And What Pearles gang will not do”

On one side are officials who say senior Pentagon civilians are conducting foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, outside of established channels on the basis of questionable intelligence. On the other are hawks who say the State Department, the CIA and others don’t fully appreciate the threats the United States faces.

Maloof, contacted three times, declined comment, but his backers contend that his superiors at the Defense Department cleared his contact with El Haje. One person close to Maloof said he had informed his Pentagon superiors about his dealings with El Haje, terming it a “sensitive relationship” that could benefit U.S. security in the Middle East.

Maloof is on administrative leave and hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing. Those close to him contend that his clearances were pulled in retaliation for challenging the official assessment that there were no operational terrorist links between al-Qaida and Iraq.

TalkingPoint

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