The following is an archived copy of a message sent to the CASI Analysis List run by Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq (CASI).

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [CASI Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #104 - 2 msgs

[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ]

This is an automated compilation of submissions to

Articles for inclusion in this daily news mailing should be sent to 
Please include a full reference to the source of the article.

Today's Topics:

   1. Scott Ritter's war (Mark Parkinson)
   2. (no subject) (


Message: 1
From: "Mark Parkinson" <>
Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 13:56:27 +0100
Subject: Scott Ritter's war

By: Stephen Marshall, Manhattan

 Of all the people who owed Scott Ritter an apology, the most
eloquent and, perhaps, meaningful, came from David H. Hackworth, the
retired U.S. Army Colonel and self-described Most Decorated Soldier
in America. Hackworth can walk the walk. He was shot eight times in
Vietnam, and went on to write the so-called "Vietnam Primer,"
referred to as the military's bible on counter-insurgency warfare.

May 26, 2004

Over the course of the last year, news organizations have had to eat
large portions of humble pie. While the alternative press raised red
flag after red flag about the Bush administration's Weapons of Mass
Destruction claims, almost every mainstream U.S. news organization
simply parroted the official fictions. The New York Times, a paper
commonly referred to as "liberal" by the right, went even further,
running numerous high-profile stories that featured anonymous sources
who claimed Iraq had a viable and dangerous WMD program. Many of the
Times' sources were Iraqis tied to Ahmed Chalabi, a man the U.S. now
accuses of being a spy for Iran.

Today, The New York Times issued a mea culpa, headlined "Correction:
The New York Times on Iraq coverage." The Times editors write,
"Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining
the claims as new evidence emerged =97 or failed to emerge." Nowhere in
the Times explanation is a reference to Scott Ritter, the former U.N.
weapons inspector whose warnings were all but ignored by the paper,
and pretty much every other big media outlet. While many news
organizations are undergoing similar soul-searching, none have
bothered to give Ritter his proper due. In this extensive media
analysis, GNN's Stephen Marshall looks back at Ritter's WMD battles,
the media and the politics of being right:

Character Assassination

In the late summer and fall of 2002, six months before the invasion,
former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter hit the major networks,
claiming that the Bush administration was "deliberately distorting
the record in regards to weapons of mass destruction." Despite his
radical position, Ritter's credentials as a U.S. Marine and fearless
weapons inspector made him impossible to ignore. So he became the
most visible opponent of the administration's assertion that Saddam
was a threat to the United States. And, in response, the corporate
media did everything in their power to assassinate his character. We
decided to trace the media coverage that Ritter received during
September, 2002.

It was a busy month.

One of the most common tactics was to spin his criticism of Bush into
a sympathy for Saddam Hussein. Within the first minute of his
interview, Fox News Channel's David Asman asked Ritter how it was
that "people have gotten the impression that=85 you're now being
somewhat apologetic for what Saddam Hussein is doing?"

Less sophisticated, but no less effective was the subtle references
to his mental state. During an appearance on CNN with Paula Zahn,
Ritter was quizzed about his anti-war documentary 'In Shifting
Sands,' which was funded by an Iraqi-American with ties to Saddam
Hussein. Ignoring the fact that Ritter had developed a network of
allies within the regime, which ultimately gave him access to high-
level Baath officials and allowed him to film in Iraq, Zahn ridiculed

"People are accusing you of drinking Saddam Hussein's Kool-Aid."

Michael Crowley, associate editor of the New Republic used his
influential real estate at to do his own psychological
assessment of Scott Ritter:

"Perhaps a better possibility is that during his thousands of hours
in Iraq, Ritter developed something like Stockholm syndrome. He may
feel a genuine concern for Iraq that makes him want to see it
restored to economic and political health. In interviews Ritter has
spoken of the 'warmth' of the Iraqi people, the beauty of the
country's mosques and ziggurats, and the suffering of children who he
says are victims of economic sanctions."

Hmm=85 sympathy. Pretty crazy stuff, especially during wartime. But it
gets worse.

Using his documentary as 'evidence', some of Ritter's more dedicated
assailants tried to make the case that he had been bought. The worst
of these was Stephen Hayes, the nasty, wimpish neocon puppet from The
Weekly Standard. Writing in the Wall Street Journal editorial page
under a headline reading: "Ritter of Arabia: How did a tough Marine
become an apologist for Saddam Hussein?," Hayes weighed in:

"Today, as a second President Bush prepares the country for war in
the same land, Scott Ritter is seemingly doing PR for Saddam Hussein,
appearing anywhere he can get an audience to dispute the contention
that Saddam is a threat to the world. Mr. Ritter shows up on National
Public Radio, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CBS, ABC, NBC and each of
the all-news cable networks. Prominent newspapers--the Boston Globe,
Newsday, the Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles
Times--have published his rants. He is quoted approvingly by members
of Congress and world leaders. Indeed, Scott Ritter has probably
become the leading opponent of intervention in Iraq.

But he wasn't always a dove.

=85What explains Scott Ritter's change of heart? Only he knows, of
course. But as his views have changed, he's taken money from a source
who has led many to question his objectivity.

Over the past two years, Mr. Ritter has taken $400,000 from Shakir Al-
Khafaji, an Iraqi-American businessman with ties to Saddam, to
produce a documentary called, In Shifting Sands."

When Hayes showed up on Fox's No Spin Zone, he let O'Reilly hoist the

O'REILLY: All right. You believe that Ritter's bought?

HAYES: It's a good question. I stopped short of that deliberately in
my article. I just wanted to lay out the facts and let people decide
for themselves whether they thought he was bought. I would say
$400,000 from somebody who Ritter, when I interviewed him, admitted
was, quote unquote, "openly sympathetic" with the regime in

And so it went. Looking at news reports from the period, there were
few instances where Ritter's calm warnings about the administration's
deceptive tactics were not treated with contempt or derision.

But it obviously wasn't enough.

In January, 2003, just two months before the invasion would begin,
Scott Ritter was effectively taken out of the game by leaked
documents alleging that, in 2001, he had been charged with pursuing a
16-year old girl over the internet. As the controversy broke, Ritter
was immediately judged a pervert, despite the fact that the case had
been dismissed and sealed at the state level. Despite the obvious
nature of the leak, the damage had been done.

In a heated exchange with CNN's Aaron Brown, Ritter could do little
to revive his credibility:

Scott Ritter: I stood before a judge, and law =97 you know, the due
process of law was carried forth. And now we have a situation where
the media has turned this into a feeding frenzy. This is not an extra
judicial proceeding, Aaron. I do not stand before you, where I have
to testify to anything. The case was dismissed.

Aaron Brown: Scott ...

Ritter: The file was sealed.

Brown: Scott, I'm trying to give you an opportunity, if you want to
take it, to explain what happened. And here's the point of that. And
you know this is true. You are radioactive until this is cleared up,
until people understand what this is about. No one is going to talk
to you about the things that you feel passionately about.

With Ritter effectively off-limits to the mainstream press and the
Bush administration mounting a full-court press in their drive to
take out Saddam, his defense was left to the increasingly relevant
muckrakers of the digital underground.

Justin Raimondo of

"So the police just happened to conduct a "sex sting" operation
against the one man who had exposed the lies of our war-mad rulers
from the inside. On the eve of war, as hundreds of thousands protest
in the streets, this staunch Republican and solid family man who has
become one of the War Party's most formidable enemies is suddenly
"exposed" as a child molester.

Since the court records have been sealed, and the case was merely
"adjourned in contemplation of dismissal," the authorities will say
nothing, at least in public. The entrapment was apparently so
transparent, so obviously the clumsiest sort of COINTELPRO-style
operation badly bungled by our newly-empowered political police, that
the charges were dropped to the legal equivalent of a traffic ticket.
Could it be that the records were sealed not to protect Ritter, but
to protect whomever tried to set him up?

Anybody who doesn't believe that Ritter was specifically targeted on
account of his political activities needs to seek help: that sort of
naivete can be terminal, and the patient probably shouldn't be
trusted to cross the street unattended."

There's nothing at all fishy about a "sealed" court record leaked to
reporters, complete with an alleged "mug shot" of Ritter broadcast on
television and republished by MSNBC. It's all a coincidence that this
comes out just as the war crisis reaches its climax - or anti-climax -
 and the administration is desperate to come up with a half-way
convincing rationale for war. What are you - a conspiracy theorist?"

One week later, CounterPunch's Alexander Cockburn boiled it down to
one pithy sentence:

"Once you're defined as a dirty beast in a raincoat, it's hard to
fight back."

And before anyone could say Pee-Wee Herman, the nation was at war.

An Orwellian Moment

One year later, chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay ended the
moratorium on journalistic misanthropy, at least where administration
officials are concerned, with his damning report to Congress. In his
report, Kay revealed what most of us already knew - that there was no
evidence of a WMD program. With the word now made official,
mainstream media began to earnestly question the administration's
honesty in prosecuting the case for war. By then, of course, it was
too late. Over five hundred U.S. soldiers had been killed and America
had stuck its boot in the Middle Eastern doorway as it moved to
establish a stable base of operations for its expansion into the Arab

Scott Ritter was nowhere to be seen.

Shamelessly, some pro-war pundits used Kay's watershed revelations to
admit their poor judgment and broaden the reach of their audience,
showing a humbler face to the incredulous American public.

Most notable of the mea culpas was Fox's ratings heavyweight Bill
O'Reilly, who had publicly pledged to appear on rival network ABC and
apologize if the WMD claims turned out to be false. True to his word,
after the Kay bombshell, O'Reilly dropped in on ABC's Good Morning
America to relinquish his faith in the Bush administration.

"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all
Americans should be concerned about this."

However, things are not always what they seem. In this case, O'Reilly
was doing double duty and using ABC's top-rated morning show to drive
the administrations' spin of the Kay report directly into the waking
minds of mainstream America. Because, while he admitted he was now
"more skeptical of the Bush administration," he placed the blame
firmly on the intelligence community, and the beleaguered CIA chief,
George Tenet.

"I don't know why Tenet still has his job."

This deliberate shifting of blame, from the administration who had
badgered and ridiculed the CIA until they produced intelligence that
effectively made the case for war, to the CIA who had simply complied
with their political bosses, was a masterful trick. Not only did it
fool the majority of Americans, who apparently couldn't remember the
administration's position on CIA intel before the war, but it
disabled the mainstream media, who were forced to cover the spin

The key author of the spin was Kay himself. A longtime intelligence
insider, he had clearly made a deal with the administration to betray
the hardworking analysts who had stood up to the administration. On
January 26, 2004, two days before he would testify before a Senate
Committee about his findings, Kay used an interview with Tom Brokaw
to float the administration's spin on the WMD debacle.

Tom Brokaw: David, as you know, a lot of the president's political
critics are going to say, "This is clear evidence that he lied to the
American people."

David Kay: Well, Tom, if we do that, I think we're really hurting
ourselves. Clearly, the intelligence that we went to war on was
inaccurate, wrong. We need to understand why that was. I think if
anyone was abused by the intelligence it was the president of the
United States rather than the other way around.

Abused by the intelligence? The president of the United States? Those
of us watching the interview surely gave a collective yelp of
anticipation. Here was a rare opportunity to speak truth to power and
unveil its lies, right on live television. And who better than
America's icon of journalistic integrity Tom Brokaw to get the job

But Brokaw's follow-up question, wasn't a follow-up question. He
simply moved on to the next point. Like a pitcher taking a signal for
his next throw, the platinum-haired veteran looked in and delivered.
There was no conscious reaction to the lie. No connection for the
audience to make between what Kay had said and the reality we had all
lived through for the past year.

It's hard to fathom how one of America's top news anchors and most
respected journalists could just let that kind revisionism slide.
That someone sitting atop one of the world's most powerful news
gathering systems could have failed to see the manipulation at work.
There really isn't a viable explanation for it. We know he is not
stupid. And we have to believe that, at least consciously, he's not
in on the game. But, then, what does that leave us with?

Without evidence of collusion, complicity or incompetence, we're left
to find something deeper. An instinctual need to see power in a
positive frame. To agree with it. And to bury all the cumbersome
inconsistencies under a veneer of professionalism and objectivity.
Whatever it was, it worked. The needle was threaded with a new lie to
keep the media's integrity from busting through the weathered fabric
of their collective denial.

But Brokaw was not the only journalist to abandon the historical
record. Just the first. Like a row of heavy dominoes falling one
after the another, once Kay hit NBC, Big Media fell into formation
and parroted them on cue. And while it is easy to blame the corporate
press for being so uncritically malleable to the government's
charade, their job was made slightly more difficult by the fact that
the spooks seemed to be playing along.

When Winston Wiley, former deputy director of CIA, appeared on Fox
News, he defended the agency against charges of pressure saying that
"intelligence analysis is a contact sport." And that visits from
policy-makers like Cheney "put pressure, but it's welcome pressure."

So, it was left to Paul Krugman, one of the few major national
columnists who still resides far enough outside of the warm of
embrace of power, to give the nation a dose of reality. As the New
York Times' sane counter-balance to Thomas Friedman's neo-
conservative ranting, Krugman did not miss his chance to characterize
America's "Orwellian moment":

"Do you remember when the C.I.A. was reviled by hawks because its
analysts were reluctant to present a sufficiently alarming picture of
the Iraqi threat? Your memories are no longer operative. On or about
last Saturday, history was revised: see, it's the C.I.A.'s fault that
the threat was overstated. Given its warnings, the administration had
no choice but to invade.

A tip from Josh Marshall, of, led me to a
stark reminder of how different the story line used to be. Last year
Laurie Mylroie published a book titled "Bush vs. the Beltway: How the
C.I.A. and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror." Ms.
Mylroie's book came with an encomium from Richard Perle; she's known
to be close to Paul Wolfowitz and to Dick Cheney's chief of staff.
According to the jacket copy, "Mylroie describes how the C.I.A. and
the State Department have systematically discredited critical
intelligence about Saddam's regime, including indisputable evidence
of its possession of weapons of mass destruction."

In the final paragraph of his column, Krugman showed an
uncharacteristic flash of manic idealism. It was more the stuff we
are used to seeing as posts on by the 4000 + kids on GNN's Forum than
anything published in The New York Times. But refreshing,
nonetheless, was Krugman's parting plea:

"I'd like to think that the administration's crass efforts to rewrite
history will backfire, that the media and the informed public won't
let officials get away with this. Have we finally had enough?"

Apparently not.

Looking back on the winter of 2004, it will be remembered that the
media did begin to sniff the blood of a wounded incumbent. And, like
a pack of hungry lemmings, they began to circle. But the focus of
their attention was not the double deception that the administration
had orchestrated around the cover-up of their falsified WMD intel.
Instead, they chose a much less controversial target, and one that
did not strike at the heart of the government's contempt for the
democratic process.

George W. Bush's record of military service.

It was a textbook case of what Daniel Goleman calls "the
quintessential self-deception." Where the psychological defenses of
the group are raised and attention is focused away from painful
truths that can cause anxiety. Instead of dealing with the collective
miscarriage of their civic responsibility - one that, at the least
demands they question the government about its political and economic
motives before they take the nation to war - Big Media shifted its
gaze toward the most innocuous of Bush's lies. And began a witchhunt
to uncover the hard journalistic facts about how much time he spent
in the Texas air national guard.

Meanwhile, nearly one year after his disgrace and censor from the
corporate media, America's uncelebrated truth-teller made one
solitary appearance on cable television. It was with CNN's Wolf
Blitzer, who allowed Ritter to humbly accept vindication. Instead of
railing against the forces that had marginalized and discredited him,
the former Marine used his time to make the case for executive
accountability :

"We have to go back to Harry Truman's old adage. The buck stops at
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I agree, there has to be a full
investigation but not just of the intelligence community=85 but of the
policymakers who made the decision to go to war based upon faulty

Of all the people who owed Scott Ritter an apology, the most eloquent
and, perhaps, meaningful, came from David H. Hackworth, the retired
U.S. Army Colonel and self-described Most Decorated Soldier in
America. Hackworth can walk the walk. He was shot eight times in
Vietnam, and went on to write the so-called "Vietnam Primer,"
referred to as the military's bible on counter-insurgency warfare.

Writing on his military-cult website,, the Colonel
praised Scott Ritter for taking "us all on - virtually alone, against
incredible odds."

When asked if he felt "totally exonerated," Ritter replied:

"I would feel a lot better if there were a way to reverse the hands
of time, so that people would have paid more attention to what I said
in the past, and we didn't find ourselves caught up in this ongoing

Reading Ritter's words in Hackworth's column reminded us of a quote
we had found from his 2002 address to the Iraqi people. At that time,
he warned that if the United States launched an invasion against
Iraq, it would "forever change the political dynamic which has
governed the world since the end of the Second World War, namely the
foundation of international law as set forth in the United Nations
charter, which calls for the peaceful resolution of problems between

And maybe that was exactly the point.

Mark Parkinson


Message: 2
Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 16:27:35 EDT
Subject: (no subject)

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Al Arab, Commentary,
Dr. Haifa Al-Azawi, Feb 12, 2004

When I returned to the United States after a visit to Baghdad, I read an
article from the Associated Press titled 'Exile Works to Win Influence in D=
C,'? by
Ken Guggenheim. It described how Iyad Allawi, now a member of the
U.S.-appointed Iraqi governing Council, was emerging as a prominent leader.

Guggenheim reported Allawi has paid prominent Washington lobbyists and New
York publicists more than $300,000 to help him make contacts with policy ma=
in Washington.

Any physician who graduated from Baghdad Medical School between the years
l962 and l970 will remember this big, husky man. The Baath party union lead=
who carried a gun on his belt and frequently brandished it terrorizing the
medical students, was a poor student and chose to spend his time standing i=
n the
school courtyard or chasing female students to their homes.

When I entered medical school, Iyad Allawi was a student there and when I
graduated he was still a student there. He tried to form a political party =
according to some friends of his, he faked names to make the party seem lar=
than it really was. His medical degree is bogus and was conferred upon him =
the Baath party, soon after a WHO (World Health Organization) grant was
orchestrated for him to go to England and study public health accompanied b=
y his
Christian wife, whom he dumped later to marry a Muslim woman.

In England he was a poor student, visiting the Iraqi embassy at the end of
each month to collect his salary as the Baath party representative. Accordi=
ng to
his first wife and her family members, he spent his time dealing with
assassins doing the dirty work for the Iraqi government, until his time was=
 up and he
became their target.

He went into hiding and came back as a double agent for the British and the
CIA. Now, analysts have suggested that Allawi=C3=A2=E2=82=AC=E2=84=A2s camp=
aign might have been
encouraged to counterbalance the influence of the much better known opposit=
figure Ahmed Chalabi. By the way, they are cousins.

These kinds of people can put our U.S. government and our troops in bad
positions and in danger. Laura Myroie, author of "Bush vs. the Beltway," an=
critical of the CIA handling of Iraq, blamed Allawi for what she said was f=
intelligence that endangered the U.S. troops at the end of the Gulf War. Th=
United States plans to turn over power to Iraqis by July 1. We are all hopi=
ng to
see reasonable, honest people in power; we do not want to see another poten=

[ Reply to This ]

End of casi-news Digest

Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list
To unsubscribe, visit
All postings are archived on CASI's website at

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]