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Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel endured a barrage of criticism Thursday during his all-day confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, challenged repeatedly by Republican lawmakers about his past positions on Israel, Iran, Iraq and other issues he’d be sure to confront at the helm of the Pentagon.

The former Nebraska Republican senator was compelled under questioning to walk back a series of past statements, including one in which he complained about the “Jewish lobby.” He had several sparring partners throughout the day, but was questioned perhaps most aggressively by fellow Vietnam War veteran Sen. John McCain and freshman Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, both Republicans.

Hagel was caught by surprise when Cruz played two tapes from appearances on Al Jazeera — one of which showed him not challenging a caller who accused Israel of war crimes, another in which he appeared to agree with the assertion that America is “the world’s bully.”

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