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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Scott Ritter's Resignation & Reaction

Iraq News, AUGUST 28, 1998

By 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 .

   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 
   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 
   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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