According to two people familiar with the matter, former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel from Nebraska tops President Obama's list to take over for outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Hagel, who served as an enlisted army infantryman in Vietnam, could be nominated as soon as this month. He is said to have already passed the White House's vetting process. President Obama invited Hagel to the White House to discuss the position on Dec. 4, according to an administration official. Hagel, who served two terms in Congress, has been a member of the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
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