Blames Powell, Armitage, Bremer, Rumsfeld, Rice
The man who led the office that supplied the Bush Administration with "raw intelligence" on Iraq now says everyone else is to blame but himself.
Douglas Feith, President Bush's former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, headed the Office of Special Plans, a secretive outfit which passed along unverified "alternative" intelligence to Administration decisionmakers in the run up to war.
A Senate Intelligence Committee report found that the Office "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 Community, to senior decision-makers."
In other words, they passed on "intelligence" that was never vetted, much of which appeared to align with a hawkish Administration agenda.
On Thursday, Feith pointed his finger at everyone but himself regarding the war in Iraq. According to the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, at a book-launch party for his new book, "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism," Feith blamed a laundry list of officials for failing "to challenge the logic of going to war."
Blames Bush, too
"He argued that former secretary of state Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, were the ones who failed to challenge the logic of going to war -- not him," Milbank wrote. "He suggested that Powell, Armitage, Franks, former Iraq viceroy Jerry Bremer and even Feith's old boss, Donald Rumsfeld, should be blamed for the postwar chaos in Iraq -- not him. He blamed then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for the way she operated ("fundamental differences were essentially papered over rather than resolved"). He accused the CIA of "improper" and unprofessional behavior. And he implicitly blamed President Bush for not cracking down on insubordinate behavior at the State Department."
"Yet at the same time, Feith told the... crowd that he disapproved of the "snide and shallow self-justification typical in memoirs of former officials," or what Feith cleverly called the " 'I-was-surrounded-by-idiots' school of memoir writing," Milbank continues. "Feith pointed out that he supported his account with 140 pages of notes and documents. And yet, in his hour-long panel discussion, Feith seemed to be of the impression that he had, in fact, been surrounded by idiots."
Feith himself hasn't escaped accusations that he was aloof during his time at his Office of Special Plans.
According to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, then- Secretary of State Colin Powell referred to the Office as the "Gestapo" office. Former CIA director George Tenet called his work "total crap."
When Feith stepped in to back recruiting a brigade of "Free Iraqi Forces" to enter Iraq with Americans, according to the book Cobra II, "Franks turned to Feith in a Pentagon corridor, letting him know where he stood: 'I don't have time for this fucking bullshit."
During his book launch party, Feith ironically remarked, "The CIA and the intelligence community should not be shading intelligence."
Milbank notes that Feith has been out of touch. Vaunting his book on "60 Minutes," Feith asserted the Administration didn't need to claim Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to invade.
"Pointing so many fingers in so many directions, a man is bound to get confused -- as happened when Steve Kroft asked him on "60 Minutes" about his claim that the lack of troops contributed to looting in Baghdad," he adds. "'I don't believe I raised the troop-level issue in that connection," Feith replied. Then Kroft presented him with the passage. "That's a fair point,' Feith amended."
Remarked Milbank wryly, "It must have been very difficult being Doug Feith: correct all the time, and surrounded by idiots."