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In the Nation

CIA defends Panetta remarks

WASHINGTON - The CIA said yesterday that its director, Leon Panetta, does not believe that former Vice President Dick Cheney wants the United States to be attacked again.

"He did not say that," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said about an interview Panetta gave to the New Yorker magazine. "He was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama's security policies have made our country less safe. Nor did he question anyone's motives."

In the article, Panetta said of Cheney's criticism of the Obama administration's approach to terrorism: "It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point." Cheney had replied in a statement, "I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted." - AP

Students may get flu vaccine first

WASHINGTON - Schoolchildren could be first in line for swine flu vaccine this fall - and schools are being put on notice that they might even be turned into immunization clinics.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said yesterday that she was urging school superintendents to spend the summer preparing for that possibility, if the government goes ahead with mass vaccinations.

"If you think about vaccinating kids, schools are the logical place," Sebelius said.

No decision has been made on whether and how to vaccinate millions of Americans against the new flu strain that the World Health Organization has formally dubbed a pandemic. - AP

Ex-Rep. Jefferson trial under way

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The $90,000 in cash found in the freezer of former Rep. William J. Jefferson (D., La.) is evidence of nothing more than a failed FBI sting, a defense lawyer told jurors yesterday.

Jefferson, who lost his reelection bid last year, is charged with soliciting bribes, racketeering, money laundering, and other crimes. Prosecutors say he received more than $500,000 and sought millions more in exchange for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa.

In opening statements at Jefferson's federal trial, defense lawyer Robert Trout addressed the $90,000 found in 2005 in Jefferson's freezer, wrapped in foil and hidden in boxes of pie crust. A few days earlier, FBI agents videotaped him at a hotel receiving a suitcase with $100,000 in cash from a cooperating witness.

Prosecutors said Jefferson intended to use the money to pay a bribe to Nigeria's then-vice president to secure a multimillion-dollar telecommunications deal. Trout said the fact that Jefferson never paid the bribe suggested a hole in the government's case. - AP


John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981, can spend more time away from his psychiatric hospital in Washington and apply for a driver's license, a federal judge ruled yesterday. He said Hinckley, 54, could lengthen his visits to his mother's hometown of Williamsburg, Va., from six nights at a time to nine.

Sen. John Ensign (R., Nev.) said he was "very sorry" after acknowledging that he had an extramarital affair last year with a campaign staffer who was married to an employee in Ensign's Senate office. Ensign, 51, first elected in 2000, has been an influential conservative voice within the Senate.