Rehabilitating Scott Ritter

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If you followed the more fevered antiwar commentary during of the Iraq war years, you might have encountered the byline of Scott Ritter. A former U.N. weapons inspector who supported Saddam Hussein’s ouster in the 1990s, even reproaching the Clinton White House for failing to use the threat of invasion as leverage against the Iraqi dictator, Ritter later became convinced that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that regime change was not only unjustified but was the product of a deliberate “intelligence conspiracy” by the Bush administration.

For a time, that explosive claim earned Ritter high-profile media appearances and the adoration of the anti-war left, whose darkest imaginings Ritter confirmed. Then Ritter faded from view, a casualty of his own increasingly outlandish claims and a child sex sting in which Ritter was caught trying to solicit lewd meetings with minors online.

Ritter’s tarnished reputation has now received a partial laundering from the New York Times. While not shying away from Ritter’s disturbing sexual deviancy, the Times nonetheless attempts to cast him as a flawed but prescient prophet who was right about Iraq while the Bush administration and much of the foreign policy establishment was wrong. For a man desperate to salvage some measure of public dignity, it’s understandable that Ritter would cling to this self-serving version of recent history. Unfortunately, and as with so much of what Ritter has contributed to the public record, it’s also false.

Conveniently omitted by the Times is that Ritter did not simply claim that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He claimed that the Bush administration knew this to be case before the war started and then “fabricated intelligence to back up its decision to go to war.” The claim became the centerpiece of the anti-war left and Democrats’ attacks on the Bush administration, which they charged had “lied” the country into war using manipulated intelligence assessments. Yet that claim was provably untrue. For instance, a 2004 report on prewar intelligence by the bipartisan Senate intelligence committee “found no evidence that the [intelligence community’s] mischaracterization or exaggeration of the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities was the result of political pressure.” Ritter, so far from heroic whistleblower, was just plain wrong.

And not just about Iraq. Even as the Times repeatedly cites Ritter’s vindication on WMDs, it ignores his far more numerous collection of failed and evidence-free predictions and pronouncements. In June 2005, for example, Ritter announced that the Bush administration was readying for an attack on Iran. He even wrote a book, Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change, fleshing out assertion. The left-wing blogosphere lapped it up. But it was, of course, baseless.

For all his professed concern for evidence, Ritter showed a consistent willingness to ignore it when it suited his anti-war biases. Following Israel’s bombing of Syria’s al-Kibar nuclear facility in September 2007, Ritter immediately denounced the attack as unjustified. “There is no evidence that Syria had made any effort to introduce nuclear material to the facility under construction,” Ritter insisted. But American intelligence agencies disagreed.  Former CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that “al-Kibar was part of a nuclear weapons program.” Had al-Kibar been allowed to become fully operational, according to Hayden, it would have produced enough plutonium for one or two nuclear bombs within a year. Ritter was thus repeatedly guilty of the very charge he leveled against the Bush administration: suppressing evidence that did not fit into his preconceived assessment.

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  • kongMing

    Why do people forget about Saddam bribing the UN weapon inspectors? Is not an issue or is it done on purpose to fit the Iraq was a mistake debate?

  • kblink45

    Leftists whitewash criminal behavior if it suits their agenda. The left has always had a soft spot for pedophiles. Allen Ginsberg was a disgrace to humanity, and a darling of the left.

    • Questions

      Apparently, that soft spot doesn't extend to pedophiles within the Catholic Church.

  • Ken

    Not only is he a lying dirtbag, but a lying dirtbag pedophile!! Typical of the Left to try to whitewash one of their felonious own!!

  • Larry

    Saddam's intelligence agencies almost certainly knew about Ritter's pedophilia and were using it to blackmail him. Richard Butler, the head of the inspectors, and who was a left as they come, was absolutely convinced that Iraq had the weapons and programs.

    Almost certainly the stuff ended up in Syria.

    • aspacia

      Yes, and many Iraqi officers who defected to the US made this claim that the media ignored.

  • Judy

    Can leftist blogger Richard Silverstein be far behind?

  • mrbean

    "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
    –President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

    "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
    –President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

    "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
    –Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

    "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
    Letter to President Clinton, signed by:
    — Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others, Oct. 9, 1998

    • trickyblain

      Strange. Nothing promoting a full-scale invasion/occupation.

      Your point?

      • George Peyton

        Lost on you, obviously.

        • Amused

          Wrong , Clinton enforced no fly zones , and destroyed missle/ radar tracking stations as they were built . NO INVASION ,NO AMERICAN BOOTS ON THE GROUND ,No POWER VACUUM FOR AL QUEDA OR IRAN to take advantage of .
          FACTS obviously lost on you George .

  • stevefraser

    Thanks for the update to Ritter….BTW, I remember on the day of the Iraq invasion the NYT and the rest of the crazy Left were howling about the massive lose of life the US forces would suffer due to Sadam's WMD. Modern liberalism is a severe mental illness, combining a self-hating self destructiveness and a psychopathic mentality by which any lie or deception is excused by a delusional commitment to Marxist totalitarianism.

  • Sound&Fury

    And we should be surprised, knowing how the left has lionized Roman Polanski after raping a 13 yr old?

  • Onthewall

    Who cares about Ritter? Just remember what the Brits observed about the Bush administrations' decision making (from the Downing Street Memo): "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

    Johnson fudged the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Nixon: "I am not a crook." Reagan: "I don't remember. I don't remember. I don't remember." (Irangate) Clinton: "I did not have sex with that woman."

    Presidents lie. Any adult knows that.

  • truebearing

    There was much speculation that Saddam moved his WMD's to Syria, another Baathist regime. Just today it came out that the state department is quietly warning Syria's neighbors about their WMDs, many of which could have come from Iraq.

    One has to wonder how motivated Obama is to dethrone Assad, especially if it led to revelations about Saddams WMDs.

    • W. C. Taqiyya

      The report used to justify State Department concerns about Syrian chemical weapons states that except for 'clear' evidence that Syria 'tried' to upgrade its ground to ground missiles, the rest of the report is based on 'speculation'. I urge everyone to read the report. As for Ritter, he never claimed that Iraq never had or didn't try to get W.M.D. He said they had snooped all over Iraq and found very little remaining components or programs. Ritter was proved correct on that point. That presidents lie to justify their actions is indisputable and Bush was no exception. As Onthewall mentioned above, the Brits knew Bush was shaping facts to suit his policy. Onthewall is also correct that Ritter doesn't matter. But the facts do matter. So, if Bush stretched the truth, what fables do you think Obama/Hillary won't spin? It's easy to accept lies that reinforce our suspicions, but it's prudent to examine the facts, or lack thereof, before we jump into another stupid war we will wind up losing.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Sadam was sending truck caravans to Syria daily for over a year, what could Assad have been
    receiving, Bush pointed this out but was it thoroughly investigated. A few years go by and Israel
    bombs a nuclear plant in Syria, wonder where they who could not affort the materials got them,
    maybe from Sadam?…..The devil is gone but left behind no small amount of evil……….William

  • Amused

    Now , we're out of Iraq , and shouldn't spend not one more bloody day in Afghanistan . Ironically the MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED in Afghanistan , the Taliban were dispersed , finally Bin Laden has been killed , and we've given the Afghans the best chance they're ever going to get in throwing off the Taliban yoke . Todays actions in Afghanistan should prove to any doubters , that democracy is not a possibilty in Afghanistan , it never was .It is therefore another lie to state that we are there to establish any kind of democracy .All we are doing now is sacrificing our BRAVEST and our BEST to serve as sitting ducks in a shooting gallery . Our troops DESERVE BETTER . Let the bloody Afghans stand or fall .

  • gman213

    "Look boys and girls I've got a weapon of ass destruction in my pants"

  • Amused

    LOL….indeed ! And I see it's first victim . Take a bie gman

  • Amused

    That is "take a bow "

  • irateiconoclast

    Ritter's views on the dangers of Islamofascism are typical leftist revisionism; however, his personal sexual forays speak more to a culture of entrapment and synthesized "crimes" than anything of substance.

  • kafirman

    So the left can defeat freedom with lies and our only hope is to dig up dirt on leftists?

  • Fran Dutton

    The irony here is that the author of this article uses Intelligence committee documents, reports, etc to deny the validity of Scott Ritter's claims. As if anyone really believes that what's in the those documents resembles accuracy.