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Profile: Douglas Feith

 
  

Positions that Douglas Feith has held:

  • Undersecretary of Defense for Policy during the administration of George W. Bush


 

Quotes

 
  

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Relations

 
  

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Douglas Feith actively participated in the following events:

 
  

July 8, 1996      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli think tank, publishes a paper titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” [Guardian, 9/3/02; Washington Times, 10/7/03; Chicago Sun-Times, 3/6/03] The paper, whose lead author is Richard Perle, advises the new, right-wing Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to break with the policies of the previous government by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ....” Much along the lines of an earlier paper by Israeli Oded Yinon , the document urges the Israelis to aggressively seek the downfall of their Arab neighbors—especially Syria and Iraq—by exploiting the inherent tensions within and among the Arab States. Specifically, it recommends that Israel work with Turkey and Jordan to remove Saddam Hussein from power as a means of “foiling Syria's regional ambitions.” [Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, 7/8/96; Carnegie Endowment for Peace, 3/19/03; Guardian, 9/3/02 Sources: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm] Other suggestions for Israel include abandoning the Oslo Accords, developing a foreign policy based on a traditional balance of power strategy, reserving its right to invade the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a strategy of “self-defense,” abandoning any notion of “land for peace,” reestablishing a policy of preemptive strikes, forging closer ties to the US while taking steps towards self-reliance, and seeking an alternative to Yasser Arafat as leader of the PLO. [Guardian, 9/3/02; Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, 7/8/96 Sources: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Richard Armitage, Richard V. Allen, Benjamin Netanyahu, Richard Perle, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Jonathan Torop, Meyrav Wurmser, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser
          

(1997-1998)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       According to Middle East expert Judith Kipper, around this time, Ahmed Chalabi makes “a deliberate decision to turn to the right,” having realized that conservatives are more likely than liberals to support his plan to use force to topple Saddam Hussein's government. Chalabi's aide, Francis Brooke, later explains to the New Yorker: “We thought very carefully about this, and realized there were only a couple of hundred people” in Washington capable of influencing US policy toward Iraq. He also attends social functions with Richard Perle, whom he met in 1985 (see 1985) and who is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton. According to Brooke, “from the beginning, Cheney was in philosophical agreement with this plan. Cheney has said, ‘Very seldom in life do you get a chance to fix something that went wrong.’ ” Paul Wolfowitz is said to be enamored with Chalabi. According to an American friend of Chalabi, “Chalabi really charmed him. He told me they are both intellectuals. Paul is a bit of a dreamer.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] He also becomes friends with L. Marc Zell and Douglas Feith of the Washington-Tel Aviv law, Feith and Zell. [Salon, 5/5/2004] Chalabi tells his neoconservatives friends that if he replaces Saddam Hussein as Iraq's leader, he would establish normal diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, eschew pan-Arab nationalism, and allow the construction of a pipeline from Mosul to the Israeli port of Haifa, Zell later tells Salon magazine. Having a pro-Israeli regime in Iraq would “take[] off the board” one of the only remaining major Arab threats to Israeli security, a senior administration official says in 2003. It would do this “without the need for an accommodation with either the Palestinians or the existing Arab states,” notes Salon. [Salon, 5/5/2004; Knight Ridder, 7/12/2003 Sources: L. Marc Zell] But Chalabi has a different story for his Arab friends. He tells his friend, Moh'd Asad, the managing director of the Amman, Jordan-based International Investment Arabian Group, “that he just need[s] the Jews in order to get what he want[s] from Washington, and that he [will] turn on them after that.” [Salon, 5/5/2004] Chalabi also says that the Iraqis would welcome a US liberation force with open arms. [Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Moh'd Asad, Douglas Feith, L. Marc Zell, Ahmed Chalabi, Francis Brooke, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

February 19, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Committee for Peace and Security publishes an open letter to President Bill Clinton outlining a 9-point “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime.” The letter is signed by a litany of former US government officials known for their neoconservative viewpoints. Several of the signatories are also involved with the Project for the New American Century and had endorsed a similar letter published by that organization the previous month. [CNN, 2/20/98; Committee For Peace and Security, 2/19/98 Sources: February 19, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton]
People and organizations involved: Richard Armitage, Peter Rodman, Roger Robinson, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Robert A. Pastor, Max Singer, Peter Rosenblatt, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Leon Wienseltier, Caspar Weinberger, Richard V. Allen, Frank Carlucci, Paula J. Dobriansky, William B. Clark, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Stephen Bryen, Richard Burt, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Sven F. Kraemer, Gary Schmitt, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Bernard Lewis, Frederick L. Lewis, Jarvis Lynch, Robert C. McFarlane, John R. Bolton, Fred C. Ikle, Stephen Solarz, David Wurmser, Dov S. Zakheim, Donald Rumsfeld, William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Robert Kagan, Douglas Feith
          

September 11, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Seven members of Donald Rumsfeld's so-called neocon “brain trust,” including Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and William Luti, head of the Pentagon's Near Eastern and South Asian desk, are “busy on unrelated missions in Europe and the Middle East.” They return to Washington the next day (see September 12, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pp 234 Sources: William Luti, Douglas Feith]
People and organizations involved: William Luti, Douglas Feith
          

September 12, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Seven members of Donald Rumsfeld's so-called neocon “brain trust,” meet at an airport in Frankfurt, Germany where they are picked up by an Air Force refueling plane which brings them back to Washington. During the flight they discuss the implications of the 911 attacks for US foreign policy. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pp 234 Sources: William Luti, Douglas Feith] “Right there on the plane, we took out our laptops and sketched out for Secretary Rumsfeld where we thought we had to go, what it meant to get things on a war footing,” William Luti will tell Vanity Fair magazine. “Obviously we had Afghanistan on our minds straightaway. That was our immediate concern. But we also thought we had to learn about the terrorist networks, how they connected to he states.” They arrive at Andrews Air Force base a few minutes after five in the afternoon. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pp 234]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, William Luti
          

On and around September 18, 2001: Wolfowitz and Feith Argue that Iraq Should be Target in War on Terrorism      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith argue in three memos why Iraq should be included as a target in the war on terrorism. One memo, “Were We Asleep?,” is dated September 18, and suggests links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 1/12/03; The Mirror, 9/22/03 Sources: senior administration officials]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith
          

September 20, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Douglas Feith suggests in a draft memo [Washington Post, 8/7/2004] that the US should consider “hitting terrorists outside the Middle East in the initial offensive, perhaps deliberately selecting a non-al-Qaeda target like Iraq.” Other regions he proposes attacking include South America and Southeast Asia. He reasons that an initial attack against such targets would “surprise ... the terrorists” and catch them off guard. [Newsweek, 8/8/2004 Sources: 9/11 Commission Report] According to Newsweek, the content of Feith's memo derives from the work of the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (see Shortly after September 11, 2001), a project headed by Michael Maloof and David Wurmser. The group suggested that an attack on the remote Triborder region, where Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil meet and where Iranian-backed Hezbollah is said to have a presence, would have a ripple effect among international Islamic militant groups. [Newsweek, 8/8/2004] Feith later says his memo merely expands upon ideas put forth by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a memo (see September 19, 2001) the secretary wrote the day before to Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [Washington Post, 8/7/2004] The logic behind proposing strikes against targets outside of the Middle East, Feith says, was based on the need to “cast a wide net” and achieve “additional objectives,” such as creating fissures in the enemy network, highlighting “the global nature of the conflicts,” showing “seriousness of US military purpose,” and demonstrating that the “war would not be limited geographically to Afghanistan.” [Washington Post, 8/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: F. Michael Maloof, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser
          

January 30, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice's chief deputy on the National Security Council, instructs former Iran-Contra figure Michael Ledeen and officials in Douglas Feith's office to cease their dealings (see December 2001) with Manucher Ghorbanifar. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004]
People and organizations involved: Manucher Ghorbanifar, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, Stephen Hadley
          

June 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA issues a classified report titled, “Iraq and al-Qaeda: A Murky Relationship,” which reportedly expresses doubts that Iraq is involved in international terrorism. [Washington Post, 10/20/02; New York Times, 4/28/04; Telegraph, 7/11/04] Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith informs Donald Rumsfeld that the report should be read “for content only—and CIA's interpretation should be ignored.” [Telegraph, 7/11/04]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, Donald Rumsfeld
          

August 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] reservist and Penn-State political-science professor Chris Carney and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith give two presentations on Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaeda to the CIA at the agency's Langley headquarters. CIA analysts are not impressed, having seen much of the information before and having already determined that it was not credible. Some of the information will nevertheless be included in speeches by Bush and in testimony by Tenet to Congress. The information is also put into a classified memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Feith, which is later leaked to the Weekly Standard, a neoconservative magazine. [Vanity Fair, 5/04, pg 238]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, Chris Carney, US Congress
          

September 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, adamant hawks, rename the Northern Gulf Affairs Office on the Pentagon's fourth floor (in the seventh corridor of D Ring) the “Office of Special Plans” (OSP) and increase its four-person staff to sixteen. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Vice President Cheney, is put in charge of the day-to-day operations. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The Office of Special Plans is staffed with a tight group of like-minded neoconservative ideologues, who are known advocates of regime change in Iraq. Notably, the staffers have little background in intelligence or Iraqi history and culture. [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: A Pentagon adviser, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] Some of the people associated with this office were earlier involved with the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also known as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). They hire “scores of temporary ‘consultants’ ... including like-minded lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing think-tanks in the US capital.” Neoconservative ideologues, like Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich, are afforded direct input into the Office of Special Plans. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The office works alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau, also under the authority of Douglas Feith [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] The official business of Special Plans is to help plan for post-Saddam Iraq. The office's staff members presumably “develop defense policies aimed at building an international coalition, prepare the secretary of defense and his top deputies for interagency meetings, coordinate troop-deployment orders, craft policies for dealing with prisoners of war and illegal combatants, postwar assistance and reconstruction policy planning, postwar governance, Iraqi oil infrastructure policy, postwar Iraqi property disputes, war crimes and atrocities, war-plan review and, in their spare time, prepare congressional testimony for their principals.” [Insight, 12/2/03] But according to numerous well-placed sources, the office becomes a source for many of the administration's prewar allegations against Iraq. It is accused of exaggerating, politicizing, and misrepresenting intelligence, which is “stovepiped” to top administration officials who use the intelligence in their policy decisions on Iraq. [Telegraph, 7/11/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; CNN, 7/11/04; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; American Conservative, 12/1/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] There are very few news reports in the American mainstream media that report on the office. In fact, the office is reportedly Top Secret. [Bamford, 2004, pp 308] “We were instructed at a staff meeting that this office was not to be discussed or explained,” OSP staffer Karen Kwiatkowski will later say, “and if people in the Joint Staff, among others, asked, we were to offer no comment.” [American Conservative, 12/1/03] Colin Powell is said to have felt that Cheney and the neoconservatives in this “Gestapo” office had established what was essentially a separate government. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] Among the claims critics find most troubling about the office are:
The office relies heavily on accounts from Iraqi exiles and defectors associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), long considered suspect by other US intelligence agencies. [Salon, 7/16/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Greg Thielmann] One defector in particular, code-named “Curveball,” provides as much as 98 percent of the intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of biological weapons. [CNN, 7/11/04] Much of the information provided by the INC's sources consists of “misleading and often faked intelligence reports,” which often flow to Special Plans and NESA directly, “sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service and sometimes through the INC's own US-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] According to Karen Kwiatkowski, the movement of intelligence from the INC to the Office of Special Plans is facilitated by Colonel Bruner, a former military aide to Gingrich. [Salon, 3/10/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Memo, Karen Kwiatkowski] Bruner “was Chalabi's handler,” Kwiatkowski will tell Mother Jones. “He would arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks.” [Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
The Office of Special Plans purposefully ignores intelligence that undermines the case for war while exaggerating any leads that support it. “It wasn't intelligence,—it was propaganda,” Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked at the NESA desk, will later explain. “They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03; New York Times, 10/24/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Ellen Tauscher, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed former intelligence official]
The OSP bypasses established oversight procedures by sending its intelligence assessments directly to the White House and National Security Council without having them first vetted by a review process involving other US intelligence agencies. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; New Yorker, 5/5/03 Sources: Unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, David Obey, Greg Thielmann] The people at Special Plans are so successful at bypassing conventional procedures, in part, because their neoconservative colleagues hold key positions in several other agencies and offices. Their contacts in other agencies include: John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International; Bolton's advisor, David Wurmser, a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, who was just recently working in a secret Pentagon planning unit at Douglas Feith's office (see Shortly after September 11, 2001); Elizabeth Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser; Elliott Abrams, The National Security Council's top Middle East aide; and Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey and Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board. The office provides very little information about its work to other US intelligence offices. [Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Unnamed An unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, Greg Thielmann, David Obey]
Lastly, the people involved in Special Plans openly exhibit strong pro-Israel and anti-Arab bias. The problem, note critics, is that the analysis of intelligence is supposed to be apolitical and untainted by ideological viewpoints. [American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] According to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate's Intelligence Committee, Special Plans is the group responsible for the claim Bush will make in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from an African country (see January 28, 2003). [Information Clearing House, 7/16/03; The Nation, 6/19/03] After the existence of the Office of Special Plans is revealed to the public, the Pentagon will deny that it served as a direct conduit to the White House for misleading intelligence, instead claiming that its activities had been limited to postwar plans for Iraq. [New Yorker, 5/5/03] And a December 2003 opinion piece published in Insight magazine will call the allegations surrounding the Office of Special Plans the work of conspiracy theorists. [Insight, 12/2/03]
People and organizations involved: Colonel Bruner, James Woolsey, Newt Gingrich, Kenneth Adelman, Colin Powell, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Stephen Hadley, Karen Kwiatkowski, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, David Wurmser, Elizabeth Cheney  Additional Info 
          

November 27, 2002      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes sends Donald Rumsfeld an action memo to approve for use, at General James T. Hill's discretion, all techniques from Categories I and II, and the “mild, non-injurious contact” from category three that were suggested by the Guantanamo legal staff (see October 25, 2002). With regard to the remaining harsh techniques in category three, the death threats, and use of wet towels, Haynes writes that they “may be legally available [but] as a matter of policy, a blanket approval ... is not warranted at this time.” Haynes mentions having discussed the matter with “the deputy, Doug Feith and General Myers,” who, he believes, join him in the recommendation. He adds, “Our Armed Forces are trained to a standard of interrogation that reflects a tradition of restraint.” [Sources: DoD action memo from General Counsel Haynes to Donald Rumsfeld, 11/27/2002]
People and organizations involved: William J. Haynes, Douglas Feith, James T. Hill, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard B. Myers
          

December 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Elliott Abrams, a special assistant to President George W. Bush on the National Security Council [NSC] is appointed to senior director for Near East and North African affairs within the NSC. Neoconservatives working at the Pentagon's Near East South Asia (NESA) desk worked hard to get Abrams appointed. “The day he got (the appointment), they were whooping and hollering, ‘We got him in, we got him in,’” Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, tells Inter Press Service. Abrams, a controversial figure with close ties to Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, had been convicted of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, though he was later pardoned by George W. Bush's father. [Insight, 12/9/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03]
People and organizations involved: Karen Kwiatkowski, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams
          

Late 2002-April 2003      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes press “for looser interrogation rules and [win] approval for them from the administration's civilian lawyers....” Lawyers with the Army Judge Advocate General's office are opposed to the new rules. [Newsweek, 5/24/2004; USA Today, 5/13/2004; Los Angeles Times, 5/13/2004 Sources: Unnamed Indonesian officials and foreign diplomats]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, William J. Haynes
          

January 15, 2003      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       In a memo to General Counsel William J. Haynes, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, without an explanation, rescinds his authorization for the majority of the interrogation methods he approved in December (see December 2, 2002). The remaining methods can only be used with his express approval and on an individual basis. [New York Times, 8/25/2004] He also forms a panel of top Defense Department officials, known as the General Counsel Interrogation Working Group, “to assess the legal, policy, and operational issues relating to the interrogations of detainees held by the US Armed Forces in the war on terrorism.” This should ultimately result in the development of proper interrogation techniques. [NBC News, 6/23/2004] The working group will consist of people working in the offices of William Haynes, Douglas Feith, the military departments, and the Joint Staff. Haynes will be the panel's chairman. [Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004]
People and organizations involved: William J. Haynes, Douglas Feith, Donald Rumsfeld
          

August 9, 2003      US confrontation with Iran

       Newsday reports that according to a senior official and another source within the Bush administration, the “ultimate objective” of Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and “a group of neo-conservative civilians inside the Pentagon is change of government in Iran.” The report says that the “immediate objective appeared to be to ‘antagonize Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden US policy against them.’” It apparently is no secret within the administration, as Secretary of State Colin Powell has recently complained directly to the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, about Feith's activities. [Newsday, 8/9/03]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith
          

April 30, 2004      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       New Yorker magazine publishes an in-depth article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh on the Abu Ghraib abuses, as well as excerpts of the Taguba report (see February 26, 2004). The article includes some of the graphic photos of the abuses that were turned in by Spc. Joseph Darby (see January 13, 2004) in January. [The New Yorker, 5/5/2004] Soon thereafter, subordinates of Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith send out an “urgent” e-mail around the Pentagon warning officials not to read the Taguba report and not to mention the report to anybody including family members, even though major parts of it are now part of the public record. Newsweek later quotes a military lawyer as saying, that Feith has turned his office into a “ministry of fear.” [Newsweek, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Joseph Darby, Douglas Feith, Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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