Embarrassed by the abrupt departure of Henry Kissinger as chairman of the commission investigating the September 11 attacks on America, the Bush Administration is under pressure to appoint an investigator with real teeth.

This is to ensure what one victims' spokesman called a "pure, transparent and purely independent" inquiry.

The name consistently touted by the victims' families is Warren Rudman, a former Republican Senator and co-author of a report that warned months before September 11 of the risk of an attack on United States soil.

The White House has so far resisted his appointment, leading to some suspicion that President George W. Bush is not interested in an investigation that might embarrass his Administration.

Kissinger resigned at the weekend, just two weeks after his controversial appointment, saying he was not willing to publicise the names of his international consulting firm's clients.

His departure left the commission in disarray, not least because the former Democratic Senator George Mitchell has also withdrawn.

The Administration has promised it will move quickly to replace Kissinger, although probably not before today's nominal deadline for filling all 10 commission posts.

In the meantime, it is facing criticism for its reluctance to establish a commission at all, for its appointment of so polarising a figure as Kissinger and for its apparent efforts to protect the confidentiality of Kissinger's client list.

Stephen Push of Families of September 11 said the situation gave the President a second chance to appoint someone who would undertake a thorough investigation.


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