On March 12, another principals meeting took place to decide what to do about the Iraqi military. They decided to disband the Republican Guard—Saddam’s elite corps—but to call the regular army’s soldiers back to duty and to reconstitute their units after a proper vetting of their loyalty to a new Iraqi leadership.

Both decisions were unanimous. NSC staff members had briefed officials on the plans before the meeting, up and down the chain of command, and they encountered no dissent. In other words, Bremer’s two orders violated decisions made at the highest level of government—decisions of staggering importance that would shape every aspect of the war’s aftermath.

So who wrote the orders?