Thursday, October 27, 2005

Scott Ritter Interview in Southern Illinois

Scott Ritter, a former Marine officer, was a top United Nations (UN) weapons inspector in Iraq between 1991 and 1998. He lead more an a dozen missions often facing top Iraqi military and security personnel. He has maintained the argument that Saddam Hussein had been disarmed and has never threatened U.S. security. The "justification" for the invasion was nothing more than domestic politics.

During an interview with the former UN weapons inspector, Scott talked about looking for weapons of mass distruction (WMDs) in Iraq. He also explained how much of the intelligence used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq was discredited by work he and fellow inspectors conducted in the 1990s. His new book,
Iraq Confidential : The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein (Nation Books), is now available.

Scott's position as a weapons inspector was quite specific. As a Marine intelligence officer with 12 years experience gathering information, he had all the qualifications for it. He also had some knowledge of the Russian language. After former President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev signed the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Marines assigned him to the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republic in a missile production facility learning how to be a weapons inspector. He was a ballistic missile advisor to General Norman Schwarzkopf during the first Gulf War. He has specialized in this field ever since.

Scott has been very professional in his approach to Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people. His attitude is neither pacifist or sympathetic. It is factual. When a country agrees to submit their data and does not, members of the intelligence community know that it is time to pay a visit, ask questions, gather information, assess the findings, and develop conclusions.

Iraq had weapons of mass destruction -- in 1991. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) maintained the illusion that a legitimate reason to invade the Mideast country existed. George H. W. Bush began a policy of regime change for Iraq. He used the inspectors as a Trojan horse to report on the security Saddam Hussein and deliberately mislead Congress and the American people. Bill Clinton inherited the policy. Against his better judgement, there was little he could do at the time. The current President George W. Bush has actively followed through with his predecessors' legacy. By 1997, 90 to 95 percent of those weapons were disarmed. By 2003, the country did not pose a threat to America's security. With the most intrusive procedures possible, the inspectors proved that the country's weapons of mass destruction no longer existed.

The the current Bush Administration uses its ideology to permeate a sense of fear throughout the country -- without justification. Scott uses Iraq Confidential to outline all the factual non-classified intelligence information. He had 100 percent access to the primary UN points of contact. His sources are legitimate. The contents of his book are grounded in reality.

The country does have its share of issues. There are no security forces in Iraq that people can be loyal to. No one has truly defined the problem. Without defining the problem, there can be no solution. Why has the U. S. invaded Iraq? Why does the U. S. continue to occupy Iraq?

The U. S. has a Rule of Law yet the legislators deliberately allowed the country to enter into into a war based on a lie. The neo-cons then created their own politically correct reality of 12 to 20 missles, used CIA policy to undermine and infiltrate the UN inspection teams during the 1990s, and then to undermine their efforts again before the 2003 invasion. They thought they could gain access to the planet's second largest oil resources in Iraq with a quick and easy invasion. Once they acquired access, they planned to leverage the U. S. political and economic control with global control.

The plan backfired, and getting the U. S. out of the lie is long overdue. The
exit strategy that Rep. Ike Skelton (MO-04) proposes is unrealistic since it has no basis for reality. Here is the reality:

  • The US occupation forces created Iraq's civil war in the first place.
  • The country's insurgencies are anti-occupation in nature.
  • The US goal has never been to build a Mideast democracy.
  • Iran is now in charge of Iraq.

Scott offers his own viable exit strategy that is not a capitulation. It is a multi-lateral process with the U. S. leading it:

  1. Remove the occupation troops. They need to come back home to the U. S. The Shiites, Khurds, and Sunnis will learn to live with it.
  2. Reinfranchise the Sunnis with political and economic forces to remove the radical Islamic factions.
  3. Encourage the Khurds to stop talking about independence. The Turks will never allow it. They cannot allow it because they want to be part of the European Union.

There are no other suggestions for a viable exit strategy based on reality and the Rule of Law. If it compromises anything, it is the U. S. government's political lies about Iraq.

This has been Scott's second visit to Paducah, KY. His first visit in 2003 was warm and receptive with friendly audiences. For this year's visit, Craig Rhodes and the other members of the Patriots of Peace sponsored Scott's visit to Paducah, KY, on October 25 and 26. He also provided telephone interviews to a variety of radio stations.

It was a rare opportunity for him to share his knowledge of Iraq with the residents of Kentucky and Illinois. People can make all the negative statements about Scott that they want. They also have to admit that he has consistently stood up for the truth, spoken truth to political power -- regardless of the personal consequences and has taken a good many hits for it-- and then gotten up and done it all over again. Honesty and courage are two of his strongest hallmarks. His
interview with Diane Riehm on National Public Radio offers greater detail on the facts, answers a lot of common questions, and summarizes his thesis on the policy history, CIA, and US government very poignantly and effectively at one point in the interview. The Nation's Seymour Hersh interview and Democracy Now interview and transcript are also available. Readers can find another brief article on Alternet.

Scott encourages everyone to listen to his presentations with an open mind for facts and analysis, create a forum for discussion, and leave with a more informed opinion. It is working. His staunchest critics are now acknowledging that they owe him long overdue apologies, and they are delivering them publicly.

With 2,000 Americans now dead, the invasion is nothing short of a disaster on every level. Iraq and its people are worse off today than under Saddam Hussein. The invasion was illegal and therefore, an impeachable offense. Congress and the president are culable in this fraud.

It is very American and completely patriotic for members of a representative democracy to hold their elected representatives accountable. The 2006 Election is the best place to start.

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