WASHINGTON – US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says "the political knives" came out when former Senator Chuck Hagel
appeared before a Senate committee for a confirmation hearing.
Republicans on the Armed Services Committee grilled US President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary about his views on Iran
and other issues.
In discussing the nomination of Hagel, Panetta tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that he is disappointed that the questions Hagel received at the hearing Thursday focused so much on what Hagel has said in the past instead of what he thinks about today's issues.
Hagel (center) at Senate hearing (Photo: EPA)
Panetta says the committee didn't spend enough time discussing such matters as the war in Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, and looming automatic budget cuts and their impact on military readiness.
Although he did not explicitly mention Israel, the network's White House reporter mentioned that in the hearing, which was almost eight hours long, the word "Israel" was said 178 times, while Afghanistan was only mentioned 38 times.
The Panetta interview airs Sunday on "Meet the Press."
The Associated Press contributed to this report