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New chairman of 9-11 commission promises thorough
GUGGENHEIM; Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, new chairman
of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, promised a bipartisan
and thorough investigation to determine why the attacks weren't prevented.
President Bush appointed Kean on Monday, turning to a moderate Republican
with a record of cooperation with Democrats to replace Henry Kissinger as
chairman of the 10-member National Commission on Terrorist Attacks.
Also Monday, Senate Republican leader Trent Lott filled the panel's last
member with John Lehman, Navy secretary during the Reagan administration.
Kissinger, secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford, resigned
Friday because of criticism over possible conflicts of interest that he
said would have forced him to give up his consulting firm.
Relatives of Sept. 11 victims said their support of Kean and his panel will
depend on its political independence and whether commissioners have business
conflicts that could affect their work.
The commission, comprising five Democrats and five Republicans, will investigate
issues related to the attacks, including intelligence, aviation security
and immigration. It is expected to begin work next month.
Kean, 67, is president of Drew University in Madison, N.J., about 30 miles
from New York City. He was New Jersey's governor from 1982 to 1990.
At a news conference, Kean said he learned of the appointment Sunday night.
"I feel like a ton of bricks fell on me," he said.
"The only instructions I got from the White House is to do the best
job I could and to be bipartisan," he said.
In a statement, Bush praised Kean's "integrity, fairness and good judgment"
and said: "It is important that we uncover every detail and learn every
lesson of Sept. 11."
Victims' relatives and some lawmakers have been skeptical about Bush's commitment
to the investigation. Bush initially opposed the panel and later insisted
on limitations to its subpoena authority. Both sides accused the other of
trying to manipulate the panel for political purposes. The final report
is due less than six months before the 2004 elections.
Stephen Push of the advocacy group Families of September 11, said he was
optimistic about the panel's independence. But he and other leaders of Sept.
11 organizations said they wanted to learn more about the commissioners'
"Let's make sure everybody passes the conflicts test," said Kristen
Breitweiser, a leader of September 11 Advocates.
Breitweiser's husband, Ronald, a senior vice president of Fiduciary Trust
International, was among 87 employees of the financial company who died
at the World Trade Center. Kean has long served as a director of Fiduciary
Kean also served on the board of Aramark Corp., which manages food and support
services at office buildings and other facilities. Aramark ran the food
court on top of 2 World Trade Center as well as concessions and tours of
the observation deck. Several of its employees died in the tower.
Besides Kissinger, the panel's original vice chairman, former Sen. George
Mitchell, also resigned last week, partly because of objections raised about
potential conflicts. Mitchell was replaced by former Rep. Lee Hamilton,
Kean said he does not see any potential conflicts of interest and will make
any financial disclosure required.
He said the commission will be an opportunity for the country to draw together.
"I lost a number of good friends on 9-11. So did a lot of us in this
area," he said. "At this point in time the country needs to come
Kean is a moderate Republican, liberal on many social issues, who has often
been comfortable working with Democrats. He wrote a 1988 book titled "Politics
On the Net: Legislation to establish commission:
KEN GUGGENHEIM; Associated Press Writer
New chairman of 9-11 commission promises thorough investigation,12-17-2002
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