Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Friday, January 28, 2005

aljazeerah.com: Undersecretary Douglas J. Feith Broke The Law

The Neocons: Undersecretary Douglas J. Feith, Richard H. Curtiss: "The Neocons: Undersecretary Douglas J. Feith
Richard H. Curtiss

Special to Arab News
Arab News
As the third-ranking member of the Defense Department, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith is one of the most important members of the Bush administration. Interestingly, he not only is an extreme hard-line Zionist, but he comes by it honestly.

His Austrian-born father, Dalck Feith, was a member of Betar in the 1930s, in Poland. Betar was the youth movement founded by Vladimir Jabotinsky, whom Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, had denounced as “Vladimir Hitler.” When Jabotinsky died in 1940 he was replaced by Menachem Begin.

Dalck Feith later joined the Zionist underground in British mandate Palestine, where he became one of Betar’s fiercest combatants in the year before Israeli independence. He moved to the United States during World War II, and joined the US Merchant Marine.

His son Douglas, born and raised in Philadelphia, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard before earning a law degree (also magna cum laude) from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Feith initially worked for the government in 1981, when, during the first Reagan administration, he served on the White House National Security staff under Richard Allen. Shortly thereafter, Allen was forced to resign, and was replaced by William Clark. Feith was promptly fired from his post, allegedly on charges of bias toward and involvement with Israel.

During Reagan’s second term, Feith resurfaced as part of Richard Perle’s team at the Pentagon. Perle is a notorious Cold War hawk and a pro-Israel neoconservative hard-liner, widely known as the “Prince of Darkness” by friend and foe alike. Another colleague at the time was Steven Bryen, who later had to resign on charges that he had leaked classified material to Israel. The FBI was prepared to indict Bryen on charges of espionage, but Bryan’s cohorts in the Justice Department delayed the indictment until the statute of limitations had expired.

In the George Herbert Walker Bush administration, Feith was a member of the National Security Council (NSC), before shifting to the Department of Defense, where he was deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy, as well as special counsel to Richard Perle.

When the elder Bush was not re-elected, Feith set up his own law practice, Feith & Zell. According to James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, in 1989 Feith registered International Advisers Inc. (IAI) as a foreign agent representing the government of Turkey. IAI’s purpose was to “promote the objective of US-Turkish defense industrial cooperation.”

In official documents filed with the US Department of Justice, Feith is listed as IAI’s chief executive officer and its only stockholder. Perle was listed as the group’s single highest paid consultant, earning $48,000 a year. Feith himself earned $60,000 yearly, and his law firm, Feith and Zell, received hundreds of thousands of dollars from IAI.

During the six years that Feith and IAI were registered as foreign agents for the government of Turkey, Feith and a number of individuals serving as staff and receiving payments from IAI were making tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to both pro-Israel PACs and to pro-Israel senators and congressmen.

One pro-Israel PAC, the Washington Political Action Committee — to which Feith contributed $3,500 — just happened to be headed by Morris Amitay, former AIPAC official and one of the earliest members of IAI. Two of the largest recipients of the PAC’s largesse were Sen. Robert Packwood (R-OR) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN).

Perle and Feith later teamed up to represent another foreign entity, the government of Bosnia. According to Richard Holbrooke, the principal US negotiator at the Dayton peace talks, the two men worked for and advised the Bosnians during the talks — but did not register with the Department of Justice as foreign agents are required to do. Feith and Perle lobbied on behalf of Bosnia and against the Greek-American and Armenian-American lobbies.

In the mid-1990s Feith represented 41 members of Congress in a suit against then-President Bill Clinton. Feith argued that Clinton was violating a 1995 law requiring increased funding for missile defense programs. Interestingly, Feith refused to reveal the sources of funding for the suit.

As a member of the inner circles of the George W. Bush administration, Feith, along with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, are receiving strong criticism for their performance in postwar Iraq.

The troika currently is being blamed for making no serious preparations to assume important postwar duties such as maintaining security and providing water, electricity and Iraq’s other infrastructure needs. In addition, there even seems to be deliberate sabotage. The Financial Times predicted on June 26 that at least one Defense Department player will have to take the blame for the Iraqi chaos, and guessed Feith would take the fall.

Feith can be bitingly sarcastic. Following one of his lengthy and contemptuous statements during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) cut off the exchange by saying, “That is a smart-ass comment.”

Both Dalck and Douglas Feith have been heaped with honors over the years, both in Philadelphia and in American Jewish circles. Dalck Feith, for example, was given the Zionist Organization of America’s centennial award for his lifetime of service to Israel and to the Jewish people. The right-wing ZOA, which opposes any peace in Palestine and Israel also gave Douglas J. Feith the prestigious Lewis J. Brandeis award at the same 1997 awards dinner.

Dalck Feith, who became a distinguished business leader and philanthropist in Philadelphia, has served as general chairman of the Federation Allied Jewish Appeal of Philadelphia and a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He has been honored for his good works by numerous prominent institutions and organizations, including Brandeis University, Hebrew University and Israel Bonds. He and his wife, Rose, the parents of three children, reside in Elkins Park, PA.

Their son Douglas has received the Department of Defense’s highest civilian award, the Distinguished Public Service Award. A prolific author, he has written essays on Israel and other subjects which have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Commentary and elsewhere. An essay on Winston Churchill, Zionism and Palestine (1904-1922) has just been published in the book Churchill as Peacemaker, Cambridge University Press/Woodrow Wilson Center Press.

Douglas Feith is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also is a director of the Center for Security Policy, an officer of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, and a director of the Foundation for Jewish Studies. He and his wife, Yana, reside in Maryland with their four children.

(Richard H. Curtiss is executive editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.)"


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