Scott Ritter

William Scott Ritter Jr. (born July 15, 1961) is a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He later became a critic of United States foreign policy in the Middle East. Prior to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Ritter stated that Iraq possessed no significant weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities, becoming according to The New York Times "the loudest and most credible skeptic of the Bush administration’s contention that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction."[1]

Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter
William Scott Ritter, Jr.

(1961-07-15) July 15, 1961 (age 59)
Alma materFranklin and Marshall College
OccupationUnited Nations weapons inspector (resigned)

Military backgroundEdit

Ritter was born into a military family in 1961 in Gainesville, Florida. He graduated from Kaiserslautern American High School in Kaiserslautern, Germany in 1979, and later from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in the history of the Soviet Union and departmental honors. In 1980 he served in the U.S. Army as a private. Then in May 1984 he was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served in this capacity for about 12 years.[2] He served as the lead analyst for the Marine Corps Rapid Deployment Force concerning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iran–Iraq War. Ritter's academic work focused on the Basmachi resistance movement in Soviet Central Asia during the 1920s and 1930s, and on the Basmachi commanders Fazail Maksum and Ibrahim Bek.[3][4] During Desert Storm, he served as a ballistic missile advisor to General Norman Schwarzkopf. Ritter later worked as a security and military consultant for the Fox News network. Ritter also had "a long relationship [...] of an official nature" with the UK's foreign intelligence spy agency MI6 according to an interview he gave to Democracy Now! in 2003.[5]

Weapons inspectorEdit

Ritter "ran intelligence operations for the United Nations"[5] from 1991 to 1998 as a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq in the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), which was charged with finding and destroying all weapons of mass destruction and WMD-related manufacturing capabilities in Iraq. He was chief inspector in fourteen of the more than thirty inspection missions in which he participated.

Ritter was amongst a group of UNSCOM weapons inspectors that regularly took Lockheed U-2 imagery to Israel for analysis, as UNSCOM was not getting sufficient analysis assistance from the U.S. and UK. This was authorized by UNSCOM, the U.S. U-2 having been loaned to UNSCOM, but caused Ritter to be subjected to criticism and investigation by U.S. authorities. Iraq protested about the supply of such information to Israel.[6][7]

Operation Mass AppealEdit

Beginning in December 1997, Ritter, with the approval of UNSCOM head Richard Butler and other top UNSCOM leaders, began to supply the UK's foreign intelligence service MI6 with documents and briefings on UNSCOM's findings to be used for MI6's propaganda effort dubbed "Operation Mass Appeal": "I was approached by the British intelligence service, which I had, again, a long relationship with, of an official nature, to see if there was any information in the archives of UNSCOM that could be handed to the British, so that they could in turn work it over, determine its veracity, and then seek to plant it in media outlets around the world, in an effort to try to shape the public opinion of those countries, and then indirectly, through, for instance, a report showing up in the Polish press, shape public opinion in Great Britain and the United States.

"I went to Richard Butler with the request from the British. He said that he supported this, and we initiated a cooperation that was very short-lived. The first reports were passed to the British sometime in February of 1998. There was a detailed planning meeting in June of 1998, and I resigned in August of 1998. [...] This is an operation—Operation Mass Appeal, that had been going on prior to UNSCOM being asked to be the source of particular data, and it's an operation that continued after my resignation."[5]

In January 1998, Ritter's inspection team in Iraq was blocked from some weapons sites by Iraqi officials who stated that information obtained from these sites would be used for future planning of attacks. UN Inspectors were ordered out of Iraq by the United States Government, shortly before Operation Desert Fox attacks began in December 1998, using information which had been gathered for the purpose of disarmament to identify targets which would reduce Iraq's ability to wage both conventional and possibly unconventional warfare. UN Weapons Inspectors were thereafter denied access to Iraq. Ritter spoke on the Public Broadcasting Service show, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:

I think the danger right now is that without effective inspections, without effective monitoring, Iraq can in a very short period of time measured in months, reconstitute chemical and biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their developing of nuclear weapons. program.[8]

When the United States and the UN Security Council failed to take action against Iraq for their ongoing failure to cooperate fully with inspectors (a breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1154), Ritter resigned from the United Nations Special Commission on August 26, 1998.[9]

In his letter of resignation, Ritter said the Security Council's reaction to Iraq's decision earlier that month to suspend co-operation with the inspection team made a mockery of the disarmament work. Ritter later said, in an interview, that he resigned from his role as a United Nations weapons inspector over inconsistencies between United Nations Security Council Resolution 1154 and how it was implemented.

The investigations had come to a standstill, were making no effective progress, and in order to make effective progress, we really needed the Security Council to step in a meaningful fashion and seek to enforce its resolutions that we're not complying with.[8]

On September 3, 1998, several days after his resignation, Ritter testified before the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services and the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and said that he resigned his position "out of frustration that the United Nations Security Council, and the United States as its most significant supporter, was failing to enforce the post-Gulf War resolutions designed to disarm Iraq."[10]

Opinions on U.S. policy toward IraqEdit

Following his resignation from UNSCOM, Ritter continued to be an outspoken commentator on U.S. policy toward Iraq, particularly with respect to the WMD issue. He became a popular anti-war figure and talk show commentator.[2]

Ritter and Operation Desert FoxEdit

In a 2005 interview Ritter criticized the Clinton administration's use of a blocked inspection of a Ba'ath party headquarters to justify Operation Desert Fox, a three-day bombing campaign in December 1998 that saw inspectors withdrawn from Iraq where they would not return until late 2002.

Public perception is that the Iraqis were confrontational and blocking the work of the inspectors. In 98% of the inspections, the Iraqis did everything we asked them to because it dealt with disarmament. However when we got into issues of sensitivity, such as coming close to presidential security installations, Iraqis raised a flag and said, "Time out. We got a C.I.A. out there that's trying to kill our president and we're not very happy about giving you access to the most sensitive installations and the most sensitive personalities in Iraq." So we had these modalities, where we agreed that if we came to a site and the Iraqis called it 'sensitive,' we go in with four people.

In 1998, the inspection team went to a site. It was the Baath Party headquarters, like going to Republican Party headquarters or Democratic Party headquarters. The Iraqis said, "You can't come in – you can come in. Come on in." The inspectors said, "The modalities no longer apply." The Iraqis said, "If you don't agree to the modalities, we can't support letting you in," and the Iraqis wouldn't allow the inspections to take place.

Bill Clinton said, "This proves the Iraqis are not cooperating," and he ordered the inspectors out. But you know the United States government ordered the inspectors to withdraw from the modalities without conferring with the Security Council. It took Iraqis by surprise. Iraqis were saying, "We're playing by the rules, why aren't you? If you're not going play by the rules, then it's a game that we don't want to participate in." Bill Clinton ordered the inspectors out. Saddam didn't kick them out.[11]

However, in his 1999 book Endgame Ritter explained that he was the one who had originally pushed for the fateful inspection of the Ba'ath party headquarters over the doubts of his boss Richard Butler and also planned to use 37 inspectors. It was temporarily cancelled because Iraq broke off cooperation in August 1998:

But it was the site where that second piece of information led us that contained dynamite. From a description provided by our source, I had easily identified the building in question, which was located in Baghdad's downtown Aadamiyah section. The ten crates of missile parts were stashed in a basement of the Baghdad headquarters of Saddam's own Ba'ath party. If we could achieve surprise and surround the site before the Iraqis could evacuate the crates, we would obtain the ultimate catch-22 situation: let us inside as promised and we would find the prohibited material; bar our entry and violate the Kofi Annan compromise, and in the process invite a devastating air strike by the United States. UNSCOM would be prepared to camp out around this site until the situation had been resolved one way or the other.
The countdown to a perhaps decisive four-day blitz of confrontation began, with the first inspection—Ba'ath party headquarters—due to take place on July 20. On short notice I was able to reconstitute my intelligence support. The first two inspection teams were dispatched to Bahrain. I was set to arrive there on the 18th. I would be joined by my deputy chief inspector as well as several operations staff. All of us were veteran inspectors, requiring no additional training. Instead, the clock was stopped.
The U.S. and U.K., Butler told me, were uncertain about going ahead. He needed to consult with them, he said, and on the 15th—my thirty-seventh birthday—I found myself pacing the floor of my office on the thirtieth floor of the United Nations Secretariat Building in New York, waiting for the results of these talks.
Butler came back. It was all bad news. The inspection was canceled. My carefully assembled team dispersed.
Clinton administration officials, torn between pressure from the Republicans to go forward and a reluctance to respond to any Iraqi confrontation (and there was sure to be one) with military force, had tried to convince Butler to postpone the inspection until "a more opportune time." Butler was convinced. To me, he called it a case of "bad timing." I viewed it as something else—an appalling lack of leadership, not only in Washington and London, but also on Butler's part. He was allowing a golden opportunity to slip through his fingers. I said as much in a long, critical memorandum that I wrote to him the next day.
The onus of leadership fell on him, I said, and if he would seize the initiative, Washington and London would have to follow. That may have been somewhat naive, but I firmly believed, I wrote, that UNSCOM was fighting for its very existence as a meaningful disarmament body, and inspections aimed at uncovering concealment remained imperative. It was a fight worth fighting, I said, recommending that we go ahead with the planned inspections regardless of the naysayers, though not without continuing to seek support. "In reengaging on concealment," I concluded, "the Special Commission will be waving a red flag in front of the Iraqi bull. It is essential that this red flag be backed by a sword, or else the commission will not be able to withstand the Iraqi charge. In short, the Special Commission's push on concealment must be 100 percent."
It was as hard-hitting a memorandum as I could make it. Butler accused me of overstating the lack of resolve in both Washington and London. But my argument over the need to get a concealment-based inspection on track did resonate with him. He authorized me to put together an updated inspection plan to take place following his August visit to Baghdad.
I didn't have much time. July was half through, and I needed to get a new forty-odd-person team assembled, trained, and deployed prior to Butler's arrival in Iraq on August 2. We would use the same basic inspection concept that had been prepared for July; the intelligence on both sites, I was assured by sources, was still valid but not for much longer. I would make use of some twenty-five inspectors resident in Baghdad with the monitoring groups, and I added twelve experts, selected on the basis of what the team needed for the planned inspection. I had a five-person command element fly to Bahrain with the twelve experts to train them. They were to stay in Bahrain after the training to carry out last-minute preparations and receive intelligence updates until they flew into Iraq on the same plane that would take Butler out on August 5. Somehow it all came together. The inspections would begin on the morning of the 6th.
I'd learned to read Butler's body language and he was getting a little nervous as we flew deeper and deeper into Iraqi territory. The reality of what we were about to do had begun to hit him. Duelfer teased him about how the Iraqis could solve everything if they just shot us out of the sky. Butler was not amused. He kept asking probing questions, reassuring himself that these inspection targets were of a legitimate disarmament character. "What makes us go to that site?" he asked. How do I explain it to the Iraqis?...How do I explain this site to the Security Council?...What do we expect to find at this one?...What happens if the Iraqis stop us from entering?" [12]

Commentary in the post-inspection periodEdit

Scott Ritter speaks at SUNY New Paltz on March 16, 2006

In 1999, Ritter wrote Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem — Once and For All in which he reiterated his claim that Iraq had obstructed the work of inspectors and attempted to hide and preserve essential elements for restarting WMD programs at a later date. However, he also expressed frustration at alleged attempts by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to infiltrate UNSCOM and use the inspectors as a means of gathering intelligence with which to pursue regime change in Iraq – a violation of the terms under which UNSCOM operated, and the very rationale the Iraqi government had given in restricting the inspector's activities in 1998.

In the book's conclusion, Ritter criticized the current U.S. policy of containment in the absence of inspections as inadequate to prevent Iraq's re-acquisition of WMD's in the long term. He also rejected the notion of removing Saddam Hussein's regime by force. Instead, he advocated a policy of diplomatic engagement, leading to gradual normalization of international relations with Iraq in return for inspection-verified abandonment of their WMD programs and other objectionable policies.

Ritter again promoted a conciliatory approach toward Iraq in the 2000 documentary In Shifting Sands: The Truth About UNSCOM and the Disarming of Iraq, which he wrote and directed. The film tells the history of the UNSCOM investigations through interviews and video footage of inspection missions. In the film, Ritter argues that Iraq is a "defanged tiger" and that the inspections were successful in eliminating significant Iraqi WMD capabilities.[13] (For more see below under "Documentary".)

In 2002, Ritter travelled to Iraq to address the Iraqi Parliament as a private citizen. He told the parliament that the US was about to make an "historical mistake" and urged it to allow inspections to resume.[14]

Iraq War predictionsEdit

Just after the coalition invasion of Iraq had been launched, but prior to troops arriving in Baghdad, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Parliament of the United Kingdom that the United States and the United Kingdom believed they had "sufficient forces" in Iraq. At that very time Ritter offered an opposing view on Portuguese radio station TSF: "The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we can not win ... We do not have the military means to take over Baghdad and for this reason I believe the defeat of the United States in this war is inevitable ... Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for ten years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost," Ritter added.[15]

U.S. forces swiftly took Baghdad, but characterizing the result as "winning the war" remains controversial. Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, Ritter appeared on the Sean Hannity show debating the validity of the invasion and his involvement in the Weapons Inspection program.[citation needed]

Richard Butler, Scott Ritter's boss under the United Nations in Iraq, said that Ritter "wasn't prescient" in his predictions about WMD's, saying, "When he was the 'Alpha Dog' inspector, then by God, there were more weapons there, and we had to go find them—a contention for which he had inadequate evidence. When he became a peacenik, then it was all complete B.S., start to finish, and there were no weapons of mass destruction. And that also was a contention for which he had inadequate evidence." [14]

Commentary on Iraq's lack of WMDsEdit

Despite identifying himself as a Republican and having voted for George W. Bush in 2000,[16] by 2002 Ritter had become an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's claims that Iraq possessed significant WMD stocks or manufacturing capabilities, the primary rationale given for the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Prior to the war, Ritter stated that the US and UK governments were using the presence of WMD's in Iraq as a political excuse for war.[14] His views at that time are summarized in War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You To Know a 2002 publication which consists largely of an interview between Ritter and anti-war activist William Rivers Pitt. In the interview, Ritter responded to the question of whether he believes Iraq has weapons of mass destruction:

There's no doubt Iraq hasn't fully complied with its disarmament obligations as set forth by the Security Council in its resolution. But on the other hand, since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally disarmed: 90-95% of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capacity has been verifiably eliminated ... We have to remember that this missing 5-10% doesn't necessarily constitute a threat ... It constitutes bits and pieces of a weapons program which in its totality doesn't amount to much, but which is still prohibited ... We can't give Iraq a clean bill of health, therefore we can't close the book on their weapons of mass destruction. But simultaneously, we can't reasonably talk about Iraqi non-compliance as representing a de-facto retention of a prohibited capacity worthy of war. (page 28)

We eliminated the nuclear program, and for Iraq to have reconstituted it would require undertaking activities that would have been eminently detectable by intelligence services. (page 32)

If Iraq were producing [chemical] weapons today, we'd have proof, pure and simple. (page 37)

[A]s of December 1998 we had no evidence Iraq had retained biological weapons, nor that they were working on any. In fact, we had a lot of evidence to suggest Iraq was in compliance. (page 46)[17]

He later stated in another address;

I think [The Bush Administration] has stated that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and that's as simple as they want to keep it. They don't want to get into the nitty-gritty things such as if you bury a Scud missile to hide it from detection, there is a little thing called corrosion. Where do you hide the fuel, how do you make this stuff up, how do you align it. Because when you disassemble it, there is a process called re-alignment. There is a factory involved in that. And then you have to test launch it to make sure that the alignment works, and that's detectable, and they haven't done that. There is a lot of common sense things that go into consideration of whether or not Iraq has a operational weapons of mass destruction capability.[18]

In 2002, he heavily criticized the Bush administration and Media outlets for using the testimony of alleged nuclear scientist Khidir Hamza as a rationale for invading Iraq:

We seized the entire records of the Iraqi Nuclear program, especially the administrative records. We got a name of everybody, where they worked, what they did, and the top of the list, Saddam's "Bombmaker" was a man named Jafar Dhia Jafar, not Khidir Hamza, and if you go down the list of the senior administrative personnel you will not find Hamza's name in there. In fact, we didn't find his name at all. Because in 1990, he didn't work for the Iraqi Nuclear Program. He had no knowledge of it because he worked as a kickback specialist for Hussein Kamel in the Presidential Palace.

He goes into northern Iraq and meets up with Ahmad Chalabi. He walks in and says, I'm Saddam's "Bombmaker". So they call the CIA and they say, "we know who you are, you're not Saddam's "Bombmaker", go sell your story to someone else." And he was released, he was rejected by all intelligence services at the time, he's a fraud.

And here we are, someone who the CIA knows is a fraud, the U.S. Government knows is a fraud, is allowed to sit in front of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and give testimony as an expert witness. I got a problem with that, I got a problem with the American media, and I've told them over and over and over again that this man is a document-able fraud, a fake, and yet they allow him to go on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and testify as if he actually knows what he is talking about. [18]

In the Pitt interview, Ritter also remarked on several examples of members of the Bush or Clinton administration making statements he "knew to be misleading or false" with regard to Iraqi WMD's.

Later statements on IraqEdit

In February 2005, writing on Al Jazeera's website, Ritter wrote that the "Iraqi resistance" is a "genuine grassroots national liberation movement," and "History will eventually depict as legitimate the efforts of the Iraqi resistance to destabilize and defeat the American occupation forces and their imposed Iraqi collaborationist government."[19] On December 20, 2005, in a debate with Christopher Hitchens at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, NY, Ritter said furthermore that he would "prefer to be an Iraqi under Saddam than an Iraqi under a brutal American occupation." [20]

In an October 19, 2005 interview with Seymour Hersh, Ritter claimed that regime change, rather than disarmament, has been the primary objective of President George H. W. Bush, and later of President Clinton and the second President Bush, in imposing and maintaining economic sanctions on Iraq after the Gulf War. Said Ritter:

The United States needed to find a vehicle to continue to contain Saddam because the CIA said all we have to do is wait six months and Saddam is going to collapse on his own volition. That vehicle is sanctions. They needed a justification; the justification was disarmament. They drafted a Chapter 7 resolution of the United Nations Security Council calling for the disarmament of Iraq and saying in Paragraph 14 that if Iraq complies, sanctions will be lifted. Within months of this resolution being passed—and the United States drafted and voted in favor of this resolution—within months, the President, George Herbert Walker Bush, and his Secretary of State, James Baker, are saying publicly, not privately, publicly that even if Iraq complies with its obligation to disarm, economic sanctions will be maintained until which time Saddam Hussein is removed from power.

That is proof positive that disarmament was only useful insofar as it contained through the maintenance of sanctions and facilitated regime change. It was never about disarmament, it was never about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. It started with George Herbert Walker Bush, and it was a policy continued through eight years of the Clinton presidency, and then brought us to this current disastrous course of action under the current Bush Administration.[21]

In March 2007, in "Calling Out Idiot America," Ritter posted a quiz on Iraq to be taken by citizens:

If the reader can fully answer the question raised, then he or she qualifies as one capable of pointing an accusatory finger at Congress as its members dither over what to do in Iraq. If the reader fails the quiz, then there should be an honest appraisal of the reality that we are in way over our heads regarding this war, and that it is irresponsible for anyone to make sweeping judgments about the ramifications of policy courses of action yet to be agreed upon. Claiming to be able to divine a solution to a problem improperly defined is not only ignorant but dangerously delusional.[22]

Ritter has also been harshly critical of Bill Clinton for politicizing the inspection process during his presidency and of Hillary Clinton for obfuscating that record.

From January 1993 until my resignation from the United Nations in August 1998, I witnessed first hand the duplicitous Iraq policies of the administration of Bill Clinton, the implementation of which saw a President lie to the American people about a threat he knew was hyped, lie to Congress about his support of a disarmament process his administration wanted nothing to do with, and lie to the world about American intent, which turned its back on the very multilateral embrace of diplomacy as reflected in the resolutions of the Security Council Hillary Clinton so piously refers to in her speech, and instead pursued a policy defined by the unilateral interests of the Clinton administration to remove Saddam Hussein from power.[23]

In 2012, Ritter said the US was "bankrupt, morally and fiscally, because of this war. The United States is the laughingstock of the world".[14]

Opinions on U.S. policy toward IranEdit

On February 18, 2005 Scott Ritter told an audience in Olympia, Washington that George Bush had signed off on preparations to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, and that these preparations would be completed by June 2005. On the same occasion, he also made reference to the Iraqi elections, saying that the United States had manipulated the 2005 parliamentary election, changing the percentage of United Iraqi Alliance votes from 56% to 48%.[24]

Ritter reiterated and clarified his statements about Iran in a March 30, article published by Al Jazeera.[25]

In a June 20, 2005, article published by Al Jazeera, after noting that the Iraq war, which supposedly began in March 2003, in fact began with military operations authorized by the president in late August 2002 and executed in September 2002, Ritter wrote: "The reality is that the U.S. war with Iran has already begun."[26]

On October 21, 2005, Ritter was interviewed by Amy Goodman of the radio and TV show Democracy Now! and commented on his earlier statements about United States policy toward Iran, as they had been reported by some sources.

I was very clear, based upon the information given to me, and it's 100% accurate, that in October 2004, the President of the United States ordered the Pentagon to be prepared to launch military strikes against Iran as of June 2005. That means, have all the resources in place so that if the President orders it, the bombing can begin. It doesn't mean that the bombing is going [to] begin in June. And a lot of people went, "Ah, you said they were going to attack in June." Absolutely not.[27][28]

Although there were no air strikes against Iran by the United States in June 2005, there were bomb blasts in the southern west Iranian city of Ahwaz on June 12, 2005.[29] Some believe the attacks were carried out by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK, also known as People's Mujahedin of Iran). Scott Ritter as well as other sources have claimed that the United States, after the invasion of Iraq, have been working with the MEK to continue covert operations in Iran.[30]

Ritter has also made the following two statements regarding military intervention in Iran:

The real purpose of the EU-3 intervention—to prevent the United States from using Iran's nuclear ambition as an excuse for military intervention—is never discussed in public.

The EU-3 would rather continue to participate in fraudulent diplomacy rather than confront the hard truth—that it is the United States, and not Iran, that is operating outside international law when it comes to the issue of Iran's nuclear program.[31]

On February 6, 2006, in the James A. Little Theater in Santa Fe, Ritter stated about a U.S. war with Iran: "We just don't know when, but it's going to happen," and said that after the U.N. security Council will have found no evidence of WMD, then Under Secretary of State John Bolton "will deliver a speech that has already been written. It says America cannot allow Iran to threaten the United States and we must unilaterally defend ourselves." and continued "How do I know this? I've talked to Bolton's speechwriter,"[32]

In an interview with Amy Goodman broadcast on Democracy Now! on October 16, 2006, Ritter again reaffirmed the U.S.'s state of undeclared war vis-à-vis Iran.[33]

Ritter's book Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change was published in 2006.[34] Nathan Guttman in his review for The Forward said Ritter accused the "pro-Israel lobby of dual loyalty and 'outright espionage'". Ritter claimed that Israel was pushing the Bush administration into war with Iran.[34] He accused the pro-Israel lobby of invoking the Holocaust and of making false claims of antisemitism. Ritter told The Forward "at the end of the day, I would like to believe that most of American Jews will side with America."[34] Of Ritter's writing about the government in Iran, Con Coughlin in The Daily Telegraph wrote that Ritter suggested "that the Bush administration is in danger of making the same mistake over Iran that it did during the build-up to the Iraq war, namely getting the facts to fit the administration's policy of effecting regime change in Tehran". Ritter, Coughlin wrote, concedes the "measures the Iranians have taken in pursuit of nuclear glory" which include the "concealing the existence of key nuclear facilities".[35]

Opinions on U.S. policy toward SyriaEdit

In 2019, Ritter wrote that "President Trump and all the Democratic presidential candidates" with the exception of Tulsi Gabbard "have failed to display a modicum of intellectual curiosity about what really happened in Douma and Khan Shaykhun.”[36]

Concerning the Douma chemical attack, Ritter has said that Trump rushed to judgment and that the claims he relied on — 1) the nerve agent sarin was used and 2) chlorine tanks were dropped by the Syrian military — "have been largely debunked”. On the latter, Ritter wrote in The American Conservative that the chlorine tanks were “manually placed at the scene by opposition forces."[37][38]

Ritter said that claims by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack should be viewed as a “fabrication" and “false flag” based entirely on evidence provided by the Nusra Front, the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). He supports Gabbard's statement that there is “evidence to suggest that the attacks may have been staged by opposition forces for the purpose of drawing the United States and the West deeper into the war” and concludes that the attacks on Gabbard regarding Syria are indicative of "the low bar that exists for American journalism today."[36]

In Shifting Sands documentaryEdit

Ritter's documentary In Shifting Sands was released in 2001. It argued that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction because of the UN weapons inspection programme.[39] According to The Washington Times, Ritter's documentary was partially financed by Iraqi American businessman Shakir al Khafaji.[40] Al-Khafaji pled guilty to multiple felony charges in 2004 for his involvement with the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal.[41] Ritter denied any quid pro quo with Al-Khafaji, according to Laurie Mylroie, writing for the Financial Times. When Ritter was asked "how he would characterize anyone suggesting that Mr. Khafaji was offering allocations in [his] name", Mr. Ritter replied: "I'd say that person's a fucking liar...and tell him to come over here so I can kick his ass."[39]

Arrests and convictionEdit

Ritter was caught twice in 2001 in April and June 2001, and arrested shortly after the second incident,[42][43] in connection with police stings in which officers posed as under-aged girls to arrange meetings of a sexual nature. He was charged with a misdemeanor crime of "attempted endangerment of the welfare of a child" after the second, but charges were dropped after he completed six months of probation,[44] and the record was sealed on condition that he avoid further trouble for a period of time.[43] After this information was made public in early 2003, Ritter said that the timing of the leak was politically motivated.[42][43][45]

Ritter was arrested again in November 2009[46] over communications with a police decoy he met on an Internet chat site. Police said that he exposed himself, via a web camera, after the officer said she was a 15-year-old girl.[1] Ritter said in his own testimony during the trial that he believed the other party was an adult acting out her fantasy.[47] The next month, Ritter waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bail. Charges included "unlawful contact with a minor, criminal use of a communications facility, corruption of minors, indecent exposure, possessing instruments of crime, criminal attempt and criminal solicitation".[48] Ritter rejected a plea bargain and was found guilty of all but the criminal attempt count in a Monroe County, Pennsylvania courtroom on April 14, 2011.[1][49] In October 2011, he received a sentence of 112 to 512 years in prison.[50] He was sent to Laurel Highlands state prison in Somerset County, Pennsylvania in March 2012 and paroled in September 2014.[51]

Recent activitiesEdit

From 2014 until 2017, Ritter was a frequent columnist for HuffPost.[52] Currently, he writes for


Writing in The New York Times, Matt Bal said that Ritter was proved right about WMD's being an excuse for going to war in Iraq and that the aftermath of the war could be calamitous. Bal described Ritter as the "most determined dissenter and the one with the most on-the-ground intelligence" of the situation in Iraq prior to the war. He wrote that Ritter's refusal to be "taken in" by the fabricated intelligence related to Iraqi WMD would "discomfort" those who "insisted on Hussein’s lethality" and then used the fabricated intelligence as an excuse for why they were wrong.[14]

Seymour Hersh, who became close to Ritter in the 1990s and appeared as a character witness at his April 2011 trial, said that Ritter "understands the Arab world in a way that few Westerners I know do. You have no idea how smart he is".[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Bai, Matt (February 22, 2012). "Scott Ritter's Other War". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Ritter, Scott (2002-09-12). "Talk of the Nation". Fox News Channel (Interview). Interviewed by David Asman.
  3. ^ Ritter, William S (1990). "Revolt in the Mountains: Fuzail Maksum and the Occupation of Garm, Spring 1929". Journal of Contemporary History. 25 (4): 547–580. doi:10.1177/002200949002500408. S2CID 159486304.
  4. ^ Ritter, William S (1985). "The Final Phase in the Liquidation of Anti-Soviet Resistance in Tadzhikistan: Ibrahim Bek and the Basmachi, 1924-31". Soviet Studies. 37 (4): 484–493. doi:10.1080/09668138508411604.
  5. ^ a b c Goodman, Amy (30 December 2003). "Scott Ritter: How the British Spy Agency MI6 Secretly Misled A Nation Into War With Iraq". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  6. ^ Barton Gellman (29 September 1998). "Israel Gave Key Help To U.N. Team in Iraq". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  7. ^ Norman Polmar (2001). Spyplane: The U-2 History Declassified. Zenith Imprint. p. 227. ISBN 9780760309575. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  8. ^ a b Online NewsHour: Scott Ritter — August 31, 1998
  9. ^ "Profile: Scott Ritter". BBC News. September 9, 2002. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  10. ^ Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Archived 2002-12-24 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Interview
  12. ^ UNSCOM 255 Endgame (1999)
  13. ^ Dave Kehr. "In Shifting Sands". New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Scott Ritter's Other War" Bai, Matt. The New York Times, 2/22/2012.
  15. ^ US defeat in Iraq 'inevitable': World: Iraqi Dossier: News24 Archived 2008-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Wallis, David (2002-09-14). "Ex-weapons inspector berates war plans". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  17. ^ Pitt, William R. War On Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know 2002, Context Books, New York. ISBN 1-893956-38-5
  18. ^ a b "The Iraqi Threat: How Real Is It?". October 2002. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
  19. ^ "A Critic's Defeatist Rhetoric". Fox News. February 15, 2005.
  20. ^ Public Debate on YouTube in Tarrytown, NY. December 20, 2005. Moderated by Jay Diamond.
  21. ^ Transcript of Ritter's October 2005 interview with Seymour Hersh Archived 2009-04-23 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Scott Ritter: Calling Out Idiot America". Truthdig. March 23, 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-18. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  23. ^ See Hillary Run (from Her Husband's Past on Iraq) Archived 2008-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, Alternet, March 3, 2007.
  24. ^ United for Peace of Pierce County, Washington —We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy
  25. ^ Sleepwalking to Disaster in Iran Archived 2005-04-07 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ United for Peace of Pierce County, Washington — We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy
  27. ^ Democracy Now! | Scott Ritter on the Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein
  28. ^ [1] mp3 recording of October 2005 Amy Goodman interview
  29. ^ n:Bomb blasts kill several in Iran
  30. ^ The Raw Story | On Cheney, Rumsfeld order, U.S. outsourcing special ops, intelligence to Iraq terror group, intelligence officials say
  31. ^ The Iran Trap By Scott Ritter
  32. ^ Ex-U.N. inspector: Iran's next: Ritter warns that another U.S. invasion in Mideast is imminent
  33. ^ mp3 recording of October 16, 2006 Amy Goodman interview
  34. ^ a b c Guttman, Nathan (December 29, 2006). "Book: Israel, Lobby Pushing Iran War". Forward. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  35. ^ Coughlin, Con (February 25, 2007). "The case for action against Iran". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  36. ^ a b Ritter, Scott (August 14, 2019). "Tulsi Gabbard Gets Some Vindication". Truthdig. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  37. ^ Ritter, Scott (September 12, 2018). "U.S. Again Cries 'Chemical Warfare' in Syria: Officials still can't confirm there was a gas attack in April. So on what grounds do they predict a new one?". Truthdig. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  38. ^ Ritter, Scott (June 20, 2019). "Bias, Lies & Videotape: Doubts Dog 'Confirmed' Syria Chemical Attacks: Disturbing new evidence suggests 2018 incident might've been staged, putting everything else, including U.S. retaliation, into question". The American Conservative. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  39. ^ a b Mylroie, Laurie. Money Questions Surround Ritter's Film Financial Times.
  40. ^ "The U.N. Oil for Food scandal" The Washington Times, March 22, 2004
  41. ^ John O'Neil. Virginia Man Pleads Guilty in Oil-for-Food Inquiry. New York Times. January 18, 2005
  42. ^ a b "Ex-arms inspector, war foe Ritter confirms 2001 arrest". CNN. January 23, 2003. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  43. ^ a b c "Scott Ritter: Timing of Arrest Reports Suspicious". FoxNews. Associated Press. January 23, 2003. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  44. ^ "Ex-UN inspector Scott Ritter sex sting trial begins". BBC News. April 12, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  45. ^ Teather, David (January 24, 2003). "Ritter cries foul at sex arrest 'smear'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  46. ^ "Sex sting in Poconos nets former chief U.N. weapons inspector", Pocono Record, January 14, 2010
  47. ^ "Former UN weapons inspector found guilty in online sex case". The Guardian. Associated Press. April 15, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  48. ^ "Poconos sex sting leads to arrest of former chief UN weapons inspector", New York Post, January 14, 2010 access 2010 1 15
  49. ^ "Verdict: Ex-UN weapons inspector Ritter guilty of all but one count in sex sting" (April 14, 2011) Ponono Record Retrieved April 14, 2011.
  50. ^ Rubinkam, Michael (October 26, 2011). "Ex–UN inspector gets prison in Pa. sex case". NBC News. Associated Press. Retrieved June 21, 2019. On Wednesday, a Monroe County judge sentenced him to 18 months to 66 months in state prison.
  51. ^ Karlin, Rick (2014-12-04). "Scott Ritter paroled in online sex case". Times Union. Albany, NY.
  52. ^


  • Waging Peace: The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement, Nation Books, 2007, ISBN 1-56858-328-1
  • Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change (Hardcover), Nation Books, 2006, ISBN 1-56025-936-1
  • Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein (Hardcover), Foreword by Seymour Hersh, Nation Books, 2006, ISBN 1-56025-852-7
  • Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America Context Books, 2003, ISBN 1-893956-47-4
  • War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know (with William Rivers Pitt). Context Books, 2002, ISBN 1-893956-38-5
  • Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem — Once and For All (Hardcover) Simon & Schuster, 1999, ISBN 0-684-86485-1; (paperback) Diane Pub Co, 2004, ISBN 0-7567-7659-7

External linksEdit