Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel stated Iran has an “elected, legitimate government” and pointed out its membership in the United Nations, responding to a question Wednesday by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) about why he would consider negotiations with Iran in light of its terrorist connections.
The 2009 election of Mahmound Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president was widely suspected to be rigged. The streets were filled with furious protestors who were eventually forced to accept the idea that, according to Vanity Fair, “the Iranian authorities managed to process all 39.2 million paper ballots between the close of polls at 10 p.m. local time and the next morning, when Iran’s Interior Ministry officially proclaimed Ahmadinejad the winner with 63 percent of the vote.”
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) denounced it as “clearly a corrupt election,” and the Washington Post published an article pointing out vast evidence of fraud that swayed the results toward Ahmadinejad.
This is not the first time Hagel has referred to Iran’s government as legitimate. In his 2008 book, Hagel said, “America’s refusal to recognize Iran’s status as a legitimate power does not decrease Iran’s influence, but rather increases it.”