Joel Mowbray

After all, it was the administration hawks?primarily based in the Pentagon, though there are others, such as Vice President Dick Cheney and a handful at the State Department?who championed Chalabi from the very beginning of this administration.

This is most likely why anonymous ?intelligence officials? leaked to the New York Times last week (and again yesterday) that there was an investigation that centered on ?a handful? of officials, most of whom ?are at the Pentagon.?

The dividing line is very clear: on one side are the president?s political appointees, and on the other are careerists who have no loyalty to the commander-in-chief.

To fully appreciate the mutinous sentiment at State, consider that it is a place where its employees feel free to display on desks and doors political cartoons lampooning President Bush.  Anecdotally, many Foreign Service members joined anti-war rallies last spring, according to several State Department officials.

The undermining is not merely symbolic, either. 

Last spring, State Department officials learned from Pyongyang representatives in New York that North Korea was admitting, for the first time, that it was reprocessing plutonium.  It kept that bombshell a secret, even from the White House, because it knew administration hawks would cancel upcoming talks?something for which State had lobbied very hard.

The insubordination continues to this day.  Bureaucrats at State and CIA?despite CIA Director George Tenet having claimed the case for WMD was a ?slam dunk??largely did not support the war.  They can no longer win the fight on the decision to go to war, but taking out Chalabi is the next best thing.  It calls into question the motives and justification for the war, and in the process, defends the institutional integrity of both State and CIA.

So far, the White House has not refereed the open revolt within its ranks.  This has only emboldened the president?s enemies at State and CIA.  If there is evidence against Chalabi?beyond Iran sending a message in a code it had supposedly just been told was broken?it should be put on the table.

But if not, if this smear campaign is merely a bluff to carry out character assassination, then Chalabi might not be the only one who unfairly falls from grace.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

Be the first to read Joel Mowbray's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.