The Americans outplayed themselves, nobody outplayed them. They believed their own propaganda ~ Ahmed Chalabi (dob 10/30/1944) an Iraqi politician who was interim oil minister in Iraq in April–May 2005 and December–January 2006 and deputy prime minister from May 2005-May 2006. This quote is from an interview with McClatchy in Baghdad that took place sometime during the week of February 22, 2010.
What happens when one of the bush war criminals shows up on a progressive talk radio program to promulgate the lie that ex-president GWb made the "right" decision when he ordered the invasion of Iraq? Answer; he's treated respectfully by the nation's top rated Liberal talker (which he doesn't deserve, but what are you going to do?). What follows is an excerpt from the Thom Hartmann radio program. Thom discusses the Iraq conflict with Douglas J. Feith, a politico who served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under President George W. bush (from July 2001 until August 2005).
Feith's official responsibilities included the formulation of defense planning guidance and forces policy, United States Department of Defense (DoD) relations with foreign countries, and DoD's role in U.S. Government interagency policymaking (source: Wikipedia). This interview from 3/3/2013 has been edited by me for brevity and clarity...
Thom Hartmann: Welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with you. ...you will recall, back in 2002 a very strong case was made for a war with Iraq against Saddam Hussein. One of the folks involved in making that case was Douglas Feith. [Currently] he is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, and director at the Center for National Security Strategies. Author of the book War and Decision. Douglas Feith, welcome to the program.
Douglas Feith: Good to talk to you.
TH: Thanks for joining us. If I may, just to kind of start this thing out. Do you have any concerns or regrets regarding our nation having gone to war with Iraq?
DF: I think that the rational for the war was strong. Naturally one has regrets about various mistakes that got made. But, I think fundamentally the president made the right decision. That removing Saddam Hussein from power was important and valuable and that the risks of leaving him in power were very substantial.
TH: And, yet Saddam Hussein was the principal enemy of the Iranians. He had lost a million people and the Iranians had lost a million people in the war between Iraq and Iran. Saddam was our Sunni bulwark against that Shiite force. Former Congressman Bob Ney, who got taken down in the Jack Abramoff scandal... he's got a new book out. It's called Sideswiped. In his book, he talks about a conversation with Fouad al Zayat, who was basically an arms dealer who made airplanes, you know, weapons of war [Zayat denies being an arms dealer]. Zayat was meeting with Bob Ney in London to discuss Boeing and other contracts that had to do with Iran.
They were in the Ambassador Club dining room, a private club. And, if I could just share a couple of sentences with you, I'd like to get your take on this...
[Thom reading from Bob Ney's book] he said, Fouad turned to me and said something that is burned into my brain. He turned and pointed to two men who were sitting at the table near us and involved in an intense conversation. He said, "do you see those two men? Do you recognize them?" [Bob says] I knew one of them, to the left was King Hussein of Jordan's brother, the crown prince. But I didn't know the other guy. Fouad replies in a very calm but firm tone "that other man... this man will lie to your country. This man will catch the ear of your president. This man is a wanted criminal in Jordan, yet he sits with the King's brother here in London. This man is here in London carrying out one of the biggest schemes in modern history. This man will soon take your country into war in Iraq. His name is Ahmed Chalabi". [Thom finishes reading from Ney's book].
Do you think it's possible that you and all the other guys in the bush administration were conned by the Iranian government, through their agent Ahmed Chalabi, into taking out their principal enemy, Saddam Hussein on their behalf?
DF: No, I don't think that analysis is right. It's wrong in a number of respects. I don't think that the decision-making in the US government was driven by Chalabi or any one guy. I don't think that the United States was conned. It was not a con that Saddam Hussein was a very dangerous guy...
TH: [interrupts] Oh, come on! He was writing a romance novel. He had no weapons of mass destruction.
DF: [jumps in] It isn't true that he had no weapons of mass destruction. He not only had had weapons of mass destruction, but he had used them against the Kurds in Northern Iraq. He had used them against Iran. Saddam was the first person in history to use nerve gas on the battlefield.
TH: ...but the UN went in, and they took that stuff out. They destroyed it. The weapons inspectors said "it's not there anymore".
DF: No, that's not what the weapons inspectors said. I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding about the whole weapons of mass destruction issue. If your listeners are interested in the facts on this, what I would urge them to do is read the report of the Iraq Survey Group. They issued a three volume report, which is available on the internet, which explains the status of Iraq's WMD programs. Iraq was a country that had substantial weapons of mass destruction programs. The big mistake that was made by our intelligence services before the war was the belief that Saddam was maintaining chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.
[Douglas Feith brings up the war with Iran, the invasion of Kuwait and Iraq shooting at UN and US planes that were enforcing the no fly zone to argue against Thom's "Saddam was no threat to the United States" assessment].
DF: I think president bush made the right decision... but the argument that Saddam Hussein was not a threat to us, that we were not worried about him, that he didn't have WMD programs, that the whole thing was made up... is an argument that is not accurate. It's not based on the facts.
TH: OK. ... Mr. Feith, thank you for being on the program. [Thom ends interview giving Mr. Feith the last word... as he usually does... in order to make his guests feel they were treated fairly].
My Commentary: The argument that "the whole thing was made up" is HIGHLY accurate. Notice that the liar Feith continually refers to "WMD programs" and not actual WMD. And he mentions the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) report which he THINKS backs up his version of events. It does not. Following are some of the key points I have selected to rebut Mr. Feith's assertions...
Iraq Study Group key findings:  Saddam ended his nuclear program in 1991. ISG found no evidence of concerted efforts to restart the program, and Iraq's ability to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program progressively decayed after 1991.  Iraq destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile in 1991, and only a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions were discovered by the ISG.  Saddam's regime abandoned its biological weapons program and its ambition to obtain advanced biological weapons in 1995. While it could have re-established an elementary BW [biological weapons] program within weeks, ISG discovered no indications it was pursuing such a course.
Feith hinges his whole case (and the justification for bush's illegal war) on the Iraq "could have re-established an elementary BW program within weeks" portion of the report, but IGNORES the "ISG discovered no indications it was pursuing such a course". The FACT remains that the IAEA weapons inspections worked and the Iraq war was completely unnecessary. Not only was it unnecessary, but it was based on a lie. The IAEA inspectors on the ground at the time told bush they were not finding any WMD (although they did ask for more time to complete their inspections).
bush ignored them and informed the American people that we were invading (in part) to "disarm" Saddam (see my post "Intellectual Honesty Concerning ex-President bush's WMD Lies" for more details regarding how the ex prez lied us into war). The report issued by the ISG (the one referenced by Feith) confirms that Iraq had no WMD and that the sanctions worked (and bush LIED when he said the invasion was necessary to "disarm" Iraq).
It should be noted that the ISG report was issued on 9/30/2004 and that ex prez bush ordered the invasion on 3/20/2003. But the report only CONFIRMED what the inspectors had told bush BEFORE the invasion, which was that they were finding no WMD and that Saddam was (begrudgingly) cooperating. Sure, he fully intended to restart his WMD programs *if* we allowed him to do so (by not keeping the pressure on indefinitely), but surely that would have been less expensive (both in terms of the lives of our soldiers, the lives of innocent Iraqis and in terms of our "treasure").
A May 17 2003 poll of the American people confirms that "58 percent... say that considering its costs vs. its benefits the war in Iraq was not worth fighting..." bush, in lying to the American people (and the world) did NOT make the right decision as Feith suggests. Although many people are STILL not aware that bush lied when making his case for war. These people are still convinced that the intelligence was "wrong". Others, believe it or not, are convinced that bush "told the truth" and that WMD was actually found in Iraq.
These delusional fools are referring to the fact that "some misplaced or abandoned chemical weapons from before 1991 were found". Concerning these WMD, the ISG said "they were not the weapons which had been one of the main arguments for the invasion". Indeed they were not. bush scarred the American people with fantasies concerning mushroom clouds. bush and the other war criminals from his administration (including Feith) are liars who are still working to rewrite history.
As for the accusation that Ahmed Chalabi (working for Iran) duped us into the Iraq war... I've heard that one before (and believe it), although I think bush would have found other "evidence" if Chalabi hadn't happened along to HELP bush build a case for invasion. Vincent Cannistraro, a former senior CIA official and counter terrorism expert said (concerning the intelligence that was provided to us by way of Chalabi) that "[it] isn't reliable at all... [and that] much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear (Chalabi's "intelligence" came to us via the Iraqi National Congress, which was "an umbrella Iraqi opposition group led by Ahmed Chalabi that was formed with the aid and direction of the United States government following the Gulf War, for the purpose of fomenting the overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein").
This account is, however, is by way of someone who (in my opinion) has a great deal of believability; former Congressman Bob Ney (account according to his recently released book, "Sideswiped"). Yes, Mr. Ney could be described as a "disgraced" former Congressman, but I see no reason for him to lie. In fact, it is my opinion that he is trying to set things straight on this matter. That the identification of Chalabi came from an accused arms dealer (Fouad al Zayat) is of no consequence, IMO, as much of what he said turned out to be provably true. What Chalabi told our intelligence services DID catch the ear of our president. He was wanted man in Jordan (in regards to the Petra banking scandal), and his intelligence (via the INC) did help the bush administration build the case for war with Iraq.
Mr. Chalabi denies that he was an agent for Iran, but I don't believe him. Fact is, Chalabi and the bush administration had a falling out way back in 2004. The allegations then came from bush Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenant, and resulted in a raid by US forces of Chalabi's Baghdad home... although (apparently) no evidence has ever been produced that conclusively proves Chalabi was an Iranian agent. Or the evidence was covered up by bushies who didn't want it widely known that the administration ALLOWED itself to be duped.
For the record Mr. Chalabi is a Shiite Muslism (Saddam was a Sunni Muslim and Iran is largely Shiite). When Chalabi was feeding his lies to our intelligence agencies he thought he might end up as the leader of Iraq. And there is also the fact that the bush administration paid him nearly 33 million dollars so he'd tell them things they wanted to hear.
There were those, however, who knew beforehand that Chalabi was a liar and not to be trusted. Bob Ney confirms this in his recent book... further proof that the bush administration cherry picked intelligence that supported their case for regime change in Iraq. But "cherry picking" is FAR to generous a term to use when it comes to the duplicity employed by the bushies when it comes to their pre-war lies and their continuing lies TO THIS DAY (exemplified by Mr. Feith). That there are those who continue to believe that bush did not lie in regards to WMD he knew Iraq did not have leaves me completely flabbergasted. These individuals truly have their heads buried deeply in the proverbial sand.
THP podcast info: This segment of audio is from the 3/6/2013 Thom Hartmann Podcast... 0:14 to 9:32 of hour 2.