Dee Benson will be sworn in early this week as interim U.S. attorney for Utah - a post to which he will likely be appointed permanently later this year.

U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh signed papers Friday appointing Benson - who is currently associate deputy U.S. attorney general - on an interim basis to the new post. It does not take effect until Benson is sworn in by Chief U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins."We're still working out a time for that," Benson told the Deseret News Saturday. "I'm flying out Monday and will get there mid-day. I think the swearing-in will probably happen Tuesday."

The Justice Department and Utah's congressional delegation have suggested to President Bush that Benson be appointed permanent U.S. attorney for Utah to replace Brent Ward, who recently resigned.

The White House and FBI are working on a background check on Benson before the formal, permanent nomination is made by Bush to the U.S. Senate. Such background checks are backlogged because of the many new appointments being made by the Bush administration.

The interim appointment lasts until the permanent appoint is made or 120 days - whichever comes first. A judge may extend the appointment beyond 120 days if necessary, Benson said.

Benson has been working recently with Deputy Attorney General Hal Christensen, the Salt Laker who is the No. 2 man in the Justice Department.

Before that, he served as a counsel for the Iran-Contra committee for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as Hatch's administrative assistant, as Hatch's counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and was an attorney for the Salt Lake firm of Snow, Christensen and Martineau.