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ASPIN MAY GET DEFENSE SECRETARY POST

Published: Friday, Dec. 18 1992 12:00 a.m. MST

      Rep. Les Aspin, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is President-elect Clinton's first choice for secretary of defense, according to transition and congressional sources.

      Clinton also was prepared to make Rep. Dave McCurdy of Oklahoma head of the CIA, the sources said. McCurdy is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.Aspin was summoned to Little Rock for a final interview Friday. Clinton was prepared to offer the post to the Wisconsin Democrat barring any last-minute misgivings, said sources in Little Rock and in Washington. An announcement could come as early as Saturday, the sources said Thursday.

      If Clinton decides not to give the defense post to Aspin, he's expected to offer it to McCurdy, sources said. Otherwise, McCurdy was in line for the CIA job, the sources said.

      Aspin, 54, a moderate Democrat, opposed the Vietnam War, as did Clinton. More recently, Aspin has generally supported Pentagon programs.

      McCurdy, 42, is a senior member of Aspin's committee.

      Clinton said Thursday that he still hoped to wrap up the work by Christmas. On Thursday, he named former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Vietnam veteran Jesse Brown to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

      "The diversity issue is very important to me, and I'm still working on it - very hard," Clinton said.

      Cisneros is Hispanic and Brown, executive director of the Disabled American Veterans, is black.

      Clinton also announced that he had chosen Hershel Gober, director of Arkansas' Department of Veterans Affairs, to be Brown's top deputy.

      So far, Clinton has filled six Cabinet slots and 12 other high-level posts. He has eight Cabinet posts to fill - agriculture, defense, education, energy, interior, justice, state and transportation - plus U.N. ambassador.

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