Opinion: Who’s in charge?

Tim Eggerding

Tim Eggerding

By Zachary Schuster

Last week, a two-year FBI investigation came to fruition with the outing of an Israeli spy working in the Pentagon. The spy, Lawrence Franklin, worked for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the civilian responsible for planning all aspects of the recent war in Iraq. Franklin’s outing hopefully will call attention to the failures of the Bush administration’s conduct of the Iraq war.

While Feith’s office holds responsibility for the plan to win peace in Iraq and the post-war detainment of prisoners, its most important role in the war was the gathering of pre-war intelligence. Prior to the invasion, Feith was placed at the head of the Office of Special Plans, whose sole purpose was to prove a connection between Iraq and al-Qaida.

A significant amount of intelligence cited by the OSP came from Ahmed Chalabi, the man originally chosen by President Bush to preside over the Iraqi National Congress after the planned June 30 handover. Chalabi was such a favorite of President Bush that he was given a special seat right behind the first lady at the 2004 State of the Union Address.

That relationship was wonderful until May, when it was discovered Chalabi was working as an Iranian spy. Even worse, an investigation found most of the intelligence Chalabi gave the United States concerning weapons of mass destruction was false.

Let me repeat again: Most of the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war was made up by an Iranian spy.

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It is funny how Chalabi then went from a guest at the State of the Union Address to someone President Bush claimed to barely know. Instead of taking responsibility for a mistake, President Bush once again highlighted his administration’s slogan: “The buck stops, um, somewhere over there.”

Meanwhile, Franklin’s role in foreign-policy planning still is being determined. The Pentagon claims he was a mid-level analyst, while journalists who broke the story describe Franklin as a neo-conservative who had an active role in policy making. These journalists also highlight Franklin’s close ties to Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Whatever Franklin’s role in policy making, the fact remains that foreign spies from Iran and Israel – two countries with vested interests in the United States going to war with Iraq – have infiltrated the Pentagon office responsible for justifying the war. Israel wanted the United States to exert its power in the Middle East, and Iran, as part of the “Axis of Evil,” did not want to be invaded.

As a result, it is now fair to ask “Who, exactly, is dictating U.S. foreign policy?”

It’s clear Feith’s office failed in its intelligence gathering and conduct of the war. But if President Bush is the extraordinary leader he claims to be, he will take responsibility for the mistakes made by his employees. Unfortunately, as his track record has shown, he probably will pass blame to someone else.

Zachary Schuster is a senior in engineering. His forum runs Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected].