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March 13, 2007

After Libby, All Roads
Lead to Feith


by Jon Basil Utley

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was just a liar and a hatchet man for Vice President Cheney in the White House. Douglas Feith was inside the Pentagon. Lying to cover up the reason for the war is one thing; responsibility for the disastrous occupation policies is another.

In 2003 Antiwar.com published "All Roads Lead to Feith" by the brilliant investigative reporter Jim Lobe. It should be passed out to every member of Congress.

Douglas Feith was the author of the orders to disband the entire Iraqi army and destroy the civilian government infrastructure. I was a student in Germany after the Second World War. Even after ousting the the Nazis, America did not dismiss every school teacher and village administrator, but that's what the U.S. government did in Iraq. Under Saddam, government officials had to join the Ba'ath Party; after his removal, all Ba'athists were fired. Critical oversight was given to Shi'ite Ahmed Chalabi, a liar promoted by the neocons, and his friends.

America needs comprehensive congressional hearings on the matter. Why did Feith give such orders? Did Rumsfeld or Cheney know about them? Was Feith trying to provoke a Shi'ite-Sunni civil war? What other disasters did Feith have a hand in?

Feith's actions are comprehensible if one connects them to his Likud loyalties. Was it the intentional policy of a faction inside Israel to wreck Iraq? One should never assume stupidity. There are often clever people behind apparently stupid policies.

Feith was a card-carrying member, so to speak, of the neocon-Likud-Netanyahu plan, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." This document urged Israel to end the Oslo Peace Accords, stop peace negotiations with the Palestinians, attack Syria, eliminate Saddam, and vastly widen the illegal settlements on the West Bank. (See "Losing Feith" for further details.)

Now Feith's machinations have been exposed before a congressional committee. A report by the acting Pentagon inspector general affirms that Feith manipulated intelligence to invent al-Qaeda-Saddam connections, a core argument for the American invasion of Iraq. But much more needs to be learned about Feith's role in the postwar disaster so that America does not again fall victim to liars with hidden agendas. A comprehensive report by former CIA officer Phil Giraldi in the March 12 issue of The American Conservative even questions whether Feith is a war criminal under the Nuremberg Judgments. Germans in equivalent positions were hanged for the crime of lying to start a war.

Some key facts about Douglas Feith:

  • He was the key channel providing distorted intelligence on Iraq from the CIA to the Bush administration.
  • His former law partner, Marc Zell, represented the Israeli settlers on the West Bank whose brutality so inflames the whole Muslim world.
  • Their law firm, Feith and Zell, was also hired by Northrop Grumman and other military contractors, presumably to use their connections inside Israel's government to procure contracts. One also wonders if more farsighted executives in the military-industrial complex did not see Feith and Zell as helping to push endless wars. After all, that helps business.
  • There are reports that Feith was involved in the Bremer decision to shut down Iraq's major government industries in order to "privatize" the economy. This was obviously another nation-wrecking measure, throwing thousands instantly out of work.
  • Polls in Israel show that most Israelis want to trade the West Bank for peace. A recent Gallup Poll shows that most Jewish Americans have strongly opposed the Iraq war, despite the Israel Lobby's enthusiasm for it. Feith was not merely sympathetic to Israeli concerns; he acted on behalf of an extreme faction inside the Israeli government that wanted to expand Israeli territory and weaken the Muslim world by throwing it into chaos. This all demands an investigation with congressional subpoena power.


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  • Jon Basil Utley is associate publisher of The American Conservative and Robert A. Taft Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. A former correspondent for Knight Ridder in South America, Utley has written for the Harvard Business Review on foreign nationalism and was for 17 years a commentator on the Voice of America. He is director of Americans Against World Empire.

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