Think Beyond Impeachment, Says Former U.N. Weapons Inspector
By Nathan Diebenow
Star Iconoclast" -- -- AUSTIN — Scott Ritter, the
former United Nations weapons inspector who served during President
Bill Clinton’s administration, had some strong words for people who
call for President Bush’s impeachment.
Ritter explained that more people should be held accountable for
supporting the current war in Iraq than the Bush Administration,
including members of the Clinton administration, congressmen,
senators, the U.S. media, and the American people.
“The Bush administration has committed felony after felony after
felony by going into Iraq. There’s no doubt about that,” Ritter
said, while describing a meeting he had with Democrats on Capitol
Hill on the issue of impeachment. “But I say, ‘Timeout, guys....
At a recent activism workshop in Austin, Ritter said that the
American people should use the U.S. Constitution as a guidepost for
making decisions with regard to U.S. foreign policy.
“When we say, ‘Bush administration, do it yourself. Clinton
administration, do it yourself,’ I say, ‘No. America, do it
yourself,’” said Ritter. “We the people of the United States of
America need to reflect on the preamble to that constitution. It’s
our constitution. It’s our country. This is our problem. The only
way we are going to resolve it is to infuse ourselves with a sense
of citizenship that has sadly not been in this country today.”
Ritter said that the American people seem to behave more like
consumers than citizens: “We want the easy fix. We want the
government to solve the problem for us. That’s not how democracy
works. Democracy is a tough, dirty business. And it takes a lot of
work. It requires citizens to invest themselves. And we the people
have failed egregiously.”
Sponsored by Tour of Duty, Ritter’s talk was moderated by talk radio
host Jack Blood before a packed sanctuary at St. Andrew’s
Presbyterian Church in Austin. Earlier in the day, a conference was
held on the church grounds devoted to linking spirituality and
Iran War Looming
Ritter noted that after the three-year U.S.-led occupation of Iraq,
the next challenge to the American people is finding the truth about
Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Though he is skeptical of Iran’s claim that its civilian energy
program is peaceful, Ritter said that no one has yet to supply hard
evidence to the public that shows Iran has a nuclear weapons
program. Still, he said he supports a presence of viable, capable
U.N. weapons inspectors as an alternative to rushing “hell nell”
toward armed conflict with Iran.
However, Ritter said he fears that the Bush administration has
already gained the support of the American people who follow him to
a new war without question.
“This is where we the people have failed yet again because when you
take a poll of the American people, 80 percent believe that Iran has
a nuclear weapons program. Why?” He asked. “Because they have failed
their responsibility in citizenship. They accept at face value
everything they hear from Fox News, from CNN, from The New York
Times. And they still don’t engage that little brain matter between
their earlobes to think for themselves. It’s the mistake we made in
Signs of War
Ritter went on to say that the United States military is already
gearing up for armed conflict with Iran as Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld drums up the support from countries that have
airbases surrounding Iran. Another sign of war, Ritter noted, is
that U.S. aircraft are being used to scout future missions for U.S.
“We’re over flying in Iran and we’re taking photographs. Is this
peaceful?” asked Ritter. “If the Cubans were flying over our nation
with reconnaissance aircraft taking photographs of facilities they
were getting their troops ready to target, we’d shoot their planes
down, and we’d say we have to right to protect our national
To drive his point home, he added: “If the Cubans were taking Cuban
Americans in the United States and forming them into operational
groups to go around blowing up bridges and assassinating
politicians, we’d call it an act of terror. Not only would we hunt
down the perpetrators, but we’d probably blow Cuba off the face of
the earth in the process because they’re attacking us. But we’re
doing the same thing (to Iran).”
Ritter suggested that to stop a war with Iran, Democrats must be
elected to take control of at least the House of Representatives in
the 2006 election. This way, said the self-described registered
Republican, a healthier amount of skepticism will check and balance
the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government.
Ritter explained that none of the sectarian violence currently going
on in Iraq should have taken anybody by surprise because the only
thing holding the three infighting ethnic and religious groups
(Kurds, Shi’a, and Sunnis) together since the end of the Ottoman
Empire after World War I was Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Party.
“People say, ‘Why was Saddam Hussein so brutal against the Shi’a?’
Because if he wasn’t, you’d have the same problem you’d see in the
streets today. ‘Why was Saddam Hussein so brutal against the
tribes?’ If he wasn’t, you’d have the same problem you’d have today.
‘Why did Saddam Hussein repress Kurdish independence?’ Because if he
didn’t, you’d see the same problems you’d see in Iraq today. It’s
all predictable,” said Ritter.
He told the audience that the United States used Saddam only when it
was convenient, such as during the Iraq/Iran war in order to keep
Iran’s Islamic fundamentalist government at bay. The Gulf War,
Ritter said, however, was the result of poor communication between
the United States and her ally Iraq due to the first Bush
administration’s heavy, narrow focus on the Soviet Union during the
In March 1990, then-President George H. W. Bush sent a delegation to
Iraq led by Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas) that embraced Hussein’s
government during a spat between Iraq and Israel, but by October
1990, Saddam invaded and occupied its southern oil-rich neighbor
Kuwait, Ritter explained. That summer, Hussein had asked Washington
three times whether or not he had the green light to take land away
from Kuwait over a border dispute. All three times, Washington told
Hussein, “America has no position,” according to Ritter.
The initial response inside the U.S. government toward the Iraqi
invasion was “good” because “[e]verybody understood that Kuwait was
doing some bad things in terms of slant drilling and holding Iraq’s
feet to the fire on financial issues,” Ritter explained. “And the
feeling was that if Iraq had limited its incursion by simply taking
over the Ramadi oil fields, controlling the Emir’s palace, and
occupying the (nearby) islands — there wouldn’t have been a
Instead, Hussein moved into Kuwait City and threatened Saudi
Arabia’s oil fields, which forced President H.W. Bush to raise his
rhetoric even harsher by comparing Hussein to the former leader of
Nazi Germany Adolph Hitler, said Ritter, adding that in doing so,
the president covered up the complicated nature of the situation
from the American people to wage war against Iraq.
“We knew there were nuclear weapons and biological weapons, but
while we had our chemical protective gear, we had our little magic
pills, [and] we had our inoculations, there wasn’t a big fear
factor,” said Ritter, who served during the Gulf War as a Marine.
“There seemed to be more fear about Iraq’s nuclear weapons
capabilities in 2003 when they didn’t have them than in 1991 when
they did have them.”
Life Or Death
To further the case for the Gulf War, there were charges that the
Iraqi leader was a “personification of evil” who gassed his own
people, namely the Iraqi Kurds.
As Ritter explained, during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the
Iraqi Kurds switched allegiance to Iran and fought against Iraq. At
a battle over a dam where electricity was created to power Baghdad,
Iraq used a mustard agent to repel Iranian soldiers from a hill top.
When the Iranians counterattacked with a cyanide-based blood agent,
the Kurdish rebels were killed in the middle.
As a preventative measure in “a life or death struggle,” as Ritter
termed it, Hussein gassed at least three Kurdish villages, which is
not the same as a systematic extermination of defenseless people
such as the six million Jews in Europe who died under Hitler’s
reign, Ritter noted.
This weaponized blood agent may have resulted in the deaths of 7,000
Kurds, he explained, during a war in which about a million people
died from conventional weapons like artillery and machine guns used
by Iran, a country of 60 million people, and Iraq, a country of 23
“I’m not condoning the Iraqi actions, but we need to put it in
perspective,” said Ritter, adding: “With the exception of nuclear
weapons, a Marine corps rifle company with an unlimited supply of
ammunition will kill far more people than chemical weapons,
biological weapons, or long-range ballistic missiles. I mean, but we
don’t call a Marine corps rifle company ‘a weapon of mass
destruction.’ Maybe we should.”
Deal With Saddam
At the same time in the 1980s, Ritter noted, Donald Rumsfeld
delivered assurances from the United States to Hussein to make it
clear that the U.S. government sided with Iraq, but all the while
members of Congress condemned the Iraqi leader’s use of chemical
weapons on the Kurds, even as the U.S. government was secretly
supplying Iran with ballistic missiles for use against Iraq’s army.
“So we did condemn Saddam from using chemical weapons but said, ‘No
problem, you keep doing it.’ Why? Because it’s good for us. It helps
America contain Iran. The problem is ... we now have to deal with
the reality of Saddam,” Ritter noted.
The tactics with which to “deal with Saddam” after the Gulf War
meant political trouble for President H.W. Bush because the American
leader left “the new Hitler” in power for the security of the region
instead of ousting him like he had promised at the outset to the
American people, according to Ritter.
“We needed Saddam Hussein to die, so that [President H.W. Bush]
wouldn’t be opened up to political criticism here at home. But the
war is over. The troops are home. How are we going to get rid of
this guy?” explained Ritter.
The answer was a policy of containment through which a series of
economic sanctions was arranged to continue as long as Hussein
stayed in power, despite a U.N. Security Council resolution that
called for the sanctions to be lifted once Iraq disarmed itself of
weapons of mass destruction.
Enter Scott Ritter
Enter Scott Ritter and his frustration with the U.S. government
during the implementation of Security Council Resolution 287 to
inspect and disarm Iraq’s weapons.
“A successful inspection regime would be the enemy of American
policy. That is something that I as an inspector found since day
one,” said Ritter. “When I showed up, it was obvious that the United
States did not want the weapons inspections program to succeed. They
“When I reported to the CIA in 1992 that we could account for all
the Iraqi nuclear capability, that was a finding they did not want
because we could account for missiles, but right now, there was a
possibility we could account for chemicals. If we could account for
chemicals, then we can account for biologicals, and then we can
account for nuclear for Iraq to disarm.
Ritter told his audience in Austin that the fact that the U.S.
government rejected the inspectors’ findings, instead of saying,
“Hoorray! Good job inspectors,” meant it didn’t want them to succeed
in any step of the disarming process. Then, the director of the CIA
said before the U.S. Congress that 200 missiles were still in Iraq,
a number the CIA head made up, according to Ritter.
“Two hundred missiles that physically can’t exist in Iraq. Where did
you get that number? You made it up. Ladies and gentlemen, it should
be clear to everybody,” he said. “This isn’t about Bush bashing.
Have you noticed the time frame I’m talking about? The majority of
my life with the U.S. government took place between 1992 to 1998
during the Clinton presidency. This isn’t about Republicans. This
isn’t about Democrats. It’s about America, about American politics,
about going down the wrong path.”
Act Like Saddam
Ritter said that the last three presidential administrations
deliberately misled the American people about the reality of Iraq.
“When people say we didn’t find any weapons in Iraq in 2003, I’m
here to tell you that, no, it wasn’t a mistake,” said the former
U.N. weapons inspector. “The CIA knew in 1993 that there were no
nuclear weapons programs in Iraq. The CIA knew in 1994 that there
were not chemical weapons in Iraq. The CIA knew in 1995 that there
were no biological weapons in Iraq.
“The CIA knew that Iraq had been disarmed, but that’s not the CIA’s
job,” he added. “The CIA’s job is not to disarm Iraq but to create
the conditions for the removal of Saddam Hussein. This is important
because that same pattern of deception that you saw in Iraq is
taking place today when it comes to the issue of Iran.”
Until 2000, the United State waited for someone like a Sunni general
who could be like Saddam Hussein without being Saddam Hussein and be
called to assassinate Hussein and take over control the Baathist
Party and Iraqi government, Ritter said. “Then we’d be happy.”
But then, on March 19, 2003, the U.S.-led invasion force went into
Iraq and threw the baby with the bath water, so to speak, by
removing the Baathist Party along with Saddam Hussein, a move that
caused widespread civil unrest in Iraq soon after.
“As soon as we invaded, someone said, ‘What do you think?’ I said,
‘America has lost the war.’ He said, ‘How can you say that?’ The
second we crossed the line, we lost the war because we embarked on a
mission that was going to undo that which held Iraq together, and
there was no way America could sustain a long-term presence in Iraq
that would devolve into chaos and anarchy,” said Ritter.
Addicted To War
Ritter stressed that U.S. presidents are in essence forced to lie to
the American people about going to war in the Middle East (by using
the excuse that the nation in question poses a threat) because the
United States is addicted to its lifestyle based on cheap oil.
“We consume far more than we produce as a nation. Therefore, this
lifestyle that we are all addicted to requires our government to
gain access to resources we need to sustain this lifestyle, and to
gain access to these resources on terms that are economically
beneficial to America, so we have to have a foreign policy in place
that guarantees we have this access,” explained Ritter.
He added, “A president can’t flat-out say, ‘I have to feed your
addiction to oil, so I’m going to gain total 100 percent control of
the Middle East. I’m going to get rid of every government in the
Middle East ... that doesn’t march to our tune.’ What president is
going to be honest enough to say that? Not a single one of them.
“So they are going to come up with excuses: ‘Saddam Hussein is a
threat to our security because he has weapons of mass destruction.
We need to get rid of Saddam. Iran is a threat because of a nuclear
weapons program. We need to get rid of the Iranians. The Saudi
Arabians are a threat because they finance global terror.’ That
might actually be a true statement, but we’re not marching on Riyadh
More Active Citizens
The bottom line, Ritter said, is that citizens of the United States
should take the responsibility for the deployment of their armed
forces more seriously, as they are empowered to do so by the U.S.
Constitution, for the sake of their country and “those men and women
who honor us by the uniform of the armed services of the United
States [who] took an oath to protect the Constitution of the United
“The military doesn’t get to engage in this constitutional debate.
Why? Because they expect the people of the United States to do it,”
explained Ritter, who as a Marine, served as a ballistic missile
advisor to Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf during the first Gulf War. “That
was another great lesson I learned. When the boss says, ‘Take the
hill,’ you don’t go, ‘But there’s machine gun up there!’ You take
the hill ... Tough luck. Get the job done.”
Ritter added that the only reason why the military should be asked
to fight in the name of the United States is when “there is a threat
that puts our nation at risk.”
When asked about the dangers of depleted uranium radiation from U.S.
weapons, Ritter, a U.S. Marine who served 12 years, unapologetically
answered that he looked at the issue from the standpoint of a Marine
in the heat of battle.
“You put me in charge of a couple hundred Marines, and we’re dug in
and a T80 Battle Tank comes over. I don’t want to fight an equal
fight. I don’t want him anywhere close to me. I’m going to open up a
120 millimeter Battle Tank gun with continued depleted uranium
rounds that will carve up that tank like a hot knife through butter
and kill everyone inside before they can even come close to me,”
said Ritter, who served as a ballistic missile advisor to Gen.
Norman Schwartzkopf during the first Gulf War.
“I love DU!” he added. “I want to be able to use it on my 20
millimeter Bushmaster, on my LAB25, so it’ll cut through T62 tanks.
Why? I don’t want an equal fight, ladies and gentlemen. You send me
to war, and I’ll kill the enemy. I’m going to slaughter them! I’m
going to eviscerate them! I’m going to annihilate them! And I’m
going to do it in a way that brings all my Marines home or at least
as many of them as I can. THAT’S—MY—JOB! My job is to wage war, not
make the world lovey dovey. You click on the “on” switch on, it’s
going on, and I’m going to them, and you better give me the weapons
to do the job.
“And you better understand that when you give me those weapons, and
I use those weapons, there are repercussions. When I pull that
trigger on a DU weapon I’m creating conditions that are harmful to
American service members. I’m creating conditions that are harmful
to innocent civilians that have to live in that area. If you don’t
want that, don’t send me to war.”
© 2006, The Lone Star Iconoclast
Click below to read or post comment's on this article
(In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational purposes.
Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the
originator of this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)