The Cable

Hagel to lead Obama's intelligence oversight panel

Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel will soon have a new role in the Obama administration, he will be named co-chair of President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

In that capacity, Hagel will be charged with overseeing the work of the intelligence agencies for the president and investigating violations of law by the clandestine community. The panel, formerly known as the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, was renamed and stripped of some of its powers in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration.

Hagel never endorsed Obama or Arizona Senator John McCain for the presidency, but he often spoke out on in favor of Obama's foreign policy ideas during the campaign and his wife endorsed Obama just before the election.

Hagel was rumored for a high level appointment when Obama was elected. A Vietnam veteran, he was at times said to be up for the position of Secretary of Defense or ambassador to a major ally such as Japan.

Initially a supporter of the decision to invade Iraq, over the course of the war Hagel became one of the GOP's fiercest critics of Bush administration war policies, famously saying in 2007, "It is my opinion that this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen personally or ever read about."

Steve Clemons, foreign policy head at the New America Foundation, announced Hagel's move at the Tuesday evening gala dinner hosted by the Jewish policy organization J Street as part of their first annual conference.

Hagel will meet with Obama on Wednesday, after which a formal announcement is expected.

The board works mostly in secret, but has been influential in some high profile investigations, including the leak of classified information from the nation's military laboratories to China in the 1990s.

The outgoing chairman is Stephen Friedman, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Other past chairmen have included former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former House Speaker Thomas Foley, and former Defense Secretary Les Aspin.

UPDATE: Sources tell The Cable that David Boren, former senator and current president of the University of Oklahoma, will be the other co-chair of the board.

The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Honduras, Hoh, Iran, General Xu

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of today's briefing by Department Spokesman Ian Kelly:

  • The administration is reversing its policy of freezing out the de facto regime in Honduras. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with both current leader Roberto Micheletti and ousted President Manuel Zelaya and a full administration team will travel to Tegucigalpa next week.
  • The State Department respects the right of employee and former Marine Corps Captain Mathew Hoh to resign in protest of the war in Afghanistan. Hoh was a political officer on a Provincial Reconstruction Team who signed on for a limited deployment in March. "I would draw a distinction between his situation and somebody who had been in the Foreign Service and had a stake in the Foreign Service for 20 years or more," Kelly said.
  • The U.S. is still waiting for an official response from Iran on the agreement to transfer low enriched uranium to a third country, despite reports that Iran has agreed in principle to the deal but wants some changes, including shipping out the material in stages. No schedule on when the next P5+1 meeting will be.
  • There has been "no formal bilateral meeting" between the U.S. and North Korea despite that representatives from both sides have "had plenty of opportunities to talk on the margins of it," Kelly said. No readout of the non-meeting meetings.
  • Chinese General Xu Caihou met with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg today. No word on whether he showed them his new video.