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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Scott Ritter, Shares His Views on Iran's Nuclear Capabilities

Scott Ritter, a former U. N. weapons inspector spoke to a sold-out crowd last Thursday evening at Spokane’s Metropolitan Opera House. The event was co-sponsored by the Spokane group the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (P.J.A.L.S.).

A critic of the current Bush administration, how the intelligence community operates, and much of the current United States foreign policy, Ritter was involved in over 50 weapons inspection missions of Iraq from 1991 to 1998, 14 of which he was the chief inspector. He quit in 1998 because he felt he was not being allowed to do his job to the best of his ability.

He spoke on current issues including intelligence policy problems, lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program, going so far as to state reasons for George W. Bush’s impeachment over the issue.

Ritter knew his audience was largely liberal, and he addressed the subject in his speech. “You and I are not cut from the same piece of wood,” he said. “I’m a conservative Republican, and you are liberals. You’re pacifists, and I’m a warrior.”

A warrior he is. Ritter was a major in the U.S. Marines during the first Gulf War. Referring to the first Gulf War, he said it was “justified” and “a worthwhile sacrifice.”

Ritter’s main topic appeared not to be the current Iraq war, but instead he gave a sense of importance to the Iran and U.S. standoff over Iran’s nuclear capabilities, stating that military confrontation “has become a political reality that will not go away.” He said that President Bush has given orders to the Pentagon to be ready for a war with Iran as early as June of 2005.

He points out that in 1976 the Ford administration made an agreement with the Shah stating that Iran needed to diversify their energy sources and not only rely on oil for energy. Ritter explained that the Ford administration, included then Chief-of-Staff Dick Cheney and then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, said it was alright for Iran to develop nuclear power for energy purposes.

“There is no indication that they are using nuclear weapons in any way other than the U.S. agreed they could. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld say it is wrong now, but in 1976 (they said) it was just.”

Ritter feels that Bush is wrongly putting U.S. soldiers’, lives in jeopardy, “if troops die in Iran it is a travesty,” and Americans reputation is on the line for “another war based on lies.” He said that “what the Bush administration did was not misinterpret the facts but they misrepresented them.”

“There is no Iranian threat, and no intelligence backs up that they do have a weapons program,” Ritter said.

He continued by saying that “when a government official lies in the performance of his duty, it is a felony and that is grounds for impeachment,” much to the delight of the crowd.

In talking about the current Iraq war, Ritter feels completely opposite of how he felt about the first war with Iraq. “When we go to war we must be sure that when we send our boys and girls off to war that all options have been expelled,” he said. “I am unsure that the cause is worthy of the sacrifice.”

Ritter said that from 1993 on, nobody has been able to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the U.S. government believed that there were 200 weapons. When he turned in a report stating that he and his group had found none and that there might not be any W.M.D.s in Iraq, he was then told that there were “12-20 and that number was used again in 2003.”

Ritter’s reasoning for the United States not wanting Iraq to be clear of weapons was because that was not the goal. The United States wanted Saddam Hussein out of power. They figured that it could be done with the sanctions that were in place for only as long as Saddam possessed weapons. If Iraq had complied with the inspectors, the soldiers would have been obligated to leave, and the United States did not want to leave until Saddam was out of power.

The reason the Iraqis stopped us from searching a certain area was not because they were hiding weapons. It was because they could not trust the credibility of the inspectors.

Ritter said that Iraqis believed that CIA operatives were involved in the inspection process “and they were right.” Iraq did not violate international law, the United States did. They didn’t have the integrity to tell the truth to the United States people,” he said.

He ended the evening by saying that the current administration “has committed crimes in the past, they are committing crimes in the present and they are planning to commit crimes in the future. It would be absurd for the people of this country not to stand up and take this country back for themselves.”

Tyler Wasson
05/19/05 "The Easterner"

© 2005 The Easterner Online


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