- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

President Bush appointed former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean yesterday to lead an independent commission to investigate intelligence failures preceding the September 11 terrorist attacks, replacing former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger after he resigned abruptly.
"Tom Kean is a leader respected for integrity, fairness and good judgment," the president said in a statement. "I am confident he will work to make the commission's investigation thorough. It is important that we uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September 11."
Mr. Kean, 67, president of Drew University in Madison, N.J., and governor from 1982 to 1990, served as chairman of Republican Doug Forrester's unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate in New Jersey.
Mr. Kean, who did not return repeated phone calls requesting comment, has also been on the boards of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, United Health Care Corp. and the National Endowment for Democracy.
The 10-member Commission on Terrorist Attacks, signed into law by Mr. Bush last month, will have the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents by agreement of the chairman and vice chairman or a vote of six of the members.
Mr. Bush said the panel, which he urged to complete its work within 18 months, "will help me and future presidents to understand the methods of America's enemies and the nature of the threats we face." He also urged the commission to "follow all the facts wherever they lead."
Democrats say the president is likely to be asked to testify before the independent commission, but the White House says that is not likely to occur.
Mr. Kean's name was first floated about six weeks ago in a conversation on the South Lawn between Mr. Bush and his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said. He said the president believed Mr. Kean's strengths included "his history of bringing people together on particularly difficult issues."
Mr. Kean served on President Clinton's Initiative on Race and as chairman of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
"Governor Kean also, of course, served on the board of directors of a company that lost 80 employees in the attack on the World Trade Center," Mr. Fleischer said. "He has a very close relationship with the 9/11 families. They know this is a matter that is close and near to his heart."
Mr. Kissinger, a high-priced private international consultant, stepped down Friday amid charges of conflicts of interest related to his clients, which include many foreign governments. Mr. Kissinger, secretary of state for Presidents Nixon and Ford, declined to make his client list public.
Two days before Mr. Kissinger's withdrawal, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, Maine Democrat, stepped down as vice chairman, citing time constraints. Democrats replaced Mr. Mitchell with former Rep. Lee Hamilton, Indiana Democrat.
The high-level resignations mean the commission is not getting off to as fast a start as Mr. Bush had wished. Mr. Fleischer said, "The commission has lost the services of two good and able people: Senator Mitchell and Secretary Kissinger."
Democrats have named five representatives to the September 11 commission: Mr. Hamilton as vice chairman; outgoing Sen. Max Cleland, Georgia Democrat; outgoing Rep. Tim Roemer, Indiana Democrat; laywer Richard Ben-Veniste; and Jamie Gorelick, a deputy attorney general under President Clinton.
On Sunday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, appointed former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, who served from 1977 to 1991. He is now chairman of the Chicago-based law firm of Winston & Strawn.
Mr. Hastert also selected Fred Fielding, a White House counsel to President Reagan.
Republicans must name one more member to the commission. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi has named former Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington, but has not announced his second choice.

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