"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Front Page News Fit To Print

Ah, the New York Times. Gotta love 'em. Today's front page (the print edition no less) informs us that "Ex-Defense Official Hired, Briefly, by a Pentagon School."

It seems that Doug Feith, the former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, after leaving the Pentagon began a book project and also signed a contract to teach at the National Defense University. Before his first course began, the leadership of the NDU changed, and announced that a top-to-bottom review of all contracts would be undertaken, and that no activities could be approved for some weeks. Feith needed to enroll students in his new course, but could not be given assurance that the course in fact would be approved. And so Feith---who needed the time anyway to work on his book, which was taking a good deal more time than anticipated---and the NDU agreed simply to cancel his contract.

But that is not the impression that the ink-stained wretches at the NYT undertook to give. No indeed: Feith's contract with the NDU, you see, was canceled "three days after" the Times reporter asked NDU about the matter. Not only does the article offer utterly no evidence of anything negative, it fails even to allege any such thing. Instead, the article gives us a lot of verbiage hinting at something slimy without ever telling us precisely what that might be.

The story clearly is yet another attempt by the NYT to make Feith friendless (or radioactive), as part of the larger effort to smear anyone involved in the Bush Administration Iraq policy. (Full disclosure: Feith and I have been good friends for over 25 years.) Feith truly is a gentleman and a scholar, but no matter: At the NYT, a teaching contract at the NDU now is front-page News Fit to Print. And they wonder why no one not already part of their choir takes them seriously.

4 comments:

Evanston said...

The NYT is truly feeble now, and as you note is only able to successfully preach to its constantly diminishing choir.

I have followed the Levin/Pincus smears against Feith and he has my personal respect and thanks for enduring them with vigor and dignity.
The slings and arrows he has suffered are in some respects more grievous and lasting than the mortar attacks I saw in Iraq.
Respectfully,

S. T. Allen, LtCol USMC (Ret)

James F. Elliott said...

ink-stained wretches

Do you take writing lessons from Martin Peretz? If so, you need a new tutor.

James F. Elliott said...

Instead, the article gives us a lot of verbiage hinting at something slimy without ever telling us precisely what that might be.


Snark aside, it's funny how if one actually reads the article, one sees that the real problem is that there were some questions of propriety in the granting of Mr. Feith's contract in the first place. The "verbiage" is not vague.

From the NY Times article:

The way the contract was put out for bid, though, made it difficult for the university to choose anyone other than Mr. Feith.

The “distinguished professor” had to have been a senior policymaker or consultant in the government in the past four years and to have worked on revamping America’s global defense posture, its security relationships in Central Asia and South Asia, its strategy for the campaign against terrorism, and several other major issues, the contract solicitation said.

In a June 2006 application for the job labeled “Proposal of Douglas J. Feith,” Mr. Feith explained that his work as the top policy official in the Pentagon had covered all the required areas.

“I was the principal author of the briefings that became the foundation for the National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism,” he noted in a five-page résumé summarizing his accomplishments over four years at the Pentagon.

Responding to a requirement that candidates have experience with the “NATO Response Force,” Mr. Feith wrote that he had worked with Mr. Rumsfeld to “develop the concept.”

Likewise, on the defense posture item, he noted that he had advised Mr. Rumsfeld on “realigning our global defense posture” as well as on relations with “Central Asia and Asia.”

With respect to the need to have worked on training and equipping foreign forces, he said he “had helped create the Defense Department programs for training and equipping armies in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, Philippines and Yemen.”

He concluded, “I have the experience to meet and perform the government’s statement of work,” and he listed his salary requirement for an initial year and three option years as $501,774.

A month later, he was awarded the contract for the precise amount, according to Defense Department documents, which give no indication that anyone else had been considered. The initial payment, covering July to September of last year, was specified at $37,375. Mr. Thomas, the university spokesman, said he received no payments.


The story as related by Dr. Zycher is not in the article. I think he's reading far too much into an article about a friend who is, like it or not, a public figure about whom the majority of the public has grave doubts.

At the NYT, a teaching contract at the NDU now is front-page News Fit to Print.

Whether you agree with the conclusions or not, a potentially shady and certainly potentially lucrative contract position at a government agency, awarded to the individual in question on the merit of his national security bona fides which have been recently drawn in to question -- again, correctly or no -- by the inspector general of the very agency where that work took place is an important news item.

But by all means, continue.

SteveR said...

Benjamin - I didn't know how best to contact you, so when I found this blog, I thought I'd use the comments.

I appreciated your article in today's National Review, "Reporting for Spin -
Carl Levin’s latest report ignores the facts on the ground to this day"

Just one small nit, though: You said that Sen. Levin asked for the IG report. My understanding is that when he was still chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts requested the IG because (quoting Roberts) "... The committee is concerned about persistent and, to date, unsubstantiated allegations that there was something unlawful or improper about the activities of the Office of Special Plans with the Office of the Undersecretary. I have not discovered any credible evidence or unlawful or improper activity. And yet the allegations persist."

"The allegations," of course, were first and foremost from Senator Levin, so the overall thrust of your article is absolutely correct. I just wanted to bring your attention to the Pat Roberts angle, and in particular, to that powerful quote by Senator Roberts.

BTW, I'm a lifelong Democrat, even an enthusiastic Clintonista in the 90's, who is, since 9/11, very distrubed by the leadership of the Dems.

Thanks for your excellent article.

Best regards,
SteveR