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FW: Scott Ritter

Title: FW: Scott Ritter

thanks to Gerri Haines of PSR for this. Safe and happy New Year to all, felicity a/

>From Lebanon.

Where Ritter finds fault with the get-Saddam campaigns
Former UN chief weapons inspector says US needs legal basis for attacks
George S. Hishmeh
Special to The Daily Star

WASHINGTON: Scott Ritter is a straight arrow. He prides himself for
telling it like it is, recognizing that he is a lone wolf caught in the
midst of an international argument that could ultimately precipitate a
war much bloodier than the one underway in Afghanistan.

The former UN chief weapons inspector who hounded Iraq°¶s Saddam Hussein
for nearly a decade has shifted his target, and now aims his guns at his
government°¶s °ßunilateral policy ú a policy of regime removal in Iraq.”

Is this a new Scott Ritter? “There is no such thing as an old Scott
Ritter or a new Scott Ritter,” he insisted. “If I am anything, I am the
most consistent person out there on Iraq. I have never cut Saddam
Hussein any flack. As a weapons inspector my job was not to worry about
(him). My job was to worry about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. If
people ask me my opinion … I would say he is a brutal dictator. That’s
putting it mildly.”

The views of the former American Marine stick out like a sore thumb in
the debate now underway in Washington between hawkish officials of the
Bush administration, particularly those in the Defense Department and
the less combative State Department over what some see as the unfinished
war against the Iraqi strongman. What remains unsettled, some reportedly
believe, is only the question of timing and military strategy, now that
the rout of the Taleban and Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network has made
these two points seemingly moot.

“I take comfort in one thing and one thing only, and that is the truth,
the facts,” Ritter told The Daily Star. “Whether people rally around me
… I couldn’t care less. I’d like them to, I’d like them to see who is
speaking the truth, I’d like them to challenge people who make
statements. I get challenged every time I make a statement. But I can
back it up.

“Am I isolated? Certainly. Do I feel alone? Yes. Does it bother me? No,
not at all.”

Ritter explained the problem his inspection team had with Iraq after the
1991 Gulf  War, noting that UN Security Council Resolution 687 required
total disarmament, and so “90-95 percent was not good enough, although
it meant that fundamentally Iraq has been disarmed.” From a qualitative
standpoint, Ritter said, “Iraq no longer possessed a weapons program
under the law (but) that 90-95 percent was not good enough.” This meant
his team had to investigate how Iraq hid its programs in the past, and
how it might continue to do so ú “what we called a concealment

This effort, he continued, “has put us in conflict with the Iraqi
government on a number of fronts, primarily over the issue of national
sovereignty and Iraqi national security,” because the inspectors tried
to gain access to presidential security, intelligence services,
sensitive military facilities, even presidential palaces.

“A lot of people misconstrued that work as somehow Scott Ritter (was)
waging his own private war against Saddam Hussein,” he said laughing.
“All I am doing today is going forward in the same way I went forward as
a weapons inspector, mindful of the facts and operating with high

Here, Ritter fired his first salvo. “The big problem is that the US
government seems not to understand that, in order to have international
support to confront Saddam Hussein, the US has to be operating within
the framework of international law. It cannot do this by itself. And we
definitely can’t do it if we are going to ignore legal fundamentals such
as the UN Charter.”

The Security Council has never passed a resolution which targeted Saddam
Hussein, he said. “And yet the United States pursues, as its own
unilateral policy, a policy of regime removal in Iraq ú and we are using
Security Council disarmament provisions as a means of facilitating our
own policy. We are … creating a situation which brings immense suffering
to 22 million innocent people caught in the middle.”

Ritter attributed this misguided US stance to the “private, political
agenda” of some key officials in the US government who, “frankly, have
hijacked US national security for their own purposes.” He identified
these as Defense Secretary Donald M. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul
Wolfowitz, along with Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Advisory
Board, a non-governmental group, and James Woolsey, the former CIA
director. “It appears they will do anything it takes to make just cause
for the United States to go to war, even though, legally, there is no
just cause.”

Elaborating on the “propaganda mills” engaged in this anti-Hussein
campaign, Ritter cited the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East
Policy as “just one of many voices clamoring” for the past decade for
the removal of the Iraqi leader. “They have yet to put forth a
consistent argument. Their reasons for his removal continue to change as
the political scene.”

This “war of rhetoric,” as he put it, just demonizes a demon but
“without any substantive facts … on the table … that are worthy of going
to war with.”

Ritter also minced no words about Richard Butler, the former head of
UNSCOM, the UN agency overseeing Iraq’s disarmament and who can be seen
regularly on television castigating the Baghdad regime. He said he found
Butler to be a “complicated character” who in time “disgraced himself”
as the head of the UN commission for which Ritter worked until 1998.
“(Butler) destroyed his reputation as a diplomat,” Ritter, who now
serves as a news analyst with Fox television, claimed. “He destroyed his
reputation as a politician … The man is a liar. The man has been exposed
as somebody who has no ability to maintain integrity in positions of
high responsibility. He betrayed the special commission, he destroyed
the weapons inspection process almost unilaterally.”

In turn, Ritter has been taken to task for seemingly contradictory
assessments about Iraq’s weapons potential.

Statements he made before two Senate committees in 1998 seem to
contradict his current position. “Once (the) effective inspection regime
has been terminated,” he was quoted as saying then, “Iraq will be able
to reconstitute the entirety of its former nuclear, chemical and
ballistic missile delivery system capability within a period of six

He explained in the interview: “Now … I would say it’s unlikely that it
is the case. It’s unlikely that these plans are in place, it’s unlikely
that Iraq would seek to implement them. But the most important thing to
point out is that even if Iraq had these plans, it can’t implement them
if you had weapons inspectors in Iraq. And that’s why I have always
argued for the return of weapons inspectors (for monitoring purposes).”

Where he parts way with the Bush administration is in the next step. “If
you want to confront Saddam, you have to do so based on the foundation
of legality. Now, if you pass (at the UN Security Council) a finding of
compliance under (Resolution) 687 and you offer to lift the oil embargo,
then in accordance with the law ú now the United States is adhering to
the law ú you demand that Iraq adhere to its obligations which are to
allow monitoring inspectors under (UN resolutions) 785 and 1051. Should
Iraq refuse to do so, now you have a clear case against Saddam. Now you
can start making the case that Iraq is a rogue nation, a lawless nation,
a nation that refuses to adhere to international standards, and you can
start making the case for war. But you cannot make that case if you, the
United States, are yourself operating outside the framework of
international law.”

Ritter believes Iraq has no choice but to accept this offer. “Saddam’s
days would be numbered (if) the entire world … recognized that Iraq has
no intention of complying with international law,” he said.

According to Ritter, Iraq at present can make the argument that “we did
what we are supposed to do. We got rid of our weapons and now it is up
to the Security Council to do what it’s supposed to do and, until the
Security Council does that, we do not want to deal with weapons

“Right now,” he added, “the United States has so clouded the situation
with its own ridiculous policy of overthrowing Saddam Hussein that it is
very difficult to make an argument that Iraq is the bad guy. Iraq right
now looks very much like the nation that is being pursued relentlessly
and irresponsibly by the United States.”

George S. Hishmeh, a one-time editor-in-chief of The Daily Star, is an
Arab-American journalist now based in Washington

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