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Associated Press
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, asks a question of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, foreground, President Obama’s choice for defense secretary.

‘Are you going to answer the question?’

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel and Sen. John McCain had a testy exchange Thursday when Hagel testified before the Armed Services Committee. Here is a transcript from part of the hearing, based on video coverage provided by C-SPAN:

MCCAIN: Even as late as August 29, 2011, in an interview – 2011 – you’d – in an interview with the Financial Times, you said, “I disagreed with the president” – Obama – “his decision to surge in Iraq, as I did with President Bush on the surge in Iraq.” Do you – do you stand by that – those comments, Senator Hagel?

HAGEL: Well, Senator, I stand by them because I made them. And –

MCCAIN: You stand by – were you right?

HAGEL: Well –

MCCAIN: Were you correct in your assessment?

HAGEL: Well, I would defer to the judgment of history to sort that out, but I’ll –

MCCAIN: I think – we – committee deserves your judgment as to whether you were right or wrong about the surge.

HAGEL: I’ll explain why I made those comments, and I believe I had, but –

MCCAIN: I want to know if you were right or wrong. That’s a direct question. I expect a direct answer.

HAGEL: The surge assisted in the objective. But if we review the record a little bit –

MCCAIN: Will you please answer the question? Were you correct or incorrect when you said that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam? Were you correct or incorrect?

HAGEL: My –

MCCAIN: Yes or no?

HAGEL: My reference to the surge being both dangerous –

MCCAIN: Are you going to answer the question, Sen. Hagel? The question is, were you right or wrong? That’s a pretty straightforward question.

HAGEL: Well –

MCCAIN: I will – I would like to answer whether you were right or wrong, and then you are free to elaborate.

HAGEL: Well, I’m not going to give you a yes-or-no answer on a lot of things today.

MCCAIN: Well, let the record show that you refused to answer that question. Now please go ahead.

HAGEL: Well, if you would like me to explain why –

MCCAIN: Oh, I actually would like an answer. Yes or no.

HAGEL: Well, I’m not going to give you a yes or no.

MCCAIN: OK.

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