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January 30, 2013

Senate confirms Kerry as secretary of state

(Continued)

“Hillary Clinton got away with murder, in my view,” he said. “She said they had a clear-eyed view of the threats. How could you have a clear-eyed of the threats in Benghazi when you didn’t know about the ambassador’s cable coming back from Libya?”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., told reporters yesterday that a hearing with Panetta on Libya is planned though the date is uncertain. Graham welcomed that news and said he would not thwart a committee vote on the nomination.

“Happy as a clam. News to me,” said Graham, who met with Hagel for 20 minutes yesterday.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Panetta had not responded yet to the request but that the department has been forthcoming with information. He insisted that the Hagel confirmation process move as quickly as possible.

Two former chairmen of the committee — Democrat Sam Nunn of Georgia and Republican John Warner of Virginia — plan to introduce Hagel, according to officials close to the confirmation process. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the committee has not formally made an announcement.

As a White House emissary, Kerry has tamped down diplomatic fires for Obama. He also has stepped ahead of the administration on a handful of crises. He joined Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as an early proponent of a more aggressive policy toward Libya, pushing for using military forces to impose a “no-fly zone” over Libya as Moammar Gadhafi’s forces killed rebels and other citizens. He was one of the early voices calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down as revolution roiled the nation two years ago.

During his tenure, Kerry has pushed for reducing the number of nuclear weapons, shepherding a U.S.-Russia treaty through the Senate in December 2010, and has cast climate change as a national security threat, joining forces with Republicans on legislation that faced too many obstacles to win congressional passage.

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