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Kissinger: 9/11 panel will 'get the facts'

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The commission looking into crossed wires between federal agencies before the September 11 terror attacks will present a thorough and complete report when the work is done, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Sunday.

President Bush named Kissinger to lead the 10-member commission last week. The president dropped his opposition to an independent probe in September. (Full story)

"We'll do it in the quickest way possible that is compatible with foreigners and making sure that when the report is finished, there can be no question about the fact that every aspect has been explored," Kissinger told CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer."

Kissinger, who began his career in military intelligence in the 1940s, has been a mainstay of Republican diplomacy since his days as President Nixon's national security adviser.

Some critics have questioned his appointment, saying he is too close to powerful national and international figures to be independent. In an editorial Friday, The New York Times suggested the White House chose him "to contain an investigation it has long opposed."

Kissinger dismissed the criticism. The newspaper, he said, "will apologize for this editorial when our report is submitted." Bush had not told him why he dropped his opposition to the commission, Kissinger said.

"He said he's committed to getting the facts and circumstances, that we should make recommendations, which he is then going to be eager to look at and my impression is to implement," he said. "Our mission is to get the facts."

Kissinger promised commissioners "will follow the facts where they lead." He would recommend exploring those that may point to "the actions of foreign countries," Kissinger said.

Neither Kissinger nor the Democrats' pick as the commission's vice chairman, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, would comment on whether the commission would seek to question Bush or international leaders.

"There is no commission at this point," Mitchell said on "Late Edition." "There's a designated chair and vice chair. It's insulting and presumptuous to announce who we're going to question and when."

But Mitchell said the law establishing the commission requires the federal government to cooperate in the investigation.

"I have confidence that we will make every effort to gain access to every piece of information we'll need to get the job done," the former Democratic senator from Maine said. "And we will have the power of subpoena. This will be as thorough as is humanly possible."

Kissinger and Mitchell will be joined by eight other commissioners -- four Republicans and four Democrats -- and the commission likely will employ a sizable staff.

Mitchell said that the commission's work likely would begin with a review of a joint congressional investigation into the attacks.

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