Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Feith Speech Draws Protest

Students from Georgetown Peace Action gathered Wednesday in front of the Mortara Center for International Studies at 36 and N Streets to protest a lecture by School of Foreign Service professor Douglas Feith, due to his alleged support for interrogation techniques that some have deemed to be torture.

About a dozen students carried signs, shouted anti-war chants and spoke to passersby as Feith, who served as under secretary of defense for policy from 2001 to 2005, discussed his new book “War and Decision,” which details the information and conversations leading up to the war.

Protesters from GPA, which was formed five years ago in opposition to the war in Iraq, criticized Georgetown for employing Feith. The organization claims that he has supported policy that allows for torture, asserting that he tried to reinterpret the Geneva Convention’s statements against torture.

One sign read, “If torture is a war crime, then Doug Feith is a war criminal.”

“Ideally, we’d have him not be at Georgetown,” GPA member Sarah David Heydemann (COL ’09) said.

“We’d like for Georgetown not to employ people like him… Faculty are an expression of [Georgetown’s] values. . Just because Georgetown is in D.C. doesn’t mean we have to pay lip service to this administration,” she added.

“If Georgetown wants to give Feith a platform to justify pre-emptive war and torture, then we have a right to come out here for humanitarianism and life,” GPA member Zach Pesavento (SFS ’08) said.

With four Department of Public Safety officers present, one inside the center and three others outside watching the protesters, the demonstration remained peaceful yet vocal.

The reactions of passersby were varied, with one man calling the protesters “a bunch of obnoxious kids,” while a group of women called Feith’s employment by the university “a great sadness.”

Feith said in an interview yesterday that he would have liked to see those in opposition to his views engage him at the lecture rather than protest.

“I am very a big believer in civil dialogue and debate and I would have been happy to discuss things and answer questions,” he said. “[In my book, I said that] there’s no country in the world that has a stronger interest in promoting the Geneva Convention than the United States.”

Dara Gold (COL ’10), treasurer of the Lecture Fund, which co-hosted the lecture along with the Mortara Center, defended the decision to have Feith speak. She called it an opportunity for Feith, one of her professors, to promote his book and face the criticism that would presumably follow its release.

“A lot of people disagree with what [Feith] says,” she said. “What I would say is, `Read the book, ask pointed questions.'”

Gold also said she is displeased that university officials have not asked Feith to return to teach next year.

“Georgetown is playing politics at the expense of their students,” she said.

The protesters did not, however, enter the Mortara Center to participate in the question-and-answer session following Feith’s lecture.

“At this time, I don’t think we’d be allowed in,” Heydemann said. “That’s not the plan. I think it’s more important to be out here for the students walking by.”

Toward the end of his speech, the protesters, still waiting outside, began to shout directly toward the windows. With just a thin piece of glass between himself and the shouting protesters, Feith simply said, “That’s what makes America great.”

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