Friday, November 18, 2005

Feith investigation: don't expect much

The Pentagon's inspector general has agreed to review the prewar intelligence activities of former U.S. defense undersecretary Douglas Feith, a main architect of the Iraq war, congressional officials said on Thursday.
Democrats have accused Feith of manipulating information from sources including discredited Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi to suggest links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, which masterminded the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The inspector general's office informed the Senate on October 19 that it would undertake a review after receiving separate requests from the Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, officials said.

Congressional officials expect the review to look at whether Feith and his staff bypassed the CIA by giving the White House uncorroborated intelligence that sought to make a case for war in the months leading up to the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Feith, who was the Pentagon's policy chief until he left the Defense Department for the private sector earlier this year, was not immediately available for comment.

Officials said the Pentagon's inspector general told the Senate its review would begin sometime in November. One official estimated the probe could take at least six months.

"We're going to try to expedite it as much as possible," said Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Senate intelligence panel chairman who asked the inspector general on September 9 for a review of Feith's Office of Special Plans.

"The IG knows we are very eager to get this done but he wants to get it done right," he told Reuters.

Sure, it sounds good. And maybe the internecine poodle fights will line up on the side of taking down the man Tommy Franks called the "dumbest fucking guy on the planet." But look at the players.

Pat Roberts is the black hole of accountability. He has effectively stonewalled all inquiry into how the White House bullshitted us into the war. It beggars belief that he is pursuing this approach because he thinks it will actually yield answers. Far more likely is that he sees this as a convenient "offshore" informational quarantine.

And I know nothing about acting IG Thomas Gimble, though he does not seem to have garnered much trust on the Hill. But we do know something about his predecessor and former boss. From the LA Times via corpwatch:

The Pentagon's top investigator has resigned amid accusations that he stonewalled inquiries into senior Bush administration officials suspected of wrongdoing.

Defense Department Inspector General Joseph E. Schmitz told staffers this week that he intended to resign as of Sept. 9 to take a job with the parent company of Blackwater USA, a defense contractor.

The resignation comes after Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) sent Schmitz several letters this summer informing him that he was the focus of a congressional inquiry into whether he had blocked two criminal investigations last year.

All of which certainly suggests to me that Mr. Feith is probably not lying awake at night worrying about this particular investigation.

And you know who Blackwater USA is, right? They are one of the leading suppliers of mercenaries security personnel in Iraq (and in post-Katrina New Orleans).


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