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Name: Hagel, Chuck
Current Position: Former Co-Chairman

Appointed co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Charles Timothy “Chuck” Hagel is best known as a maverick Republican senator from Nebraska who did not shy away from publicly criticizing President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq war.

Born October 4, 1946, in North Platte, Nebraska, Hagel was raised by Betty Dunn Hagel and Charles Dean Hagel. He had three brothers, Thomas, Mike, and Jim, until Jim was killed in a car accident at the age of 16. Hagel graduated from St. Bonaventure High School (now Scotus Central Catholic High School) in Columbus, Nebraska, before attending the Brown Institute for Radio and Television in 1966.
He joined the U.S. Army and served in the infantry during the Vietnam War (1967-1968), rising to the rank sergeant (E-5). He was awarded two Purple Hearts and other commendations.
After leaving the Army, Hagel attended college at the University of Nebraska, and worked as a bartender and radio newscaster while finishing school. He graduated in 1971, and joined the staff of Congressman John McCollister (R-NE). He remained on Capitol Hill until 1977, when he went to work for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company as a lobbyist.
In 1980, he served on the presidential campaign staff of Ronald Reagan. After Reagan’s election and inauguration, Hagel was made deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration. He left two years later after VA Administrator Robert Nimmo ordered budget cuts, downplayed the significance of Agent Orange-related illnesses, and publicly criticized some veterans groups.
Hagel then co-founded Vanguard Cellular, a mobile phone manufacturer. The business venture made him a multi-millionaire. While helping run Vanguard, he served as president and chief executive officer of the United Service Organizations (USO) and the Private Sector Council. He also served on the board of directors or advisory committee of the American Red Cross, the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute, Bread for the World, and the Ripon Society. He chaired the Agent Orange Settlement Fund and became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In 1985, he married Lilibet Ziller, with whom he had two children (Allyn and Ziller).
Having remained in Virginia since his days as a congressional staffer, Hagel was recruited to run for governor, but he declined and moved back to Nebraska in 1992. There, he became president of the McCarthy Group, an investment banking firm. He also served as a chairman and CEO of American Information Systems Inc. (AIS), which provided the state of Nebraska with most of its voting machines. Hagel did not disclose this fact when he ran for the U.S. Senate, which raised ethical issues later after he joined the Senate.
Hagel was not favored to win his Senate race in 1996 against Democrat Ben Nelson, who was then governor of the state. His victory surprised many observers, as he garnered 56% of the vote. He ran for re-election in 2002 and won easily with 83% of the vote, the largest margin of victory in any statewide race in Nebraska history.
During his time in the Senate Hagel served as deputy whip for the Republican Caucus. He was chair of the Senate Global Climate Change Observer Group and the Senate Oversight Task Force, and co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He served on four committees: Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Rules and Administration.
Hagel supported the authorization to invade Iraq in 2003, but in time became a critic of George W. Bush’s war policy. In 2007, he became one of three Republican senators to support a Democratic plan to establish a withdrawal deadline for troops in Iraq.
Hagel opted to leave politics in 2008 and did not seek re-election to the Senate. During the presidential campaign, he publicly praised the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, often at the expense of his friend and GOP candidate John McCain.
In February 2009, Hagel was elected chairman of the Atlantic Council of the United States, and began teaching at Georgetown University in the fall. Hagel has also taught at the University of Nebraska.
Chuck Hagel (Atlantic Council)
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