BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Spanish Portuguese Caribbean
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Americas  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 22:29 GMT
Kissinger to lead attacks probe
President Bush meets Henry Kissinger in the White House
Bush (r): "Follow all the facts wherever they lead"
President Bush has appointed the controversial veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger to head a new independent commission to investigate the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

I think it is abominable that the families of the victims have had to fight this hard to get something that should have been a given on 12 September

Monica Gabriel
Widow of 11 September victim
The commission was initially opposed by the White House but has been set up following pressure from families of those who lost their lives in the attacks.

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says the success of the commission is by no means assured and there is intense political debate about what its central purpose is.

Mr Bush is stressing the lessons that might be learned about the future plans of America's enemies.

But some commission members are likely to want to concentrate more on intelligence failings in the US government.

Help understand

Mr Bush signed the bill into law in front of legislators, survivors and members of victims' families.

New York
The success of the commission is not assured

"This commission will help me and future presidents to understand the methods of America's enemies and the nature of the threat we face," Mr Bush said.

The 10-member commission has been given 18 months to examine issues such as aviation security and border problems, along with intelligence.

It has a broad mandate, building on the limited joint inquiry conducted by the House of Representatives and Senate intelligence committees.

He called on Dr Kissinger as chairman of the commission to "follow all the facts wherever they lead".

Dr Kissinger promised a full investigation. "We are under no restrictions and we would accept no restrictions," he said.

'Tainted'

His appointment has met with a mixed reaction.

Monica Gabriel, whose husband was killed on 11 September, told the BBC's Newshour programme: "[He] was certainly not on the short list we were hoping for. Is there anyone who is not tainted?"

And she criticised the delays in creating the commission. "I think it is abominable that the families of the victims have had to fight this hard to get something that should have been given on 12 September."

But Stephen Push, a spokesman for the victims' families, was more positive.

"We look forward to working with him to make the commission effective in uncovering the problems that led to the 11 September attacks," he said.

Veteran diplomat

The White House initially opposed the commission, arguing that an investigation would be better conducted by Congress in order to preserve national security secrets.

But under pressure from the families of the victims and Congress, Mr Bush backed down.

Henry Kissinger leaving White House after his appointment
Dr Kissinger: the first "shuttle" diplomat?
The Democratic and Republican parties will each nominate five members to the commission.

Dr Kissinger, 79, is one of the best-known and most controversial figures in 20th-century diplomacy.

He was both secretary of state and national security adviser to Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 with North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho for ceasefire negotiations during the Vietnam war.

Dr Kissinger is remembered for his determined efforts for peace in the Middle East, when his numerous trips to the region prompted the creation of the term "shuttle" diplomacy.

But he is also accused of conniving in repression by brutal former regimes allied to the US such as in Pakistan and Indonesia, and of involvement in setting up Operation Condor - a covert plan by several South American countries to assassinate political opponents.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Bryant
"Victims groups have been calling for an independent inquiry"

New York despatches

IN DEPTH

TALKING POINT

FORUM

INTERNET LINKS

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

18 Sep 02 | Americas
15 Nov 02 | Americas
26 Apr 02 | Newsmakers
06 Apr 01 | Newsnight
28 Nov 02 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes