Graham spent much of his committee time expressing consternation over Hagel’s past refusals to act in a more provocative manner towards Iran and Palestine. He specifically aggrieved over instances where Hagel did not vote to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, did not sign a letter circulated in the Senate in 2006 asking that the European Union designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and did not sign a letter passed around the Senate in October alerting President Obama that Graham and others wanted to make note of their favor of Israel over Palestine in regional affairs.
Regarding the vote to designate Iran’s military a terrorist organization, Hagel responded that he did not want congress to vote the military arm of a recognized state such as Iran as a terrorist organization out of concerns it would be seen as asking the president to take military actions against that country.
Graham scoffed at Hagel’s explanations and demanded to know if he would change his vote if the Senate were to take up the same issue after lunch.
Speaking of his refusal to sign the 2006 letter to the European Union, Hagel explained that he did not believe it was the role of Congress to write letters to foreign leaders with instructions on how to conduct their foreign policy. The letter to members of the EU had the intended purpose of urging them to sanction Hezbollah.
Throughout his chiding of Hagel, Graham was combative as he rocked in his seat, continually reminding everyone listening that all members of Congress have a duty to protect the Pentagon budget and pledge undying allegiance toward Israel while treating Isreali lobbyists in Washington with the utmost respect and deference (i.e. not calling them Jewish or intimidating).
Graham was dramatic throughout, but he saved his greatest theatrics for last. Before giving up his time, Graham produced a copy of the October letter that Hagel did not sign and said he would give it to the nominee during a break, urging him to reconsider putting his name on it.
“I would ask you Senator Hagel,” said Graham, “to tell the country, the world at large - particularly the state of Israel - you made a mistake by not signing that letter.
“The lack of signature by you runs chills up my spine, because I cannot imagine not signing a letter like that.”
The video of Graham’s performance can be seen here.