Feith in the Situation Room: Three Lies
Former No. 3 at the Pentagon under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, has been found guilty by the Inspector General of “inappropriate” behavior in setting up a rogue unit inside the Pentagon to cherry pick intelligence so as to get up a war. Of course, the Inspector General was careful to say, this treasonous activity was not “illegal.” Lying about sex is illegal. Lying the country into a war that kills or wounds 25,000 US troops is just “inappropriate.”
Senator Jay Rockefeller is looking into whether in fact US law was broken by Feith and his collaborators.
Feith came on Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room Friday and told three lies, for all the world as though he were still in a position to manufacture reality for the rest of us to study, however judiciously. Here is the transcript with the lies corrected.
BLITZER: Did you and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Cheney and Scooter Libby and the president make a mistake?
FEITH: Well, I mean, in the — lots of mistakes were made and lots of right things were done.
BLITZER: In your analysis?
FEITH: The issue here was not that we did an analysis. The issue was we criticized the CIA’s analysis.
Feith’s “Office of Special Plans” did not just critique Central Intelligence Agency conclusions. It requisitioned raw intelligence and cherry-picked it for the conclusions Feith was seeking. And, the group itself was not neutral analysts but was rather drawn from the Neoconservative network close to Israel’s Likud Party:
Jim Lobe wrote, “The heads of NESA and OSP were Deputy Undersecretary William Luti and Abram Shulsky, respectively. Other appointees who worked with them in both offices included Michael Rubin, a Middle East specialist previously with the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI); David Schenker, previously with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP); Michael Makovsky; an expert on neo-con icon Winston Churchill and the younger brother of David Makovsky, a senior WINEP fellow and former executive editor of pro-Likud ‘Jerusalem Post’; and Chris Lehman, the brother of the John Lehman, a prominent neo-conservative who served as secretary of the navy under Ronald Reagan, according to Kwiatkowski.” [Update: Kwiatkowski in an email disavows the allegation about Chris Lehman, saying she was misunderstood by the reporter. JC]
Feith decries the “filter” the CIA had put on its intelligence on Iraq. Mr. Feith, that is called “intelligence analysis.” Raw, undigested tips are not intelligence and they can be extremely unreliable if not weighted properly. It then funneled those conclusions to Cheney’s office directly, by-passing real intelligence agencies. Its members also quite illegally briefed high ranking administration officials on the intelligence. See my earlier remarks on all this.
BLITZER: But right now.
FEITH: Hang on a second.
BLITZER: Are you ready to acknowledge there were no WMDs …
FEITH: You’re not letting me explain the essence of the problem.
BLITZER: I will let you explain but quickly. Are you ready to acknowledge there was no WMD, are you ready to acknowledge that there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda?
FEITH: We did not find WMD stockpiles. We found WMD programs. And the Duelfer report as I’m sure you know, was very clear on what we found in the WMD area, although we did not find the stock piles. We found that he had the facilities, he had the personnel, the intention. So there was a WMD threat but it wasn’t the way the CIA described it.
In fact, the Duelfer report found no sign of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or any active capacity to produce any of them:
“In his final word, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has “gone as far as feasible” and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion. “After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted,” wrote Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, in an addendum to the final report he issued last fall.”
BLITZER: There wasn’t the stockpiles. What about on the al Qaeda connection?
FEITH: On the al Qaeda connection, George Tenet on October 7th, 2002 wrote an unclassified letter to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee laying out the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
BLITZER: So you believed there was a connection?
FEITH: I believed George Tenet.
Oh, now he has blind faith in the CIA? I thought it was completely unreliable because of its “filters” and had to be contradicted by Abram Shulsky?
BLITZER: But now you know that was now false.
FEITH: I never heard it was false.
Abu Zubayda was debriefed to this effect in 2002, and Khalid Shaikh Muhammad confirmed it on his capture in spring of 2003. Feith as the number 3 man in the Pentagon cannot have been unaware of what they were telling interrogators. He is therefore lying. James Risen wrote in summer 2003,
“Al-Qaeda did not work with Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime, two of the terrorist network’s senior leaders have told the CIA, intelligence officials say.
Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaeda planner and recruiter who was captured in March 2002, told interrogators last year that such co-operation had been discussed among the group’s leaders, but was rejected by Osama bin Laden.
The al-Qaeda chief had vetoed the idea because he did not want to be beholden to Saddam, Zubaydah said.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda’s chief of operations who was captured in Pakistan on March 1, has also said in a debriefing that the group did not work with Saddam.
The Bush Administration has not made these statements public, although it has frequently highlighted intelligence reports supporting its claims of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda as it made its case for war. “
BLITZER: You believe Saddam was working with al Qaeda?
FEITH: I believe that what George Tenet published in October of 2002 was the best information on the subject. And as far as I know, that is largely — I mean, there may be — look, I’ve not been in the government the last year and a half.
There may be some more intelligence on that subject. I’m telling you from the time George Tenet published his findings on the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship which is that they had a relationship for 10 years and they talked about various things, bomb making and save haven and other issues, that that was the U.S. government’s best understanding of the subject. I never criticized that in public or in private.