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Doug Feith: "I Was a Major Player" in Bush's Torture Policies

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Truthout Original
Monday 06 April 2009

Doug Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, is best known for cooking up bogus prewar Iraq intelligence linking Iraq and al-Qaeda and 9/11.

But in addition to his duties stove piping phony intelligence directly to former Vice President Dick Cheney, Feith was also a key member of a small working group of Defense Department officials who oversaw the implementation of "enhanced interrogation techniques" at Guantanamo Bay that has been widely regarded as torture.

Last weekend, Spain's investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon, who issued an arrest warrant for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, ordered prosecutors to investigate Feith and five other senior Bush administration officials for sanctioning torture at the prison facility.

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On Sunday, Feith responded to the charges. He told the BBC that "the charges as related to me make no sense." They criticize me for promoting a controversial position that I never advocated," Feith claimed.

But Feith's denials ring hollow.

The allegations against Feith contained in the 98-page complaint filed in March 2008 by human rights lawyer Gonzalo Boye and the Association for the [Dignity] was largely gleaned from a lengthy interview Feith gave to international attorney and University College London professor Phillppe Sands. Sands is the author of Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values.

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The other Bush officials named in the complaint are: former Justice Department attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee, Alberto Gonzales, Cheney's counsel David Addington and former Pentagon general counsel William Haynes II. The charges cited in the complaint against these officials were also largely based on material Sands cited in his book about the roles they played in sanctioning torture.

Last year, in response to questions by Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Condoleezza Rice, who, as National Security Adviser, was part of a working group that included Haynes, Yoo, Addington and Gonzales, said interrogation methods were discussed as early as the summer of 2002 and Yoo provided legal advice at "several" meetings that she attended. She said the DOJ's advice on the interrogation program "was being coordinated by Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales."

Yoo met with Gonzales and Addington to discuss the subjects he intended to address in two August 2002 torture memos, according to a declassified summary of the Armed Services Committee report.

Feith was also included in the discussions.

Sands wrote that as early as 2002, "Feith's job was to provide advice across a wide range of issues, and the issues came to include advice on the Geneva Conventions and the conduct of military interrogations."

Feith told Sands that he "played a major role in" George W. Bush's decision to sign a February 7, 2002, action memorandum suspending the Geneva Conventions for al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners who were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

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The memo did say that prisoners had to be treated "humanely," but Feith told Sands the verbiage needed "to be fleshed out." "But it's a fine phrase - 'humane treatment,'" Feith added. Still, even with the phrase intact, the Common Article 3 restrictions against torture and "outrages upon personal dignity" were removed.

Feith said 2002 was a special year for him.

"This year I was really a player," Feith told Sands.

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Jason Leopold is Deputy Managing Editor of Truthout.org and the founding editor of the online investigative news magazine The Public Record, http://www.pubrecord.org. He is the author of the National Bestseller, "News Junkie," a memoir. Visit (more...)

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