by Evelyn Pringle

Douglas Feith, the recently resigned undersecretary of defense, who just happened to be one of the main people who for years on end advocated for a war in Iraq, and who in large part developed the disastrous policies for the war in Iraq, planned ahead for his retirement and will not be seen in the unemployment line.

On January 27, 2005, the Washington Post announced: "A principal architect of the Defense Department's postwar strategy in Iraq ... will leave his post this summer."

The announcement came after years of rumors that top administration officials had decided that Feith had to go, but were dissuaded by Donald Rumsfeld who argued that his ouster would be viewed as an admission that the war in Iraq was a mistake. But the administration had definitely reduced Feith's authority over the past 2 years.

In announcing his departure, Feith claimed he was leaving for personal reasons, citing the desire to spend more time with his children. "For the last four years, they haven't seen me a lot," he told the Post.

He used the standard administration exit line. Sort of like the noticeably absent in light of Katrina, ex-FEMA director, Joe Albaugh, who left his job to spend time with his family. Joe was Bush’s chief of staff when he was governor of Texas and his campaign manager in 2000. Once Bush took office, Joe accepted a gig as director of FEMA.

Like Feith, when he announced his resignation, Joe said, "Now I am going to take the opportunity to spend some time with my wife and children."

I sure hope Doug spends more time with his kids than Joe did, because judging from hindsight, Joe should have been a psychic. He somehow knew at the beginning of March 2003, that he should quit FEMA and go into the business of securing reconstruction contracts in Iraq for wealthy clients before the first bomb was dropped. And his family could not have enjoyed much quality time at all with Joe, being he opened up New Bridge Strategies for business within a few short weeks of leaving the White House.

At the time, Josh Marshall, who writes a column for the Washington newspaper, The Hill, said that he believed that each new piece of legislation needs a catchy title, and came up with title “The Bush Crony Full-Employment Act of 2003,” for the $87 billion allocated for rebuilding Iraq.

According to Josh, New Bridge was actually an outgrowth of Haley Barbour’s lobbying firm, Barbour Griffith & Rogers. Josh says he reached that conclusion after he learned that both firms were located in the same office space. And also because Lanny Griffith was the CEO of New Bridge and Ed Rogers was the vice president. Sounds like a logical conclusion to me.

When the company began, the New Bridges official web site said, "the opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C., and on the ground in Iraq." That phrasing was quickly changed.

How could it get any sweeter than this? Joe quits FEMA, moves into the office space of one of the most successful and powerful GOP lobbying firms in the country and starts advertising for clients who want to win reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

First Brother, Neil Bush, also jumped on this money train and landed a $60,000 a year consultant contract with a principal in New Bridge. According to Neil's testimony in his divorce deposition in March 2004, in return for his salary, he took phone messages for about 3 hours a week.

However, 3 people contacted by the Financial Times of London reported seeing letters written by Neil that recommend business ventures promoted by New Bridges in the Middle East. So we had Neil being paid an annual fee to "help companies secure contracts in Iraq," the Times reported.

I'm not too worried about Doug Feith ending up in the unemployment lines because following in Joe's footsteps, Feith and his law partner stayed very busy behind the scenes planning for Feith's retirement when it came time to leave the White House.

The Iraqi International Law Group

Before Feith was inducted into the Bush administration, he was the Feith half of the Feith & Zell law firm in Washington. His partner, Marc Zell, simply renamed the firm Zell, Goldberg & Co when they decided to set up shop to start cashing in on the Iraq contracting business.

According to The Hill, Zell was helping with international marketing for a concern called the Iraqi International Law Group. Billing itself as a group of lawyers and businessmen interested in helping investors in Iraq, the venture was run by Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem, who doubled as a legal adviser to Iraq's governing council, of which his uncle was a member.

How powerful was Feith in awarding contracts? Extremely. According to a June, 2004, an article in Time Magazine entitled, "The Paper Trail: Did Cheney Okay a Deal?," Feith is the person who approved the controversial no-bid contract for Halliburton in Iraq. Time Magazine quoted an email sent by Stephen Browning of the Army Corps of Engineers, that said the contract for construction of oil pipelines was approved by Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith "contingent on informing WH tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's [Vice President's] office.

Browning, later said in an interview that he wrote the memo after he and retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner met with Feith. According to Browning, Feith told him that he had already informed Cheney's office. The email was dated March 5, 2003, and Halliburton was awarded the contract three days later with no bids tendered by any other companies.

If he could pull this off for Halliburton, what he could do for the IILG goes without saying. According to its web site, the IILG was made up of lawyers and businessmen who claimed to have “dared to take the lead in bringing private sector investment and experience” to the war-torn country and offered to “be your Professional Gateway to the New Iraq.”

The way it was set up, nephew Salem was charge of the IILG and Feith's partner, Zell, was in charge of international marketing. The IILG's website claimed that it was the only firm worth consulting. "At IILG, our task is to provide foreign enterprise with the information and tools it needs to enter the emerging Iraq and to succeed," it said.

"Our clients number among the largest corporations and institutions on the planet" it said, "They have chosen IILG to provide them with real-time, on the ground intelligence they cannot get from inexperienced local firms or from overburdened coalition and local government officials."

Imagine that, the top firms on the planet. "Many firms outside the country purport to counsel companies about doing business in Iraq," the web site read. "The simple fact is: you cannot adequately advise about Iraq unless you are here day in and day out, working closely with officials at the CPA, the newly constituted governing council and the few functioning civilian ministries [oil, labor and social welfare, etc]."

The truth is, the IILG was nothing more than another one of many front companies, in a web-like profiteering network, that was specifically set up to funnel tax dollars through Iraq and back into the pockets of the Bush gang.

And talk about blatant. When the company was set up, its website was not registered to Salem Chalabi; it was registered under the name of Marc Zell, located at the very same address as Zell, Goldberg & Co.

According to Salem, quoted in the National Journal, Zell was IILG's "marketing consultant" and had been contacting law firms in Washington and New York to ask if they had clients interested in doing business in Iraq.

This tied in with an announcement by Zell, Goldberg & Co, that it had set up a "task force" dealing with issues and opportunities relating to the "recently ended" war in Iraq, and to assist companies "in their relations with the United States government in connection with Iraqi reconstruction projects as prime contractors and consultants."

Of course Zell made no mention of the firm's ties to the infamous nephew Salem or the IILG. Zell said it was working with the Federal Market Group, an organization which specialized in helping companies win government contracts, which boasted of having a 90% success rate.

Considering all of its boasting about high level connections, IILG was also rather modest about the family ties of its founder. The website did not mention that he was the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi even once. Geez, I wonder why.

Implementing The Iraq Profiteering Scheme

Feith had been pushing for the ouster of Saddam for years. In 1998, he and Richard Perle sent a letter to President Bill Clinton proposing that the US team up with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress to get rid of Saddam. Clinton refused.

As we all know, Ahmed had strong support within the Pentagon. In fact, two of his staunchest supporters were Feith and Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board.

Perle, an assistant defense secretary during the Reagan administration, was appointed by his old crony, Donald Rumsfeld, to lead the board in 2001. Its a well-known fact that the board exerts tremendous influence when it comes to war policies.

As soon as Bush took office, Perle, Feith and Ahmed Chalabi all started working diligently together to get the war in Iraq off the ground, with Ahmed providing bogus intelligence about WMDs and bragging about a secret network within Iraq which could take over running the country after the invasion.

"There was a close personal bond, too, between Chalabi, Wolfowitz and Perle dating back many years," according to Seymour Hersh in the May 5, 2003 the New Yorker.

"Their relationship deepened after the Bush Administration took office, and Chalabi’s ties extended to others in the Administration, including Rumsfeld; Douglas Feith, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy; and I. Lewis Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff," Hersh wrote.

"With the Pentagon’s support, Chalabi’s group worked to put defectors with compelling stories in touch with reporters in the United States and Europe," Hersh said, "The resulting articles had dramatic accounts of advances in weapons of mass destruction or told of ties to terrorist groups. In some cases, these stories were disputed in analyses by the C.I.A." he noted.

Almost immediately after September 11th, "the I.N.C. began to publicize the stories of defectors who claimed that they had information connecting Iraq to the attacks, Hersh said.

For example, in a October 14, 2001, interview on PBS “Frontline," Sabah Khodada, an Iraqi Army captain, said that the 9/11 attack “was conducted by people who were trained by Saddam,” and that Iraq had a program to instruct terrorists in the art of hijacking. Another defector, who was identified as a retired lieutenant general in the Iraqi intelligence service, said that in 2000 he witnessed Arab students being given lessons in hijacking on a Boeing 707 parked at an Iraqi training camp near the town of Salman Pak, south of Baghdad.

Feith then fed this type of INC data into a fabrication mill operating at top speed known as the Office of Special Plans and some of the information processed through the OSP was not even shared with official intelligence agencies. In many instances it was passed on to the National Security Council, Cheney, and Bush without having been vetted by anyone besides this group of nitwits.

And they had to know that much of the information was false. A former high-level intelligence official told Hersh that American Special Forces units had been sent into Iraq in mid-March 2003, before the start of the war, to investigate sites suspected of being missile or chemical- and biological-weapon storage depots. “They came up with nothing,” the official told Hersh. “Never found a single Scud.”

A 46 page report, based on a 15-month investigation, titled "Report of an Inquiry into the Alternative Analysis of the Issue of an Iraq-al Qaeda Relationship" was released on October 21, 2004, which said, "There is ample evidence that the Bush Administration had a predisposition to overthrow Saddam Hussein before the 9/11 attacks."

The report accused Feith's office of compiling "selective reinterpretations of intelligence" that went beyond the views of American spy agencies in order to help make the case for an invasion of Iraq.

The report concluded that Feith and his staff were convinced that a relationship existed between Saddam and Al Qaeda, and that the office had advanced that perspective by trying to change the intelligence community's views and "by taking its interpretation straight to policymakers."

"That alleged relationship," the report said, "coupled with the assertion that Iraq possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), was the major argument presented by the Administration for invading Iraq."

Relying on selective reporting, irrespective of credibility and reliability, Feith’s briefing concluded the following: