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Spy chief confirmation hearing set for Tuesday

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Clapper's challenge to protect America
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein had been holding up the hearings until passage of an intelligence bill
  • Feinstein stopped blocking the hearings because the acting chief will step down in August
  • The intelligence bill is still being blocked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Washington (CNN) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a confirmation hearing Tuesday afternoon for Gen. James Clapper, President Barack Obama's nominee for director of national intelligence.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence oversees 16 intelligence agencies. The post was created following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, had previously said she would not hold confirmation hearings for Clapper -- currently the Defense Department's chief intelligence officer -- until passage of a pending intelligence authorization bill.

The measure, which would strengthen the agency's position, has been held up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California. Pelosi is seeking legal changes to ensure expanded congressional notification of certain intelligence actions.

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An aide to Feinstein aide said last week the senator was forced to reverse her position because of the pending Senate August recess and the fact that David Gompert, the acting national intelligence director, plans to resign next month whether or not Clapper has been confirmed.

The aide said Feinstein had expected the intelligence bill to be approved by now.

Feinstein, the aide asserted, believes the agency is a "vital position" and the nation "can't afford" to go any longer without a replacement.

Clapper was nominated by Obama on June 5 to replace Dennis Blair.