In regard to claims made by several prominent Jewish organizations and others that the President makes policy and his cabinet members simply follow his direction – thereby justifying their failure to oppose President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary – the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed out that former Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged that the Defense Department has had substantial influence on presidential policy.
Powell, an army general who also formerly served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Security Adviser, said in his final Oval Office meeting with George W. Bush in 2005, “The Defense Department had too much power in shaping foreign policy” (Bret Stephens, ‘Colin Powell’s Double Standard,’ Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2013).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Whether the influence of cabinet members or departments on presidential decision-making results in good policy or bad policy, the point is that there is substantive influence on the decisions that are made.
“As we have previously shown Chuck Hagel has a deeply troubling and even frightening record regarding Israel, preventing Iran from working towards a nuclear weapons capability and appeasing Middle Eastern terrorist groups and their sponsors.
“As the ZOA said yesterday, the idea propagated by some that Hagel’s nomination should not be opposed because the President sets policy is misconceived and dangerous.”