Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh on Iran

The long and the short, all most worthwhile. Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh draw on their expertise and experience to offer important insights and cut through the cant and disinformation on Iran.

While lengthy, the ninety minute C-Span 2 video is great to run and listen to in the background if doing other work — highly recommended. Listen particularly at the 35 minute, 1 hr:04 min, and 1 hr:10 min mark on the C-Span video (third video below). What Ritter says at the 1 hr:04 minute mark (just after the one hour mark in Question Time) is, I’ll wager, one of the most important things you’ll hear.

The transcript of this talk (sans Question Time) is available here and a choice quote featured here.

In the blogosphere, also check out Homeyra’s and the Fanonite’s recent entries on this important topic, both bringing attention to Ritter’s urgent work on Iran. The Fanonite has also added a few reservations about Hersh’s reliance on anonymous sources in his post reviewing Hersh’s recent New Yorker article on US-Saudi-Israeli designs for the Middle East.

Amy Goodman interviews Scott Ritter, Democracy Now—Part 1 (8:19) and Part 2 (8:42)

Democracy Now, Part One:

Democracy Now, Part Two:

Scott Ritter with Seymour Hersh on C-Span2’s Book TV (90 minutes)
New York Society for Ethical Culture | 16 Oct 2006

Scott Ritter at unspecified location (10 minutes)

12 comments on “Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh on Iran

  1. homeyra
    2 March, 2007

    There are so many articles now on the internet. I don’t know who is who.
    Have a look at this one:
    Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski (ret.), a veteran of the Pentagon
    She said:”I think the, one of the big reasons that Bush and Cheney think they can do Iran is that they believe, what they’re hearing from the Air Force and the Navy, two of the three main branches of our military, the two that have been left out of the glory of Iraq, you see. And those guys want a piece of the action” …
    “I don’t think there’s any intention to go into Iran, but simply to destroy it and to create havoc and disruption and humanitarian crisis and topple perhaps the government …”
    Well! I think you should read it!

  2. The Fanonite
    2 March, 2007

    Homeyra, while Kwiatkowski’s blowing of the whistle on the OSP was a courageous act, she is clearly no analyst. This is a pretty silly explanation for the push against Iran. The former Chief of Joints Staff, Gen. Myers was an airforce man, and had this been a question of glory seeking, things would already be in motion.

    The military does not make policy in the US. In fact, one legacy of Rumself is that he has completely eviscerated military’s independence. It is presently completely subservient to Pentagon civilians. It is quite clear who is pushing for the war. Kwiatkowski, in this case, is merely creating a silly diversion.

  3. homeyra
    2 March, 2007

    Thanks for the explanation, and indeed ordinary people, such as myself, are lost among all that is said, and still I am quite selective with the sources!

  4. Jack
    2 March, 2007

    Hi Ann!

    Trying to get back into the discussion after a bit of a bout with sickness. I think I had mentioned that I still maintain a position of neutrality on the Iraq war, mainly because there is so much I don’t know, but just for the sake of getting the discussion going and exciting, here’s 2 cents.

    I did follow the Scott Ritter situation with much interest, and found that this man lost most of his credibility during the course of his fight with the Bush Administration. As a matter of fact, I would question his veracity even more than I would a Pulitzer Prizer winner!

    Just using his own words:

    Scott Ritter 9/2005:
    [T]he whole world knew [in 1995] … that Iraq represented a threat to no one when it came to weapons of mass destruction.

    I have never given Iraq a clean bill of health! Never! Never!

    No matter how difficult stopping Saddam Hussein is today, it will become more and more difficult, and extract a higher and higher price, the longer he is left to rebuild his arsenal.

    I’m a big proponent of bringing the troops home as soon as possible.

    [Iraq] sooner or later will have to be confronted by American military might.

    [I]f we wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, then we should have had a debate, discussion, and dialogue about the real reasons and not make up some artificial WMD.

    [B]y 1995 there were no more weapons in Iraq, there were no more documents in Iraq, there was no more production capability in Iraq because we were monitoring the totality of Iraq’s industrial infrastructure with the most technologically advanced, the most intrusive arms control regime in the history of arms control.

    1999 (extract from Ritter’s Endgame):
    In 1995 Unit 2001 conducted tests on live human subjects taken from the Abu Ghraib prison, using BW and binary CW agent. Around fifty prisoners were chosen for these experiments, which took place at a remote testing ground in western Iraq. The purpose of these experiments was to test the toxicity of available agent to ensure that the biological agent remained viable. As a result, all the prisoners died.

    Do you think this has might have to do with book sales, spots on TV, or an attempt to regain a lot of lost credibility?

    Stirring the pot!


  5. Bluebear2
    2 March, 2007

    Homeyra is wondering who is who with all the stuff on the net now.

    I’m having a problem with what’s where!

    I sent agent 99 your Seymour Hersh link and we had a good laugh because I guess she had sent it to Homie who sent it to you then I saw it and sent it back to 99. LOL

  6. peoplesgeography
    2 March, 2007

    Homie, thanks for the link. I agree with Ed that Karen is a courageous person. The analysis does leave something to be desired, instanced in the somewhat contradictory statement:

    “I don’t think there’s any intention to go into Iran, but simply to destroy it and to create havoc and disruption and humanitarian crisis and topple perhaps the government …”

    I do sympathize entirely with the necessity of sifting through the saturation-level material on Iran, and to be skeptical and critical about sources and people.

    Both Ed and Jack have voiced reservations/ and or qualifications about Sy Hersch and Scott Ritter, respectively, for example.

    This is a healthy process, no one person is held up unequivocally. At the same time however, I think we ought to be wary of attempts to discredit a person’s work, and also be mindful that circumstances and assessments change, nothing is static. Attacking an individual’s credibility in order to dismiss his/her argument is a common tactic. Also, to suggest that a given statement is wrong simply because its proponent has changed their mind is a fallacy. By all means, let’s assess a proponent’s arguments on their merits, and exercise due caution and vigilance about claims. One can see similar tactics directed towards other prominent and outspoken critics such as George Galloway and John Pilger. Galloway has been attacked ferociously and very few, if any, of the accusations stood up to scrutiny.

    Thanks for stirring the discussion up Jack. I too am not taken by laudations in and of themselves, and would seek to question the veracity of any pundit’s authority. Thanks for proffering those statements, first compiled, I understand, by Tim Blair, a far right pundit who excoriates Al Gore and Greens politician Bob Brown for the simplest of things (eg if they hop on a plane, they immediately must be hypocrites). Take a look at his often insult-driven site too, and question his agenda.

    With most of them, I could not see any self-evidential or whopping discrepancy. For example,

    [T]he whole world knew [in 1995] … that Iraq represented a threat to no one when it came to weapons of mass destruction.

    I have never given Iraq a clean bill of health! Never! Never!

    These two are not inconsistent. The first acknowledges the dearth of evidence (since vindicated) about Iraq’s then purportedly developed WMDs and the second simply says that this does not mean that Iraq was inculpable nor that the Saddam regime had an innocent “clean bill of health”.

    A statement like:

    [Iraq] sooner or later will have to be confronted by American military might.

    to me in itself also changes my perceptions of Ritter little. He could well be explaining his expectations of events based on the continuities of American foreign policy. Is he advocating the imperative of military might? Not that I can see. He also makes similar statements about the trajectory of likely actions in the videos on Iran.

    Hope you have some time to listen to these, and I’d be most interested in your opinion. I value your healthy skepticism.

  7. peoplesgeography
    2 March, 2007

    BB, what wonderful circularity! Thanks for the smile.

    I’m most grateful for the links Homeyra has been sending, there’s always a few I haven’t picked up and that I find immensely valuable.

    The volume of material can be a bit overwhelming, I agree with Homie. Gradually we become better at establishing veracity and at exercising due caution with sources and agendas.

  8. Jack
    3 March, 2007

    Hi Ann,

    I remember during that time there was a lot of stir about Scott Ritter. There were theories from both sides, where Scott was being campaigned against by the CIA to Scott being in cahoots with Hussein himself. I think there was even accusations made against Scott for soliciting sex from a minor on the internet! (I think the court case was actually dismissed)

    Of course, as I said before this makes me suspect both sides of the debate–making it harder to glean facts and come to any modicum of truth. So I put little faith in what either side says anymore.

    REGARDLESS of our shaped perspectives (mine especially) there is a truth out there, and it is good to see that its relentless pursuit is in good and honest people like yourself, Ann.

    To date I am the only person I know in this world who has not formulated a real opinion on the Iraq situation (although I do believe there were wrong things done and possibly some right things)–does this make me one of those crazy people? ha!


  9. Jack
    3 March, 2007

    BTW, I didn’t want to be presumptuous, but I added “Reclaiming Space” to my blog links. Hope you don’t mind.


  10. homeyra
    3 March, 2007

    I also read about some controversies about Ritter. This is what Fanonite wrote about him:

    “Well Ritter was famous for being extremely aggressive, and too close to the Israelis, during his stint as a UN Weapons inspector. He knows a lot about the Israeli connection, because he used to be a part of it, passing intelligence to Israelis in the early to mid 90s. As the years dragged on, however, he realized that the inspections were not meant to disarm Iraq. In fact, they were merely a cover for a policy of regime change. For that reason, the weapons inspectors efforts were all going to waste, since they could very easily certify Iraq as weapons free, however, they weren’t being allowed to go that far. That is when he resigned.

    After the war, he made a documentary on Iraq and sanctions and latter became a vocal critic of US Iraq policy. The American right-wing, which initially loved him for his aggressive stance, turned against him at this point, and embarked on discrediting him. He was subjected to a really nasty smears and dirty tricks campaign.

    Over all, I think he’s a very honest person with great integrity. He came to speak at an alternative summit we had organized to coincide with the G8 2005. As always, he was lucid and on the mark.”

  11. peoplesgeography
    3 March, 2007

    Thanks very much for that Homie. Ed puts it very well and the only thing I’d add is that the documentary Ritter made in 2000 (Shifting Sands: The Truth About UNSCOM and the Disarming of Iraq) was in part financed by a $400,000 contribution from Iraqi American businessman Shaker Al-Khaffaji. Accusations were levelled in a Washington Times article (which didn’t hold up, obviously part of the smear campaign to try to discredit him that Ed describes) that Al-Khaffaji obtained the money from goods sold in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program in violation of U.N. sanctions. A similar defamation campaign related to Oil for Food was directed at Scottish MP George Galloway.


  12. homeyra
    3 March, 2007

    De rien PPGG, de rien :)
    Rather ugly, isn’t it?
    Over half a million dead, god knows what else, it all seems so irrelevant. Are we won little by little by a Nazi mentality?
    It seems we are. I don’t know if you read Sophia analyzes about the future “talks”. Confirms the ugly side.

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