President Bush's appointment of Henry Kissinger to head the 9/11 commission ["Kissinger to Lead 9/11 Panel; Mitchell Named Vice Chairman of Probe on Intelligence Flaws," front page, Nov. 28] is a giant step toward removing the president's most serious political liability.

Supine Democrats have been reluctant to raise the issue of presidential negligence in the months before Sept. 11, 2001. There is evidence that President Bush was given enough warning to put strong preventive measures in place.

The White House successfully prevented the joint congressional investigating committee from including in its September report any information on what Mr. Bush had been told prior to 9/11.

This is the same Henry Kissinger who denied that he ordered CIA Director Richard Helms to topple the duly elected government in Chile in 1973. Congress pursued the matter, calling Mr. Helms's successor, William Colby, to testify. Mr. Colby, as was his wont, told the truth. Mr. Helms faced perjury charges for his earlier testimony, but he was allowed to plead no contest to two misdemeanor charges. And Mr. Colby was later replaced.

So the fix is in.

RAY McGOVERN

Arlington

The writer was an analyst with the CIA from 1964 to 1990.

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Comedian Red Buttons always said, "Strange things are happening."

That could describe President Bush's surprise appointment of Henry Kissinger to direct the 9/11 investigation. Mr. Kissinger excelled as a political statesman, but the president must keep in mind that the man is 79 years old. Will he be able to conduct this difficult and arduous task?

President Bush should rethink his choice. One name that has not been mentioned is Kenneth Starr, whose relentless pursuit ultimately led to the downfall of former president Bill Clinton. Mr. Starr and former senator George J. Mitchell would be a formidable team capable of getting to the bottom of what really happened before, during and after Sept. 11, 2001.

Either way, we should wish them success in their quest for the truth in this tragedy.

HERBERT W. STARK

Massapequa, N.Y.