for defense secretary tomorrow at at white house . chuck hagel is a decorated vietnam war vet. he would be succeeding leon panetta at the pentagon. again, nbc news confirming that chuck hagel will in fact get that nomination tomorrow from the president at white house . law enforcement on both sides of the aisle meanwhile have been saying that chuck hagel simply the wrong choice.
>> frankly, chuck hagel is out of the mainstream of thinking i believe on most issues regarding foreign policy . i expect the president to nominate people than i would think. i'm going to vote for senator kerry. i don't agree with him a lot, but i think he's very much in the mainstream of thought. chuck hagel , if confirmed to be secretary of defense, would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense towards state of israel in our nation's history.
>> with me now new york democratic congressman elliot engel, ranking member of the house foreign affairs committee as well. congressman, i'm guessing you don't probably agree with lindsey graham a whole lot, but you have also expressed some similar concerns about chuck hagel . what are they?
>> let me say this. i think that what we neat to do now. the president obviously has made his decision. the president has a right to choose his cabinet, and we have a process where the senate vices and consents. there will be hearings held. lots of things come out, and i think we out to hold our powder until then. that's the process that's happened, and i think we ought to just move forward with that.
>> holding our powder, something we don't see a whole lot offous of washington, d.c. the president has defended chuck hagel as a patriot and someone who has done extraordinary work in washington. how much weight should his tenure as a soldier care?
>> the president has to make those decisions with people he's nominating. nominating senator kerry and nominating senator hagel , and i think they will be very thorough investigations into both of them. the president, whatever criteria he uses, that's up to him. now it goes to the senate, and let's see what unfolds there.
>> hamid karzai coming to d.c. this week. we know they will be talking about the u.s. role in that country beyond 2014 . you said as far back as october 2011 , i want to make sure that i get this right, that it was time to move on from this war. would you be okay with any agreement that leaves troops in place and commits money after 2014 ?
>> well, i wouldn't give a blank check . i'd have to say, but i think the american people are tired of afghanistan . it's already been our longest war . sometimes we get the feeling that what we're trying to do there is not appreciated. i would just see what happens. if there would be a small force left over and it wouldn't be too encoupleberg on the united states , then it's something that i would look at, but i think it's time to leave afghanistan . we left iraq. now it's time to leave afghanistan .
>> when we do leave that country, will we be leaving as victors?
>> well, i think we will have accomplished largely what we set out to do. remember, you know, the war in afghanistan , in my opinion, was the war we should have fought at the beginning. as new yorker, 9/11, we all remember what happened. we all saw the devastation, and we went into afghanistan to get at the taliban who were really behind, harboring the criminal and the terrorists that were behind 9/11, and so i think we had a good reason to be there. we're told that al qaeda is on the run. obviously we can't just walk away.
>> we need to continue the drone attacks and other things that we're doing, so i think by and large we have accomplished what we set out, to but, you know, we cannot be there indefinitely or be the policeman of the world, and at some point we have to say we set out to accomplish what we planned to do and move on to plan "b."
>> this week marks the second anniversary of your colleague, gabby giffords , and the lack of gun control legislation should be a black mark on the congress.
>> gun control legislation has been swallowed up by everything that i've been in congress and this is my 13th term.
>> why is that? why does congress lack the political will to do anything about gun control ?
>> those of us that represent new york or the northeast, we don't understand it either because we think sensible gun control legislation is what's necessary. you do have the nra influence all through the country and people who believe more guns are more than anything. nobody is opposed to second ament rights, i'm not. i'm for sensible rights and i think the founding fathers could not have seen the automatic weapons or these clips 200-plus years ago, and i think people know what's common sense . nobody wants to deprive a hunter or someone that needs a gun for security of it, but why people have to get automatic weapons and clips where they can murder people. we saw what happened in newtown. we saw what happened in aurora. i mean, it's enough also, and i think that we need to move forward in this country. people on both sides of the aishl aisle, and have common sense gun control legislation that upholds the second amendment but isn't just stupid.
>> what did you learn about your colleagues this week during voting for sandy relief?
>> i was very disappointed. we had been told that wednesday morning there would be a bill for sandy relief. you know, i have in all the years i've been in congress voted for aid for every region of the country when there's a natural disaster , and we expect the same in the northeast. what infuriates me when my colleagues who represent places like biloxi, mississippi.
>> or missouri, florida.
>> missouri or florida, where we have all voted for aid for those people and they deserved it, and now we deserve it.
>> what do you think happened this time around, that there was some sort of regional bias?
>> well, i do think that some of my republican colleagues are trying to burnish their credentials against spending, and they want to perhaps see some offsets. you know, we don't need offsets in times of national emergencies or crisis. in the past 20 years this is already the longest any part of the country has had to wait in order to get any help from a natural disaster . it's already been 66 or 70 days, and this hasn't happened that long. with katrina we moved quickly. we've moved quickly in other places, and i would point out to my colleagues that states like new york and new jersey, we are donor states. we give more to the federal government than we get back in return. now we need the help, and so we need the help, and, you know, can you argue about what the federal government should be doing. no one should argue that the federal government needs to be there when american citizens' lives are at stake, and that's certainly what happened with the sandy disaster.
>> we'll have to leave it there. new york democratic congressman eliot engel . thanks so much. appreciate your time.
>> thank you.