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Kissinger Resigns as Chairman of 9-11 Commission - 2002-12-13

In a surprise move, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger stepped down Friday as chairman of a panel investigating last year's New York and Washington terrorist attacks. He cited possible conflicts-of-interest with clients of his international consulting firm.

Mr. Kissinger's decision was the latest setback for the bipartisan commission, which is to investigate events surrounding the September 11 attacks and examine related issues including U.S. aviation security, immigration policy and the conduct of diplomacy.

The former secretary of state in the 1970s Nixon and Ford administrations said in a letter to President Bush that the detailed financial disclosures he would have had to make to join the commission would have required him to liquidate his company, which provides political and security analysis to foreign clients.

President Bush said he accepted Mr. Kissinger's resignation with regret, but promised to pick a new chairman to uncover every detail and learn every lesson from the 9-11 events so as to better protect and defend the United States.

The resignation was a further blow to a commission already mired in problems. The panel's original vice chairman, former Senate Majority leader George Mitchell, stepped down Wednesday partly because the role might have required him to quit his law firm.

There have also been questions about the political objectivity of the commission, which is due to begin its work next month.