Former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel walked into the Dirksen Senate Office Building with a smile on his face at 9 a.m. on the morning of his hearing for confirmation to the post of secretary of defense.

Once he was seated, though, Republican panelists on the Senate Armed Services Committee took turns wringing out the apparent inconsistencies in his rhetoric over the years.

Since President Barack Obama nominated Hagel for the post, the former Republican Party senator from Nebraska has come under sustained scrutiny for controversial statements that run the gamut of U.S. defense and national security issues.

The meat of this scrutiny has come from his former colleagues in the Republican Party who have expressed alarm at his statements on Iran as a terrorist state, the interest groups that drive congressional policy toward Israel, global nuclear disarmament, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.