Kean Vows Answers To 9/11 Failures

Thomas Kean, as former New Jersey Governor, and head of new independent commission investigating September 11th terrorist attacks
When he was governor of New Jersey, Tom Kean had a reputation for avoiding confrontation, but as chairman of the 9/11 commission he's taking no prisoners.

"Our report should be the authoritative source," he says. "It doesn't make us popular and I don't care if it doesn't make us popular, frankly."

In a wide-ranging interview with CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston on the commission's work, Kean made no apologies for using the threat of subpoenas to force government agencies, including the White House, to produce sensitive documents.

"We're saying we don't care what the precedents are, let us see that, we don't care that nobody's seen that. Our mission is unique, our mission is different," Kean says.

As CBS News first reported, Kean believes 9/11 could have been avoided.

He says his report will get to the bottom of what went wrong, including the failure of America's military defense to stop the hijacked planes on Sept. 11.

"What we've found is that our defense apparatus was still fighting the Cold War, that our defenders in the Air Force were focused out to sea. Nobody was focused on an internal threat," Kean says.

Kean hopes to complete the final report in time to prompt the presidential candidates to embrace its recommendations.

"My dream is that we make meaningful recommendations and those recommendations become a large part of those two parties' platforms, because if they do, then we'll really be able to get some action," he says.

The commission faces a May 27 deadline. With hundreds of interviews still undone and thousands of documents to review, Kean won't rule out asking for an extension. Whenever the report is completed, Kean insists it will be done with integrity.