Thursday, February 15, 2007

National Defense University is Spared Incompetence of Feith

Gen. Tommy Franks has colorfully described Douglas Feith as "the dumbest bastard, the dumbest motherfucker on the face of the earth." Others would agree. He is now ensconced at Georgetown University, but he also was tapped last year for an academic position that would make a mockery of the military's "lessons learned" emphasis.

Last June, Douglas J. Feith, a former top Pentagon official involved in planning the Iraq war, was hired by a Defense Department graduate school for military officers and diplomats, with a four-year contract that was to pay him half a million dollars, Pentagon records show.

His duties as a "distinguished professor" at the National Defense University, a 30-year-old institution on the Washington waterfront financed by the Pentagon, included team-teaching a course and producing a report on ways to "organize the United States better for the long war on terrorism," according to the documents.

The hiring of Mr. Feith, whose role in helping to make the case for the Iraq invasion is still a matter of intense scrutiny a year and a half after he left the Pentagon, had never been announced.

And the job did not last long; the contract was terminated about a month later, records show. ...

David Thomas, a university spokesman, said the contract was canceled by "mutual decision" on Aug. 28 last year. That was three days after a reporter for The New York Times contacted Mr. Thomas with questions about the university’s ties to Mr. Feith. ...

The university has become a popular place with former Pentagon officials who served under former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Gen. Richard B. Myers, who is retired from the Air Force and was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Mr. Rumsfeld, holds an endowed chair at the university. Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Mr. Feith have deposited copies of their official papers there, and Mr. Rumsfeld is considering doing the same, according to two Pentagon aides.

Some of Mr. Feith's former colleagues at the Pentagon said they were puzzled by the university’s decision to consider hiring him to lecture military officers on strategy for the fight against terrorism.

Thomas White, who was secretary of the Army during President Bush’s first term, said, "I find it bizarre that they would pick a guy whose performance has been generally maligned and ask him to teach the subject." He added that the decision to terminate the contract "shows somebody has some sense over there."


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