In May, British international lawyer Philippe Sands told Vanity Fair that Iraq war architect Doug Feith was instrumental in the Bush administration’s shredding of the Geneva Conventions. Feith “took the steps to ensure that none of these detainees could rely on Geneva,” Sands said.
In a house hearing today, Feith disputed Sands’s interview, calling it a “twisted account.” “I strongly championed a policy of respect for Geneva, and I did not recommend that the President set aside Common Article 3,” he claimed. Feith said Sands had “smeared” him:
So Mr. Sands’s account about me is fundamentally wrong. This is important not because that account smears me, it’s significant because it exposes the astonishing carelessness or recklessness of his book and his Vanity Fair article.
In his opening statement, Sands said Feith’s claim “is not an accurate statement.” “I did interview Mr. Feith for my book,” Sands explained, volunteering to make available the “audio and the transcript” of his interview to the committee. Sands said that Feith told him that detainees were not to receive Geneva protections “at all”:
This is what he said to me: “The point is, the al Qaeda people were not entitled to have the Convention applied at all. Period. Obvious.”
Feith has tried to whitewash his role in the administration’s torture program before, for example, telling right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt that he was “extremely strongly pro-Geneva convention.”
Another torture architect who has worked closely with Feith has tried a similar attack on Sands. Last month, John Yoo said Sands had falsely claimed he interviewed Yoo, claiming it “reflects on the veracity of the balance of the book.” Sands in fact never made such a claim and was quoting Yoo’s statements from a 2005 debate.