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Bush taps ex-New Jersey governor for 9/11 panel

Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean
Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush named former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean to lead an independent commission's probe into the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the White House said Monday.

Kean, 67, will replace former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who resigned Friday to avoid questions about a possible conflict of interest regarding his ties to several organizations and public figures.

"Tom Kean is a leader respected for integrity, fairness and good judgment. I am confident he will work to make the commission's investigation thorough," Bush said in a statement released Monday.

Kean, a Republican, was New Jersey governor from 1982 to 1990. He currently is president of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Bush named Kissinger to lead the 10-member commission November 27. The president had dropped his long-standing opposition to an independent probe of the September 11 attacks when he signed a broad intelligence authorization bill that created the panel.

The commission will be composed of five Republicans and five Democrats.

Some had criticized Kissinger's appointment, saying he was too close to powerful national and international figures to be independent.

Kissinger's resignation came the day after former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, announced he was stepping down from the commission, also over potential conflicts of interest.

Mitchell, who was to be vice chairman of the independent board, said he didn't want to sever ties with his law firm and that the commission's work would take too much time.

Congressional Democrats chose former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, to replace Mitchell.

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