Scott Ritter

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Nov 24 09:40:47 MST 2002

NY Times Magazine, Nov. 24, 2002

Scott Ritter's Iraq Complex

At the back of the auditorium, a man cupped his hands over his mouth,
improvising a megaphone, the better to bellow: ''Iraq is not the problem.
Enron is!'' By then, the waiting crowd had already overstuffed Old Snell
Hall on the campus of Clarkson University in northern New York. With all
500 seats filled, 100 people wedged themselves onto spare patches of the
peeling linoleum floor. Most of the crowd wanted to hear the case against
war, and they were exuberant to be hearing it from Scott Ritter, the
onetime United Nations arms inspector and now America's most unlikely

Ritter did not disappoint them, talking powerfully without notes for nearly
an hour and drawing the kind of prolonged ovation he has come to expect and
relish. President Bush is force-feeding Americans ''a whole bunch of
oversimplified horse manure,'' he told them boldly. ''None of what you are
being told remotely resembles the truth. Facts do matter, and it is time
that you, the American people, start demanding the facts.'' War is not a
video game where a reset button resurrects the corpses, Ritter said. ''War
is about dead people.''

At 6-foot-4, Ritter is a man of imposing bulk, with arms long enough to
bear-hug a podium. An astonishingly tireless talker, he buries listeners in
an avalanche of opinions, anecdotes and details. The pile-up of his words
seems all the weightier because he draws on his seven years as a weapons
sleuth. He is also astonishingly self-confident. The day we first met, he
spoke of a rare capacity to distill truth. ''I'm a great analyst,'' he
said, firmly and without irony. ''I've never been wrong.''

Ritter's current view, which he dispenses with the earnest vigor of a
revivalist, is that the administration's case against Saddam Hussein is
based on elaborate falsehoods and exploited fear. He says he would ''be
surprised if there is anything in Iraq worth finding,'' claiming inspection
efforts between 1991 and 1998 resulted in the Iraqis giving up 90 to 95
percent of their most deadly weapons, rendering Saddam ''fundamentally
disarmed'' -- if still unrepentantly evil. His suspicion is that the
renewed inspections soon to begin will be but a show trial before the
hanging. ''The U.N. resolution is worded to allow President Bush to act
militarily without Security Council approval,'' he scoffs. ''For evidence,
he'll pull the same unquestioned charade he has been pulling right along.''


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