Douglas Feith a No Show


feith twn 3.jpg
Yesterday, former Defense Department Under Secretary Douglas Feith failed to show up at a Congressional hearing investigating abusive interrogation techniques used on combat detainees because he did not want to appear along side former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson.
I happen to know that Wilkerson would have conducted himself as a courteous professional with a profoundly different view from Feith — but it is true that Wilkerson has offered some colorful comments in the past about the pro-torture pro-harsh interrogation techniques Defense Under Secretary and close pal of Ahmad Chalabi. These were made at a session I hosted at the New America Foundation and which were featured on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show:

But for the public’s benefit and the record, here is an html copy of Wilkerson’s prepared testimony.
I have made a quick roster of the occasions Wilkerson mentions Douglas Feith in his prepared comments:

1. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Secretary Rumsfeld and certain of his subordinates wanted the war that was coming to be a broad, global one, not just against al-Qa’ida. Read Mr. Feith‘s book, War and Decision, and he will tell you in that book how seriously he and Mr. Rumsfeld wanted to broaden the war. He will also tell you that he and Mr. Rumsfeld believed the fight was not simply against al-Qa’ida but against every terrorist who might raise his head, from the criminal thugs in the Philippines called Abu Sayyaf, to the al Qa’ida derivatives in Southeast Asia known as Jemaah Islamiyah. From the tone in the book, one gets the impression that Mr. Feith would have dearly loved to throw Hamas and Hezbollah into the mix as well.
2. [Rumsfeld] also set up a sort of intelligence “red team” in the office of his Undersecretary for Policy, Mr. Feith. This team vetted the intelligence community’s raw materials, analysis and findings.
3. These were the lawyers who set the legal background against which other-than-standard interrogation methods would be explained away as “in accord with the Geneva Conventions”, “not constituting torture”, “fully within the Article II powers of the Commander-in Chief”, and so forth. At Defense, Jim Haynes and Douglas Feith would adapt these views to their needs at the Pentagon. Indeed, in the recent book Torture Team by English barrister Philippe Sands, in extended interviews Mr. Feith appears to express no small degree of pride in having helped make the Geneva Conventions adaptable to the needs of the new interrogation regime. In my view, this was done largely through artifice not unlike the angels sitting on the pinhead. Such artifice may appeal to certain lawyers but I assure you soldiers have no use for it for they know how dangerous such arguments are when put to the hard act of execution in the field.
4. Meanwhile, the operational end of this affair was orchestrated by the Secretary of Defense and his subordinates, Haynes, Feith, Stephen Cambone and I’m quite certain others. Certain of these individuals, including Addington, even visited the prison at Guantanamo Bay in September 2002 to get a better grip on what was happening to acquire actionable intelligence and to inform their own views about what was possible.

I think Wilkerson’s comments about Feith were fair, honest, and seem consistent with the facts as they have been presented by many in this debate on all sides of the aisle. If Feith didn’t like what Wilkerson said about him outside of the hearing room, one must wonder how thin Feith’s skin is — and Feith should revisit the many unkind comments he has made about his ideological rivals inside the Bush administration. And besides, Wilkerson’s comments about Feith were really quotes of what General Tommy Franks had said about Feith. Wilkerson just offered a bit of a twang and flourish to Franks’ assessment.
This brings me to an interesting and potentially disconcerting auction of lunches with foreign policy personalities being orchestrated by Young Professionals in Foreign Policy — disconcerting only in that I fear that I will not see the luncheon with me bid on by anybody as all of the other possibilities are provocative and interesting.
Folks will be bidding on “lunch dates” with the following crowd:

Paul Wolfowitz, John Podesta, Danielle Pletka, Richard Perle, Norman Mineta, Bruce McNamer, Roderick von Lipsey, Robert King, Walter Isaacson, John Hamre, Lee Hamilton, Michele Flournoy, Douglas Feith, Steve Clemons

Someone please bid a couple of bucks on me — just so that I can maintain some dignity next time I’m paired on a show with AEI’s Danielle Pletka or even Paul Wolfowitz, who I know will get some bids.
But to spice up the lunch possibility with Douglas Feith and to appeal to the possibility of higher principles in Feith and Lawrence Wilkerson for this charity-directed fundraiser, YPFP should ask Wilkerson and Feith to double date. That would be interesting — and also let a Daily Show camera in on the fun.
— Steve Clemons


30 comments on “Douglas Feith a No Show

  1. Paul Whitcomb says:

    Typographical error makes paragraph two unreadable:
    “…but it is true that Wilkerson has offered some colorful comments in the past about the pro-torture pro-harsh interrogation techniques Defense Under Secretary and close pal of Ahmad Chalabi.”


  2. Paul Whitcomb says:

    Typographiocal error makes paragraph two unreadable:
    “…but it is true that Wilkerson has offered some colorful comments in the past about the pro-torture pro-harsh interrogation techniques Defense Under Secretary and close pal of Ahmad Chalabi.”


  3. Kathleen says:

    POA… Yuuuuummmmm! I am going to see if I can go that conference.


  4. Kim says:

    I’m still waiting for the criminal to be arrested for filtering false Israeli intelligence through his “Office of Special Plans” to the White House to justify the preemptive attack on Iraq.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here is a far more constructive direction towards which to be focusing our nation’s young minds……
    Law School to Plan Bush War Crimes Prosecution
    Press Release: Massachusetts School Of Law
    17/06/08 “ICH” — – A conference to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other high administration officials for war crimes will be held September 13-14 at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover .
    “This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred,” said convener Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the school. “It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth.”
    “We must try to hold Bush administration leaders accountable in courts of justice,” Velvel said. “And we must insist on appropriate punishments, including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war-criminals in the 1940s.”
    Velvel said past practice has been to allow U.S. officials responsible for war crimes in Viet Nam and elsewhere to enjoy immunity from prosecution upon leaving office. “President Johnson retired to his Texas ranch and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was named to head the World Bank; Richard Nixon retired to San Clemente and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was allowed to grow richer and richer,” Velvel said.
    He noted in the years since the prosecution and punishment of German and Japanese leaders after World War Two those nation’s leaders changed their countries’ aggressor cultures. One cannot discount contributory cause and effect here, he said.
    “For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders,” Velvel said.
    The conference will take up such issues as the nature of domestic and international crimes committed; which high-level Bush officials, including Federal judges and Members of Congress, are chargeable with war crimes; which foreign and domestic tribunals can be used to prosecute them; and the setting up of an umbrella coordinating committee with representatives of legal groups concerned about the war crimes such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, among others.
    The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover was established in 1988 to provide an affordable, quality legal education to minorities, immigrants and students from low-income households that might otherwise be denied the opportunity to obtain a legal education and practice law. Its founder, Dean Velvel, has been honored by the National Law Journal and cited in various publications for his contributions to the reform of legal education.
    Further information Jeff Demers at 978) 681-0800; or Sherwood Ross, media consultant to MSL, at


  6. downtown says:

    from Adam at 11:31am
    Money quote: “We didn’t go to war because we wanted to bring democracy to the Iraqi people.”
    I think most people on this blog know why Feith wanted to go to war with Iraq.


  7. Carroll says:
    “And thus the neox’ virulent non-conservative foreign-policy agenda, of militant transformation, got its nose under the camel’s tent. You know what I’m saying. Then when they were in, the tough old battlescarred neocons gave position and status and jobs to effete young escargot-quaffing armchair neocons. ”
    Please don’t mentor the young escargot- quaffing armchair neoxs next..


  8. pauline says:

    POA wrote, “these treasonous monsters like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, or Douglas Feith.”
    These monsters are dual citizens, too. That’s been mentioned here many times before, but it really begs the big question, “who the F was behind letting dual citizens from ANY other country get such high security clearance and positions within the top levels of our government??” Who was it? Who?
    imo, our own federal government has been hijacked by a foreign power!
    Yesterday, I heard on radio the Sibel Edmonds interview. We might as well throw slimeball Marc Grossman right there with these other b*st*rds who sell out to money-over-honesty-and-patriotism everytime. EVERYTIME! According to Sibel and others, Grossman is out there making tons of money in the nuclear blacket market and covering his butt each and every day and way.
    “. . .OK, guys, wink, wink, nod, nod, lets all cross our fingers behind our back when we take that oath of office swearing to uphold this constitution that we’re, yuk, yuk, trying to destroy. . .”


  9. robertsgt40 says:

    You don’t understand. Feith has dual citizenship with Israel. That exempts his from US law. He answers to a higher authority.


  10. David says:

    Better yet, let’s get the Daily Show to bid. Very funny potential.
    Feith is and has been for his public career a player who makes no
    bones about where he stands, which is a very dangerous place if
    you are concerned about this country’s image as a fair and honest
    broker that lives by the rule of law.


  11. Mr.Murder says:

    Heh. Google ads seems to think “criminal attorneys” and “defense attorneys” are good links for people reading up on Feith at your site, Steve.
    Hope abounds?


  12. Linda says:

    It would be a better idea to ask that proceeds from your participation (and other good guys on the list) go to Doctors without Borders, International Medical Corps, UNHCRR, or similar organization. If this group can afford $35 for lunch, they don’t need a silent auction to fund their group. This way you can keep your word to participate, make an ethical statement, and help heal damage done by the neocons.


  13. Carroll says:

    I am confused about the bidding process. Someone explain this to me.
    Blind and Proxy Bidding
    9. Blind bids may be placed until 12:00am the night of the auction (Friday, June 20th) by emailing Blind bidders are responsible for the full value of their bid regardless of any other bids made.


  14. Jon says:

    Clearly John Hamre, Lee Hamilton, and John Podesta are part of the neoconservative cabal; why else would the Young Professionals group also invite them?
    The fact is that the silent auctions run across the political spectrum. If you have any contacts with notable progressive foreign policy luminaries I am sure that they would also be happy to auction them off for fundraising.


  15. Mr.Murder says:

    Wilkerson left Addington’s lawbreaking on detainee abuse at Cheney’s lap to end the Hearing.


  16. Carroll says:

    After exploring this group’s site and postings and blog…I am thinking Steve should not even lend his name to this group or he will find himself one day listed as a founder of the Junior League of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and PNAC,the second.
    Seems Joshua J. Marcuse, the CEO of this group, who works on Defense industry relations for Bozz Hamilton sees himself as sheparding in the next generation of neo think tanks.


  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It was my system, the email address is operational.
    Please, email these organizers, and let them know there are still patriots out here that share the values and the visions that we ONCE, long ago, represented.


  18. Chris Brown says:

    If I bid on the likes of Feith and/or Wolfowitz can it be for lunch in The Hague?


  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It appears there seems to be a problem with sending email to the address I found. Not sure if it is my system, or their address. I will keep trying, and if I find another address, I will post it. This event is an abomination, and I believe it should be loudly decried to its organizers. These ARE NOT acceptable role models for aspiring foreign policy diplomats and experts.
    Steve, do you have a viable email address for the organizers of this event?


  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    ….you’ll note that Feith also said, recently, that they “erred” in their depiction of the potential threat, but did not purposely mislead.
    The only “heartening” scenario I can picture in regards to Douglas Feith would be a war crimes trial, and his subsequent incarceration or execution.


  21. alan says:

    It tells something about the young fp types that their idea of obtaining an understanding of FP – how it is developed, worked, misused etc – is to meet with a group of those who have been consistently wrong, those who have distorted, to who have lied etc etc.
    It is all a game, isn’t it? I mean, really what will Pletka, Feith or Perle say that will be honest/truthful/self-justified.
    Only in America will brazen liars continue to flourish in the political/opinion/media world. It would be better if they could meet with Curve Ball and Chalabi.


  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I just sent the following email to the organizers of this event, and sincerely hope that the readers here will join me in letting the YPFP know that lionizing such monsters is totally unacceptable to those of us that still recognize the Founding Fathers values and visions. Here is the email address for the organizers…..
    Text of my email….
    To whom it may concern….
    I was appalled and angered when I read Steve Clemons’ description of your future event, and its roster. Are you now holding war criminals, torturers, and traitors to high esteem? Are the likes of Douglas Feith, Paul Wofowitz, and Richard Perle now the new American heroes to our aspiring future diplomats and foreign policy experts? This event is an obscenity, and seriously degrades the credibility and reputation of your organization. I strongly urge you to reconsider.


  23. Adam Ford says:

    Hey this might be heartening. At least Feith admits that Bush was wrong to change his tune on the rationale for the Iraq war. He said so in an interview on NRO TV today. Money quote: “We didn’t go to war because we wanted to bring democracy to the Iraqi people.”
    Here’s the link:


  24. DonS says:

    On a more serious note, subject to “due process”, POA is exactly right. It pretty shameful that ayone, much less young foreign policy types would seek to highlight, exalt, feature, or promote anything vaguely positive about such nefarious examplars who’ve committed such horrible acts, such intolerable excuses for public “servants”.


  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “POA — I won’t be participating in a luncheon event with any of these folks. My lunch will be separate and distinct”
    Sorry for misreading, but your post is a bit vague.
    Thank God. I am relieved, Steve.
    Now, perhaps you can contact this organization and encourage them to loudly and publically scrap their roster, and invite some champions for human rights, rather than these aspiring world class Charlie Mansons that they seek to honor.


  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The truth is that Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle should be HANGING from a gallows on the lawn of the White House, as testament to the fact that the American people, and their Representives, (remember those?), will NEVER EVER AGAIN tolerate such a criminal and immoral departure from our once dear American values. But instead, these obscenities of humanity are being auctioned off before our youthful aspiring future diplomats and think tankers? Whose values are we passing on to these kids? Are these treasonous pieces of shit the new American role models?
    “[O]ur Nation’s policy decision to use so-called ‘harsh’ interrogation techniques during the War on Terror was a mistake of massive proportions. It damaged and continues to damage our Nation in ways that appear never to have been considered or imagined by its architects and supporters, whose policy focus seems to have been narrowly confined to the four corners of the interrogation room. This interrogation policy – which may aptly be labeled a ‘policy of cruelty’ – violated our founding values, our constitutional system and the fabric of our laws, our overarching foreign policy interests, and our national security. The net effect of this policy of cruelty has been to weaken our defenses, not to strengthen them, and has been greatly contrary to our national interest.”
    Alberto J. Mora, the head of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service


  27. DonS says:

    Reminds me of the time I got caught up in the moment at the auction of a house. I almost bought the damn thing, and only later realized that wasn’t at all what I wanted! Close call. My fear is that I might actually win, say, a lunch with Wolfie. Then what! But I imagine the bidding likely to be in the $10 or $20 dollar range so its out of my league anyway.


  28. Steve Clemons says:

    POA — I won’t be participating in a luncheon event with any of these folks. My lunch will be separate and distinct. Though I think I would have still agreed to be “auctioned” by YPFP, a group of young, upcoming foreign policy thinkers and professionals, I didn’t know that any of these other names were on the list.
    But your points above are well taken and important.
    best, steve


  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve. Why would you participate in an event that has those names on its roster?
    Unless, of course, you plan on bringing some Marshalls, and performing citizen’s arrests.
    After all Steve, hundreds of thousands have died, and many more have been displaced. Torture and treason has occurred.
    And these people are being auctioned off for dates? And you’re participating?
    Border line, brother. I sincerely hope you’ll reconsider, and make a public spectacle of announcing to the “Young Professionals in Foreign Policy” exactly why you refuse to share a venue with the likes of these treasonous monsters like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, or Douglas Feith.
    Steve, such an event is an obscenity.
    “This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.
    The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted – both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.
    In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.
    After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”
    Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Retired (or) Sent packing by the war criminals and traitors, George Bush and Dick Cheney)


  30. Lurker says:

    Steve — I’d rather bid on a lunch with you and Wilkerson rather than a lunch with Feith and Wilkerson. Folks would pay a lot for the two of you I think.


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