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Pentagon's Feith, an architect of Iraq policy, to leave post

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon's third-ranking policy-maker has decided to leave his post this summer, the Pentagon said Wednesday, announcing the first resignation of a senior civilian architect of the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith cited personal and family reasons for his decision, said a brief Department of Defense announcement.

The announcement came on the deadliest day for U.S. troops since the Iraq war began 22 months ago, with 37 American troops killed, and four days before elections for an interim Iraqi assembly.

An official working under Feith has been under investigation for allegedly passing classified information to Israel, and the Senate Intelligence Committee has been looking into Feith's role in developing the faulty intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs and ties to terrorism that the Bush administration used to build its case for invading Iraq.

Feith, 51, oversees an organization of 1,500 military and civilian policy analysts.

He belongs to the neoconservative school of U.S. security policy, which holds that the United States should aggressively advance its interests by using its political, economic and—if necessary—military might to advance democracy and freedom.

A lawyer, Feith helped shape the Bush administration's national security strategy following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and was among the leading advocates for invading Iraq.

He's been accused by critics of failing to develop plans for stabilizing Iraq after the ouster of former dictator Saddam Hussein and accepting the assurances of Iraqi exiles that U.S.-led troops would be welcomed as liberators.

Feith denied the allegations, arguing that U.S. military officials and others sabotaged Pentagon plans for quickly putting Iraqi exiles in power after Baghdad fell.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters on Wednesday that Feith told him after the November presidential election that he wanted to return to the private sector.

"I've asked him to stick around. We don't have a replacement. And he's agreed to do that," Rumsfeld said.

The Pentagon announcement quoted Rumsfeld as praising Feith's contributions to U.S. security and called him "creative, well-organized and energetic."

By contrast, author Bob Woodward quoted retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander of the Iraq invasion, as calling Feith the "stupidest guy on the face of the Earth."

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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