The DoD Inspector General, after over fourteen months of diligent and surely difficult investigation, has concluded that the Office of Special Plans, and Doug Feith as Under Secretary for Policy,
…developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence committee and… presented these to senior decision makers.
I’m happy to say it didn’t take me fourteen months to figure that out. I’m happy to say that it didn’t take most of us who worked in the Under Secretariat for Defense Policy, Near East and South Asia directorate fourteen months to figure it out. We saw the CIA and DIA intelligence, we understood the region, and we watched Doug Feith, Abe Shulsky, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Ahmad Chalabi, Bill Luti and a handful of others in and around the upper echelons of the Pentagon create a preferred alternate universe, and then foist it on an unsuspecting country.
Doug Feith retired a year and a half ago — and has been quietly embarrassing Georgetown ever since. Now he’s back in the news, sputtering and whining and becoming really quite angry.
Here’s what he says now:
We weren’t creating alternative intelligence, we were just "criticizing" the CIA. Isn’t that a good thing?
The CIA had it wrong anyway, so what’s the problem?
It wasn’t illegal, according to the IG report….
It’s not a crime, it’s just criticism.
The government should be doing more of it, and it is misguided …that intelligence people should not be allowed to raise questions about — policy people should not be allowed to raise questions about intelligence.
Feith makes his points — long before the IG report was published — in a 2005 interview with Wolf Blitzer. In 2005, he says things like "I don’t know where [former Army Secretary Thomas White] got [the idea that Feith’s team had the mindset that this would be a relatively straightforward, manageable task …[and] reconstruction would be short-lived] from" and "I think the Iraq operation was done very well." Feith goes on to say, "As you know… if you have the ability to produce insecticide or fertilizer, you have the ability to produce chemical and biological weapons stockpile." In Feithland, to be truly safe, you bomb the farmers AND the factories.
These days, Feith is telling Wolf that "we are in trouble in Iraq because of errors that the CIA made" and "I believed George Tenet" [on the relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda].
Clearly, Douglas Feith is the victim here.
Here’s how it goes. Feith was working hard at the highest levels of the Pentagon, and he noticed that the story being put out about the threat Iraq posed to the United States was simply wrong and inconsistent with the facts. Strangely wrong and absurdly inconsistent with the facts. Feith criticizes those who are putting out the bad poop to decision-makers. He tries to speak out, but faces leadership obstacles at every turn. Finally, he quits his post and goes public with his observations, and begins to do his small part to improve the system from the outside, as a member of the loyal opposition. He suffers public defamation, insults and demagoguery from the Pentagon machine he once served.
No. Wait… sorry. That’s my story.
Here’s the Feith story. Wanted to bring on the next phase of an Israel-centered Middle East, which required a UN Security Council veto and a great big military-industrial complex with expansionist dreams. The United States could provide both, but the CIA stood in the way because there was no legitimate casus belli to rally the Congress or the people. Surely the invasion couldn’t be advertised in the context of oil contracts, propping up the petrodollar, Tim LeHaye’s visions, or a personal vendetta by a half-witted President. 9-11 could serve — if only Saddam Hussein could be associated with dangerous weapons of mass destruction, anti-American terrorists, and if there were an Iraqi link to 9-11. An alternate universe of propaganda was necessary, and Feith worked hard to make it happen. The propaganda machine was emplaced, and any CIA intelligence that did not fit this normative agenda was "criticized." Further, this critique (alternate universe style) was provided to willing (if often passive) partners in the executive branch, the media, and Congress as if it were valid and validated. Yes, inappropriate in the eyes of some, illegal, immoral and impeachable offenses to others. But history, Feith feels, will prove the wisdom of this Feith-based initiative, a.k.a. "Pimp Your War."
Doug Feith and his ideological partners have whored out the American defense establishment, and if a few thousand soldiers and marines get beat up or even killed, well, at least the game goes on. For Feith and his friends, physical destruction of inconvenient states is a victimless crime, and a whole lot of fun to boot. So what if a few lies were told to make the deal. And are we really going to stop after we’ve come this far?
And unlike prostitution, it wasn’t even illegal. It’s enough to have people saying, "There ought to be a law!"
If Feith’s protestations — that he was just innocently helping the CIA do a better job — fail to convince an increasingly disgusted public and a slowly awakening Congress, he will, like Scooter before him, begin to say, "I was set up!" I can’t wait to watch the next episode.
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for MilitaryWeek.com, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com and Liberty and Power. Archives of her American Forum radio program can be accessed here and here. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here.