On the trail of WMDs
Contributed by Ari Sharp
14 Dec 05
By the time their work ended, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq were being squeezed on one side by the CIA, and on the other by the Iraqi secret security service. Scott Ritter was in the midst of the action and recently spoke to Ari Sharp.
The story of recent Iraqi history is straightforward.
In 1991, in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, the rest of the world, acting through the United Nations, imposed rigorous weapons disclosure and inspection requirements on the demoralised Middle Eastern dictatorship. In 1998, the inspectors were kicked out, sparking the skirmish known as Operation Desert Fox.
In the years that followed, the lack of inspectors lead to the presumption that Iraq was rebuilding its weapons stockpile, and by 2003 the fear was so great that a coalition of nations took action to ensure once and for all that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction.
Of course, this take on history is superficial and naïve, and conspiracy theories about the ‘real’ agenda of each of the players abound, most particularly the Iraqis and the Americans. ‘The Americans wanted Saddam assassinated.’ ‘The Iraqis were hiding the weapons from the inspectors.’ Most of these conspiracies are constructed from afar, determined to malign the actions of one or other side in the conflict.
One person who has seen the hidden agendas up close is Scott Ritter. Ritter was a former weapons inspector working at the United Nations for UNSCOM, the United Nations Special Commission formed to oversee weapons inspections in Iraq – which means that Ritter is amply qualified to comment on the international politicking which marked UNSCOM’s seven-year existence.
Ritter is a rare breed amongst the American military establishment: he is prepared to break ranks with his government’s official line and speak his mind. It is for this reason that Ritter has become so feted by the anti-war movement, and so viciously attacked by the conservative Republican establishment. On the same day that I interview him in Melbourne, he is scheduled to speak at a peace rally, an unusual place for a patriotic American former marine to be an honoured guest. Ritter has put his experiences in UNSCOM in print, and the product is Iraq Confidential, the ‘edited highlights’ of his seven years with the body.
Read the rest here.