John Stewart Tells Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy: “With All Due Respect, It was DECEPTION not Error.”

by jhwygirl

Monday night’s The Daily Show – which shows at midnight Tuesday morning here in the mountain west – had an extremely interesting interview with Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary for Defense Policy – the man who helped formulate the war in Iraq.

So there I was a midnight, trying to fall asleep. Stewart interviewing Feith about his book, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism. {yawn}

Boy, I was wrong.

Maybe he thought he’d get the cakewalk that McCain got last week when Stewart let the defacto Republican presidential candidate escape any question regarding his pastor problems (Pastor I-hate-Catholics Hagee and Pastor Rod Islam-is-a-false-religion-that-must-be-destroyed-by-America Parsley).

Far from it – Feith was but-but-buttin’ from the get go, but only after a deadpan “holy crap” look on his face from Stewart’s first real question out of the box, after first asking him what was his favorite baseball team. Video is best, really – like I said, the look on his face was priceless, but here’s some highlights:

Stewart: oh, man. we really disagree. mets. “war: indecision.” what if it boils down to that, i like the mets, you like the phillies. the whole thing falls apart. it seem like in reading it sort of the basic idea of the book– and tell me if i’m wrong– that a lot of what we know about the run-up to the iraq war, a low of the conventional wisdom is wrong. this idea that, i think it’s something that you might take offense to that we were misled into war somehow. (one person applauding)…
settle down. it will be a long ten minutes, lady. the idea we’re misled in a war is wrong. now, from this side of it, i always felt like we were misled. so, let’s bridge that gap in ten minutes. what makes you say we were not misled? what was so honest about….

Feith: i think the administration had an honest belief in the things that it said. some of the things that it said about the war that were part of the rationale for the war were wrong. errors are not lies. i think much of what the administration said was correct and provided an important argument that leaving saddam hussein in power would have been extremely risky even though the president’s decision to remove him was extremely risky.

Stewart: let me stop you there because the president’s decision to remove him was extremely risky. that’s not the sense, i think, that the american people got in the run-up. (applause) the sense that you got from people was not… the sense was, we’ll be greeted as liberators. it will last maybe six weeks, maybe six months. it will pay for itself. all these scenarios that were publicly proffered never happened. you said something that i thought was interesting. the common refrain that the post war has been a disaster is only true if you had completely unrealistic expectations. where would we have gotten those expectations? (laughing)

Feith: well, there were a lot of things that did not go according to expectations. we know that the war has been bloodier and costlyier and lengthyier than anybody hoped. but the president had an extremely difficult task. after 9/11, there was a great sensitivity to our vulnerability. and the president had to weigh– and what i do in the book is i look at the actual documents where secretary rumsfeld was writing to the president and powell and rice and the vice president and general myers and others. i talk about what they said to each other and what they were saying back to secretary rumsfeld. what you see is there was a serious consideration of the very great risks of war. i think that many of them were actually discussed with the public. but to tell you the truth, looking back one thing is absolutely clear. this administration made grocerors in the way it talked about the war. some of them are very obvious like the….

Stewart: that was all we had to go on. you know, that was… i guess the difference in my mind is if you knew the perils but the conversation that you had with the public painted a rosier picture, how is that not deception? that sounds like… when you’re sell ago product…. ( applause ) what it sounds like for me. sorry. the fact that you seem to know all the risks takes this from manslaughter to homicide. it almost takes it from like with the cigarette companies. if they come out and say, no, our products i think are going to be delicious. you go back and you look and they go, well, they actually did talk about addictiveness and cancer. isn’t that deception?

And so it goes – and that was only the beginning.

Every once in the while you see something on the television that makes you want to get up and cheer like you’re sitting in the endzone at Heinz Field and its 4th and 10 and Roethlisberger is earning his pay.

Stewart’s interview was one of those times.

Here is the full transcript.

There’s also uncut video – as I said, the look on Feith’s face is priceless. Part I and Part II.

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