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Scott Ritter on Weapons Inspection, Chemical, Biological and Nuclear WMD
September 27, 2002 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Scott Ritter on Weapons Inspection, Chemical, Biological and Nuclear WMD Why hasn't the American media picked up on these issues that are being put forth by Scott Ritter? Is Mr. Ritter correct in his assessment of Iraqi capabilities?
posted by FullFrontalNerdity (44 comments total)

 
Ritter has been discussed ad nauseum in the blogosphere, at places like QuasiPundit. Here is a Slate article speculating on the reasons for his fairly stunning flip-flop.
posted by goethean at 9:24 AM on September 27, 2002


I don't know what news outlets your paying attention to, but Scott's been all over the place radio, print and TV.
posted by ZupanGOD at 9:26 AM on September 27, 2002


I've been paying quite a bit of attention, however, these viewpoints I have never seen on any of the American media outlets that I regularly read.
posted by FullFrontalNerdity at 9:28 AM on September 27, 2002


"Is Mr. Ritter correct in his assessment of Iraqi capabilities?"

Yeah, I was just over there, and Scott's right. I didn't find jack. Looked behind the couch and everything.
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2002


I don't know how seriously I can take someone who was never able to score with either of those two babes, even after living with them all that time. What a putz!
posted by luriete at 9:33 AM on September 27, 2002


No, no, luriete, Scott Ritter's his real name. The character he plays, "Jake Tapper" writes for Salon.
posted by phong3d at 9:45 AM on September 27, 2002



I've been paying quite a bit of attention, however, these viewpoints I have never seen on any of the American media outlets that I regularly read.


The American Media has picked up Scott Ritter. I suggest you change your reading habits.

Google News
Moreover
Daypop
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:55 AM on September 27, 2002


This phrase "American media", could you define that?
posted by dchase at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2002


this post makes me feel like Vyvian on "the Young Ones" when they get the video player:

"Oh, have you heard what Scott Ritter thinks?"
"YES WE'VE HEARD WHAT SCOTT RITTER THINKS!!!"

now back to the original topic... ; )
posted by stifford at 10:04 AM on September 27, 2002


An Interview with Scott Ritter, Resturant Inspector.

Courtesy of James Lileks.
posted by gd779 at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2002


Hmmmm Scott Ritter was given $400,000 from Shakir al-Khafaji, an Iraqi-American real estate developer living in Michigan to make a film about Iraq's weapon's inspection called "In Shifting Sands" By Ritter's own admission, al-Khafaji is "openly sympathetic with the regime in Baghdad."

A film that Ritter says would chronicle the weapons-inspection process and "de-demonize" Iraq.

The film was produced with the approval of the Iraqi government and features interviews with numerous high-level Iraqi officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Sounds to me like some one has been bought off...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:23 AM on September 27, 2002


de-demonize? Would that be 'remonization'?
posted by Danelope at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2002


No, 'demonize' is not the reverse of 'monize'

Funny
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2002


I've been paying quite a bit of attention, however, these viewpoints I have never seen on any of the American media outlets that I regularly read.

FYI: Ritter has been on CNN's Crossfire and has been on NPR to name at least two popular and widespread US media outlets.
posted by Bag Man at 10:41 AM on September 27, 2002


"Why hasn't the American media picked up on these issues"

The first rhetorical technique of the conspiracy crowd...
posted by owillis at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2002


Why hasn't the American media picked up on these issues that are being put forth by Scott Ritter?

They might, if it weren't for the fact they're being put forth by ... Scott Ritter. Sure, he makes for good copy -- but he's pretty much the only "former weapons inspector" who is saying what he is, he's acted uncomfortably partisan as time has passed, including warm visits to Iraq, and he changed his story to boot -- having been at one time a strong advocate of the position that the weapons inspections had interdicted major parts of the program but had missed just as much as they had found and destroyed. He even admits to being partisan and ignoring certain issues in favor of 'stopping the rush to war'. So, Mr. Ritter, all due respect his former position, has a bit of a credibility problem.

Really, the Guardian did a good thing by asking him some very specific questions, forcing him to qualify his points. Now I see, reading to the end of the article, Ritter is yet again adjusting his position, now as a hardline supporter of the inspections that he's been saying weren't needed, or only as proof of Iraqi transparency, and supporting "decisive action" by the Security Council. Gosh, Scott, what is it this week?
posted by dhartung at 10:55 AM on September 27, 2002


Ritter is the paid spokesman of the Iraqis, and as such, he deserves about as much serious media attention as the paid spokesman for Sprint PCS - you know, that guy in the trenchcoat. Come to think of it, Ritter might be a little more persuasive in a trenchcoat .....
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2002


George W. Bush is the paid spokesman of ExonMobilShellTexacoBPAmoco, and as such, he deserves about as much serious media attention as the paid spokesman for Disney. You know, the mouse with the big ears?
posted by euphorb at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2002


I can't believe anybody listens to this traitor. He's been a civilian for years, how can he honestly say he knows for a fact there are no weapons or weapons being produced of mass destruction? But, what I'm more amazed at is how can anybody believe him? This isn't a guy that's even military anymore. He has nothing. He has no intelligence reports, nothing to base his "fact" on.

If the guy's being paid off, I can understand (well no I can't) him getting up in front of people and saying what he does. But for the American people and the people of the world for that matter, to believe him on his heresay, I'm just amazed. If you can't smell the money that's being passed to Ritter, then you have it coming to you when we don't go in and take over the Iraqi regime.
posted by the_0ne at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2002


Euphorb you should keep wishing your fantasy about Bush is true. Why? Oil companies what two things - market stability, and long-term high oil prices.

War with Iraq will provide the opposite - short term market instability (makes it much harder to raise capital) and, with a free Iraq outside of OPEC, much lower prices a few years down the road after their production picks up following rebuilding.

You may think Bush is a baddy because he doesn't hate the industry he used to work in, but it doesn't mean he's doing what they want, either.
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:33 AM on September 27, 2002


Ritter is the paid spokesman of the Iraqis...

If you can't smell the money that's being passed to Ritter, then you have it coming to you when we don't go in and take over the Iraqi regime.

This smacks of bullshit from those who call bullshit. Put yourself in Ritter's shoes: is there really any sum of money conceivably worth taking, if it means being branded a traitor by the wingnut contingent? I know that every man has his price, but not the piss-poor amounts that people keep talking about. And even if he were Saddam's Lord Haw-Haw, he certainly wouldn't be spending much time in the US right now, given the extended powers of the 'Patriot' Act. In fact, if it were really so obvious that he was taking Saddam's shilling, he'd be banged up as quick as you could say 'enemy combatant'.

Whereas I don't have any illusions about the effectiveness with which the White House smears those who don't jump to order.

(And as for the much-quoted $400,000: he's said umpteen times that it went into making the film, not his pocket. The film was made. Films cost money to make, and I don't think this one was made on a 'Blair Witch Project' budget. In fact, Ritter says he put $80,000 of his own money into the project, which would make him the first ever propagandist to pay for the privilege.)
posted by riviera at 11:47 AM on September 27, 2002


I suppose it is safe to say that Ritter has been fairly well covered considering that I saw him interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.

I get all of my non-web news from the Daily Show.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 11:56 AM on September 27, 2002


by the wingnut contingent

Sorry, you spelled that wrong, (Americans that love their country and will not listen to traitors that couldn't possibly know what they "say" they know.)

...he certainly wouldn't be spending much time in the US right now, given the extended powers of the 'Patriot' Act.

Let's hope he thinks this way, because I think his days are numbered in the U.S.. He might as well just stay there.

I just wonder if he's being blackmaled somehow. I mean, what could he possibly get out of the statements he's making? I posted above about money, but like riviera said, what amount would be worth it for what he's just done. He's finished in this country. He'll never be looked at the same. Well, unless he lives in Berkley, CA, where'd he be a martyr.
posted by the_0ne at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2002


I may sound a bit naive here but who is Scott Ritter?I thought he was a tennis star....what has he to do with politics and war and policy that everyone mentions his name?
posted by Postroad at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2002


(Americans that love their country and will not listen to traitors that couldn't possibly know what they "say" they know.)

Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:28 PM on September 27, 2002


I don't know how seriously I can take someone who was never able to score with either of those two babes, even after living with them all that time. What a putz!

No, no, luriete, Scott Ritter's his real name. The character he plays, "Jake Tapper" writes for Salon.


I just thought that exchange was worth repeating. I drizzled sweet tea from my nose onto my keyboard.
posted by sklero at 12:28 PM on September 27, 2002


about ritter:
he used to be CIA (the heavy CIA penetration in UNSCOM has never been denied).
so he used to be a spook.
what if he still is one and is doing this on purpose?

ps
foldy, the 1984 stuff has been discussed a lot and gets to many people nerves and does not take the discussion anywhere
please?
posted by matteo at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2002


I just wonder if he's being blackmaled [sic] somehow.

But I thought you said we should be able to "smell the money that's being passed to Ritter"? So he's being paid off by his blackmailers? I think you need to get your own story straight, the_One, before you accusing other people of being conflicted.
posted by riviera at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2002


Hey, can "traitor" eventually have a Godwin-esque rule applied to it? Or can we use it enough (as we do with "fascist" and "nazi" and "politically correct") that it eventually loses its sting?

I'll get the ball rolling: I disagree with the_One. I am a traitor. Or: I had Fruit Loops for breakfast this morning. I'm a traitor to Corn Flakes!
posted by hackly_fracture at 1:05 PM on September 27, 2002


(And as for the much-quoted $400,000: he's said umpteen times that it went into making the film, not his pocket. The film was made. Films cost money to make, and I don't think this one was made on a 'Blair Witch Project' budget. In fact, Ritter says he put $80,000 of his own money into the project, which would make him the first ever propagandist to pay for the privilege.)

Riviera, this is just wrong. Read the transcript of the Bill O'Reilly interview (towards the bottom), and out of his own mouth you'll see that he paid himself 80K of the 400K given to him. He claims that of that 80K, he put 38K back into the film. So OK, maybe he's not a Iraqui-funded millionaire, but in my opinion he's a traitor and all-around kook!
posted by Sal Amander at 1:13 PM on September 27, 2002


uh-oh Sal Amander, now hackly fracture is going to disagree with you and then tell you what he had for breakfast and then not tell you what he disagrees with. No hackly fracture, I will not think you are a traitor for disagreeing, a traitor is somebody who sides with the enemy. Let me think, oh yeah, exactly what Scott Ritter is doing.

riviera, the part about the money was more sarcasm than anything. I didn't even know about actual money until you posted about it. I didn't see this Bill O'Reilly interview. The paragraph (separate paragraph at that) was on a different thought as to maybe he's being blackmaled somehow and that's why he's doing this. And maybe it has nothing to do with money. My whole point is, why, why would he ruin his life like this with nothing to back it up. Not that I care, but I just can't imagine why he would do this.
posted by the_0ne at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2002


Hey, can "traitor" eventually have a Godwin-esque rule applied to it?
Only if "jingoistic" goes first.
posted by owillis at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2002


Jos Bleu: You may think Bush is a baddy because he doesn't hate the industry he used to work in, but it doesn't mean he's doing what they want, either.

Uh, are you high? Bush is doing the precise bidding of Big Oil. There is nothing that American oil companies would like more than an America-friendly regime in one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world. In the same way the UNOCAL was able to broker a deal for the pipeline they always wanted in Afghanistan mere months after the Taliban was evicted, nation building in Iraq can only lead to more stable relations, better deals with American companies, and more control over oil prices, which is what Big Oil has always really wanted.

Oh, and the tooth fairy's not real, either.
posted by vraxoin at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2002


owillis, OK. Down with "jingoistic" too.

the_One, sides with the enemy? I think that would imply Mr. Ritter saying something like "Saddam has WMDs alright, and I hope he blasts America to kingdom come," y'know? You may find his opinions ridiculous (I'm inclined to go with Sal Amander's "all around kook" as a reasonable possibility), even dangerous, but that still doesn't mean he's knowingly actively trying to harm America. If it's proven that he is, well heck, I'm with you. Til then, though, I say "traitor" (a federal death penalty offense) is not a word to be bandied lightly. Or else bandy it so lightly no one cares.
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:29 PM on September 27, 2002


(a federal death penalty offense)

Well, sorta.
posted by goethean at 2:45 PM on September 27, 2002


ps foldy, the 1984 stuff has been discussed a lot and gets to many people nerves and does not take the discussion anywhere
please?


~chuckle~

Ya know matteo-y, rubbing noses in 1984 will continue until many of you stop whining "traitor/thoughtcriminal/Goldstein" every time someone dissents from the Party line.

Obviously the analogy is apt, else it wouldn't be an intradermal irritant with so many thin-skinned Bushies.

And if you don't like the analogy, I suggest you ask your government to stop behaving like the Party organ that it is. Ask its President and supporters to quit crying "traitor" whenever someone (like Ritter) dares to question or get out of lockstep (that's what doesn't take the discussion anywhere.)

Got it?

"...a traitor is somebody who sides with the enemy. Let me think, oh yeah, exactly what Scott Ritter is doing."

'You're a traitor!' yelled the boy. 'You're a thought-criminal! You're a Eurasian spy! I'll shoot you, I'll vaporize you, I'll send you to the salt mines!'

Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting 'Traitor!' and 'Thought-criminal!' the little girl imitating her brother in every movement.


My, those voices certainly get on one's nerves, don't they matteo-y?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:47 PM on September 27, 2002


Ya know matteo-y, rubbing noses in 1984 will continue until many of you stop whining "traitor/thoughtcriminal/Goldstein" every time someone dissents from the Party line.

Obviously the analogy is apt, else it wouldn't be an intradermal irritant with so many thin-skinned Bushies.


Maybe people should stop whining "1984, 1984, 1984" ever time someone agrees with the current administration or steps out of the MIFI party line.

Oh and Foldy, in case you missed it, the "should we invade Iraqi" question has garnered some serious debate and dissent. Every day more and more politicians and generals are asserting we should not invade Iraqi. Everyone from Dick Army to Ted Kennedy have openly questioned the wisdom of starting a war. Even the American people have yet to give 1984 type support to Big Brother. In a recent Poll quoted on CNN's Wolf Blizter Reports (sorry no link) 14% of Americans don't want to go to war and 46% don't want war without Congressional or UN sanction. People are dissenting freely and Big Brother hardly has a blank check.
posted by Bag Man at 4:13 PM on September 27, 2002


Man I can't believe the stuff being said around here. Mr. Ritter is a former Marine that fought for his country in the Gulf War. He was also a weapons inspector for UNSCOM. His position is - If Iraq has WMD then lets take him out, but when he left Iraq it was 90-95% disarmed and he wants us to make sure that there is a reason to go in other than "we don't like him." He resigned from the program after several unsuccessful attempts to stop the infiltration of the CIA into the inspection process. That was against the UN agreement and cost the inspectors credibility with Iraq while they were there. He has stated that if it can be shown that Iraq does have WMD he will be happy to put on a uniform again and go to war himself.

Hardly a traitor.
posted by bas67 at 4:20 PM on September 27, 2002


Bas67, then please explain why when Mr. Ritter was last kicked out of Iraq in 1998, he went before a Senate hearing (not sure which exact one) and angrily testified that the inspectors needed to go back because Sadam still had these weapons. Haven't you seen the video of his testimony back in 98? He completely reversed his stand on this issue, and I don't feel that he's thoroughly explained why.
posted by Sal Amander at 4:29 PM on September 27, 2002


...and that makes him a traitor?

A blowhard, quite possibly. But a traitor?
posted by goethean at 4:34 PM on September 27, 2002


All this arguing about Ritter's patriotism is completely counterproductive, because it does not shed any light on whether Ritter's analysis of Iraq is accurate or inaccurate. People attack his analysis by calling him a traitor (an ad hominem fallacy) or pointing out that he has a minority view (the appeal to popularity fallacy), but this tells us absolutely nothing about whether his claims are true. I'm liable to give Ritter the benefit of the doubt, because much of what he says is extremely similar to what the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is also saying. Hussein may have tried to make chemical weapons, but we have no proof that they are not past their shelf life. Even if Hussein did have a suitably deadly chemical weapons program, he does not have the missile technology to get it anywhere near the United States. Hussein could get it into neighboring Middle Eastern countries, but that would just turn the Arab world against him. The worst he could do is hit Israel with chemical weapons, but going to war with Iraq will increase the chances of this happening. If Iraq were successful in rebuilding a nuclear weapons program, the international community could detect the heat and gamma rays that resulted. If a program is detected, all we have to do is do what Israel did with the Osiraq reactor and bomb the weapons production facility. It's not as macho, but it will keep the world safe with much less loss of life.
posted by jonp72 at 4:58 PM on September 27, 2002


when Mr. Ritter was last kicked out of Iraq in 1998

That's factually inaccurate in two ways, which blows away your credibility: one, Ritter resigned from UNSCOM in August 1998; two, the weapons inspectors were not 'kicked out' in December of that year, but unilaterally withdrawn by Richard Butler, who saw fit to consult with Washington but not the UN on this issue. (Another little factoid that escapes people these days.) After that, if you can't remember, the bombers went in for Operation Desert Fox, hitting installations visited, coincidentally, by UNSCOM in previous months. Ritter's opinion then? 'What Richard Butler did last week with the inspections was a set-up." In short, he realised that he'd been unwittingly providing the US with target data for air strikes thoughout his time as an inspector, and that the 'obstruction' that led him to resign was actually designed to take him to very different strategic targets.

So, if we're looking for Ritter's 'flip-flop' since his Senate testimony in August 1998, when exactly do you suppose it's to be dated from? Three guesses.

Ritter's in favour of an effective enforcement and verification regime, as far as I can gather from his statements. His position on that hasn't changed since 1998, and his assessment is, as jonp72 says, not much at odds with other independent monitors. And he has never expressed anything other than contempt for Saddam or the Iraqi regime. I dare you to find to the contrary.
posted by riviera at 5:56 PM on September 27, 2002


I don't know whether Scott Ritter is a traitor. But he's definitely a loon. He seems to be the kind of self-promoter who loves the media spotlight, and will say whatever will keep him in that spotlight at any given moment.

Fascinating and useful links in this thread, despite the usual gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Thanks, folks.

With respect to Mr. Orwell, this caught my eye:

from the Time.com interview linked to by dchase
[Time]You've spoke about having seen the children's prisons in Iraq. Can you describe what you saw there?

[Ritter] The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children -- toddlers up to pre-adolescents -- whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace.
...children's prison? A prison for toddlers? Even in my wildest imaginings about Saddam Hussein, I hadn't imagined or heard of this.

But Mr. Ritter isn't going to talk about it. Despite his knowledge of this particular human rights outrage, he will attempt to sweep it under the rug because it might damage his larger political purpose.

You want Orwellian? That's Orwellian.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:51 AM on September 28, 2002


...children's prison? A prison for toddlers? Even in my wildest imaginings about Saddam Hussein, I hadn't imagined or heard of this.

But Mr. Ritter isn't going to talk about it. Despite his knowledge of this particular human rights outrage, he will attempt to sweep it under the rug because it might damage his larger political purpose.

You want Orwellian? That's Orwellian.


Hussein's prison is downright Stalinist, but I don't think Ritter is Orwellian for refusing to discuss it further. He knows that continuing to talk about it will probably increase support for a bombing campaign that will probably do more harm than good to the children he just mentioned. Unless you buy that Vietnam-era doublespeak of "we had to destroy them in order to save them," I don't see how bombing Iraq into powder is going to help those children.
posted by jonp72 at 4:32 PM on September 28, 2002


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