Last week, a Spanish court said it would consider opening a criminal case against six Bush administration officials “over allegations they gave legal cover for torture at Guantanamo.” Yesterday, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, one of the officials implicated in the complaint, went on Fox News to defend himself in front of torture advocate Bill O’Reilly.
Feith argued that the charges that he helped approve torture are completely bogus. “I’m being criticized for a position that I never advocated. And so the facts are just wrong,” he said. Feith said he was simply giving “advice” to President Bush and had no role in “directing” torture policy:
FEITH But there’s also a broader point of principle here, which is what the Spanish authorities are considering doing is indicting people, former U.S. government officials for giving advice to the president. And the idea that a foreign official can disagree with advice given to the president, they’re not talking about action. And they’re not even talking about directing people to take action. They’re talking about people who were advising the president on policy and legal questions.
“This is an effort to intimidate U.S. government officials,” Feith alleged. Watch it:
But last year, Feith himself bragged in an interview with British law professor Phillippe Sands that he played a pivotal role in ensuring that Geneva protections against “outrages upon personal dignity” did not apply to detainees:
I asked Feith, just to be clear: Didn’t the administration’s approach mean that Geneva’s constraints on interrogation couldn’t be invoked by anyone at Guantánamo? “Oh yes, sure,” he shot back. Was that the intended result?, I asked. “Absolutely,” he replied. I asked again: Under the Geneva Conventions, no one at Guantánamo was entitled to any protection? “That’s the point,” Feith reiterated. … “This year I was really a player,” Feith said, thinking back on 2002 and relishing the memory.
Indeed, Feith’s arguments became official U.S. policy with the signing of a presidential memorandum on February 7, 2002.
Feith’s knee-jerk denial that he pushed for torture is nothing new. “We took an extremely strongly pro-Geneva Convention position in the Pentagon,” he said last April. Speaking with O’Reilly, Feith also made sure to go after Sands. “What’s going on in Spain is implementing, essentially, an, idea that a British lawyer has been proposing, a guy named Phillippe Sands, who wrote an extremely dishonest book on the subject,” he said.