Thursday, February 8, 2007

Pentagon Probe Says Pre-Iraq Intel Was NOT Misleading

In a report which will be presented to Congress this Friday (February 9th, 2007), the DOD's inspector general will clear former Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith (pictured left) of any charges that he engaged in illegal activities through the creation of special offices to review intelligence.

Some Democrats have contended that Feith misled Congress about the basis of the administration's assertions on the threat posed by Iraq, but the Pentagon’s investigation did not support that.

Two people familiar with the findings discussed the main points and some details Thursday on condition they’re anonymity be protected.

Asked to comment on the IG's findings, Feith responded in a telephone interview that he hadn’t seen the report but was pleased to hear that it concluded his office's activities were neither illegal nor unauthorized.

Feith, however, took strong issue over IG's finding that some activities had been "inappropriate."

"The policy office has been smeared for years by allegations that its pre-Iraq-war work was somehow `unlawful' or `unauthorized' and that some information it gave to congressional committees was deceptive or misleading," Feith said.

Feith called the inspector general's conclusion that some intelligence activities by the Office of Special Plans, created while Feith served as the undersecretary of defense for policy — the top policy position under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld — were inappropriate but not unauthorized as "bizarre.”

"Clearly, the inspector general's office was willing to challenge the policy office and even stretch some points to be able to criticize it," Feith said, adding that he felt this amounted to subjective "quibbling" by the IG.

Feith left his Pentagon post in August 2005 to teach at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He’s steadfastly maintained that their intelligence activities were prudent, authorized and useful in challenging some of the intelligence analysis of the CIA.

At the center of the prewar intelligence controversy was the work of a small number of Pentagon officials from Feith's office and the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz who reviewed CIA intelligence analyses and put together their own report.

When they briefed Rumsfeld on their report in August 2002 — a period when Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials were ratcheting up their warnings about the gravity of the Iraq threat — Rumsfeld directed them to also brief CIA Director George Tenet. Their presentation, which included assertions about links between al-Qaida and the Iraqi government, contained a criticism that the intelligence community was ignoring or underplaying its own raw reports on such potential links.

Differing opinion on Iraqi/al-Qaida links

In a dissenting view attached to the committee's report, three Democratic senators, including Levin, said that Pentagon policymakers sought to undermine the analysis of the intelligence community by circumventing the CIA and briefing their own views directly to the White House. This was a particular problem when the spy agencies' judgments did not conform to the administration's dire views on Iraqi links to al-Qaida, the senators said.

Later, two senators — Levin and Pat Roberts, R-Kan. — separately asked the Pentagon's inspector general to review the role of Feith's office. It was not immediately clear whether the intelligence committee would press ahead with its own investigation, or if the inspector general's report would suffice.

Eric Edelman, Feith’s successor as undersecretary of defense for policy, wrote a response to a draft of the IG's report last month, claiming that the activity deemed by the IG to be "inappropriate" was actually "an exercise in alternative thinking" conducted at Wolfowitz's direction.

Edelman has claimed that the IG had misinterpreted "what the (Pentagon's) work actually was — namely, a critical assessment by OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) for policy purposes of IC (Intelligence Community) reporting and finished IC products on contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida."

In short – “The invasion of Iraq was not based on lies.”


Anonymous said...

JMK, isn't Feith a friend of Gore? I read that in a blogger's op-ed once...that Feith was Gore's international right hand man and wanted to take out Iraq "by root and stem"

JMK said...

I hadn't heard that Rachel, though so many of these guys are recylced during administrations.

There's no question that many Dems including John Kerry pushed for at least tabling the invasion of Iraq back in 1998.

Kerry is on record calling the 1998 Clinton bombing of Iraq "not nearly enough."

I'll definitely try and look up any information linking Feith the Gore or any of the Dems at that time.

Ironically enough, only Biden has advanced the scenarion I'd have supported right after Saddam was deposed - repartitioning Iraq, but there the case against that has been made pretty convincingly - no oil for the Sunnis, an independent Kurdiatan seen as a threat by Turkey and the possibility of the SHia southern portion of Iraq re-uniting with Iran to reform most of what was once Persia.

ironically enough, the war in Iraq has been undermined by the safety most Americans have taken for grangted at home.

Few people credit the war in Iraq with both decimating al Qaeda (which it has) and keeping many of the jihadists focued there in the Mideast (which it has), thus helping keep us frr from attack.

My concern is that we may see a military withdrawl from the Mideast and the resciding of both the Patriot Act and the NSA program here at home, opening the door for another massive domestic attack.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Feith one of the dreaded "cabal" of neo-cons? Therefore anything he does to that presses the case for regime change must rile up the "antiwar" crowd.

JMK said...

I'm pretty sure you're right about Feith's neocon connections, jeremayakovka.

I believe part of his bio goes "Feith attended Harvard University for his undergraduate degree and graduated magna cum laude in 1975. While at Harvard, Feith says he "benefited especially from the lectures and books of Professor Richard Pipes", the head of Harvard's Russian Research Center. Feith later said of his tutelage under Pipes: "We were part of a rather small minority in Cambridge who thought that working to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union was not only a noble pursuit, but a realistic project." Feith also cites the works of philosophers John Stuart Mill and Edmund Burke as two major intellectual influences...

"...Sympathetic to the Neoconservative wing of the Republican party, he has over the last thirty years published many works on U.S. national security policy. For a substantial sample, see. His work on US-Soviet detente, arms control and Arab-Israeli issues generated considerable debate. In particular, his Pro-Israeli Zionist views have drawn criticism.

"Feith has long advocated a policy of peace through strength. He was an outspoken skeptic of U.S.-Soviet detente and of the Oslo, Hebron and Wye Processes on Palestinian-Israeli peace."

I haven't seen any link to Al Gore, at least not yet, but he's certainly been a stalwart neocon.

It should be noted that Daniel Pipes is one of those guys who really GETS IT on the WoT as well.

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