9/11 Commission Appoints Director

An independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks convened for the first time yesterday, out of public view, to grapple with logistics and meet with some of the victims' relatives.

The 10-member National Commission on Terrorist Attacks named Philip Zelikow, head of a nonprofit foundation's task force on national security, as its executive director.

Zelikow is executive director of the Markle Foundation's Task Force on National Security in the Information Age, which produced a report last October faulting the Bush administration's homeland security plans for giving the FBI too much responsibility for analyzing terrorism threats.

The new Department of Homeland Security, the task force said, "should have lead responsibility as the all-source intelligence analysis center for all relevant domestic information."

Former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean, the commission's chairman, said significant progress was made in the first meeting. The commission's next meeting, also a private session, will be Feb. 12.

After their executive meeting, the commissioners spent about 90 minutes with some relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Stephen Push, whose wife, Lisa Raines, was on the airplane that crashed into the Pentagon, said he and seven other victims' relatives listed some topics they hope the commission will tackle, including foreign affairs, aviation security, the response of U.S. air defenses on Sept. 11, immigration policy and border control.

"We got a very positive response" from the commissioners, Push said.

For the Record

* Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) will head the Homeland Security Task Force, a watchdog group organized by Senate Democrats to keep tabs on anti-terror efforts at home. The group's scrutiny will cover the new Homeland Security Department and other agencies with anti-terror functions, such as the FBI and the Customs Service, Schumer said. Although the task force will comprise only Democrats, Schumer said it will function as a nonpolitical reality check on security, "to see where we're doing well as a nation in homeland security and where we're not."

* The State Department advised Americans to consider leaving Zimbabwe because multiple crises could make the country unsafe. The travel warning said Zimbabwe's economy was in precipitous decline, leading to an increase in crime, food shortages and unrest.

* People who want their mail held or need to schedule a package delivery can arrange for the service online. The Postal Service said it has added those services to its Web page at www.usps.com.

-- Compiled from reports by the Associated Press and Reuters