The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

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

[casi] Scott Ritter shines the light on W's rhetoric and the CIA.

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

Published on Wednesday,
 June 19, 2002 in the Los Angeles Times

Behind 'Plot' on Hussein, a Secret Agenda
Killing weapons inspections would clear way for war.

by Scott Ritter

President Bush has reportedly authorized the CIA to use all of the means at
its disposal--including U.S. military special operations forces and CIA
paramilitary teams--to eliminate Iraq's Saddam Hussein. According to reports,
the CIA is to view any such plan as "preparatory" for a larger military
strike. Congressional leaders from both parties have greeted these reports
with enthusiasm. In their rush to be seen as embracing the president's
hard-line stance on Iraq, however, almost no one in Congress has questioned
why a supposedly covert operation would be made public, thus undermining the
very mission it was intended to accomplish. It is high time that Congress
start questioning the hype and rhetoric emanating from the White House
regarding Baghdad, because the leaked CIA plan is well timed to undermine the
efforts underway in the United Nations to get weapons inspectors back to work
in Iraq. In early July, the U.N. secretary-general will meet with Iraq's
foreign minister for a third round of talks on the return of the weapons
monitors. A major sticking point is Iraqi concern over the use--or abuse--of
such inspections by the U.S. for intelligence collection. I recall during my
time as a chief inspector in Iraq the dozens of extremely fit "missile
experts" and "logistics specialists" who frequented my inspection teams and
others. Drawn from U.S. units such as Delta Force or from CIA paramilitary
teams such as the Special Activities Staff (both of which have an ongoing
role in the conflict in Afghanistan), these specialists had a legitimate part
to play in the difficult cat-and-mouse effort to disarm Iraq. So did the
teams of British radio intercept operators I ran in Iraq from 1996 to
1998--which listened in on the conversations of Hussein's inner circle--and
the various other intelligence specialists who were part of the inspection
effort. The presence of such personnel on inspection teams was, and is,
viewed by the Iraqi government as an unacceptable risk to its nation's
security. As early as 1992, the Iraqis viewed the teams I led inside Iraq as
a threat to the safety of their president. They were concerned that my
inspections were nothing more than a front for a larger effort to eliminate
their leader. Those concerns were largely baseless while I was in Iraq. Now
that Bush has specifically authorized American covert-operations forces to
remove Hussein, however, the Iraqis will never trust an inspection regime
that has already shown itself susceptible to infiltration and manipulation by
intelligence services hostile to Iraq, regardless of any assurances the U.N.
secretary-general might give. The leaked CIA covert operations plan
effectively kills any chance of inspectors returning to Iraq, and it closes
the door on the last opportunity for shedding light on the true state of
affairs regarding any threat in the form of Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction. Absent any return of weapons inspectors, no one seems willing to
challenge the Bush administration's assertions of an Iraqi threat. If Bush
has a factual case against Iraq concerning weapons of mass destruction, he
hasn't made it yet. Can the Bush administration substantiate any of its
claims that Iraq continues to pursue efforts to reacquire its capability to
produce chemical and biological weapons, which was dismantled and destroyed
by U.N. weapons inspectors from 1991 to 1998? The same question applies to
nuclear weapons. What facts show that Iraq continues to pursue nuclear
weapons aspirations? Bush spoke ominously of an Iraqi ballistic missile
threat to Europe. What missile threat is the president talking about? These
questions are valid, and if the case for war is to be made, they must be
answered with more than speculative rhetoric. Congress has seemed unwilling
to challenge the Bush administration's pursuit of war against Iraq. The one
roadblock to an all-out U.S. assault would be weapons inspectors reporting on
the facts inside Iraq. Yet without any meaningful discussion and debate by
Congress concerning the nature of the threat posed by Baghdad, war seems all
but inevitable. The true target of the supposed CIA plan may not be Hussein
but rather the weapons inspection program itself. The real casualty is the
last chance to avoid bloody conflict. Scott Ritter, a former U.N. weapons
inspector in Iraq, is author of "Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem, Once and
for All" (Simon & Schuster, 1999).

Roger Stroope
Peace is a Human Right
Austin College

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]