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Ex-Rumsfeld Aide's Office Is Investigated

November 20, 2005|Robert Burns | Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's inspector general said Friday it had begun an investigation into allegations that an office run by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's former policy chief, Douglas J. Feith, engaged in illegal or inappropriate intelligence activities before the Iraq war.

The probe, which two senators requested two months ago, comes at a contentious point in the political debate over President Bush's decision to invade Iraq and the intelligence upon which Bush based his decision.

It extends a controversy that has prominently featured Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a vocal critic of Bush's Iraq policy, who has accused Feith of engaging in inappropriate intelligence activities at the Pentagon and of deceiving Congress about intelligence on Iraq's prewar links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Levin told reporters Friday that Feith provided the White House and its National Security Council with "really erroneous and distorted intelligence" about Iraq and its purported links to terrorist groups.

One of the questions to be probed by the Pentagon inspector general, Levin said, is whether Feith, in his position as undersecretary of Defense for policy, "provided a separate channel of intelligence, unbeknownst to the CIA, to the White House -- which he did."

In a letter Wednesday to Feith's successor, Eric Edelman, and to Rumsfeld's intelligence chief, Stephen Cambone, the inspector general's office asked for points of contact for the investigation no later than Dec. 1.

"The overall objective will be to determine whether personnel assigned to the Office of Special Plans from September 2002 through June 2003 conducted unauthorized, unlawful or inappropriate intelligence activities," the letter said. A copy was released by the Pentagon Friday.

Feith left his Pentagon post this summer. In a telephone interview Friday, he said the allegations were groundless.

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