Debunking Douglas Feith: 60 Minutes Liveblogging

First of all, the tags on his book are priceless:

dumbest f_cking guy on the planet (34)
idiot (16)
wingnut welfare (15)
treason (12)
high crimes (11)
hubris (8)
corruption (7)
fiasco (7)
immoral (7)
benedict arnold (4)
ignorance (4)

Me: So how strong a drink should I watch Feith on 60 Minutes with?

Mr. A: Not very strong.

Me: Quoi?

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.

A.

20 thoughts on “Debunking Douglas Feith: 60 Minutes Liveblogging

  1. “Feith says if Chalabi had been handed Iraq, we’d all be smoking freedom weed right now.”
    So Chalabi was to be Saddam Mk. II? (ver 2.0, if you prefer)

  2. Did anyone mention the word ‘oil’? It seems fashionable lately to omit this and focus on the ‘deception’ of the WMDs. I never heard the word wonce over the two shows Frontline ran on ‘bush’s war.
    I was out watching

    this film
    , whcih was very nice, during the 60mins program.

  3. If anyone was anticipating a truthful account and honest self-analysis from Feith, they had to be completely naive or just hoping against hope that somehow the guy would come clean. What I find so depressing is the fact that Feith is now teaching at Georgetown, and Yoo is now teaching Law at Stanford. I think the question that people should be asking themselves is: Are these the guys anyone would want instructing the future generation in line to guide America? I wouldn’t think so, but I would bet that a significant segment of the public neither knows or particularily cares who either of these guys are or what they’ve been up to.

  4. Just watched it on the west coast. It helped a lot that I read your post first. Damn, Feith is annoying. And Kroft did a fine job skewering him with his own words.
    At the end, Kroft said Feith was donating allhis proceeds to the foundation, not all the proceeds.
    Wish I could drink with you, but I’m at work, and the corporate overlords frown on that. Bastards.

  5. Great post, much better thanmy more prosaic attempt at Daily Kos.
    I updated to link to your post, hopefully some Kossacks will check it out.
    OT — you were great at EschaCon, too.
    Sparrow — Yoo has a job at UC Berkeley’s law school, which is even more outrageous and disgraceful than Stanford or Georgetown (in Feith’s case), since California taxpayers are directly subsidizing a war criminal.

  6. …since there wasn’t anything else on the tube that struck me as interesting tonight and Mrs Jack K. is out of town for a meeting early tomorrow in Portland, I thought I would sit down and watch “60 Minutes” for the first time in a long time. Seeing ol’ Doug being featured for a self-excusing book tour segment on that show sent me to ESPN for an out-of-hand baseball game. He has caused more pain and injury and death than he could ever understand or explain and – judging from the opening clip – was ready to prove once again than Tommy Franks was dead-on in his evaluation.
    I can’t handle that tonight, Athenae, but I salute your strength in putting up with it. That cretin adds an entirely new palette to the “idiot” color set…

  7. He is one supremely self-satisfied individual isn’t he?
    Plus he’s got just about the narrowest set of features I’ve ever seen on a “human” being. Eyes close together, small mouth. Nice head of hair though.

  8. The problem with foundations is that Feith can name anyone (himself) as exec director, he can donate his proceeds to the foundation and get a tax break, then he can make all the decisions on how to spend it. Junkets to Bermuda to see how they deal with vets? Check. New car to do the business of the foundation? Check. Trip to DisneyWorld to ride the teacups? Check.
    Plus all the wingnut welfare donors can give money to him, and get their tax breaks. So when the book is remainders, he still gets a steady income.

  9. How do you avoid the conclusion that Feith is somehow mentally ill? I’m completely serious here.
    Listening to him, reading the transcript, I’m struck by how…I don’t know…inhuman he is. He comes across as a two-dimensional b-movie villain, really: It’s like he’s over there cackling about “taking over New York” or “stealing all the money in the world” and you just stare at him and think, “How exactly is that supposed to work out? What do you expect to do after that particular plan succeeds?”
    And there’s a very Raskalnikovan sense about him, too (about all the neo cons, really): like he’s doing all thisbecause he can, because rules and laws and consequences are for “littler men” than him. And he’s so isolated from the effects of what he’s done that he can’t see them, can’t even imagine them.
    Isn’t this the profile of a serial killer or career criminal? If he robbed a liquor store, shot the cashier, then responded to questioning with this same smug hubris, wouldn’t he be labeled a hopeless monster and given the death penalty.
    But what, because he manages to stay far enough away from his crimes that no blood actually spatters his crisp white shirts and designer suits, because his manicure isn’t ruined by pulling a trigger, because of that he’s a respected expert who gets to pass his sage advice onto the next several generations?
    Is there some redeeming quality about him that I’m missing? Because it seems like, in a just world, his secret headquarters beneath the mountain would have exploded and taken him with it somewhere back in Episode 4.

  10. Dorothy. Excellent observation. I reminds me of the movie “The Corporation” where they show how that if a corporation is treated as a person, that person would be a sociopath. And they then demonstrated how this is true.
    Now if you took all of Feith’s actions and did the same diagnosis technique would you show he was a sociopath?
    And here’s the thing. Feith will protect himself like a sociopath. A very clever sociopath. But that doesn’t mean he is invulnerable. If we want any justice we need to think orthogonally to the standard situation. Think Al Capone and taxes.
    As a foundation he will need to file 990 information. What kind of mistakes can a foundation make that can get them in trouble? It might not be as satisfying as sending him to the Hague, but getting him in trouble for his phony baloney foundation would be nice.

  11. FYI if you Google Doug Feith on 60 Minutes this post is first. BEFORE the 60 Minutes post! Now the mainstream press will HAVE to email Athenae and ask for an interview. Seriously mainstream press, why don’t you email her? She isn’t a big enough authority? Who else has a book out on Feith? NOBODY! Who else is a published author on Feith and journalism? Who else has paid attention to this guy when everyone else was looking at shiny shock and awe?
    Please interview her! It’s easy. Besides, do you think that Powell, Franks or the CIA will return your call?
    Send a note with “Interview request” or something like that to athenae25 @ yahoo.com
    And she won’t swear, (unless you want her to), so she is ready for serious questions just like the foul mouthed General Tommy Franks.

  12. “Feith says if Chalabi had been handed Iraq, we’d all be smoking freedom weed right now.”
    Great point by the SFGotFotP, because handing a country to a single person is the fucking cornerstone of fucking democracy. (My sincere apologies if I used any harsh language).

  13. Darth Rumsfeld loved Feith, because he was exactly the right man [for Red Rummy] at the right time.
    No joke, Feith was/is the kind of mindless, obsequieous sycophant a Sith Lord like Rumsfeld just loves. Feith wouldn’t know what a conscience was if you nailed it on a cross in his front yard. Feith will nurse along his NeoCon credentials until the next Rethuglican warlord steals the White House/Pentagon and needs another slimy wormtongue to sell its policy to the ignorant.
    Keep throwing things, Atheanae.

  14. You are all so very courageous…or self-controlled. I could not make myself watch this even with a shoe in each hand. This guy should be hauled away in a straitjacket or given to the Iraqis along with his proceeds as a partial repayment for damage done.

  15. Re: shoe-throwing
    At our house, we use Beanie Babies. (See, they *are* good for something other than dog toys.) VERY satisfying in a Grateful Dead sort of way to see a tiny orange bear landing thwack on the face of a gibbering idiot or a large fuzzy spider clinging to the maw of a yammering blowhard. Particularly when accompanied by adult beverages and snarky company. Did I say I love my in-laws?

  16. Feith is an Israeli stooge. Larry Franklin will rot in prison while Dougie runs around yelling “Holocaust”. Any other country and they’d put this guy up against a wall and shoot his ass for treason.
    Condi Rice – “Mr. Feith, if I had wanted the opinion of the Ambassador to Israel I would have invited him.”
    General Tommy Franks – Feith is “the f*cking stupidest guy on the face of the earth”
    Actually, Feith is quite intelligent. But Franks based his comments on Feith’s analysis and recommendations. What Frank failed to say was that Feith’s recommendations were based on what was best for ISRAEL, NOT the U.S.
    If the FBI had been allowed to continue the investigation known as “AIPACGate” Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney and others would be behind bars now. The Justice Department took the case away, put Franklin the scapegoat in prison and swept AIPAC under the rug. Unbelievable!!!!!!

  17. I stumbled on to this conversation by accident and was once again reminded why I avoid blogs and message boards most of the time.
    Because all too often hateful insults and bad manners take the place of thoughful discourse about serious problems. Once upon a time a person risked being asked to “step outside” if they purposly attacked someone’s character, intellect, patriotism or honesty in a public forum. Feith probably wouldn’t punch you in the nose but at least you’d be tempted to think twice before name calling.
    Those days are long gone but try talking that kind of trash to one of our fathers or grandfathers “back in the day”. Someone would have been on the receiving end of a fist.
    If you want to make a point and you want to make it stick – you have to take the risk. Otherwise, remember your manners. George Washington would never have called a man a liar, coward, or the dumbest man in America without being willing to defend his statement – possibly with his life.
    Just what I’m thinkin’

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