Daily Archives: December 20, 2012

The aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting
The massacre of 27 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Newtown, has changed America’s discussion about gun control, but will it lead to legislative change? Ben Fenton, from the FT’s live news desk talks to US correspondent Ed Crooks and Richard McGregor, Washington bureau chief, about the steps President Obama can take to curb investment in the gun industry and why citizens so zealously guard the second amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms.

Geoff Dyer

Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel in Jordan in 2008. (Salah Malkawi/Getty)

The shadow boxing over the potential nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the next Pentagon boss intensified on Thursday when allies of the former Republican Senator leapt to his defence.

Mr Hagel has emerged as the clear frontrunner to take over from Leon Panetta as secretary of defence but has come under attack in recent days for comments he made several years ago about the “Jewish lobby”.

Amid a drip-feed of criticisms and insinuations about Mr Hagel, nine former senior diplomats released a public letter on Thursday describing him as an “impeccable choice” for the Pentagon. “Time and again he chose to take the path of standing up for our nation over political expediency,” they wrote.

Given that Mr Hagel has been criticised by one pro-Israel group for views that they say “border on anti-Semitism”, one of the interesting features of the letter is that five of the signatories are former ambassadors to Israel – Daniel Kurtzer, Thomas Pickering, Sam Lewis, William Harrop and Edward Djerejian. “He has invariably demonstrated strong support for Israel and for a two state solution,” they write. 

Esther Bintliff