The administration clearly hopes that the commission will help prevent Iraq from becoming a drag on Bush's reelection campaign, by enabling the White House to say it is addressing the problem.
In selecting members for the panel, Bush appears to have sought to avoid highly recognized personalities who might be polarizing or create a political backlash.
Last year, the White House nominated former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to serve as chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, only to have Kissinger bow out over objections to his refusal to disclose publicly his international business ties.
Even so, Silberman long has been seen as a partisan figure.
The former judge has long-standing Republican ties, having worked in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. He served as ambassador to Yugoslavia in 1975 and went on to work for Reagan's campaign for the presidency in 1980.
Silberman also has been involved in a series of controversies. In September 1980, when Reagan was running against then-President Carter, Silberman and two Reagan campaign advisors met secretly with a purported emissary from Iran who offered to negotiate the release of 52 American hostages held by Iranian militants.
Critics later charged that the Reaganites were seeking to delay the hostages' release until after the election, something Silberman and his colleagues strongly denied.
In 1990, Silberman joined a 2-1 majority vote to reverse the conviction of former White House aide Oliver L. North for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Wald, also named to the commission Friday, cast the dissenting vote in that decision.
During the 1990s, Silberman wrote a sharp-tongued opinion accusing the Clinton administration of trying to impede an independent counsel probe and asking whether the Clinton White House had "declared war on the United States."
Robb, the other co-chairman, served as Virginia governor and held two terms as a U.S. senator before losing his reelection bid in 2001. He is a moderate Democrat.
Robb and Silberman appeared with Bush at the White House news conference announcing the commission. In later statements, both promised an independent review.
McCain would seem a risky pick for the White House. He ran against Bush in a bitterly fought race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. He is known for bucking Republican orthodoxy on Capitol Hill and pursuing issues he cares about -- including campaign finance reform and eliminating Defense Department waste -- with tenacity.
He joined in the calls for the creation of an independent commission to examine intelligence at a time when the White House was opposing the idea. But McCain supported the war in Iraq, has made recent appearances on Bush's behalf, is likely to help campaign for him in the upcoming election and has defended the administration from charges that it manipulated the intelligence on Iraq.
Times staff writer Richard B. Schmitt contributed to this report.
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Investigating Iraq intelligence
President Bush named seven people Friday to sit on an independent commission to look into problems with prewar intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs.
86, attorney, 1940-present; senior counsel, President's Commission on Strategic Forces, 1983; presidential counsel, 1979-81.
56, president of Yale University, 1993-present; dean of graduate school, 1992-93.
67, U.S. senator from Arizona, 1986-present; congressman, U.S. House of Represen- tatives, from Arizona's 1st District, 1982-86.
64, U.S. senator from Virginia, 1988-2001; governor of Virginia, 1982-86; son-in-law of former President Johnson.
68, retired judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit; member, Defense Policy Board, 1981-85.
64, deputy director, CIA. 1991-95; director, National Security Agency, 1988-92; director of naval intelligence, 1985-88.
75, Judge, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, 1999-2001; U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, 1979-99.
Source: Associated Press