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] Fwd: [iac-disc.] Transcript of Ritter interview on C-SPAN...

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

Roger Stroope
Peace is a Human Right
Austin College

Importance: Normal
From: "Edward H. Lee" <>
Mailing-List: list; contact
Delivered-To: mailing list
Precedence: bulk
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2002 20:15:29 -0700
Subject: [iac-disc.] Transcript of Ritter interview on C-SPAN...

Note: Disclaimer appended at end.


Transcript of C-SPAN Washington Journal interview with Scott Ritter: August
1, 2002.

Host:  We want to welcome to C-SPAN Scott Ritter, former U.N. Security
weapons inspector.  Thank you for joining us.

Ritter:  Thank you for having me.

Host:  Day Two of the Senate Foreign Relations committee hearings on Iraq.
Why are they taking place?

Ritter:  Well, ostensibly they're taking place as an exercise in American
democracy.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has a  responsibility to
conduct oversight of executive branch policies.  And right now we
appears there is a push for war on Iraq.   And one would think that it's the
proper role of the Senate to have hearings on this.  And I agree.  The
problem is that the way these  hearings are being conducted are a far cry
from what Senator Joe Biden says they are.  These hearings are a foregone
conclusion: that  Saddam must go.  And very little time is spent on the case
for war, and a lot of time is going to be spent, especially today, talking
about a "post-Saddam" Iraq.  This isn't an objective, top-to-bottom,
critical investigation of the Bush policy, on whether or not there  is a
case for war.  They've already said, "Saddam must go".  We now need to find
out how we're going to facilitate this.

Host:  Julian Borger who has a story in the London Guardian this morning,
online, we found it...from the testimony yesterday: "Saddam  Hussein will
have enough weapons-grade uranium for three nuclear bombs by the year 2005".
Agree or disagree with that?

Ritter:  Well, totally disagree with that, especially based upon the
evidence presented in the hearings.  This is purely speculative  rhetoric
put forward by Khidir Hamza and Richard Butler.  Nothing in the way of fact
was put on the table to back this up. It's  ludicrous to think that Iraq is
producing enriched uranium today.  We eliminated those factories from
1991-1998, they were wiped off the  face of the earth.  All the production
equipment was wiped off the face of the earth.  And Iraq, in order to have
this capability today,  would had to have reconstituted this manufacturing
base.  That's tens of billions of dollars of the highest technology
available.  And  no one's put any evidence on the table that shows that this
in fact has happened.  All we have are people saying, "My goodness, the sky
is falling! The sky is falling!".  But that's not a case for war.  I mean if
Iraq has this stuff, it is... But to have people come  forward and put forth
unsubstantiated allegations?  No, that doesn't quite hack it.

Host:  Did you request to testify before the committee?

Ritter:  It's not my responsibility to request to testify.  I think I made
it clear to Senator Biden and others...look, I've been  calling for these
hearings since May and June.  I came down to Washington D.C., and did a
little tour of the Senate offices -- meeting  with staffers and Senators --
saying: 'You must have hearings on Iraq; it's your constitutional obligation
to the American people'.  At  that time, Joe Biden and his staff said, 'No,
we have no interest in doing this'.  I think the pressure was put on him,
and now he has  these hearings.  But it's up to Senator Biden to select who
will testify.  There's been a huge demand for a broader base, [for] more
dissenting voices to appear, so you have a true debate, a true discussion.
Senator Biden, for his own reasons, chose not to assemble  that kind of
witness list.

Host:  You had said in a recent piece in the Boston Globe, when asked the
question, "Does Iraq truly threaten the existence of our  nation?" say
Iraq does, but you went on to say that with the exception of, for example,
mustard agent, all chemical agents  produced by Iraq prior to 1990 would
have degraded within 5 years.

Ritter:  I say with the exception of mustard agent and VX...I think I have
two caveats in there.  What I mean by that is Iraq's main  nerve agent[s],
sarin and tabun - they produced these, and they weaponized them.  But these
nerve agents will degrade over time.  And  after five years, these nerve
agents lose their shelf life.  So if Iraq did hide.... Now, let's go back...
We disarmed Iraq to a 90-95%  level.  That means we can account for the
factories.  That means we can account for the means of production.  [But] we
can't account for  everything produced by these factories.  And a lot of
people point to that and say because you can't account for them, then
therefore  Iraq automatically has them.  That's not the case.  Being unable
to account does not automatically translate into Iraqi retention.

But let's assume that Iraq did hide some of these weapons from us.  If they
hid sarin and tabun nerve agents from the weapons  inspections, those
weapons would be useless today.  There's no sense in even talking about
those weapons, because they are no longer  viable.  For Iraq to have viable
sarin and tabun, they would have to reconstitute and rebuild factories that
we destroyed.  And there is  no evidence that they did this.  So that's why
I bring this up.  When people talk about 30,000 munitions, that's scaring
people.  That's  a scary concept.  But if it's 30,000 munitions filled with
sarin and tabun, it's not scary at all - because that stuff's utterly
useless  today.  It's the same with liquid bulk-anthrax.  After 3 years,
under ideal storage conditions, it germinates; it's totally useless.  So
we're concerned about how much anthrax Iraq produced?  [That] we can't
account for it all?  I agree, we can't.  But science took over.   The
anthrax produced by Iraq, if they indeed hid it from us, is no longer
viable, and no longer represents a threat.

Host:  Our phone lines are open for Scott Ritter.  (202) 585-3880 for
Republicans, (202) 585-3881 for Democrats...we have a line for  third
parties.  And also our email:

So bottom line...what do you fear from Iraq?

Ritter:  I fear more for our policy on Iraq.  I don't fear from Iraq.  I
don't find that Saddam Hussein's Iraq represents a threat to  the national
security.  Saddam Hussein is an awful man, a brutal dictator, he is a scar
on the terms of his morality...he  represses his people...all of
this.  None of that is a case for war.  None of that is justification for
American military troops  marching off to engage in combat.  Until we can
document that Iraq poses a threat to the national security of the United
States, we  should be talking about war with Iraq.

Host:  Colombia, South Carolina...Republican line.  Good morning.

Caller:  Yes, I'm just curious, when you were inspector there, did you go in
and find things that you weren't aware of prior to going  in?  Isn't there a
possibility that he has underground facilities?  And also, just the very
fact that he doesn't permit the inspectors  in there now, and given the
situation where the Iraqis lost the war, I don't see how they have any
authority to throw the inspectors  out.  Certainly, if Mr. Clinton had any
backbone at all he wouldn't have permitted that to be done.

Ritter:  Well, interesting concept.  First of all, let's correct the record.
Saddam didn't kick the inspectors out of Iraq.  The  inspectors left in
December 1998 after they were ordered out by the United States government
two days before the United States began  bombing Iraq -- Operation Desert
Fox -- which is a unilateral action, with some minimal support of the
British, carried out without the  authority of the Security Council.  This
bombing was triggered by manipulation of the inspection process by the
United States, who then  was empowered with intelligence information
gathered by the inspectors, used by the United States to target Saddam
Hussein -- total  violation of the mandate of the Security Council.  So if
you were an Iraqi, and I hate to ask people to do this, but would _you_ let
the  inspectors back in?  And the answer is: no.  The U.S. violated the
mandate of the Security Council.  The U.S. misused the inspectors,  and Iraq
is loathe to allow the inspectors back into their country today --
especially when the rhetoric for war is so high -- when  these inspectors
have shown their capacity to be abused and used as a tool of espionage.

Now, did we find everything in Iraq?  No.  Did we find things we didn't know
about?  Yes, absolutely.  I'm not here to give Iraq a clean  bill of health.
I'm not saying we accounted for everything.  I'm talking about the threat
posed by it.  Underground facilities?  With  all due respect to Secretary
Rumsfeld, from 1993 to 1998 I took in several teams, equipped with the
world's most sophisticated  ground-penetrating radar, some of the world's
best geophysicists, Americans out of Boston.  And we examined Iraq for
underground  facilities.  We not only didn't find any underground
facilities, we found out that Iraq is not conducive to this.  If you start
digging  a hole in most of Iraq, within minutes water starts filling in.
They have a very high water table over there.  And if you're going to  put a
facility underground, you're going to have to have a lot of water removal, a
lot water pump capability.  All of this is detectable  by satellite
photography.  Secretary Rumsfeld, nor anybody in the Administration for that
matter, has put forward any evidence to back  up what they say.

Host:  Democrats line.  Southgate, Michigan...good morning.

Caller:  Good morning Steve, how are you today?  Could I ask you just a real
quick question before I ask Scott Ritter something?  What  ever happened to
Peter Flynn?  Is he still part of the C-SPAN crew?

Host:  He sure is...

Caller:  Great.

Host:  He's on vacation for about a week.

Caller:  Ok, I just miss seeing his cute face on TV, that's all... Anyway,
back to Scott Ritter.  Mr. Ritter, thank you so much for the  work that
you've done.  And I'm so disappointed that Senator Biden did not select you
to testify on that committee.  I've been watching  it on C-SPAN the last
couple of days, and I'm going to contact him today and just express my
dismay that he has not asked you.  And I  wanted the people out there who
are out there listening this morning to know that, you in fact are a
Republican aren't you?

Ritter:  I'm a card-carrying member of the Republican Party, and I voted for
George Bush for president.

Caller:  Yeah, you voted for George Bush!  Well anyway, I just wanted to
bring that up because a lot people think that you're some kind  of a
radical, like me, a Democrat.  But I know you're not, and I know you're very
serious about this.  I've read many articles about  you, and your
inspections that you've done in Iraq.  And also the comments that you have
tried to bring to the powers-that-be here in  this country.  And I also
wanted to tell you that I was watching CNN last night, and thank you so much
for putting that little twerp,  Tucker Carlson, in his place.  He really
tried to blind-side you with that unfair accusation.  And those of us that
do a little research  beyond the front pages of our local newspapers know
what is going on in this country.  And we're at such a precipice in our
history of  our nation....

Host:  I'll stop you there, and we'll get a response.  Thanks for the call.

Ritter:  Well, I think her point about protesting Senator Biden is very
important.  Senator Biden has an extremely important position.   He's the
chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate.
And he is constitutionally obligated to the American  people to conduct
oversight of our foreign policy.  And I think he's pulling a sham.  I've
said it right up front: these hearings are a  sham.  That this is more
reminiscent of a Stalinist kangaroo court where you rubber-stamp the
predisposed conclusions, as opposed to a  debate, an honest debate.  And I
think that Americans should demand more of their elected representatives.
Remember, this is government  of the people, by the people, for the
people... And it only works if we hold our elected representatives
accountable.  Senator Biden has  failed American democracy by holding these
hearings in a manner that he has.  We have to understand, we're talking
about going to war  against Iraq.  We better have a real debate, a full
debate, an honest debate.  I am [of] one opinion.  There are many others.  I
am not  saying that everyone should march to my drum.  But my tune should be
heard if we're truly talking about trying to come to the bottom  line as to
whether or not this war is warranted, whether or not it's worth the lives of
American servicemen and women.

Host:  [The] L.A. Times has a photograph of Richard Butler.  Who is he?

Ritter:  Richard Butler is an Australian diplomat who has had a long and
distinguished history in arms control.  This is a man who  played a very
important role in much of what the United Nations has done in terms of
non-proliferation, nuclear non-proliferation, and  he came to the United
Nations Special Commission, my organization -- the organization that I was
involved in from 1991 to 1998 -- he  came in the summer of 1997 and took
over the reins from Rolf Ekeus, a Swedish diplomat.  And he had a very
difficult job to do, Richard  Butler.  Unfortunately, I feel that he failed
to do it properly.  One of the reasons why the United States was able to
launch this air  strike in December of 1998 was because Richard Butler was
complicit to American pressure to allow weapons inspections and the weapons
inspections process to be manipulated for unilateral American policy

Host:  One of the issues that had come up, and I know you Washington
testimoniers are hearing me, was whether or not Saddam Hussein  would be
sharing this technology with terrorist groups.  His response, Richard
Butler, is that "given his psychology and aspirations,  Saddam would be
reluctant to share what he believes to be an indelible source of his power".
Agree or disagree with that?

Ritter:  Well, I have a problem with a statement from Richard Butler, or any
person who has yet to meet Saddam Hussein, when they talk  about the
"psychology" or disposition of Saddam Hussein.  I don't think he's qualified
to talk about Saddam Hussein.  But I do agree  that Iraq is unlikely to give
weapons of mass destruction to terrorists of non-Iraqi sources.  These are
weapons that Iraq developed and  acquired for their own self-defense, their
national security.  Iraq has declared war against Islamic fundamentalism for
the past 30  years.  Saddam is a secular dictator who is not predisposed to
supporting Islamic fundamentalism.  He crushes that.  If you're a Wahhab,
part of the sect of Sunni Islam that Osama bin Laden espouses, [if] you
proselytize in Iraq, you're executed almost immediately after  being
arrested.  That's the brutal nature and reality of Saddam's regime.  And I
find it incredible for people to think that he would  share weapons of mass
destruction with al-Qaeda.

But then again, your question presumes that he _has_ weapons of mass
destruction.  Let's not cloud the issue.  Focus on the threat: does  Iraq
have weapons of mass destruction today?  Do they have that capability?  If
the answer is yes, it doesn't matter if he shares it  with terrorists or
not; he's a threat that needs to be dealt with.  But if the answer is no,
then we shouldn't be talking about war.

Host:  This program is simulcast on our radio station, it is available in
the Washington-Baltimore area at 90.1, also nationwide on XM  and Sirius

Frederick, Maryland.  Republican line.  Good morning.

Caller:  First a comment, and then a question for Scott Ritter.

First is, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  [In] the context
in which we're talking about evidence of weapons of mass  destruction, most
of that evidence is likely to be not open for public view.  And so my
question for Mr. Ritter is, wouldn't it be  better to have these hearings in
a closed session where you can actually air all this information that the
intelligence community has?   Thank you.

Host:  Thank you.  And we should point out that you used that quote in the
Boston Globe piece.  That was from Defense Secretary  Rumsfeld, again
repeated, "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."  You said:
"This only reinforces the fact that the case  for war against Iraq fails to
meet the litmus test for the defense of our national existence", that you in
the earlier part of your  piece so eloquently phrased in the words of
President Lincoln.

Ritter:  True.  Why do democracies go to war?  We go to war so that
government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall  not
perish from the face of the earth.  That means that there must be a
demonstrated threat to our nation.  When I hear Secretary  Rumsfeld and
others make these cute comments, "absence of evidence is not evidence of
absence", this only reinforces that they _have no  evidence_...they have no
evidence about Iraq.  Yes, the constitution provides for closed hearings.
The constitution recognizes that  sometimes in the [interest of] national
security, there is information that can't be put forward for public
dissemination.  I'm a  12-year veteran of the Marine Corp.  I'm an
intelligence officer.  And I know that there are sources and methods that we
don't want to  share publicly.

Host:  Did they not have closed hearings yesterday?

Ritter:  No, these hearings are open hearings.  Look, I've spent some time
with Senator Dianne Feinstein and others on the intelligence  committee, the
Senate Select Intelligence Committee.  That is the proper forum for such
closed hearings on sensitive intelligence  information.  And while they will
never share what they have been given to anyone who doesn't have clearance
or need to know, they  stated with all certainty: 'no such information has
been provided'.  No such information has been provided.  Yes, absence of
evidence is  not evidence of absence.  But Secretary Rumsfeld and others
must go before the Congress, the Senate, in close hearings if required, and
present what they have regarding the threat posed by Iraq, before we go to

Host:  The Senate Armed Services did have a closed session with Secretary
Rumsfeld and others.  Now the purpose of that hearing was to  talk about our
role in Afghanistan.  Do you suspect, though, that Iraq came up in that

Ritter:  I have no way of knowing.  I would hope that Iraq would come up in
that discussion.  I hope every time Secretary Rumsfeld and  other officials
present themselves before the U.S. Congress that they are held accountable
for the rhetoric that comes out regarding  Iraq.  When Secretary Rumsfeld
talks about Iraq factories "going deep", when he talks about biological
factories on the "back of  trucks", mobile around Iraq, people need to hold
him accountable for these words, because these are inflammatory words.
These are words  that spread fear amongst the American people, that create
the perception that we might have some information regarding Iraqi weapons
of  mass destruction, when in fact, I personally bear witness to the the
reality.  I searched for these very mobile factories that you're  talking
about for five years.  I hunted down this stuff.  And when you do a raid on
Iraq, take out a truck depot, and you find no trucks  with biological stuff,
does that mean Iraq doesn't have the trucks?  Or they're just good at hiding
it?  [So] you create this  never-ending cycle that will have no end.  You
have to substantiate the threat before you brief it to the American public.

Host:  Democrats line, Darien, New Hampshire, for Scott Ritter.  Good

Caller:  Hello there.  It's Darien, Connecticut, but that's alright.

Host:  I apologize.

Caller:  That's fine.  Oh Scott, thank god for you.  I want to ask you,
don't you think Bush is pushing this agenda to go after Saddam  just to keep
his image going as a war mongerer, because he is so bad at diplomacy?  And
if this is found out to be a conspiracy just to  keep him in office until
2004, can't he be impeached before the November 2002 elections, so we can
get a president elected who is  top-notch in diplomacy with foreign leaders,
and can make we, the people, feel safe and I used to feel when
President  Clinton was in office?  Right now I'm running scared everyday,
and I'm on edge as I'm sure many Americans are and feel the same way as I

Ritter:  Well, the beauty of the American process is that we can hold our
elected representatives accountable, every November, when we  pull the
lever.  And if you feel that way about President Bush and his
administration, I think you should vote accordingly.  I am not  going to
call President Bush a war mongerer.  I'm not going to denigrate the man.  I
disagree with his policies.  But remember that  President Bush inherited
this Iraq situation from Bill Clinton.  Bill Clinton spent eight years
fumbling on Iraq -- fumbling badly.  It  is Bill Clinton, and under Bill
Clinton's administration, that the inspections process was destroyed,
discredited.  It's because of Bill  Clinton that we don't have weapons
inspectors in Iraq today.

And we also have to remember that it was a bi-partisan Congress that passed
the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998, authorizing, as public  law, $100 million
of American taxpayer money, to support the cause of removing Saddam Hussein
from power.  So this isn't just a  Republican issue.  This isn't a
Democratic issue.  We have Joe Biden, a Democrat, basically holding what I
called sham hearings,  designed to rubber-stamp Bush's war.  So both
Republicans and Democrats alike have boxed themselves into a rhetorical
corner in regards  to this inflammatory rhetoric they put out about Saddam.
That's why I say, let's cut through the rhetoric, and deal with the facts.
Does Iraq pose a threat?  If they do, we have a case to go to war.  If they
don't, then we should not be talking about it.

Host:  Sandy Berger, who served in the Clinton Administration as National
Security Advisor, has a piece this morning in the op-ed page  of the
Washington Post.  He calls it "Building Blocks to Iraq": "concluding that
regime change is the necessary goal is to begin the  discussion, not to end
it."  The words of Sandy Berger...

Next is a call from Pensicola, Florida.  Our line for independents, for
Scott Ritter.  Good morning.

Caller:  Good morning.  Mr. Ritter, I want to thank you.  You're a breath of
fresh air.  I'm a veteran of 25 years in the Navy, just  left the Navy.  I
left because of this new administration we have in the office.  I don't
agree with everything they do, and don't  disagree with everything that they
do.  But I saw the debate yesterday on C-SPAN, and I tell you that was a
sham.  And I saw the debate  last night with you on Crossfire.  And I also
saw the third debate that we've had so far, and that was on Donahue last
night.  And  that's a damn shame when we have our fellow Congressmen that
won't stand up for the American people and give them an open debate on
attacking Iraq.

Ritter:  Well again, I think what the caller is talking about is the reality
that this is democracy that we're talking about.  We live  in a democracy.
I can't emphasize this more.  It sounds like trivial rhetoric, but the fact
is that if the people of the United States  refuse to get involved in the
policies carried out in their name, then they have to understand that
sometimes things are going to happen  that they might object to.  Right now
we are talking about the potential -- the real potential -- for war with
Iraq.  And it's  imperative that our elected representatives have real and
meaningful debate and dialogue about this.  And again, I just want to
reiterate, what Senator Biden has perpetrated yesterday and today is not
real and meaningful dialogue.  He's trying to pull one over on  the American
people.  If people feel that in fact this isn't a real and meaningful
dialogue, they should hold him accountable.  His  phone should be ringing
nonstop, day after day after day, and the phones of every Senator sitting on
that committee.

Host:  King Abdullah of Jordan met with President Bush today.  He met with a
Washington Post reporter yesterday, here in town, and he  said that the
'reluctance by allies to confront the Bush administration over Iraq may have
left U.S. policymakers falsely believing that  there is little opposition to
a war'.   A quote from King Abdullah: "In all the years I have seen in the
international community,  everybody is saying this is a bad idea...If it
seems America says we want to hit Baghdad, that's not what Jordanians think,
or the  British, the French, the Russians, the Chinese and everybody else."

Ritter:  I couldn't agree more strongly.  I've had the opportunity to speak
before the French senate, to address British Parliament, to  speak to the
Canadian Parliament, to address NATO, on this issue, at their invitation...
And I have to say, there is no support for this  war.  The problem though is
that the Administration sends its representatives out, and the first
question they ask of people is, 'Would  the world be better place without
Saddam Hussein'?   And the logical answer is, 'yes'.  Yes, he's an evil man.
But then when they talk  about how they want to get rid of Saddam, no one
agrees with it, but the Administration always comes back and says, 'Yeah,
but the King  of Jordan said that the world would be a better place without
Saddam Hussein.  Therefore, we're justified in going forward'.  That's not
the case, as the King so rightly points out.

Host:  Merritt Island, Florida.  Republican line.  Good morning.

Caller:  Good morning.  This is the first time I'm able to call in and speak
to you.  Hats off to Mr. Ritter. I watched him last night  on the Tucker
show, I think it was Crossfire.  Totally disagreed with Mr. Tucker and his
demeanor, and how he was totally  unprofessional, and bringing up something
that was totally irrelevant to the main subject.

Host:  What was that caller?

Caller:  In terms of him taking money, from someone....he made it seem that
Mr. Ritter was non-believable, that he had another agenda  than what he
specifically stated this morning.  Mr. Ritter, I bow to you humbly.  I
believe every word that you say.  Unknowing to all  the Senators and all the
politicians in Washington, D.C., Americans are not as stupid as they want us
to think.

Ritter:  Well, since you brought it up, I think we need to address this.
What Tucker Carlson brought up was an article written by a  gentlemen named
Stephen Hayes, who writes for, I think, The Weekly Standard.  And when I
resigned, I decided to talk out about Iraq  policy.  And I wrote a book,
which I think is an incredibly good book about Iraq, very relevant today...
I've written a number of  articles, etc..  But I just wasn't getting the
message out.  I worked with a number of documentary film teams on producing
documentaries  on Iraq.  And they fumbled badly.  I think they edited my
words out.  They had a slant that wasn't reflective of the truth.  So I
figured the only way to make a documentary was to make it myself.  I formed
a production company, and I sought to get investors.  If I  could've
received money from the Jewish-American Federation, I would have done it.
If I could have received money from you, I would  have done it.  The bottom
line is: no one buys off Scott Ritter.  The movie I made, "In Shifting
Sands", is an hour-and-a-half  documentary, which is _the_ most objective,
honest look at the weapons inspection process in Iraq that has been
produced.  I, my  company, received $400,000, from an American citizen of
Iraqi origin.  He had no editorial say in the making of the movie.  As I
said,  it doesn't matter where the money came from.  I'm grateful to this
man for providing this money...

Host:  Who was it?

Ritter:  His name is Shakir al-Khafaji, he's a Detroit, Michigan
businessman.  This money has been investigated by the FBI, by the  Treasury
Department, by the IRS.  There has been no impropriety found.  In fact, when
I met with the FBI, which I did over half-a-dozen  times over the course of
the making of this movie, I told them if you ever find there is a
'quid-pro-quo' arrangement between Shakir  al-Khafaji and the Iraqi
government in regards to money that Shakir has given me, I will terminate
the making of this movie.  This money  will not be tainted with dirty money.
The FBI has come back and said they have no evidence of this.  Everything
shows that this money  is Shakir's money.   Furthermore, when I showed the
movie to the FBI, they said they liked it!  I wish Tucker Carlson had taken
a look  at the movie before he came after me on national TV.  But that's his
politics, not mine.

Host:  An e-mail from a viewer who says, "The cable talk-fest couldn't get
enough of Scott Ritter when he was being critical of our Iraq  policy under
Clinton.  Now that he's critical of Bush administration policy, if it can be
called a policy, we hardly see Scott on  television.  So much for the
liberal media.  I wrote to Senator Biden last week, and asked him to call
you to testify.  I guess the  committee only wants to hear one side."

Ritter:  This has been sort of heart-warming.  I think that all of the
Senators have been inundated with tens of thousands of phone  calls, faxes,
and letters in regards to these hearings.  They know that they're
perpetrating a sham, and they know they'll be held  accountable.  I only
hope that the Senators are men enough and women enough to recognize the
error of their ways, and maybe hold  additional hearings, so that all the
facts can be brought to bear.

Host:  And another e-mail from a viewer in California: "Regarding Iraq,
isn't it against international law to invade another country,  topple its
leader, and impose new ones?"

Ritter:  Well, this is a problem... Of course it is.  It's a violation of
the United Nations Charter.  We're signatories to this  charter.  It's
something that's coming up in Great Britain, our closest ally on this war.
British lawmakers have directly confronted  Tony Blair, and said, if we
support the American action on Iraq as currently constructed, it will be a
violation of international law,  and Great Britain can have nothing to do
with this.  I wish we had similar debates here in the United States.

Host:  Our conversation is with Scott Ritter, who from 1991 to 1998 served
as a UN weapons inspector.  Next, Democrats line, Modesto,  California.
Good morning...

Caller:  Hello, good morning.  Can you hear me?

Host:  We sure can.

Caller:  First of all, I had a nephew and a first husband that served in
Desert Storm.  And I was told that the weapons that they  [Iraqis] were
fighting with against us, that we supplied them with that.  Is this so?
That they were using old weapons that we had  given them?

Ritter:  Well, first of all, I fought in that war too, and my hats are
tipped to your relatives who served their country so proudly.   It's not
that the weapons that we fought against, that the Iraqis possessed, were
provided by us.  Most of the weapons were actually  Chinese or Soviet or
even French origin.  But weapons of mass destruction:  the United States
provided a great deal of financial  assistance, in terms of loan guarantees,
etc.  They were diverted by Iraq to acquire the technology in Europe, which
they used to build  their weapons factories.  And the tragedy is that the
United States knew this at the time.  And we did nothing to stop it, in the
1980's.  Now we're in a situation where this capability is coming back to
haunt us.

Host:  Kait.  Maine, New Jersey.  Republican line.  You're next.

Caller:  Mr. Ritter, how are you?

Ritter:  I'm doing fine.  Thank you.

Caller:  I have a few things I'd like to say to you.  I find you a
seditious, traitorous American.

Host:  Why do you say that?

Caller:  Well, I don't understand why you think you have all the answers,
and that foreign policy, which is dictated by the President  and sanctioned
by the U.S. Congress, should not be followed through by the wisdom of the
U.S. Congress and the U.S. President,  regardless of who they are.  I
remember seeing you years ago, after you were kicked out of Iraq with the
other inspectors, saying that  there wasn't enough done, that there should
have been more inspections, that there are weapons in Iraq.  Now I find you
doing things  that, frankly, I'm worried about your motives.  I mean, they
seem to be financial.  I don't think you should be interfering the way I  do
n't think Jesse Jackson was interfering with foreign policy.  And if you
remember, I also compare you to Neville Chamberlain.   Remember, he allowed
Hitler to march through the Blitzkrieg and create World War II.  And the
third and final thing is, how many people  have you lost at the World Trade
Center, and what do you say to the next 3,000 survivors if Iraq and the
al-Qaeda, again....and you know  that they're going to attack this country
sooner or later...what do you say to them then?  Thank you Mr. Ritter.

Host:  So, bottom line, what's your point or your question in all of this?

Ritter:  I think his point is that I'm a traitor.  Um...first of all, I'm
not going to disgrace the memory of the victims of Sept. 11th  by bringing
them into this conversation.  We're talking about Iraq.  Again, here's the
total mis-construing, misrepresentation, of what  I've said.  I've been
consistent from the time I resigned until today in saying that: we should
have weapons inspectors in Iraq, these  inspectors should be operating fully
within the mandate given to them by the Security Council, there should be no
deviation from this.   Eighty percent of my testimony to the Senate in 1998,
was about American manipulation of the inspection process.  I said at that
time  that Iraq isn't disarmed.  I said that on this show.  Iraq is not
disarmed.  I don't know how clear I can be on this.  According to  Security
Council resolutions, Iraq is not disarmed.  We need inspectors to go back in
and finish the job.  But what we did disarm meant  that we had fundamentally
eliminated the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.  So we
don't have to sit here and worry  about Iraq attacking us today.  And, with
all due respect, read the Constitution, and then call back, because the
President doesn't  "dictate" foreign policy.  Congress doesn't compliantly
rubber-stamp foreign policy.  And at the end of the day, it is government of
the  people, by the people, for the people.  The second you disassociate
yourself from that, this becomes something other than the American
democracy that I put on a Marine Corp. uniform for 12 years to defend.

Host:  Killeen, Texas, with Scott Ritter.  Good morning.  Democrats line.

Caller:  Good morning.  Good morning, Mr. Ritter.

Ritter:  Good morning.

Caller:  I wanted to ask you a question.  Do you think that this war might
have been taken personally by Bush's father, and his father's  kind of
influencing him to do this?  Because, it's like you just said, if you have
the evidence showing that it's not a great need for  this war at this time,
do you think there's a possible personal issue here?

Ritter:  Well, actually, no.  I think one of the few people advising
President George W. Bush _against_ this war is his father.  His  father is
somebody who recognizes the need to have a broad-based coalition, to act
multilaterally, to act within the framework of  international law.  And also
understands that if you get rid of Saddam Hussein, what's next?  We have the
devil that we know, we have  the devil that we can contain today, and to
just go in precipitously eliminate this guy, we open up a Pandora's box to
which we have no  answer.  So...

Host:  Is there another way, though, to get rid of him without going to war?

Ritter:  Well, again, I think it is.  Now we get a little academic here.  I
think we focus on the 'person' of Saddam Hussein too much.   You know,
Saddam Hussein is a product of modern-day Iraq.  Iraq is a nation where 60%
of the population are Shi’ia.  You talk about  wanting democracy in Iraq?
No one wants to give the Shi’ia full power to the world's second largest
proven reserves of oil.  So let's  throw away the rhetoric of having
democracy in Iraq.  Twenty-three percent of the population: Kurds.  Find me
somebody around that  region who wants an independent Kurdistan.  Not a
single one.  Except the Kurds.  So let's throw away that.  So we're talking
about 17%  of a population of 20 million, Sunni Muslims, who themselves are
fragmented into tribal groups, family groups, etc.  Saddam Hussein is
reflective of this reality.  He is an Albu Nasir, "tribesman", who has
achieved power, and who has empowered his tribe.  You have a  situation
where 20,000 people control the fate of 20 million people.  If you eliminate
Saddam Hussein, and put in a Sunni like him,  that's the same system you're
going to get.

So we have to talk about changing Iraq from within.  Something has to happen
_inside_ Iraq that changes this, the way that they create  their leadership.
You're not going to do that from forcing change from without.  Lift economic
sanctions, allow Iraq to reconstitute  its economy, allow the development of
a viable middle class.  You studied history: the middle class is a
prerequisite for any democratic  institutions.  Allow an intelligent,
worldly, technocratic class to grow.  And suddenly you'll find that Iraq
will change.  It'll be a  slow change, it won't happen overnight.  [But]
Saddam Hussein is 65 years old...he's not going to be around for a while, or
in a while.   When his son takes over, or whoever takes over, they'll be
taking the reins of over a different Iraq.  And Iraq will continue to evolve
in that way.  And that's the best way to get an Iraq that's a responsible
member of the international community.  Not going in,  decapitating Saddam,
and trying to install our own vision of what Iraq should be.

Host:  Our guest, Scott Ritter is a graduate of Franklin D. Marshall
College.  He earned his Undergraduate in Soviet history.  As I  said, he
spent a dozen years as an intelligence officer and U.S. Marine Corp., and
served as a weapons inspector for the United Nations.

Our next call is Westchester, Pennsylvania...Republican line.  Good morning
to you.

Caller:  Good morning.  I can't agree with the last caller more.  There's
nothing more for me to say really, he said everything that I  wanted to say.
I'm so happy for Scott Ritter, I'm glad we should not go into Iraq and bomb
everybody, kill everybody, just to get  Saddam.  We should do everything as
the last caller said.

Host:  Atlanta, Georgia, you're next.  On Democrats line.  Good morning.
Hello, Atlanta?

Caller:  How are you?

Host:  Good morning.

Caller:  Scott, you mentioned earlier that Russian, Chinese, Europeans, and
some other countries, disagree with the United States to  attack Iraq.  Is
that correct?

Ritter:  That's my take from the people I've met personally, from what I've
read in newspapers, yes.

Caller:  If that's the case, [then] it tells me that (a) Iraq is not a
threat to the United States or Europe, or (b) that those  countries are not
the United States' friends.

Ritter:  Well, I think you could actually have both.  You could have a
situation where a nation isn't a friend of the United States and  still
oppose our policy on Iraq; you could have a situation where people _are_ our
friends, like France, like much of Europe, and are  opposed to our policy on
Iraq.  It's bad policy.  It's such a bad policy that everybody's rejecting
it, whether they’re our friends or  not our friends.

Host:  Potomac, Maryland.  Good morning, you're on the program.  Republican

Caller:  Hello?

Host:  Go ahead, caller.

Caller:  Yes.  I just want to ask Mr. Ritter to comment on the fact that
none of the terrorists that participated with Sept. 11th or  associated with
them was Iraqi.  And why does the United States attack Iraq instead of
attacking somewhere from which the terrorists  came?

Ritter:  Well, that's a good point.  I mean, essentially as we've seen,
there's such a concerted effort in the Senate, right now in  these hearings,
to link Saddam Hussein with al-Qaeda and those who perpetrated the attack.
The reason why they want to make this  linkage is that once you have it,
there will be no debate for war.  We will clearly go in and remove Saddam.
We've seen a lot, or heard  a lot, lately about this Salman Pak training
camp in the south of Baghdad, where they have an airplane where Islamic
fundamentalists are  trained.  And this, I think we need to point out, this
is all a lie.  We know what that training camp was.  It was built in the
1980's  as a hostage rescue camp, to train Iraqi security forces on hostage
rescue and airplanes, trains, buses, etc.  In 1992 we noted that it  was
turned over to Iraqi intelligence, the Department of External Threats, so
that they could _go after_ Islamic fundamentalists more  efficiently.  There
is no linkage between Iraq and those that perpetrated Sept. 11th, at least
none that's been made.  And, as the  caller rightly pointed out, there
wasn't any Iraqis on that list of hijackers.  I think the majority came from
Saudi Arabia.

Host:  Los Angeles, Democrats line, for Scott Ritter.  Good morning.

Caller:  Yeah, Mr. Ritter, first of all I'd like to commend you for being a
U.N. weapons inspector for, you know, 7 whole years.  My  question is, as
you were talking about what you think is possible, and what should be done
with Iraq...if it was up to you, if you were  calling the shots, how would
you see the situation play out in Iraq with Saddam Hussein?

Ritter:  Well, the first thing is let's examine why our policy is not being
embraced by the rest of the world.  And that's because we've  chosen a
unilateralist approach to solving this, as opposed to an approach that's
multilateral and based on international law.  We do  have consensus on how
to deal with Iraq: The international community has decided that the best way
to deal with Saddam is to go after  his weapons, send in weapons inspectors,
disarm Iraq, and that point in time economic sanctions that have been levied
on Iraq for more  than a decade would be lifted.  And then Iraq could begin
the long and difficult task of rebuilding its shattered economy and its
shattered society.  I think right there the world is in agreement.
Everybody in the world is in agreement with that course of  action...except
the United States.  So, if I were calling the shots, that would be the
course of action I'd be putting forward.  We  wouldn't have all this
friction we see right now.  This is something the world would agree to, and
frankly speaking, Iraq would agree  to.  If we could get weapons inspectors
back in Iraq, that were not open or prone to being manipulated by the United
States for the  purposes of targeting Saddam, I think we could have a
mandate to do their job, and we could have this problem solved within a
matter of  months.

Host:  Enter Bruce Muellenhoff [an email]: "What motives are driving the
U.S. in declaring war against Iraq, if not their weapons of  mass

Ritter:  Purely political.  I think this is a domestic political situation.
We've demonized Iraq and Saddam Hussein now for more than a  decade.  We've
called Saddam the 'personification of evil'.  We've called him the Middle
East equivalent of Adolph Hitler.  He may be  that.  The problem with this
rhetoric is that in doing such, we've eliminated all other considerations.
You can't do business with the  'personification of evil'.  You can't
negotiate with the Middle East equivalent of Adolph Hitler...because visions
of Neville  Chamberlain immediately scream to mind.  So our politicians have
painted themselves into a rhetorical corner.  Right now there is only  one
option that's politically viable here in the United States, and that is to
confront Saddam Hussein and to eliminate Saddam Hussein.   This is about
politics, plain and simple.  There's not a single politician out there with
the courage to step forward and say, 'this is  bad policy'.  Senator Chuck
Hagel, who I have great respect for, said it best two years ago when I
talked to him: don't expect any  profile and courage moments from any
members of Congress with regard to Iraq, because there's no one, Republican
or Democrat, who's  willing to put their political future on the line by
speaking truthfully about Iraq today.

Host:  Does all of this in any way strengthen Saddam Hussein inside Iraq?

Ritter:  Saddam Hussein's stronger today than he has at any time since 1991.
He's not stronger militarily, but politically.  We're  making it virtually
impossible for any meaningful opposition to arise in Iraq.

Host:  Why?

Ritter:  Well economic sanctions, depending on whose numbers you use, have
killed between 300,000 and 1.5 million innocent Iraqi  civilians, most of
them being children.  We're not teaching the Iraqis to love us.  We have
devastated their economy.  We have 20  million people today who live without
hope for a better future, people who wake up in morning with a devastated
economy, a shattered  financial system.  And they blame us, they blame the
United States.  So any time we bring in an Iraqi opposition and embrace them
in  Congress, and give them the American 'seal of approval', we've condemned
them, in the eyes of the Iraqi people.  The Iraqi people will  never support
any American-appointed government.  You think Hamid Kharzi has a hard time
in Kabul?   If you withdraw the international  security assistance force,
and the American protection, he has a life expectancy of days, if not weeks.
The same will happen with any  American-appointed government that takes over
from Saddam Hussein.

Host:  And very quickly, today we're likely to hear the sentiment again from
King Abdullah of Jordan, in essence: don't think about  going after Iraq
until you get the situation resolved between the Israelis and Palestinians.
What's the genesis behind that?

Ritter:  Well, there is a lot of frustration that the United States is
willing to hold Iraq, ultimately Saddam Hussein, accountable for  failing to
comply with international law, for behaving in a manner which is not
consistent with international norms.  The Arab world  isn't worried about
his weapons of mass destruction; they do buy into the fact that he's a
brutal dictator, and a blight on the earth.   But they are also saying,
look:  what a double-standard.  We have Israel, over there, doing this --
and I'm pro-Israel, don't get me  wrong here -- but I'm just giving you the
Arab perspective.  We have Israel getting away with what in the Arab mindset
is much greater  sins to international law, much greater abuses of human
rights -- and the United States isn't doing anything to deal with this.  So
they  find a contradiction there.  And they're telling the United States,
you can't expect us to support your war on Saddam until you show you  have
some even-handed balance with regard to Israel.

Host:  Where are you living these days?

Ritter:  Albany, New York.

Host:  Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector.  Thank you for being
with us.

Ritter:  Thanks.


Disclaimer: This transcript is not necessarily a verbatim transcript,
although reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the
content provided.  Interpretations should not be made using the transcript
as the sole source of information.  The transcript is provided for use by
anyone for educational purposes and not intended for use as original source
documents for the material and information provided.  While every effort is
made to ensure accuracy, I make no representation as to the accuracy of, and
cannot accept any legal responsibility for any errors, ommissions,
mis-statements or mistakes within the following transcript, nor make any
warranties or representations (whether express or implied) as to the
non-infringment of first or third party rights, satisfactory quality or
fitness for any particular purpose. Any questions concerning material
presented in the transcripts should be directed to me:

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ---------------------~-->
<FONT COLOR="#000099">4 DVDs Free +s&p Join Now
</FONT><A HREF=""><B>Click Here!</B></A>

*** Iraq Action Coalition Discussion Forum ***
*To Post a message, send it to:
*To Subscribe, send a blank message to:
*To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
* To see the List Guidelines, go to:
*Any questions, contact the List Moderator at

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to

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]