The enemy of my enemy is my friend, or maybe at least my acquaintance?

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on Monday talked about Iran's admission that it had a uranium enrichment program that would allow it to soon build several nuclear bombs a year. "Iran admitted the existence of these facilities only after it had no choice," Fleischer told reporters, "only because they had been made public by an Iranian opposition group."

And this was "despite the best efforts of the international community," Fleischer said, "to verify that they had it, Iran was far, far ahead of where they were believed to be in the development of this. And if it had not been for the Iranian opposition group, this, too, may have gone unnoticed."

So let's hear it for our friends, the Iranian opposition, known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The group has been labeled by the State Department as part of a foreign terrorist organization, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, which, by definition, is obviously an evil group. They are based in, of all places, Iraq.

So there's good and there's evil. Then there's evil which is helping good fight other evil. Ah, postwar Iraq is going to be quite the place. "Program here, get-cher program here -- can't tell the players without a program."

Hey Tigris, Euphrates?

We had our dancing shoes out and ready for the Army Corps of Engineers' 136th Annual Engineer Dinner Dance on March 29. Our invite said we'd "help launch the 200th anniversary commemoration of Lewis and Clark's voyage of discovery." Dinner was to be a "combination of rosemary roasted pork and roasted stuffed chicken breast."

Just about ready to send in our nonrefundable check when this e-mail arrived from Dolores Green in the Army Corps' protocol office.

"Please disregard invitation to our Dinner Dance scheduled for 29 March. It has been postponed. A new date has not been established yet."

Someone was thinking maybe the Corps would be doing work then on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers?

Academic Freedom Is, Uh, Academic

Meanwhile, that blast of the Mother of All Bombs in Florida on Tuesday wasn't the only big military explosion this week. Another came when an e-mail from Maj. Gen. Harold Mashburn Jr., commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, hit the computers of staff and faculty at the National Defense University at Fort McNair.

Seems the academic affairs unit, headed by school vice president James Keagle, was putting together its agenda for the weekly deans meeting. Item 8 was to be "academic freedom discussed in the context of how to raise sensitive issues and/or manage the discussion of same," Keagle's e-mail said. NDU's students and faculty are a mix of military and civilians from the intelligence and diplomatic communities.

"Jim," Mashburn replied, "as far as I know, no one in the Executive Branch may make negative remarks about the Commander in Chief or his decisions -- public remarks, does not mean the academic environment of the seminars/committees. I think all here are paid by that branch. Academic freedom does not apply. Enough said."

Some recipients went ballistic. Mashburn clarified yesterday in an interview that at the closed-door, "non-attributed" seminars, free-wheeling discussion, even of the negative variety, was fine, but not in public. "We can't have dual standards of academic freedom," he said, one for civilians and one for the military.

This is a military base, he said, and the military standard is Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which he read to us: "Contempt toward officials. Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the president, the vice president, Congress, the secretary of defense, the secretary of a military department, the secretary of transportation, or the governor or legislature of any state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

So that's the standard to be followed. Bad-mouth Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld or Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta or the D.C. Council or even much-maligned California Gov. Gray Davis (D) and it could be a long time in the brig.

In Transit

Senate Appropriations Committee staff director Steven J. Cortese, who was also staff director of the defense subcommittee, is heading to Lockheed Martin Corp. to be vice president for programs and budget. James W. Morhard, formerly staff director of the appropriations panel on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary, moves up to be staff director of the full committee.

Hill veteran Mason Wiggins, most recently a top aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and before that working more than a decade on the House side, is off to be a vice president at the National Food Processors Association.

Harvey Valentine, communications director for then-Sen. Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.), is now the same for the Republican Governors Association.

Michael Siegel, former communications director for the Senate Finance Committee, is now in that position at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Brad Woodhouse, who worked on Erskine B. Bowles's Senate campaign in North Carolina, is press secretary for the DSCC.