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Bush Taps Ex-N.J. Gov. to Run 9/11 Probe

December 16, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush named former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, a moderate Republican with a record of bipartisan cooperation, to replace Henry Kissinger as head of the panel investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

``Tom Kean is a leader respected for integrity, fairness and good judgment,″ Bush said Monday in a prepared 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 Sept. 11.″ Bush initially resisted impaneling the commission.

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.

He serves on several corporate boards, including those of the international petroleum company Amerada Hess Corp., the Pepsi Bottling Group and Aramark Corp., which manages food and support services at office buildings, sports arenas 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.

``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,″ said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Kean was named by President Clinton to serve on both the advisory board to the President’s Initiative on Race and as chairman of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

This year, Kean served as chairman of Republican Doug Forrester’s unsuccessful campaign for New Jersey’s open Senate seat.

Kean served two terms as governor before leaving office in 1990. Many state and national Republican leaders, including Bush, had urged him in 2001 to challenge Democrat Robert Torricelli for the Senate seat. Kean refused before Torricelli resigned because of ethical questions, leaving his seat open for Forrester’s run. Former Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg won the election.

Kean’s name came up for the Sept. 11 commission along with several others, including Kissinger’s, in a conversation about six weeks ago between Bush and White House chief of staff Andy Card, Fleischer said.

Kean is a model Northeastern moderate Republican, liberal on many social issues, who has often been comfortable working with Democrats. He wrote a 1988 book titled ``Politics of Inclusion.″

Bush announced his choice for the independent commission three days after Kissinger, a former secretary of state, resigned from chairmanship because of conflict-of-interest concerns.

Two days before Kissinger’s abrupt withdrawal, former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, stepped down as vice chairman, saying the job would conflict with his responsibilities to his law firm. Democrats replaced Mitchell with former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind.

The commission had hoped to get to work next month after resolving disputes about its organization and its authority to issue subpoenas.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert named a former Illinois governor and a former White House counsel Sunday to serve on the panel.

Hastert, R-Ill., appointed former Gov. Jim Thompson and attorney Fred Fielding to the 10-member panel. Republicans and Democrats each get to appoint five committee members.

Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi already has named former Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., but has not announced his second choice. Lott has promised to consult with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has worked closely with the Sept. 11 families, in choosing his second appointee.

The families and McCain have pushed for former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., who led an advisory group that warned of U.S. vulnerability to terror attacks before Sept. 11.

Democrats have already named five members, including Hamilton. The others are outgoing Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga.; outgoing Rep. Timothy Roemer, D-Ind.; attorney Richard Ben-Veniste; and Jamie Gorelick, a deputy attorney general under former President Clinton.

The 10-member commission, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, will investigate events leading up to the attacks, including aviation security, immigration and U.S. diplomacy. It is to build on the work of a recently completed congressional inquiry into intelligence failures.


On the Net: Legislation to establish commission: http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_cr/SA4694.html

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