Valentines for Hagel Were Posted from Tehran; This Is a Love the Senate Must Leave Unrequited

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Byline: Kenneth R. Timmerman, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Iranian rulers love Chuck Hagel.

Iran's official English language propaganda outlet, Press TV, has suggested that President Obama picked the former U.S. senator from Nebraska to replace departing Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta to help craft a grand bargain with Iran. You know, the type of deal that would cement in place the clerical dictatorship, spell the end of any hope for U.S. support to the pro-freedom movement, and allow Iran to continue enriching uranium with no verifiable limits.

Another publication has called Mr. Hagel's selection a message of peace from the Obama administration to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and admiringly quoted Mr. Hagel as claiming sanctions on Iran will only lead to U.S. isolation.

Here in the United States, the pro-Tehran lobby was quick to champion Mr. Hagel's cause. Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council, argued that Mr. Hagel deserved support because he would oppose the extremist pro-Likud circles ... who are seeking to establish a veto on U.S. national security policy.

Such language, of course, is just a scantily veiled variation of Mr. Hagel's own rant against Jewish lobby influence on U.S. politics.

Over the years, Mr. Hagel has developed an ongoing relationship with the American-Iranian Council, a precursor to the National Iranian American Council. Both groups oppose U.S. sanctions on Iran, support Iranian trade with U.S. businesses and promote unconditional U.S. negotiations with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program.

These are precisely the changes in U.S. policy that the Iranian regime is seeking. As a senator, Mr. Hagel was active in supporting all three.

In July 2001, Mr. Hagel was one of just two senators who opposed renewing the original Iran and Libya Sanctions Act. This was the initial effort by Congress to put pressure on the Iranian government by imposing sanctions on foreign energy companies investing in Iran's oil and gas sector.

Mr. Hagel's backers have claimed the senator only opposed unilateral U.S. sanctions. Yet Mr. Hagel's statements and actions both in the Senate and beyond suggest otherwise.

In June 2001 and again in March 2002, he addressed conferences sponsored by the American-Iranian Council in Washington to emphasize the need for the United States to abandon sanctions and open trade with Tehran.

From 2006 to 2008, he opposed numerous bills and resolutions that would have stepped up pressure on the Iranian regime, including an October 2006 measure calling on the European Union to join the United States in placing the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group on its terrorism list. …