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

Thursday, February 22, 2007

LTG Mike Dunn on Doug Feith and the NDU

Following on my earlier post on that silly New York Times front-page nonstory on Doug Feith's contract to teach at the National Defense University, Lieutenant General Mike Dunn, USAF (Ret.), sent the following letter to the Times. The Times is far too uninterested in actual facts to publish the letter, and so I reproduce it here.

February 17, 2007

Dear New York Times Editors,

I read your piece (15 Feb) on former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith realized it must have been a slow-news day. For a paper that prides itself on bringing its readers "all the news that is fit to print," you failed on that piece. What I found most interesting is that you strung a long list on innuendos together to paint a skewed picture of both Mr. Feith and the National Defense University ... and then put the piece on your front page.

It is instructive to look at the facts: First, Mr. Feith, several TV media pundits, and your downtown print rivals - the Wall Street Journal - have debunked the DOD IG report ... which states that questioning intelligence is not the prerogative of policy officials or senior leaders. If it is not their prerogative, it clearly should be.

Secondly, you imply it was improper for the National Defense University to seek someone of Mr. Feith's credentials to lecture and research at NDU. How else are our future leaders going to learn how policy is developed, the rationale behind policy decisions, or what inside alternative considerations might be? You conveniently leave out the fact that Mr. Feith has lectured at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, many other universities, and is presently a distinguished professor at Georgetown University. You also failed to mention that Mr. Feith had lectured at NDU many times in the past. His class critiques have been complimentary; his knowledge of the policy issues facing this country was and is better than any lecturer we had during my tenure as President.

Thirdly, you interviewed me last May for almost 2 hours about the "supposed" impropriety of NDU being a repository for Mr. Feith's and Secretary Wolfowitz's personal papers. You never mentioned that NDU has the personal papers of almost every Chairman of the Joint Chiefs since General Maxwell Taylor, including General Powell's. And NDU also stores the papers of other senior distinguished generals. We are honored to have these collections ... as historians of the future will have access to a treasure-trove of first-hand information for research and reflection. It certainly was not in your agenda to point out the General (Ret) Wesley Clark graciously donated his papers to the university ... and wrote his first book at the university.

Finally and most importantly (and in deference to Secretary White) you imply that NDU ought to avoid controversy in its selection of professors and that choosing someone less qualified might better serve the interests of our nation ... in a time of war. I dispute this point. It might be OK in civilian universities. But our future military and diplomatic leaders deserve the best. And that is what we sought with the selection of Mr. Feith.

Michael M. Dunn
Lt General (Ret)
Former President, National Defense University

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