The big news today is the interview retired <$Ad$>Gen. Jay Garner (America's first civilian overseer in Iraq) gave to the BBC, and particularly his criticisms of various aspects of the reconstruction.
Of particular interest is Garner's discussion of the firing of State Department employee Tom Warrick, the author of the Future of Iraq Project, a multivolume collection of reports and documents put together by a series of working groups during the lead up to the war.
In retrospect, Warrick's groups' work -- though disparaged and warred with at the time by hawks at the Pentagon -- predicted much of what's transpired in the last six months.
Warrick's brief role in Garner's operation tells us something about the retired general. Though Garner was ideologically in sync with many of the Iraq-hawks assumptions about 'regime change', he was openminded enough -- sufficiently free of ideological blinders -- to see that Warrick just knew a lot about the country and that his contribution could be crucial.
Here's the passage from an AP article on the interview ...
"Tom was just beginning to get started with us when one day I was in the office with the secretary of defense, and he said 'Jay, have you got a guy named Warrick on your team?' I said, `yes, I do.' He said, 'well, I've got to ask you to remove him.' I said, `I don't want to remove him; he's too valuable.'
"But he said, 'This came to me from such a high level that I can't overturn it, and I've just got to ask you to remove Mr. Warrick.'"
Now, it probably goes without saying that the number of people who are that much higher than the Secretary of Defense in the hierarchy is pretty small.
In fact, a source intimately familiar with these conversations recently made clear to me that he believed the person applying the pressure in this case was none other than Vice President Dick Cheney.
That tracks with a lot else we're finding out about the lead-up to the war. Though the ideological poles were at State and the Pentagon, the decisive force, the one really tipping the scales in one direction or another, was the Office of the Vice President.