Skip to comments.Interview: Departing Pentagon Policy Chief Says Administration Overemphasized WMD as War Rationale
Posted on 07/14/2005 4:24:06 PM PDT by Jean SEdited on 07/14/2005 4:25:58 PM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]
WASHINGTON (AP) - The top policy adviser to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says the Bush administration erred by building its public case for war against Saddam Hussein mainly on the claim that he possessed banned weapons.
The comment by Douglas J. Feith, in an interview with The Associated Press, is a rare admission of error about Iraq by a senior administration official. Feith, who is leaving after four years as the undersecretary of defense for policy, said he remains convinced that President Bush was correct in deciding that war against Iraq was necessary.
"I don't think there is any question that we as an administration, instead of giving proper emphasis to all major elements of the rationale for war, overemphasized the WMD aspect," he said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction.
The administration claimed the now-deposed Iraqi president possessed mass-killing chemical and biological weapons at the time of the March 2003 invasion and cited them most prominently as justification for attacking.
No such weapons have been found. In March, a bipartisan presidential commission said U.S. spy agencies were "dead wrong" in most of their prewar assessments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
One of the architects of the administration's strategy for the war on terror, Feith strongly defended the decision to invade Iraq.
"It would have been better had we done a better job of communicating in all of its breadth the strategic rationale for the war," Feith said in an hour-long interview this week at his home in suburban Washington.
The broader rationale, Feith said, included the danger posed by Iraq's potential to resume building chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons - know-how that the Iraqi regime developed before the 1991 Gulf War.
In his report to Congress on a CIA-led postwar search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer said none could be found and there was no evidence Saddam produced any after 1991. But Duelfer also said it was clear that Saddam hoped to revive his weapons programs if U.N. sanctions were lifted.
"Our intelligence community made, apparently, an error, as to the stockpiles" of weapons it assured President Bush existed in 2003, Feith said. Thus that part of the administration's argument for why war was necessary was overdone, he said, adding, "Anything we said at all about stockpiles was overemphasis, given that we didn't find them."
Feith has been accused by critics of having manipulated intelligence on Iraq to push the case for war, an accusation he vehemently denies. His chief critic in Congress on this point is Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who is delaying Senate confirmation of Feith's replacement, Eric Edelman, a former ambassador to Turkey, by demanding the Pentagon produce more documents on the intelligence controversy.
Feith said he is irritated by the assertions of administration critics that the absence of WMD stockpiles in Iraq negates the rationale for going to war. They ignore the broader reasoning, he said, which included the dangers posed by Saddam's record of aggression against Kuwait, hostility toward the United States, a "rhetorical and financial support" for terrorism and a weakening of the world's resolve to contain his ambitions.
"One could fault the administration on the presentation of the rationale, but that is different from saying the rationale was actually extremely narrow and invalidated by the disclosure of the error" on WMD stockpiles, he said.
Another element of the administration's reasoning was a belief, still held, that if the tyrannical regime in Baghdad could be replaced with democratic institutions, it could have a beneficial effect in transforming the politics of the Middle East. That alone, however, was not a sufficient reason to go to war, Feith said.
"Had Saddam Hussein not been a supporter of terrorism and a guy who developed and used WMD, I don't think that simply saying he's a tyrant and we have a chance to replace a tyrant would have motivated the war," he said.
Feith, who served in the White House and at the Pentagon during the administration of President Reagan, said one of his most important contributions during his four years working for Rumsfeld was helping break down communication and cultural barriers between Pentagon civilian and military officials.
By working closely with Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and exposing scores of staff members to their example of cooperation and collegiality, the "great divide" between the civilian and military policy organizations and their "clash of memoranda" has been largely overcome, Feith said.
On the Net:
Feith official biography at http://www.defenselink.mil/bios/feith-bio.html
The Duelfer report on Iraq's WMD at http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq-wmd-2004/
This story can be found at: http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBG7G2M5BE.html
So why is he really departing? Does he have an axe to grind?
This is obviously not good.
WMDs were only one reason.
- George W. Bush, September 2002 -
Our partnership of nations can meet the test before us, by making clear what we now expect of the Iraqi regime.
1) If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material.
2) If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.
3) If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.
4) If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions.
5) If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
AP Interview: Departing Pentagon Policy Chief Says Administration Overemphasized WMD as War Rationale
Left out subtitle: ...War was justified because there were so many other reasons that were just as important.
They should not even run the rest of the articles. Just take your Bush-bashing quotes, bold them, put in a picture of the speaker (usually Republican/Military) with some kind of evil scowl...and be done with it. Why pretend anymore?
Baiting the media. Hmmm ....
I hate to feel vindicated on this story, but I do. I never trusted this guy from the time the preparations for this war began back in 2002.
I'll tell you what, Doug. Why don't we have you go over to Iraq for a six-month tour of duty, where you can spend ten hours every day driving around places like Tikrit, Fallujah, and Mosul in a Humvee.
Yeah, but what's most pathetic about all of this is that the WMDs were also the only item in that list that didn't involve the United Nations.
A few C4 bombs in London and everyone freaks out.
Imagine a WMD terrorist attack instead and the fact that Saddam could not be trusted with it and that is reason enough for me.
I think Feith is one of the good guys. He's being honest here - but all he's saying is that the 'spin' was too exclusive on WMDs. Note that he does say that there were other reasons - and those reasons were put forth by GWB.
But when it came right down to the wire, they had to 'pick one' - why? Because that's how the media works. They had to have something that was sound-bite-able. It does no good to quote W and the rest of the Administration citing ALL the good reasons to go after Iraq. The media will not run those quotes. THEY make the story. THEY create the straw-man. And then they go after it.
Don't trash Feith. Trash the media. They deserve it.
Feith is an over-educated whiz kid twit. All brains and theory with no sense of what is really happening in theater before OIF, during OIF and current ops in theater. Now, he's grandstanding in the whine box on his way out the door.
Don't expect to see these quotes mentioned again in the dying media.
" The broader rationale, Feith said, included the danger posed by Iraq's potential to resume building chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons - know-how that the Iraqi regime developed before the 1991 Gulf War."
" Feith said he is irritated by the assertions of administration critics that the absence of WMD stockpiles in Iraq negates the rationale for going to war.
They ignore the broader reasoning, he said, which included the dangers posed by Saddam's record of aggression against Kuwait, hostility toward the United States,
a "rhetorical and financial support" for terrorism and a weakening of the world's resolve to contain his ambitions."
Yep - much better to error by undersestimating the potential for WMD to be proliferated by terrorists - that way they could really have something to slam Bush with; if they survived...
Tommy Franks didn't think too much of him...from Woodward's Plan of Attack- Franks speaking about Feith (pg. 281) "I have to deal with the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth almost every day."
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