Scott Ritter's Resignation & Reaction
Iraq News, AUGUST 28, 1998By Laurie Mylroie
The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .
I. WASH POST EDITORIAL, "SADDAM WINS," AUG 28 II. NYT EDITORIAL, "ILLUSORY INSPECTIONS IN IRAQ," AUG 28 III. US BLOCKING UNSCOM SEARCHES SINCE LAST NOV, WASH POST, AUG 27 IV. SCOTT RITTER, RESIGNATION LETTER, AUG 26 V. RITTER RESIGNS, WASH POST, AUG 27 VI. JIM HOAGLAND, "RITTER'S RESIGNATION," WASH POST, AUG 27 VII. A.M. ROSENTHAL,"SCOTT RITTER'S DECISION," NYT, AUG 28 VIII. FRANK GAFFNEY, ALBRIGHT'S LIES ABOUT IRAQ, AUG 27 Today, the Wash Post editors, "Saddam Wins," wrote, "Twenty-two days have now passed without United Nations inspections of Saddam Hussein's weapons-making capabilities. That is, 22 days during which he could work unimpeded to develop chemical, biological and nuclear arms . . . Yet his defiance of the United States and the United Nations goes unchallenged. On Tuesday, one of the most tenacious UN inspectors, Scott Ritter, resigned rather than participate in what he called 'the illusion of arms control.' And for most of a year, we now know, the Clinton administration has been working to rein in the inspectors. The United States . . . has abandoned a policy, in place since the end of the Persian Gulf War, of insisting on aggressive arms inspections to deny Iraq's dictator his weapons of mass destruction. The new policy, although the Clinton administration will not openly acknowledge it as such, seems to be one of deterrence and containment. In other words, as Defense Secretary William Cohen said, 'if he [Saddam Hussein] takes any action to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction, or disrupts the stability or peace in the region,' then the United States reserves the right to use force . . . . [But] without inspections, can the United States know when Saddam Hussein is 'reconstituting his weapons of mass destruction'? . . . Does not Saddam Hussein's victory over the United Nations, and his ability now to rebuild his arsenal, send a message to neighbors and others that in itself 'disrupts the stability' of the region? And if Saddam Hussein now manages to acquire nuclear weapons, would US threats really serve to deter, for example, another invasion of Kuwait? . . . President Clinton himself provided answers to these questions last February. 'What if he fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route, which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction? . . . Well, he will conclude then that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you he'll use the arsenal.'" Also, today, the NYT editors, "Illusory Inspections in Iraq," wrote, "The resignation of Scott Ritter . . . is the latest and most dramatic warning that the Clinton Administration and the UN are abandoning a firm approach toward President Saddam Hussein. . . . Aggressive inspections must be resumed promptly, and if additional military forces are needed in the gulf region to lend credible support to the inspectors, they need to be provided. . . . Meanwhile, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has argued that Mr. Hussein is still losing the struggle because the economic sanctions on Iraq will remain. But sanctions are not an end in themselves, merely a means to compel Mr. Hussein to cooperate. His willingness to live with sanctions is a measure of the importance he places on acquiring weapons of mass destruction . . . As Washington contemplates an extended war against terrorism, it cannot give in to a man who specializes in the unthinkable." The NYT today also reported that Sen. Sam Brownback, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, will hold hearings Sept 9 on this, while according to a spokesman for Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, that committee will also probably hold hearings in early September. Yesterday, the Wash Post reported that the US blocking of UNSCOM inspections began already in Nov 97. The "US efforts to restrain weapons searches conflicted with robust public rhetoric in support of the special commission's right to make what Albright often called 'unfettered, unconditional inspections' of any site in Iraq, at any time.' They also coincided, sometimes to the day, with explicit military threats by American officials against Iraq should it turn the inspectors aside." As the Post explained, on Nov 23, UNSCOM was to conduct a no-notice inspection of the former headquarters of the 3rd Battalion of Iraq's Special Republican Guard. "Albright telephoned Butler less than 24 hours before the surprise search was to take place. . . She urged him to delay the operation, arguing that it would precipitate a crisis before the military or diplomatic groundwork had been laid." Then, the next month, Dec 18, Ritter conducted the first of what was meant to be a series of no notice inspections-villas belonging to the Special Security Organization [SSO] "and was met with outrage by Iraqi officials. At about that time, the US Government began pressing Butler to cancel the rest of the intrusive inspections. . . . The Clinton administration cited an ongoing, but as yet insufficient, military buildup in the region and diplomatic efforts that were still at an early stage." [The NYT, Aug 27, reported that the administration said that "military action over the Christmas holidays was 'domestically unsustainable.'"] Then, the next month, when Ritter returned for a scheduled Jan 16 search of SSO headquarters and the offices of Saddam's closest aide, Abid Hamid Mahmoud, on Jan 15, US Amb. Bill Richardson met with Butler and asked him to withdraw Ritter from Iraq. And following the Feb 23 accord--which the US, UNSC, and UNSG all maintained would guarantee UNSCOM unrestricted access in Iraq--Annan "urged Butler not to send Ritter-as he had planned in the first inspections testing that agreement. Albright telephoned Butler around that time . . .with similiar advise, describing Ritter as a lightning rod . . . Butler dispatched him anyway, and Albright telephoned again March 2 with a more forceful restatement of the US objection. . . The same day the Security Council passed the American-drafted resolution promising 'severest consequences' if Iraq failed to keep its promises of Feb. 23. The following day, Assistant Secretary of State James P. Rubin said the resolution meant that 'military force will ensue' immediately if Iraq came into breach. At around the same time on March 3, Butler relieved Ritter of command and ordered him to appoint a new chief inspector. But after Ritter's four senior subordinates sent Butler an 'eyes only' fax protesting the decision, Butler reversed himself. Later that month, the United States and Britain withdrew crucial elements of the intelligence support that allowed the special commission to observe Iraqi concealment efforts as they happened during surprise inspections." The final episode occurred this summer, as detailed by the Wash Post Aug 14 [see "Iraq News," Aug 14]. That explains why Ritter resigned. In his resignation letter to Amb. Butler, Ritter wrote, "The Special Commission was created for the purpose of disarming Iraq. As part of the Special Commission team, I have worked to achieve a simple end: the removal, destruction or rendering harmless of Iraq's proscribed weapons. The sad truth is that Iraq today is not disarmed . . . UNSCOM has good reason to believe that there are significant numbers of proscribed weapons and related components and the means to manufacture such weapons unaccounted for in Iraq today. . . Iraq has lied to the Special Commission and the world since day one concerning the true scope and nature of its proscribed programs and weapons systems. This lie has been perpetuated over the years through systematic acts of concealment. It was for the purpose of uncovering Iraq's mechanism of concealment, and in doing so gaining access to the hidden weapons components and weapons programs, that you created a dedicated capability to investigate Iraq's concealment activities, which I have had the privilege to head. . . . This investigation has led the Commission to the door step of Iraq's hidden retained capability, and yet the commission has been frustrated by Iraq's continued refusal to abide by its obligations . . . to allow inspections, the Security Council's refusal to effectively respond to Iraq's actions, and now the current decision by the Security Council and the Secretary General, backed at least implicitly by the United States, to seek a 'diplomatic' alternative to inspection-driven confrontation with Iraq, a decision which constitutes a surrender to the Iraqi leadership . . . The issue of immediate, unrestricted access is, in my opinion, the cornerstone of any viable inspection regime, and, as such, is an issue worth fighting for. Unfortunately, others do not share this opinion, including the Security Council and the United States. The Special Commission of today, hobbled as it is by unfettered Iraqi obstruction and non-existent Security Council enforcement of its own resolutions, is not the organization I joined almost seven years ago. . . The refusal and/or inability on the part of the Security Council to exercise responsibility concerning the disarmament obligations of Iraq makes a mockery of the mission the staff of the Special Commission have been charged with implementing. The illusion of arms control is more dangerous than no arms control at all. What is being propagated by the Security Council today in relation to the work of the Special Commission is such an illusion . . . " The Wash Post, Aug 27, reporting on Ritter's resignation, even noted tensions between the UNSG and Amb. Bulter, "This week, three senior associates of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed qualms about [Ritter's] boss, Butler, who has sometimes clashed with Annan, and made it clear in interviews that Annan would not grieve to see Butler go. 'The secretary general wants something that works, so if Butler's style becomes an issue with the Iraqis maybe he should resign because the issue should be the principles, not his personality,' said a senior UN official. Also, Ritter told the Post, "I fought in the [Gulf] war. . . . Americans died in the war. I was told by my government in April 1991, in a UN Security Council resolution the United States sponsored, that Iraq was going to disarm. . . I've poured my heart and soul into disarming Iraq and this means I was wasting my time. It means we lost the Gulf War. . . . The whole world should be shamed by this." Jim Hoagland, in "Ritter's Resignation," Aug 27, noted "a disturbing pattern of professional rivalry and shortsightedness" in the CIA's dealings with UNSCOM, "In August 1995, for example, Ritter arranged to have more than 120 prohibited missile guidance gyroscopes being smuggled from Russia to Iraq intercepted in Amman, Jordan. He entrusted them to a senior Jordanian official to ship to UNSCOM for examination . . . But officials of the CIA's Middle East division got the gyroscopes away from the Jordanians through a ruse, refused Ritter's requests for the material he had discovered and told the Jordanians to cease dealing with him. . . . Last year the CIA helped trigger a continuing FBI investigation of Ritter for allegedly leading secret US information to other governments in his UNS work-an accusation Ritter forcefully denies." [The CIA's Middle East division also played a prominent role in the administration's shafting of the Iraqi National Congress. The FBI became involved in that, with regard to the Iraqis detained in LA.] Today, A.M. Rosenthal, in "Scott Ritter's Decision," wrote, "In seven years as a key UN inspector searching out Saddam Hussein's concealed capabilities to make weapons of mass destruction, Scott Ritter had to call on all the physical courage in him. Then on Wednesday he summoned up all his moral and intellectual courage, and resigned. In his letter of resignation and in conversation, he gave the world his reasons, with candor we have almost forgotten. . . . From Washington and the UN, denials and knifings of Mr. Ritter came as soon as it was known that he had taken on the UN bureaucracy and the American Government he once served as a Marine intelligence officer. . . . It is important for Americans to know the denials and knifing do not come from everybody in Washington or the UN, not from the insistently honorable. . . . Mr. Clinton's people tell us to believe that his war against terrorism can consist of missiles against terrorist gangs in Afghanistan and the Sudan--while Iraq, a major terrorist state, is getting immunity for closing down UN inspections. Secretary of State Albright stays that's a matter between the UN and Iraq . . . But why would the US damage inspection of Iraq? Mr. Ritter, and I, do not believe that the President & Co. have fallen in love with Saddam. But from what clues the Administration grants the public, the idea seems to be that Iraq can be so weakened in pocketbook that Iraqis will get real mad and somebody will kill him. Mr. Ritter points out that the UN already grants Iraq more oil to sell than Iraq can pump. He says that soon the UN will allow Iraq the funds to build more pumps. Sounds crazy, is crazy. Resignations, anyone?" Yesterday, Frank Gaffney proposed one in "Sauce for the Goose: Madeleine Albright's Lies About Iraq Make her Another Candidate for Resignation, Impeachment: Scott Ritter for SecState?" After reviewing the Wash Post report on the US blocking inspections, Gaffney wrote, "Mrs. Albright's deceitful behavior about the Iraqi inspection program is every bit as obscene in its way-and vastly more portentous-than that of the President she serves. As with Mr. Clinton's lies, they serve to undercut the credibility of the United States government and can only embolden this country's adversaries, starting with Saddam Hussein. . . US foreign policy is in complete disarray, thanks in part to the mendacity and incompetence of those charged with formulating and administering it. Neither this country nor the billions of people overseas who rely upon it to provide effective leadership and, if all else fails, to provide security can long afford such a state of affairs. . . . Those who are engaged in willful lying to the American people about their personal conduct or professional performance must be held accountable. Particularly where such behavior has the gravest of implications for the national security-as is the case with US policy toward Iraq-they must resign or be impeached. It is a terrible irony that Scott Ritter has felt obliged to do the former when it is he who should remain in place-or be promoted-and when it is those who have undercut him and his mission, ie., President Clinton and Secretary Albright, who should 'in the name of God, go!'"
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