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Jared Israel on 'How the Lies
of Scott Ritter Reveal the Strategic
Goals of the Bizarre Iraq War'
 - A Series

by Jared Israel

Parts:  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9

 1.  Hawk-to-Dove Scott Ritter
Challenges Emperor's Clothes to
Prove he's a Liar. EC accepts.

[Posted 26 May 2004]

For a list of articles so far in this series see footnote [10]


We are living in very strange times.  It is the observation of me and others at Emperor’s Clothes that the war in Iraq has been conducted in the oddest manner.  The most obvious oddness surrounds this matter of weapons of mass destruction.  The US put forward - very aggressively - that it knew Saddam Hussein possessed such weapons.  Having made that claim, it equally aggressively refused to come forward with concrete evidence.  Having come forward with no concrete evidence, it invaded.  Having invaded, it produced nothing to back up its claim.

This all seems calculated to produce fury among Muslims and to provide a wealth of material for an antiwar movement.  But why?

The US intelligence apparatus could easily have provided hard evidence for an invasion, even if it had to be manufactured.  That is not beyond the CIA - it has been doing this sort of thing for years.  Just remember the Tonkin Gulf incident, entirely manufactured, that justified the massive bombing of North Vietnam, and the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and over two million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians!  [1]

Even without manufactured evidence, Saddam Hussein’s regime was so vile that an argument for invasion could have been made quite straightforwardly simply based on publicizing photos and interviewing victims of his numerous crimes. (Let me note that prior to the invasion I argued both that Saddam Hussein's regime was vile and also opposed the invasion.) [2]

And certainly, during the invasion, chemical or biological weapons could easily have been 'discovered', if none were in fact present.

If the claim was made falsely, and if there was no plan to plant such weapons, then surely the Bush administration knew that this would guarantee public opinion turning against the war.

Along similar lines, we are faced with the oddest antiwar movement.  It has received much favorable coverage in the media.  People who were not actively involved in opposing the bombing of Yugoslavia may not know this, but during that war it was impossible to get an opposition message into the media - simply impossible.  The media refused to cover demonstrations or to permit those defending Yugoslavia more than an occasional sound bite.  We took to organizing letter writing groups, in the hope that if we sent out a hundred letters to the editors of different newspapers, one would slip by and get published.  And we wrote those letters carefully, making sure they were not too harsh, or we could be sure all would be rejected.

And yet now, every time Ramsey Clark's group, ANSWER, claims credit for a demonstration, their email includes a list of major media which have given it favorable coverage.  And as for individual opponents of the war getting into the media, consider the case of Scott Ritter.

Scott Ritter was chief of the UNSCOM concealment team. He described his task as uncovering the ways Iraq hid weapons of mass destruction. [3]

Ritter famously resigned from UNSCOM to protest (as he made clear) the failure of the US to use military force against Iraq.

Five months later he changed, without a word of explanation, into a Dove and became the celebrity inspiration for an antiwar movement, speaking nonstop at public meetings and to the media for five years. 

Using the media search engine Lexis-Nexis, I have learned that Ritter has been covered thousands of times by the mainstream media.  For example, since he became an antiwar guru at the end of 1998, he has been cited on 185 different CNN programs, including 44 full interviews.  That constitutes 44 more interviews with CNN than the pro-Yugoslavia antiwar movement received during the 78-day bombing of Serbia. And that's just CNN.  Ritter has been quoted or written up 40 different times in the Washington Post since he became a Dove; he was covered or interviewed 27 times on CBS; and so it goes.

The mainstream media’s favorable treatment of the antiwar movement cries out for explanation. At the end of this series of articles I will present my explanation; it is both scary and counter-intuitive but it explains the above and other crucial data.

What sort of other data?  Well, for example data about Scott Ritter himself. A careful look at the transformation of Ritter from Hawk to Dove, and his treatment by the media can, I think, help us understand the US foreign policy establishment's strategy in Iraq and regarding the antiwar movement.

For Mr. Ritter’s part, he claims he's an open book. Like everything Ritter says, this is stated aggressively and regardless of facts: [4]

 "…Stop misquoting me. First of all, I stand by everything I've said. I haven't retracted anything -- let me make that very clear. I stand by everything I've said. There's no two Scott Ritters. There's one Scott Ritter, and he's been thoroughly consistent." 

That was Ritter answering an opponent on the CNN Television program, Crosstalk, on September 15, 2002.

In this series of articles, I will present overwhelming evidence, based on Mr. Ritter’s own words, that in the above quote, Ritter was lying.

There are indeed two Scott Ritters.  One is Ritter-the-Hawk, who existed during his stint as a UN weapons inspector, and who burst into celebrity in August of 1998, when he quit his job at UNSCOM.  That Ritter lived until the very middle of December 1998, and then died, and then briefly came back to life in January, and finally passed away for good, to be replaced by Ritter-the-Dove, who has been with us ever since.

The change from Ritter-the-Hawk to Ritter-the-Dove is simply breathtaking. I have spent many hours studying interviews with Mr. Ritter, using the media search engine, Lexis-Nexis, which allows for the precise location of words and phrases in various media during specific time periods.  A superb tool.

The contradiction between Ritter-the-Hawk and Ritter-the-Dove is so extreme that I only need to take some telling phrase - let us say, ''Iraq is a threat to its neighbors.'' I locate that phrase in articles during Ritter’s Hawk period.  Then I do a search for it after 1999 - during Ritter’s Dove period - and lo and behold, there it is too. But in order to find it I must make one small change. I must add the word ''not'', because after 1999 Ritter said ''Iraq is *not* a threat to its neighbors"!

Let me give you a taste of what I mean.  I’ll be posting more of Ritter’s contradictions in this and subsequent articles but here are a few examples to whet your appetite.

During the September 15, 2002 debate mentioned earlier, Ritter argued that there hasn’t been a serious problem with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq for years. Keep in mind that this debate took place during Ritter's Dove period: [4]

[CNN excerpt starts here]

….someone's going to have to show to me how Iraq suddenly went from being, you know, contained and fundamentally disarmed [to the opposite].

And remember, even though I say we couldn't account for everything -- even although I say we couldn't account for everything, from 1994 to 1998, we monitored Iraq's weapons programs, their factories, with the most intrusive on-site monitoring inspection program in the history of arms control, and never once found any deviation, never once found retained prohibitive capability or reconstituted [capability].

[CNN excerpt ends here]

And here are two statements Ritter made four years earlier, in 1998, during his Hawk period.  The first is from an interview on the National Public Radio program, 'Morning Edition.' This was on August 28th, just after he resigned from UNSCOM: [5]

[Excerpt from NPR starts here]

RITTER: [...] The problem with disarming Iraq right now is that Iraq has failed across the board. There are major questions in chemical. Iraq has a VX program. VX is one of the most deadly substances on the face of the Earth. And we've uncovered this. They refuse to even address the issue.

We have major problems with stocks of chemical weapons and chemical agents that are unaccounted for. The entire biological program, which (unintelligible) horrible weapons, is a black hole, as Richard Butler says. Ballistic missiles -- there's absolute concern that they still retain the capability to deliver chemical and biological weapons through ballistic missiles that they haven't declared.

[Excerpt from NPR ends here]

The second Hawk statement is from an interview on the US television  network, ABC.  It’s from the 'Good Morning America’ program, November 2, 1998: [6] 

[Excerpt from 'Good Morning America' starts here]


Lisa McRee: What are they hiding?

SCOTT RITTER: They are hiding their retained capabilities in biological, chemical, nuclear weapons and ballistic missile delivery systems.

Lisa McRee: Can you be more specific about what you believe they have?

Scott Ritter: I think one of the things that has been in the news recently is the VX nerve agent, one of the most deadly substances known to mankind. Iraq clearly produced this agent in large quantities and put it on ballistic missile warheads. They have lied about that, they have said that they have not done this, despite the fact that we have the proof in our hands.

Lisa McRee: What's our appropriate response, then?

Scott Ritter: It's time to call the game for what it is. This is Saddam Hussein's attempt to keep weapons of mass destruction and get sanctions lifted. Saddam is linked with these weapons, there is no way of dealing with the weapons without dealing with Saddam.

Lisa McRee: But do what? Should we have a military strike against Iraq? Should it be unilateral or should we do it only with allies? What do you suggest?

Scott Ritter: These are issues that have to be addressed by the national security policy team in Washington, DC, that's what they get paid the big bucks for.

Lisa McRee: What do you think will work, though? You've been there.

Scott Ritter: I know what won't work, continuing to provide concessions to Iraq only feeds their strength. Iraq is in charge of this game right now. They are the ones calling the shots. It's time for the United Nations, the [national] security council of the United States to seize the initiative to start taking more proactive measures to counter Saddam Hussein. And whatever measures they take, they are going to have to be decisive and not the half steps that have been taken so far.

Lisa McRee: Are you talking about economic sanctions or are you talking about an attack [i.e., war]?

Scott Ritter: Economic sanctions won't work, we know that. Iraq has turned economic sanctions around and used it against the United Nations and United States. I think you are coming to the obvious point, but that is a decision that the national security team has to make, not Scott Ritter.

[Excerpt from 'Good Morning America' ends here]

Notice that in the above, Ms. McRee asks Ritter, ''Are you talking about economic sanctions'' or about war.  And Ritter replies that ''economic sanctions won’t work, we know that'' and then, making things perfectly clear, he adds, ''I think you are coming to the obvious point, but that is a decision that the national security team has to make, not Scott Ritter.''

His ''obvious point" is of course that Iraq must be militarily attacked.

Let us bounce back (or perhaps I should say, let us fast-forward) to Ritter-the-Dove.  The following is from Ritter’s famous appearance before the Iraqi Parliament in the fall of 2002: [7]

"'The truth of the matter is that Iraq has not been shown to possess weapons of mass destruction,' he said in an address to the Iraqi National Assembly -- the first by an American and widely seen as a propaganda coup for Hussein. 'Iraq today is not a threat to its neighbors.'"
--  Washington Post, 21 October 2002

So: Iraq is *not* a threat to its neighbors.

Ritter (the Dove) then went on to tell the Iraqis that nobody could justify US military action against Iraq.  He did not mention that he, Scott Ritter, had argued for just such action in media appearances, such as his interview on "Good Morning America" on November 2, 1998, quoted above, or in his Congressional testimony, quoted below.  

Here is Ritter-the-Hawk, reading a statement to the US House Committee on National Security on 16 September 1998:  [8]

[Excerpt from Statement starts here]

The reality is that Iraq is winning its bid to retain its prohibited weapons. …

Iraq is not disarmed. Iraq still poses a real and meaningful threat to its neighbors, and nothing the Security Council or the United States is doing currently will change this fact.

I am concerned that it is the United States that has put itself into a strategic box, outwitted by an intransigent Iraq and those Security Council members whose objectives in Iraq are less than honorable. Something needs to be done to change the current course of affairs. I am ready to answer any questions you may have of me. Thank you.

[Excerpt from Statement ends here]

So Iraq *is* a threat to its neighbors.

In the fall of 1998, Ritter told the US Congress that Iraq *was* a threat.  In the fall of 2002, Ritter told the world that Iraq *was not* a threat.  In between, the UN conducted no weapons inspections in Iraq. 

When Ritter spoke before Congress in September 1998 people took him seriously because he was much more than some guy with an opinion.  He was the top expert on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The specialist with the top secret information.

But if he was telling the truth in 1998, and since no inspections occurred subsequently, how could he also be telling the truth in 2002? Either he was lying when he said Iraq was a threat or he was lying when he said Iraq was not a threat or maybe he was lying both times, but he was *not* telling the truth.

Also, notice that during his Congressional testimony Ritter said:

"I am concerned that it is the United States that has put itself into a strategic box, outwitted by an intransigent Iraq and those Security Council members whose objectives in Iraq are less than honorable."

Since Ritter was calling for "decisive...measures"; since Ritter was accusing some members of the Security Council of conspiring with Iraq to outwit the US; since the UN Security Council can only act if there is unanimous consent;  then surely in 1998 Ritter was *not* arguing that the US should take "decisive" measures only if it had UN support.

He made this perfectly clear in the summer and fall of 1998. Consider this from the "Good Morning America" interview, as quoted above:

Lisa McRee: Should we have a military strike against Iraq? Should it be unilateral or should we do it only with allies? What do you suggest?

To which Ritter did *not* reply, "Only the United Nations has the right to make such a decision."  He did not say, "The US must work out plans in conjunction with China, Russia and France."  He said the opposite:

Scott Ritter: These are issues that have to be addressed by the national security policy team in Washington, DC, that's what they get paid the big bucks for.

In 1998, Ritter stated that it was *appropriate* for the US "national security policy team" to decide a) whether to attack Iraq and b) whether or not to do it alone. Because, as Ritter also said to Lisa McRee, the US had to "[deal] with Saddam."

Sounds like George Bush, doesn't he?

People in the antiwar movement - and many antiwar activists do read Emperor's Clothes - may be unaware of the bizarre character of Scott Ritter’s 'transformation'.  Or people may try to avoid the obvious conclusion - that Ritter has a hidden agenda - by telling themselves, ''Okay, he changed his mind.  So what? Many people do that. And Okay, so he pretends he didn't. He doesn't like to admit he was wrong."

But we should not confuse Scott Ritter with "many people."

* When a man is the top weapons-concealment expert whose self-described job is to expose the ways that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction; [3]

* When he leads the charge for war and then does an about-face, while still posing as an expert witness;

* When he not only offers no explanation for this change in his supposedly expert opinion but denies it occurred;

* And when the mass media for the most part pretends nothing has happened;

* Then it is time for *us* to change, ladies and gentlemen, to change our clocks back to "1984". Move over, Orwell. Make room for Ritter.

Recently, Scott Ritter issued a challenge.  Noting that in my article, "What do the EU, George Bush and Malaysian PM Mahathir have in Common?" I accused him of grand deception, Ritter commented in an email: "With all due respect, I'll let my writing and speaking do this [i.e., refute these charges] for me.... read 'Endgame,' read 'Frontier Justice' (I devoted an entire chapter to this subject)" - that is, to his claim that he has not changed his views. Added Mr. Ritter: "Do the research, get specific, and I'll respond."

 "Do the research"? At Emperor's Clothes, that is music to our ears.  Thanks for the lead, Scott. "Frontier Justice" it is. Challenge noted and challenge accepted.

In subsequent articles in this series I will do the following:

* First, I will examine Scott Ritter's claim, which he does indeed make in  "Frontier Justice," that:

a) he has taken a consistent position since resigning from UNSCOM in August 1998, but that

b) neoconservatives ('neocons') falsely presented him as a  poster boy for attacking Iraq, against his wishes.

I will explain why Ritter's political line, as put forward in chapters 3 and 4 of "Frontier Justice," requires that he pretend he never switched from Hawk to Dove. I will show that Ritter is flat-out lying when he claims that the 'neocons' were his arch-foes all along. [9]

I will show, in case after case, that Ritter-2 consistently contradicts Ritter-1.  Indeed, Ritter-2 mocks people who hold positions for which Ritter-1 provided the 'expert support'!

* Second, I will examine Ritter's 'transformation', which occurred between December 16th and December 17th, 1998. I will show that, at this moment when Ritter was most vulnerable, both the mass media and his supposed enemy, Secretary of State Albright, avoided pointing out the absurdity of his flip.

* Third, I will show that key organs of the mainstream media - for example, CNN and the Associated Press -  have downplayed the change ever since.  Downplayed it; ignored it; lied about it. Protected Scott Ritter.

The so-called neoconservatives ('neocons') whom Ritter now, but never in 1998, attacks, have also mainly held their fire regarding the crucial question of Ritter's transformation. They have thereby given Ritter space and time to create a stable new image as a strong-willed Knight "telling truth to power," and other glib slogans of the Madison Avenue 'peace movement'.

* Fourth, I will demonstrate that Ritter’s arrest in 2001 on sex offense charges, which is viewed by many as evidence that the powers-that-be are out to destroy this crusading peacenik, in fact demonstrates the opposite. Despite Ritter's best effort to destroy himself, the powers-that-be have shielded him.  I will document this claim with a precise account of the amount and content of the media coverage of that unfortunate affair.

* Fifth, I will consider the charge, publicized by the London Financial Times, that Ritter's movie "Shifting Sands" - and perhaps Ritter - received funding, the source of which was Saddam Hussein. The Financial Times published an investigative report about this on April 13, that is thirteen days ago. It is remarkable that I can find only four newspapers - the Seattle Times, the London Times, the Weekend Australian and the Detroit Free Press - that have picked up this story. One could argue that if the story is true, it might explain Ritter's shift from Hawk to Dove, and yes, it might, but it could *not* explain the protection which I shall show Ritter received from the entire English-language media and from US officials even as he attacked those officials! Did Saddam pay off the entire US establishment? Did his ability to bribe the US Establishment continue unabated while he was residing in a hole in the ground? 

Once I am done with Mr. Ritter, I believe you will agree that the only way to account for how he has behaved *and* how he has been treated is that he is doing an important job for the US Establishment.

But what job?  What explains the complicity of Madeleine Albright, the mainstream media and the Bush administration in protecting Ritter from exposure? Why would the US foreign policy Establishment want this character to create an antiwar movement seemingly directed against the US foreign policy Establishment?

To answer this question we will conclude by returning to Scott Ritter's book, "Frontier Justice." In that book, Ritter has unwittingly confirmed our hypothesis as to why he was assigned to create a worldwide movement against the war in Iraq.

In the next article in this series, I will get to work on Ritter's challenge by taking a look at the claims he made in "Frontier Justice."

Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor’s Clothes


* To be Continued *

[Footnotes and Further Reading follows the fundraising appeal]


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Footnotes and Further Reading

[1] You may read the text of former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee's speech on Tonkin Gulf, the lie that sold the Vietnam War, at 

[2] Regarding my opinion of Saddam Hussein's regime, see, "A Los Angeles Reader Asks: Are you for or against Saddam Hussein? Are you for or against the Proposed War? Jared Israel Replies: Emperor's Clothes is against the Projected War and Against Hussein."

[3] The very way in which Ritter defined his job after he left UNSCOM makes clear that, in the summer-fall of 1998, he was *not* saying Iraq was "fundamentally disarmed" or that it had been effectively cleared of weapons of mass destruction.  Here is a quote from his September 3rd Senate appearance:

"RITTER: Mr. Chairman, my job as the chief of the Concealment Investigations Unit with the Special Commission was to expose the mechanisms used by Iraq to hide their retained weapons capabilities from discovery by United Nations' weapons inspection teams. Therefore, my job was to expose this concealment mechanism, break through this concealment mechanism and get to the retained capability."

-- September 3, 1998, Thursday;Type: Committee Hearing;Length: 23791 Words;Committee: Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Headline:  Holds Hearing With The Senate Armed Services Committee On U.S. Policy Regarding Un Weapons Inspections Of Iraq; Location: Washington, D.C.  Body: Senate Committees On Armed Services And Foreign Affairs Hold Joint Hearing On U.S. Policy Regarding Un Inspections Of Suspected Iraqi Chemical Weapons Sites

[4] CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer 12:00
September 15, 2002 Sunday
Transcript # 091500CN.V47
Section: News; International

[5] Show: NPR Morning Edition (Npr 10:00 Am Et)
August 28, 1998, Friday
Transcript # 98082810-210
Type: Package
Section: News; International
Headline: UN Inspector Quits
Guests: Scott Ritter
Byline: Renee Montagne, Washington, DC

[6]  ABC Good Morning America (7:00 Am Et)
November 2, 1998; Transcript # 98110206-J01;  Type: Package; Section: News; Length: 877 Words
Headline: Weapons Inspections
Guests: Scott Ritter
Byline: Kevin Newman /Lisa McRee
Highlight: Iraq Let U.N. Team Check Monitoring Equipment

[7] The Washington Post
October 21, 2002, Monday, Final Edition
Section: Style; Pg. C01
Length: 3066 Words
Headline: Fighting Words; Scott Ritter Says Iraq Is 'Not A Threat.' But His Critics See A Loose Cannon.
Byline: Richard Leiby, Washington Post Staff Writer

[8] Federal News Service
September 16, 1998, Wednesday
Section: In The News
Headline: Prepared Statement Of Scott Ritter
Before The House Committee On National Security

[9] Chapter three of "Frontier Justice," which lays the basis for Ritter's claim that he was falsely portrayed as a Hawk in 1998, is entitled, "Framing the Big Lie." A good title, but as I shall demonstrate, Ritter is the liar.

[10] Five pieces have so far been posted in Jared Israel's series, 'How the Lies of Scott Ritter Reveal the Strategic Goals of the Bizarre Iraq War':

* "Part 1: Hawk-to-Dove Scott Ritter challenges Emperor's Clothes to Prove he's a Liar. EC accepts." At

* "Part 2: The Source of the Claim that Iraq had Nuclear Weapons was... Scott Ritter," by Jared Israel at

* "Part 3: Reader Says Emperor's Clothes all wrong on Ritter's Nuke Statements; J.I. Responds."

* "Part 4: Readers ask: 'Why this focus on Scott Ritter?" Jared Israel Respond" 

* "Part 5: "The Neocons made me do it!"

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