Washington's Cowboys

As news of secret U.S. dealings with Iran began to appear last week, attention inexorably turned to a cluster of suites in the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House. They house a select band of globe- trotting staffers of the National Security Council, the executive agency that coordinates U.S. defense and foreign-affairs activities. Known for its bravado and love of derring-do, the small group conceived and ran the secret talks with Iran. While the group is part of a crisis-management team within the 46-person NSC staff, its freewheeling style has led Washington insiders to call its members...

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