Yesterday, in an interview with Diane Rehm, Iraq war architect Doug Feith — who has been on a campaign to revise the record about the failures in Iraq — vigorously defended Donald Rumsfeld against claims he invaded Iraq without considering the facts. The administration, in fact, was not “hell bent” on war, Feith claimed.
Feith cited a pre-war memo in which Rumsfeld “laid out the strongest case possible not to go to war.” The memo included the prospect of there being no weapons of mass destruction, no link to al Qaeda, and the potential of sparking ethnic strife — proving that Rumsfeld was “analyzing” both sides of the issue:
FEITH: I don’t think that anyone who actually examines the record would come to the conclusion that this administration was hell-bent on war. … There was an extremely intense effort and a respectful effort made to look at the arguments against going to war. […]
It’s interesting that Secretary Rumsfeld is viewed as an ‘advocate’ for war. But he wasn’t advocating. He was analyzing. And he put forward the arguments against war much more strongly than Secretary Powell did, than Director Tenet did, than anybody else in the administration who now likes to put himself forward as a skeptic ever did.
In reality, Rumsfeld was “advocating” for the military invasion of Iraq well before 2003. In 1998, Rumsfeld wrote to President Clinton as a signatory of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, urging “military action” against Iraq. After 9/11, Rumsfeld pushed again:
— On 9/11, an aide recorded Rumsfeld’s orders, which said, “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [bin Laden].”
— “Tasks. Jim Haynes [Pentagon lawyer] to talk with PW [Paul Wolfowitz] for additional support…connection with UBL,” an aide also recorded.
When it came time to vote on the Iraq war in fall 2002, Rumsfeld pressured Congress to authorize force against Iraq as soon as possible:
— “It’s important that Congress send that message before the U.N. Security Council votes,” he said. “Delaying a vote in Congress would send the wrong message, in my view.”
Feith has long shilled for Rumsfeld. Before the war, Feith worked in the Office of Special Plans, Rumsfeld’s intelligence shop that drummed up the threat of Hussein. In 2005, Feith wrote an op-ed titled “The Donald Rumsfeld I Know” in the Washington Post, proclaiming that Rumsfeld “is the opposite of an ideologue.”