There’s something on Congress’ schedule today that stood out as, well, unsettling. Politico noted this morning:
Republican Rep. Peter Roskam will continue his assault on President Barack Obama’s Iran deal on Wednesday, this time with a subcommittee hearing featuring well-known hawks like former top Pentagon official Douglas Feith.Roskam’s Ways and Means oversight subcommittee will specifically look at tax provisions aimed at discouraging business interaction with Iran.
And while there’s nothing wrong with Roskam, who made quite a name for himself in the recent Republican Benghazi hearing, taking a closer look at U.S. policy towards Iran, it’s hard not to wonder why, exactly, Doug Feith was brought in to offer the committee and its members guidance on the subject.
In fact, Democratic members on the House Ways & Means Committee weren’t pleased with the witness selection at all. Here’s a video of Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) wondering aloud why anyone would find Feith credible at all. At the same hearing, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) pursued a similar line, noting that Feith bears some responsibility for the disastrous invasion of Iraq.
When Crowley called the invasion arguably the biggest strategic blunder the U.S. ever made, Feith replied, “Calling it the biggest strategic blunder the United States ever made I think undermines your credibility, not mine.”
No, seriously, that’s what he said.
In case anyone’s forgotten our previous coverage, Douglas Feith was a national laughingstock during his tenure in the Bush/Cheney administration, getting practically everything about U.S. policy in Iraq backwards.
General Tommy Franks, the former Commander of the U.S. Central Command, once famously referred to Feith as “the dumbest f***ing guy on the planet.”
So why in the world are congressional Republicans turning to him as an expert witness on U.S. policy towards Iran?
I’m reminded again of a James Fallows piece from last year.
We all make mistakes. But we are talking about people in public life – writers, politicians, academics – who got the biggest strategic call in many decades completely wrong. Wrong as a matter of analysis, wrong as a matter of planning, wrong as a matter of execution, wrong in conceiving American interests in the broadest sense.None of these people did that intentionally, and many of them have honestly reflected and learned. But we now live with (and many, many people have died because of) the consequences of their gross misjudgments a dozen years ago. In the circumstances, they might have the decency to shut the hell up on this particular topic for a while.
And yet, here we are, watching Doug Feith deliver testimony before Congress – as if his opinions have real merit – condemning a diplomatic solution in the Middle East.
The mind reels.