Throughout the summer, the NESA spaces in one long office on the fourth floor, between the 7th and 8th corridors of D Ring, became more and more crowded. With war talk and planning about Iraq, all kinds of new people were brought in. A politically savvy civilian-clothes-wearing lieutenant colonel named
served as the Iraq desk officer, and he had apparently joined NESA about the time
did. I discovered that BRUNER, like LUTI, had served as a military aide to Speaker
. GINGRICH himself was now conveniently an active member of Bush's
Defense Policy Board
, which had space immediately below ours on the third floor.
I asked why BRUNER wore civilian attire, and was told by others, "He's CHALABI's handler." CHALABI, of course, was
AHMAD CHALABI, the president of the
Iraqi National Congress, who was the favored exile of the
neoconservatives and the source of much of their "intelligence." BRUNER himself said he had to attend a lot of meetings downtown in hotels and that explained his suits. Soon, in July, he was joined by another Air Force pilot, a colonel with no discernible political connections, KEVIN JONES. I thought of it as a military-civilian partnership, although both were commissioned officers.