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Douglas J. Feith


In office
2001 – 2005
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Walter B. Slocombe
Succeeded by Eric S. Edelman

Born July 16, 1953 (1953-07-16) (age 56)
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard University
Georgetown University Law Center

Douglas J. Feith (born July 16, 1953) served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy for United States President George W. Bush from July 2001 until August 2005. His official responsibilities included the formulation of defense planning guidance and forces policy, United States Department of Defense (DoD) relations with foreign countries, and DoD's role in U.S. Government interagency policymaking.

Upon his resignation, Feith joined the faculty of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, as a Professor and Distinguished Practitioner in National Security Policy for a two year stint.[1]

Feith is the Director of the Center for National Security Strategies and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a public policy think-tank.[2]

Contents

Personal

Feith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was one of three siblings born to Rose and Dalck Feith. His father, Dalck, was a member of the Betar, a Revisionist Zionist youth organization, in Poland, and a Holocaust survivor who lost his parents and seven siblings in the Nazi concentration camps. Dalck came to the United States during World War II, and became a businessman, a philanthropist, and a donor to the Republican party.[3]

Feith grew up in Elkins Park, part of Cheltenham Township, a Philadelphia suburb. He attended Philadelphia's Central High School, and later attended Harvard University, where he obtained his undergraduate degree and graduated magna cum laude in 1975. He continued on to the Georgetown University Law Center, receiving his J.D. magna cum laude in 1978.

At Harvard, Feith studied under Professor Richard Pipes, who later provided Feith with his initial entry into government. Pipes had joined the Reagan administration's National Security Council in 1981 to help carry out the "project" Pipes and his students had conceived.[4] Feith joined the NSC that same year, working under Pipes. Before that, he worked for three years as an attorney with the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.

Married with four children, Feith makes his home in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland.

Career

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Reagan Administration

Feith first entered government as a Middle East specialist on the National Security Council alongside his old professor, Richard Pipes, in 1981. He transferred from the NSC Staff to Pentagon in 1982 to work as Special Counsel for Richard Perle, who was then serving as Assistant Secretary to the United States Secretary of Defense. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger promoted Feith in 1984 to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy and, when Feith left the Pentagon in 1986, Weinberger gave him the highest Defense Department civilian award, the Distinguished Public Service medal.

During his time in the Pentagon in the Reagan administration, Feith helped to convince the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz all to recommend against ratification of changes to the Geneva Conventions. The changes, known as Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, would have allowed non-state militants to be treated as combatants and prisoners of war if they had engaged in practices that endangered non-combatants or otherwise violated the laws of war. Reagan informed the United States Senate in 1987 that he would not ratify Protocol I. At the time, both the Washington Post and the New York Times editorialized in favor of Reagan's decision to reject Protocol I as a revision of humanitarian law that protected terrorists.[5]

Private Practice

Feith began his career as an attorney in private practice with the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP for 3 years, after which he joined the Reagan Administration (see previous section).

Upon leaving the Pentagon, Feith co-founded, with Marc Zell, the Washington, DC law firm of Feith & Zell. The firm engaged in lobbying efforts for, among others, the Turkish, Israeli and Bosnian governments, in addition to representing defense corporations Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Feith left the firm in 2001, following his nomination as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

Bush administration

Feith joined the administration of President George W. Bush as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in 2001. As part of his portfolio, he supervised the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, a group of policy and intelligence analysts created to provide senior government officials with raw intelligence, unvetted by the intelligence community.[6] The office, eventually dismantled, was later criticized in Congress and the media for analysis that was contradicted by CIA analysis and investigations performed following the invasion of Iraq.

In February 2007, the Pentagon's inspector general issued a report that concluded that Feith's 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." The report found that these actions were "inappropriate" though not "illegal." Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated that "The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq. The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war."[7] At Senator Levin's insistence, on April 6, 2007, the Pentagon's Inspector General's Report was declassified and released to the public.[8]

Responding to criticism of a report that linked Al-Qaeda with Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Douglas Feith called the office's report a much-needed critique of the CIA's intelligence. "It's healthy to criticize the CIA's intelligence", Feith said. "What the people in the Pentagon were doing was right. It was good government." Feith also rejected accusations he attempted to link Iraq to a formal relationship with Al Qaeda. "No one in my office ever claimed there was an operational relationship", Feith said. "There was a relationship."[9] Feith stated that he "felt vindicated" by the report of the Pentagon inspector general.[10] He told the Washington Post that his office produced "a criticism of the consensus of the intelligence community, and in presenting it I was not endorsing its substance."[7]

Post-government career

Following his government service, Feith was employed by the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he taught a course on the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policy. He came to Georgetown's School of Foreign Service after leaving Stanford's Hoover Institution and was appointed by School of Foreign Service Dean, Ambassador Robert Gallucci.[11] However, his hiring "caused an uproar among the faculty" and two years later, his contract was not renewed.[1]

Views and publications

Like his father, Feith is a Republican, and has contributed money to various party candidates over the years.[12] Sympathetic to the neoconservative wing of the party, he has over the last 30 years published many works on U.S. national security policy. His work on US–Soviet détente, arms control and Arab–Israeli issues generated considerable debate.

Feith's writings on international law and on foreign and defense policy have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The New Republic and elsewhere. He has contributed chapters to a number of books, including James W. Muller's Churchill as Peacemaker, Raphael Israeli's The Dangers of a Palestinian State and Uri Ra'anan's Hydra of Carnage: International Linkages of Terrorism, as well as serving as co-editor for Israel's Legitimacy in Law and History.

Feith has long advocated a policy of "peace through strength". He was an outspoken skeptic of U.S.-Soviet détente and of the Oslo, Hebron and Wye Processes on Palestinian-Israeli peace. In particular, he criticized the Oslo Accords and the Camp David peace agreement mediated by former President Carter between Egypt and Israel. In 1997, he published a lengthy article in Commentary, titled "A Strategy for Israel". In it, Feith argued that the Oslo Accords were being undermined by Yasser Arafat's failure to fulfill peace pledges and Israel's failure to uphold the integrity of the accords it had concluded with Arafat. Furthermore, he was an opponent of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the International Criminal Court and the Chemical Weapons Convention which he criticized as ineffective and dangerous to U.S. interests.

In 1998, Feith was one of a number of U.S. officials who signed an open letter to President Bill Clinton calling for the United States to oust Saddam Hussein. Feith was part of a group of former national security officials in the 1990s who supported Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress and encouraged the U.S. Congress to pass the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Congress approved the Act, and Clinton signed it into law.

Feith generally favors US support for Israel and has promoted US-Israeli cooperation. He was a member of the study group which authored a controversial report entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,[13] a set of policy recommendations for the newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The report was published by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies without an individual author being named. According to the report, Feith was one of the people who participated in roundtable discussions that produced ideas that the report reflects. Feith pointed out in a September 16, 2004 letter to the editor of the Washington Post that he was not the co-author and did not clear the report's final text. He wrote, "There is no warrant for attributing any particular idea [in the report], let alone all of them, to any one participant."

Feith also served on the board of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a think tank that promotes a military and strategic alliance between the United States and Israel.[14]

Feith was one of 18 founding members of the organization One Jerusalem to oppose the Oslo peace agreement. Its purpose is "saving a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel." He is also Director of Foundation for Jewish Studies, which "offers in-depth study programs for the adult Washington Jewish community that cross denominational lines."

Feith was interviewed by the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes in a segment that was aired on April 6, 2008.[15] During this interview he promoted his newly released memoir, War and Decision and defended the decision making that led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

War and Decision

On April 8, 2008, Feith's memoir, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, was published by HarperCollins.

Possible investigation

Feith is one of several Bush Administration officials under consideration for investigation in a Spanish court, headed by Baltasar Garzón under claims of universal jurisdiction. The merits of starting an investigation are under review.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b Kamen, Al (2008-04-23). "Feith and Hope". In the Loop (Washington Post): pp. A19. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/22/AR2008042202465.html. Retrieved 2008-08-29.  
  2. ^ Official Bio, Hudson Institute website.
  3. ^ Goldberg, Jeffery (May 9, 2005). "A Little Learning: What Douglas Feith knew, and when he knew it.". The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/050509fa_fact. Retrieved 2007-02-12.  
  4. ^ Defense, democracy and the war on terrorism - Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith - Transcript | US Department of Defense Speeches | Find Articles at BNET.com
  5. ^ "Denied: A Shield for Terrorists". The New York Times. February 17, 1987 accessdate =2009-04-05. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/02/17/opinion/denied-a-shield-for-terrorists.html.  
  6. ^ Alexandrovna, Larisa. "Senate Intelligence Committee Stalling Prewar Intelligence," The Raw Story, December 2, 2005. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
  7. ^ a b "Official's Key Report On Iraq Is Faulted". Washington Post. 2007-02-08. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/08/AR2007020802387.html. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
  8. ^ http://levin.senate.gov/newsroom/supporting/2007/SASC.DODIGFeithreport.040507.pdfPDF (5.38 MB)
  9. ^ Feller, Ben, "Ex-Pentagon Official Defends Iraq Stance", Associated Press, February 11, 2007.
  10. ^ "Defense report OKs policy chief's intelligence move". Washington Times. 2007-02-08. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/feb/08/20070208-105824-1688r/. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
  11. ^ Faculty's Chilly Welcome for Ex-Pentagon Official - New York Times
  12. ^ NEWSMEAT ▷ Douglas Feith's Federal Campaign Contribution Report
  13. ^ A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
  14. ^ The Men From JINSA and CSP, by Jason Vest, 9/2/02
  15. ^ Insider: Iraq Attack Was Preemptive
  16. ^ "Spain may decide Guantanamo probe this week". Reuters. 2009-03-28. Archived from the original on 2009-03-29. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fin.reuters.com%2Farticle%2FdomesticNews%2FidINLT53678920090329%3Fsp%3Dtrue&date=2009-03-30.  
  17. ^ Marlise Simons (2009-03-28). "Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-Era Officials". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2009%2F03%2F29%2Fworld%2Feurope%2F29spain.html%3F_r%3D1%26hp&date=2009-05-02.  
  18. ^ Paul Haven (2009-04-16). "Spanish AG: No torture probe of US officials". Yahoo News. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fnews.yahoo.com%2Fs%2Fap%2F20090416%2Fap_on_re_eu%2Feu_spain_us_torture_6&date=2009-05-02.  
  19. ^ Al Goodman (2009-04-23). "Spanish court sends Guantanamo case to new judge". CNN. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fedition.cnn.com%2F2009%2FWORLD%2Feurope%2F04%2F23%2Fspain.court.guantanamo%2F&date=2009-05-02.  
  20. ^ Giles Tremblett (2009-04-29). "Spanish court opens investigation of Guantánamo torture allegations". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.guardian.co.uk%2Fworld%2F2009%2Fapr%2F29%2Fspain-court-guantanamo-detainees-torture&date=2009-04-29.  
  21. ^ "Spanish judge opens probe into Guantanamo torture". Agence France Presse. 2009-04-29. Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fhostednews%2Fafp%2Farticle%2FALeqM5iAI5j8L_T9-ohjwCcZOXPT7Bf95g&date=2009-04-29.  
  22. ^ Gerald Warner (2009-04-29). "Spanish judge uses memos released by Barack Obama to pursue Bush officials". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.telegraph.co.uk%2Fgerald_warner%2Fblog%2F2009%2F04%2F29%2Fspanish_judge_uses_memos_released_by_barack_obama_to_pursue_bush_officials&date=2009-04-29.  

Further reading

  • War and Decision: Ford Hall Forum Boston, MA October 23, 2008 a video of a talk by Douglas Feith 1hr and 42min.
  • Maureen Dowd, "The Dream is Dead," The New York Times, 12 December 2007
  • Vanity Fair editor Craig Unger on the development of the Office of Special Plans
  • Special Plans: the blogs on Douglas Feith and the faulty intelligence that led to war by Allison Hantschel, Wilsonville, Oregon: William, James & Co., September 2005 ISBN 1-59028-049-0
  • Deadly Dogma: How Neoconservatives Broke the Law to Deceive America by Smith, Grant F., Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, 2006, ISBN 0-9764437-4-0.
  • Clear Ideas vs. Foggy Bottom by Melanie Kirkpatrick, The Wall Street Journal August 5, 2003, p. A8.
  • White House Learned of Spy Probe in 2001 by Curt Anderson, Associated Press, September 3, 2004.
  • Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib by Seymour Hersh, New York: Harper Collins. 2004. ISBN 0-06-019591-6.
  • Israel's Legitimacy in Law and History Feith, Douglas J., et al.; ed. Siegel, Edward M.; assoc.ed. Barrekette, Olga; Proceedings of the Conference on International Law and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (New York, October 21, 1990), Sponsored by The Louis D. Brandeis Society of Zionist Lawyers, Center for Near East Policy Research, 1993, ISBN 0-9640145-0-5.
  • A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm by David Wurmser, 1996
  • Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-5547-X.
  • A Dangerous Appointment: Profile of Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense under Bush by James J. Zogby, Middle East Information Center, April 18, 2001
  • Israeli Settlements: Legitimate, Democratically Mandated, Vital to Israel's Security and, Therefore, in U.S. Interest, The Center for Security Policy, Transition Brief No. 96‐T 130, December 17, 1996

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Walter B. Slocombe
United States Department of Defense
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

2001–2005
Succeeded by
Eric S. Edelman

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