The order was given in secret by the U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, who was already scheduled to be replaced, quite likely because of his involvement in the horrendous Iraqi torture scandal. But anyone who thinks General Sanchez gave the order without checking first with his neocon bosses back at the Pentagon -- Wolfowitz and Feith, who then of course check with Rumsfeld who then tells the President, Condi, and Colin -- just doesn't understand even at this late date how the invasion/occupation of Iraq came about nor how the Pentagon planning has been progressing for Iran, Syria, North Korea, just as soon as the excuses can be managed.
The Americans worked to weaken Iraq for a decade, all the while trying to foment a coup or assassination, then seizing upon the 9/11 excuse when all else had failed. They are following the same pattern with regard to Iran, including considerable media manipulation and black ops.
Remember as well, the top neocons now in charge in Washington tried hard in 1996 to get the Israelis, then with their main man Bibi Netanyahu at the helm as Prime Minister, to come up with some excuse for attacking Iraq and igniting a war which the Americans would not then have been able to resist. Clinton was hesitant as then was Netanyahu...but only to wait for a better day. Then the same 'almost war' played itself out again in 1998 when the then out-of-power neocons and their powerful Israeli-Jewish lobby again tried hard to ignite war with and 'regime change' in Iraq.