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Me: So how strong a drink should I watch Feith on 60 Minutes with?
Mr. A: Not very strong.
Mr. A: If you want to throw things, you’ll need to be able to aim.
Story produced by L. Franklin Devine and Michael Rosenbaum. It would have killed you both to have dirty hippies on this show talking about how Feith was, you know, wrong, guys? Your opposition voices are quotes from other ex-admin officials’ books? I’m glad the piece was as harsh as it was, don’t get me wrong, but it might have been nice to hear a little more from the people who were onto this story long before George Tenet decided he’d had enough of being Bush’s buttboy and was looking for someone to make him look good.
Here we go:
Steve Kroft: His boss Donald Rumsfeld called Feith “one of the most brilliant individuals in government.” There’s a dude you want giving you a ringing endorsement these days. Yay.
Kroft’s not giving him too much ground here: “If he doesn’t sound like a warrior, it’s because he isn’t.” CHICKENHAWK. You can say it.
Feith gives Bush’s war rationale as “we’re going to attack you because sooner or later you’re going to attack us and we want to pick when we want to fight you.” He talks about Saddam in the context of a broader “group of people who wanted to do us harm” sense, which fits in almost exactly with whatDave Neiwert wrote about inSpecial Plans, the ideology of the Bush Doctrine.
“Our main goal was preventing the next attack.” Well, did a bang-up job on that one, unless you’rerather narrowly defining attack, in which case, well, that’s just depressing and sad.
Kroft gets a NICE one in here: “So you’re saying you didn’t think it was important to go after the people who were responsible for it [9/11], it was more important to go after the people who weren’t responsible for it?” Well done. That, for any journalists reading, is what calling them on it looks like.
“Anticipatory self-defense,” is apparently with Feith is calling “sticking our national dick in the bees’ nest” these days, btw.
DAMN, journalism. Feith just flat-out lied that nobody said Iraq was an imminent threat, and Kroft counters with the video of Rumsfeld, who was quoted before praising Feith’s brilliance, saying just that, and Bush, Cheney and Powell. Let’s see how he weasels out of this:
WEASEL: “It is true that there was a serious error for the CIA to say that there were stockpiles …” blah blah blah, cover, passive voice, “it was a terrible mistake for the administration to have made.” Doug, you know, it’s a mistake when you spell someone’s name wrong. That’s a mistake. This isn’t a mistake. This is something else.
Mr. A: See why you wanted a weaker drink?
Me: Damn it. Here, you throw the damn shoe.
Feith hauls out the “WMD program related abilities and stuff” defense. He’s being rather humorless about this, saying there was a memo laying out all the “horribles” as in possibilities of things that could go wrong. And let me just ask, because I’ve been turning it over in my head since this afternoon when I readthe CBS story again, it doesn’t make it better that you considered all the ways this might go wrong and then didn’t fix them, it makes it WORSE, because it goes from “nobody could have anticipated” to “we anticipated and then just decided ah, fuck it, who gives a shit?”
JESUS. The gentlest thing I can say about him is that he needs to go back to grown-up school.
Kroft’s reading the memo now. It lays out basically everything that’s happened. Feith’s totally deadpan. Butter wouldn’t melt, as my mother would say. This clearly hasn’t upset him in the slightest. Worse, he thinks this exonerates him, I mean, Jesus H. Franklin Delano Roosevelt CHRIST, he thinks this makes it okay. They KNEW all this could happen and they did nothing. Not a thing.
Feith’s talking blithely about “the downsides of war.” I don’t have the words for this part. I simply don’t. I’m used to writing about humans.
He says they didn’t anticipate the insurgency. My editor on Special Plans once asked did I know if this guy had ever read Shakespeare, because, really.
Kroft is really earning my respect here. He’s reading Feith’s own book at him to disprove something that just fell out of Feith’s mouth.
Disbanding the Iraqi Army. Feith says it was Bremer’s idea, and didn’t sign off it. He disavows all responsibility for sending, in Kroft’s words, “4,000 unemployed armed men” into the streets. Kroft’s trying to get him to say yes or no. Feith: “The army was dissolved.” Passive voice again. “The decision was whether to reconstitute it.” Kroft can’t pin him down.
Feith says if Chalabi had been handed Iraq, we’d all be smoking freedom weed right now.
Hee, Kroft just asked him about the Tommy Franks quote: “Stupidest … guy on the face of the planet.” Feith says it was very bad of General Franks to swear. NO REALLY: “Some people, when they deal with political controversy, use harsh language.”
Feith calls theCongressional report calling him out an “unfounded rebuke.”
Kroft ends the segment noting that Feith is donating all the proceeds (note that he said all the PROCEEDS, not profits, there’s a very big difference and I wonder if Harper Collins knows it) from the book to a Foundation he’s created to benefit veterans. Wouldn’t it have been easier not to write the book in the first place, cease your whining about how you made a nice war and then Bush fucked it up, and donating your Pentagon salary during the time you were working really hard at ruining hundreds of thousands of lives? I’m asking, because it seems excessive.
If you’ll excuse me, I need to go scrub my brain with a brillo pad now. You know, one of the weirder experiences working on Special Plans was that I spent three months essentially reading everything Feith and his colleagues had ever written, and the more time you spend inside their heads the more Stockholmed you get, until you start thinking, “Yeah, why the fuck SHOULDN’T we go kick around the Middle East beating the shit out of countries that don’t like our friends or us? America! Fuck YEAH!” Watching this interview reminded me of how utterly fucking creepy it was being immersed in the worldview of somebody who has utterly no conception of the possibility he might be totally wrong.