- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2002

Some Americans have begun to draw comparisons between former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter and John Walker Lindh, the U.S. citizen who fought for the Taliban.
As President Bush seeks to make the case at home and abroad for regime change in Iraq, Mr. Ritter, a Republican who voted for Mr. Bush in the last election, is endeavoring to undermine it.
With increasing fervor, Mr. Ritter has toured the American talk shows since his return from Baghdad, where last week he told the Iraqi parliament that military action against Iraq could not be justified.
On Friday, while making the same argument during the CNN program "Newsnight," he even called the U.N. weapons inspections chief, Richard Butler, who was also participating in the discussion, a "liar."
Mr. Butler had expressed surprise at Mr. Ritter's current views, given his alarming assessments of Iraqi weapons programs at the time of the inspections, which ended in 1998.
Mr. Butler told CNN: "I distinctly remember Scott sitting across from me and some of my senior colleagues one day, and literally thumping his fists on the conference table and saying, 'These people have these weapons. They are liars. We must go and get those weapons,' and so on. I remember that distinctly."
When Mr. Ritter accused him of lying, Mr. Butler at first thought he was referring to the ongoing deceptions of the Iraqi regime. Throughout the day, CNN played back images of the moment when it became apparent that he, not Saddam Hussein, was being called a liar in front of a global television audience.
Mr. Butler responded by calling the attack "silly and sad." He said: "I don't know why on earth Scott is doing what he's doing. He knew very well Iraq had weapons unaccounted for."
It made great television, but most of the United States is now asking just what Mr. Ritter is up to. The former U.S. intelligence officer's view that Iraq no longer represents a threat to "anyone outside its borders" has baffled his former inspector colleagues, many of whom count themselves as friends.
When Mr. Ritter appears on television, he is now routinely asked whether he considers himself a traitor and if he fears for his own safety. He has been described as "misguided," "disloyal," and as "an apologist for and defender of Saddam Hussein."
Some commentators have compared Mr. Ritter's defense of Iraq to the propaganda broadcasts for Japan famously made by the American citizen Iva Ikuko Toguri, or "Tokyo Rose," during the Second World War.
Mr. Ritter prefers the example of Daniel Ellsberg, the Defense Department official who leaked the Pentagon papers during the Vietnam War in an attempt to discredit the military campaign.
"I've got nobody," Mr. Ritter said before going to Baghdad. "But guess what? When you stand alone with the truth, you are not alone."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide