Feith Resigns Under Pressure of Investigations
Douglas Feith, the number three man at the Pentagon who went there from the pro-Likud Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the Project for a New American Century, will leave the Pentagon as of this summer. Feith’s office is the subject of an FBI investigation as well as two Congressional investigations, one by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Feith helped set up an Office of Special Plans in the Near East and South Asia desk of the Pentagon to cherry-pick Iraq intelligence and create a case for Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and having operational links with al-Qaeda. At one point, contrary to Federal law, Feith’s people actually briefed officials in the Executive on intelligence. Feith seems to have used David Wurmser a a liason of some sort, employing him at OSP before he later went to other key advisory offices at the State Department and finally in 2003 to Vice President Dic Cheney’s office. Wurmser, who has ties to the Likud, is working for a US war against Iran and Syria. [An earlier version of this post got the sequence wrong out of a memory lapse.] The OSP was somehow able to get its analyses and false intelligence conclusions directly to Cheney’s national security staff, from which they went directly to Bush, by-passing the CIA and the State Department Intelligence and Research division.
Having a Likudnik as the number three man in the Pentagon is a nightmare for American national security, since Feith could never be trusted to put US interests over those of Ariel Sharon. In the build-up to the Iraq War, Feith had a phalanx of Israeli generals visiting him in the Pentagon and ignored post-9/11 requirements that they sign in. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a vocal advocate of a US war against Iraq, who “put pressure” on Washington about it. (If Sharon wanted a war against Iraq, why didn’t he fight it himself instead of pushing it off on American boys?)
Feith has been questioned by the FBI in relation to the passing by one of his employees of confidential Pentagon documents to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which in turn passed them to the Israeli embassy. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also investigating Feith. There seems little doubt that he operated in the Pentagon in such a way as to produce false and misleading “intelligence,” that he created an entirely false impression of Iraqi weapons capabilities and ties to al-Qaeda, and that he is among the chief facilitators of the US war in Iraq.
Feith is clearly resigning ahead of the possible breaking of major scandals concerning his tenure at the Department of Defense, which is among the more disgraceful cases of the misleading of the American people in American history.
There are several downsides to Feith’s departure, as welcome as it is for anyone who cares about US security in particular. The first is that now we probably have to see him forever on cable news channels as one of those dreary neocon talking heads flogged by the American Enterprise Institute, a far rightwing “think tank” funded by cranky rich people to obscure the truth. Another is that his departure now may help keep Bush from being blamed for his shady dealings in intelligence “analysis.”
It is important to note that what is objectionable about Feith is a) his playing fast and loose with the truth, producing poor intelligence analysis that has been shown to be completely false and b) his doing so on behalf of not only American nationalist aspirations but also on behalf of a non-American political party, the Likud coalition of Israel, which desired to destroy the Oslo peace process initiated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (and which was therefore on the same side of this issue as the fanatic who assassinated Rabin). There is no objection to Americans having multiple identities or love for more than one country. Someone of Serbian heritage would make a perfectly good Pentagon administrator. But you wouldn’t want a vehement supporter of Slobodon Milosevic as the number three man in the Pentagon. It is ideological dual loyalty that is dangerous. Mere sentiment based on multiple ethnic identities is not dual loyalty, and hyphenated Americans mostly have other countries they wish well (and rightly so).
It is also important to underline that only a small minority of American Jews support the Likud Party or its policies, and that a majority of Jewish Americans opposed the Iraq war. In short, the problematic nature of Feith’s tenure at the Department of Defense must not be made an excuse for any kind of bigotry.