WASHINGTON – House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Sunday named a former Illinois governor and a former White House counsel to serve on a panel formed to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
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.
Thompson was Illinois' longest-serving governor, holding four terms from 1977 to 1991. He is now chairman of the Chicago-based law firm of Winston & Strawn.
Fielding, who from 1981-1986 served as White House counsel to President Reagan, is a senior partner in Wiley Rein & Fielding, a Washington and Virginia law firm.
Hastert announced his two choices for the independent commission two days after former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger resigned from the post of chairman because of conflict-of-interest concerns.
Two days before Kissinger's abrupt withdrawal, former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, stepped down as vice chairman.
The twin resignations came as the commission hoped to get to work next month after resolving disputes about its organization and its authority to issue subpoenas.
Aides to President Bush have said he hopes to announce a replacement for Kissinger soon. Democrats have replaced Mitchell with former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind.
The 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.
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., a close ally of the Sept. 11 families, in choosing his second appointee.
The families and McCain have been pushing for former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., who led an advisory group that warned of U.S. vulnerability to terrorist attacks before Sept. 11.
Democrats have 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 President Clinton.