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INTELLIGENCE

Senator has concerns about spy nominee

The chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence says she has concerns about someone from the military heading U.S. spy agencies.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, prefers a civilian as national intelligence director. President Obama has nominated retired Air Force Gen. James Clapper for the job. He heads intelligence services at the Pentagon.

Mrs. Feinstein says her preferred pick is CIA chief Leon E. Panetta. She told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the right civilian leader would need to know “how to temper sharp elbows and how to really move” U.S. intelligence operations.

Mr. Obama wants quick Senate approval of Mr. Clapper. But a vote may not come until the fall because of questions about whether Mr. Clapper would be too close to the Pentagon.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to agencies:

Don’t pay dead people

Here’s an idea, Uncle Sam: Stop writing checks to dead people.

The government sent benefit checks to 20,000 departed Americans over three years, totaling more than $180 million - a remarkable number that provoked the Obama administration to create a governmentwide “do not pay” list as part of its brainstorming for ways to save taxpayer money.

Once the database is up and running, agencies will have to search it before sending out payments. A pre-check check, so to speak.

“We’re making sure that payments no longer go to the deceased - it sounds ridiculous even to say it,” acknowledged Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in describing the database.

Also planned for inclusion: contractors who’ve fallen behind in their payments or, even worse, landed in jail, and companies that have been suspended or otherwise deemed ineligible for government work.

“This stuff seems obvious on its face,” Mr. Biden acknowledged. “The voters will go, ‘My God, isn’t that happening already?”’

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