Obama to pick Hagel for secretary of defense: Reports

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (Reuters/Mian Khursheed)
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (Reuters/Mian Khursheed)

President Barack Obama is planning to announce his choice of former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, media outlets reported on Friday.

"Several sources close to the process said have told The Cable that the White House and Hagel have been in touch on a regular basis and that Hagel is indeed the expected pick," Josh Rogin reported, saying the announcement could come as soon as Monday.

The Daily Beast's Eli Lake reported that Democrats close to the process also confirmed the expected announcement.

The White House has not commented on the matter.

For weeks, speculation has focused on Hagel as Leon Panetta's successor, but White House press secretary Jay Carney and other White House officials have declined to respond to questions related to Cabinet picks other than to highlight Hagel's status as a war hero.

Hagel, a two-time Purple Heart recipient, served as a Republican U.S. senator in Nebraska from 1997 to 2009 and earned a reputation for bucking his party.

The selection of Hagel is likely to rankle members of both parties, including pro-Israel members and gay-rights supporters.