For Newsweek columnist turned Daily Show mandarin Fareed Zakaria, shifting from calling for increased troop deployment in Iraq to advocating a full-scale pullout is quite a bold move. So bold, in fact, it appears as if he’s intentionally trying to distance himself from the White House’s Iraq war plan.

Which would be understandable considering he secretly helped craft it.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that, according to Bob Woodward‘s latest book, State of Denial, Zakaria, along with a gaggle of other journos, including former Newsweek (now Atlantic) scribe Robert D. Kaplan, formally advised saliva-slick then-Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on the administration’s Iraq policy. Zakaria disputes Woodward’s account and says he didn’t know his advice would end up in a full-blown advisory report. But Kaplan says there’s no way he couldn’t have known.

Kaplan told the Times that the report (“A forceful summary of some of the best pro-war arguments at the time”) was drafted and reworked in a meeting that Zakaria attended.

Zakaria defended himself to the Times by arguing that, as a columnist, it’s his job to provide opinions. “If a senator calls me up and asks me what should we do in Iraq, I’m happy to talk to him,” he said.

Which, of course, is a far cry from whispering in the ear of Bush by way of Wolfowitz then signing a non-disclosure agreement.

Zakaria announced his flip-flop this week:

“I understand the impulse of those who want to send in more forces to secure the country. I urged just such a policy from the first week of the occupation. But today we are where we are … The Bush administration has actually been pursuing more-sensible policies for more than a year now, trying vainly to reverse many of its errors.”