Alana Goodman’s report that Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel suggested Israel controlled the State Department in a question and answer session following a speech at Rutgers University is now the subject of considerable attention.

Hagel’s host–Hooshang Amirahmadi–should not simply be a background personality in the story, however. Amirahmadi, the founder and president of the American Iranian Council,  is a well-known figure in Iranian circles. Soon after Hagel’s talk, Amirahmadi told Asr-i Iran (with a translation provided by Ali Alfoneh), “The problem of terrorism is a true myth. Iran has not been involved with any terrorist organization. Neither Hezbollah, nor Hamas are terrorist organizations….”

Hagel certainly has an odd sense of the company he keeps. Let us hope that U.S. national security will trump party loyalty after the Senate’s recess.

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