updated 6/24/2008 4:00:20 PM ET 2008-06-24T20:00:20

A congressional subcommittee voted Tuesday to subpoena an adviser to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the Bush administration's harsh interrogation policies toward terror detainees.

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Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy, had agreed to testify but changed his mind hours before he was to appear last week at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Feith is believed to have been instrumental in drafting government interrogation policies in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, policies that critics say led to torture.

His lawyer said Feith changed his mind when he learned that Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, an aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, would also testify.

The lawyer, John Moustakas, wrote the committee that Wilkerson has made defamatory comments about Feith, calling Feith stupid and a `card-carrying member of the Likud party' and more loyal to Israel than the U.S.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the subcommittee chairman, said he had never seen a witness behave as Feith did.

"One witness' dislike for another witness cannot become a reason not to provide critical testimony to Congress," said Nadler, D-N.Y.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said Feith justifiably believed the hearing would not be a respectful discussion about terror detainees if Wilkerson shared the microphone.

Republicans asked the Democrats who control the panel to give Feith the opportunity to appear voluntarily without a subpoena. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said the panel was "trying to use a sledgehammer when maybe a flyswatter would do."

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he hoped Feith would appear voluntarily and that the committee would not need to issue a subpoena.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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