Feith: ‘We Took An Extremely Strong Pro-Geneva Convention Position In The Pentagon’

Since writing his new book, Iraq war architect Doug Feith has consistently tried to rewrite the history of Bush administration foreign policy, blaming its failures on others. Feith continued these gross distortions yesterday, in a three-hour interview with right-wing radio talker Hugh Hewitt.

It is well-known that the administration’s torture program violates the Geneva conventions, which even conservatives admit. Feith told Hewitt the administration was “strongly pro-Geneva convention,” and so was he:

FEITH: We took an extremely strongly pro-Geneva Convention position in the Pentagon. And what I said when I briefed Secretary Rumsfeld on this, and briefed the President on it, is we have troops all over the world. There is no country in the world that has a stronger interest in promoting respect for the Geneva Conventions than the United States, and there’s no institution of the U.S. government that has a stronger interest in that than the Pentagon. … [T]hey are a part of the law of the United States, they’re treaties in force, and I thought the Pentagon had an extremely strong interest in promoting respect for the Geneva Conventions.

Listen to it:


If Feith had such respect for the Geneva Conventions, then why did he help the administration evade them? In his new book on the administration’s torture program, British international lawyer Philippe Sands interviewed Feith and reported that Feith “took the steps to ensure that none of these detainees could rely on Geneva.”


Sands told Vanity Fair that Feith’s argument against Geneva “prevailed,” as the President signed an order turning Guantanamo into a “Geneva-free zone.” Feith seemed unrepentant:

The Common Article 3 restrictions on torture or “outrages upon personal dignity” were gone. “This year I was really a player,” Feith said, thinking back on 2002 and relishing the memory. I asked him whether, in the end, he was at all concerned that the Geneva decision might have diminished America’s moral authority. He was not. “The problem with moral authority,” he said, was “people who should know better, like yourself, siding with the assholes, to put it crudely.”

“As he saw it, either you were a detainee to whom Geneva didn’t apply or you were a detainee to whom Geneva applied but whose rights you couldn’t invoke,” Sands noted. “That’s the point,” Feith admitted.

Furthermore, Feith reportedly sought the help of torture advocate John Yoo, then at the Justice Department, in evading the Conventions. Judge Advocate General lawyers, who rejected Feith’s views, “said he had a dismissive, if not derisive, attitude toward the Geneva Conventions,” according to lawyer Scott Horton.


Attackerman responds to Feith’s claims here.