call my colleagues' attention to a recent article by Scott Ritter, former chief
UN weapons inspector in Iraq, published in the Los Angeles Times. In this article,
Mr. Ritter makes a salient point that deserves careful and serious consideration
in this body: how will it be possible to achieve the stated administration goal
of getting weapons inspectors back into Iraq when the administration has made
it known that it intends to assassinate the Iraqi leader?
nothing else, Saddam Hussein has proven himself a survivor. Does anyone believe
that he will allow inspectors back into his country knowing that any one of them
might kill him? Is it the intention of the administration to get inspectors back
into Iraq and thus answers to lingering and critical questions regarding Iraq's
military capabilities, or is the intent to invade that country regardless of the
near total absence of information and actually make it impossible for Suddam Hussein
to accept the inspectors?
Ritter, who as former chief UN inspector in Iraq probably knows that country better
than any of us here, made some excellent points in a recent meeting with Republican
members of Congress. According to Mr. Ritter, no American-installed regime could
survive in Iraq. Interestingly, Mr. Ritter noted that though his rule is no doubt
despotic, Saddam Hussein has been harsher toward Islamic fundamentalism than any
other Arab regime. He added that any U.S. invasion to remove Saddam from power
would likely open the door to an anti-American fundamentalist Islamic regime in
Iraq. That can hardly be viewed in a positive light here in the United States.
Is a policy that replaces a bad regime with a worse regime the wisest course to
is made of Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, as a potential post-invasion
leader of Iraq. Mr. Ritter told me that in his many dealings with Chalabi, he
found him to be completely unreliable and untrustworthy. He added that neither
he nor the approximately 100 Iraqi generals that the US is courting have any credibility
inside Iraq, and any attempt to place them in power would be rejected in the strongest
manner by the Iraqi people. Hundreds, if not thousands, of American military personnel
would be required to occupy Iraq indefinitely if any American-installed regime
is to remain in power. Again, it appears we are creating a larger problem than
we are attempting to solve.
proponents of a US invasion of Iraq often cite the Kurds in the northern part
of that country as a Northern Alliance-like ally, who will do much of our fighting
on the ground and unseat Saddam. But just last week the Washington Times reported
that neither of the two rival Kurdish groups in northern Iraq want anything to
do with an invasion of Iraq.
the meeting last month, Scott Ritter reminded members of Congress that a nation
cannot go to war based on assumptions and guesses, that a lack of knowledge is
no basis on which to initiate military action. Mr. Ritter warned those present
that remaining quiescent in the face of the administration's seeming determination
to exceed the authority granted to go after those who attacked us, will actually
hurt the president and will hurt Congress. He concluded by stating that going
in to Iraq without Congressionally-granted authority would be a "failure
of American democracy.'' Those pounding the war drums loudest for an invasion
of Iraq should pause for a moment and ponder what Scott Ritter is saying. Thousands
of lives are at stake.
the Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2002]
BEHIND "PLOT" ON HUSSEIN,
A SECRET AGENDA
(By Scott Ritter)
Bush has reportedly authorized the CIA to use all of the means at its disposal-
including U.S. military special operations forces and CIA paramilitary teams-
to eliminate Iraq's Saddam Hussein. According to reports, the CIA is to view any
such plan as "preparatory" for a larger military strike.
leaders from both parties have greeted these reports with enthusiasm. In their
rush to be seen as embracing the president's hard-line stance on Iraq, however,
almost no one in Congress has questioned why a supposedly covert operation would
be made public, thus undermining the very mission it was intended to accomplish.
is high time that Congress start questioning the hype and rhetoric emanating from
the White House regarding Baghdad, because the leaked CIA plan is well timed to
undermine the efforts underway in the United Nations to get weapons inspectors
back to work in Iraq. In early July, the U.N. secretary-general will meet with
Iraq's foreign minister for a third round of talks on the return of the weapons
monitors. A major sticking point is Iraqi concern over the use- or abuse- of such
inspections by the U.S. for intelligence collection.
recall during my time as a chief inspector in Iraq the dozens of extremely fit
"missile experts'' and "logistics specialists'' who frequented my inspection
teams and others. Drawn from U.S. units such as Delta Force or from CIA paramilitary
teams such as the Special Activities Staff (both of which have an ongoing role
in the conflict in Afghanistan), these specialists had a legitimate part to play
in the difficult cat-and-mouse effort to disarm Iraq. So did the teams of British
radio intercept operators I ran in Iraq from 1996 to 1998- which listened in on
the conversations of Hussein's inner circle- and the various other intelligence
specialists who were part of the inspection effort.
presence of such personnel on inspection teams was, and is, viewed by the Iraqi
government as an unacceptable risk to its nation's security.
early as 1992, the Iraqis viewed the teams I led inside Iraq as a threat to the
safety of their president. They were concerned that my inspections were nothing
more than a front for a larger effort to eliminate their leader.
concerns were largely baseless while I was in Iraq. Now that Bush has specifically
authorized American covert-operations forces to remove Hussein, however, the Iraqis
will never trust an inspection regime that has already shown itself susceptible
to infiltration and manipulation by intelligence services hostile to Iraq, regardless
of any assurances the U.N. secretary-general might give.
leaked CIA covert operations plan effectively kills any chance of inspectors returning
to Iraq, and it closes the door on the last opportunity for shedding light on
the true state of affairs regarding any threat in the form of Iraq weapons of
any return of weapons inspectors, no one seems willing to challenge the Bush administration's
assertions of an Iraqi threat. If Bush has a factual case against Iraq concerning
weapons of mass destruction, he hasn't made it yet.
the Bush administration substantiate any of its claims that Iraq continues to
pursue efforts to reacquire its capability to produce chemical and biological
weapons, which was dismantled and destroyed by U.N. weapons inspectors from 1991
to 1998? The same question applies to nuclear weapons. What facts show that Iraq
continues to pursue nuclear weapons aspirations?
spoke ominously of an Iraqi ballistic missile threat to Europe. What missile threat
is the president talking about? These questions are valid, and if the case for
war is to be made, they must be answered with more than speculative rhetoric.
has seemed unwilling to challenge the Bush administration's pursuit of war against
Iraq. The one roadblock to an all- out U.S. assault would be weapons inspectors
reporting on the facts inside Iraq. Yet without any meaningful discussion and
debate by Congress concerning the nature of the threat posed by Baghdad, war seems
all but inevitable.
true target of the supposed CIA plan may not be Hussein but rather the weapons
inspection program itself. The real casualty is the last chance to avoid bloody