[Ethnicstudies] Fwd: Ritter dismisses Powell report (fwd)
Gilbert G. Gonzalez
Fri, 07 Feb 2003 19:45:30 -0800
>Subject: Ritter dismisses Powell report
>channel4.com February 6, 2003
>Ritter dismisses Powell report
>TOKYO - Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter on Thursday dismissed
>U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's allegation before the U.N. Security
>Council that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction as "unsubstantiated"
>and based only on "circumstantial evidence."
>"There's nothing here that's conclusive proof that Iraq has weapons of mass
>destruction," Ritter, a former U.S. Marine and outspoken critic of
>Washington's policy on Iraq who participated in U.N. weapons inspections
>there from 1991 to 1998, told Kyodo News in an interview.
>"Everything in here is circumstantial, everything in here mirrors the kind
>of allegations the U.S. has made in the past in regard to Iraq's weapons
>program," he said.
>Powell on Wednesday presented what he described as "irrefutable and
>undeniable" evidence that Iraq has been deceiving U.N. arms inspectors and
>hiding banned weapons. He played intercepted telephone conversations between
>Iraqi officials and showed satellite photos as part of the U.S. drive to
>convince the world of the need to disarm Iraq, by military force if
>"He just hits you, hits you, hits you with circumstantial evidence, and he
>confuses people - and he lied, he lied to people, he misled people," Ritter
>said of Powell.
>Ritter argued that the United States is giving weapons inspectors too little
>time to do their job.
>He said many things in Powell's presentation should be properly
>investigated, such as a Nov 26 communications intercept in which two senior
>Iraqi military officers were overheard talking about the need to hide from
>U.N. weapons inspectors a "modified vehicle" made by an Iraqi company that
>Powell said is "well known to have been involved in prohibited weapons
>"What vehicle? I mean, obviously Colin Powell's concerned, he presented it,
>so let's find out what the vehicle is - but let's not bomb Iraq based upon
>that," Ritter said.
>Ritter also questioned the veracity of Powell's allegation that Iraq still
>possesses vast amounts of anthrax and described as irrelevant his repeated
>references to dry powder anthrax contained in envelopes and sent through the
>U.S. postal system in the fall of 2001, which killed two people and created
>a national panic.
>"What anthrax is he talking about?" he said, adding that Iraq is only known
>to have produced liquid bulk anthrax, which has a shelf life of only three
>He said the last known batch of liquid bulk anthrax was produced in 1991 at
>a state-owned factory blown up in 1996.
>"Colin Powell holds up a vial of dry powder anthrax and he makes allusions
>to the attack in the United States through the letters. That was U.S.
>government anthrax! It had nothing to do with Iraq," Ritter said.
>Ritter accused Powell of engaging in "classic bait-and-switch" in his U.N.
>presentation, catching his listeners' attention with one piece of
>information and then putting up an irrelevant photograph "to make them think
>the two are the same when they're not."
>"I mean, the photographs are real but what do the photographs show," he
>said. "The Powell presentation is not evidence...It's a very confusing
>presentation. What does it mean? What does it represent? How does it all
>link up? It doesn't link up."
>"Iraq, anthrax, vial, dry powder - what connection do they have? None," he
>Ritter termed a "fabrication" Powell's assertion that Iraq may have 18
>trucks from which it can produce biological agents such as anthrax or
>botulinum toxin, and noted that U.N. inspectors who followed up on such U.S.
>intelligence based on defectors' testimony were only able to find two trucks
>used for testing food.
>"They had nothing to do with biological laboratories. That's what (U.N.
>chief inspector) Hans Blix says. He says, 'There's no mobile lab."'
>"You know who came up with the idea of mobile trucks? The inspectors...We
>sat back one day and said, 'If we were the Iraqis, how would we hide
>biological production? We'd put them on trucks,"' Ritter said.
>"So we designed it and we went out looking for them. But the problem is, you
>look for something that you have no evidence exists, but by postulating the
>existence you create the perception of existence. Now we look for
>trucks...and we don't find them," he said.
>In his presentation, Powell spoke of the futility of trying to find the
>trucks in question among the thousands that travel Iraqi roads daily without
>Baghdad voluntarily surrendering the information.
>Ritter, however, said Powell was merely trying to create an impression that
>U.N. inspections could never work.
>"You can never expect the inspectors to find these 18 trucks," he said,
>because "these trucks don't exist."
>Defectors' reports, he said, could be misleading, especially those coming
>from people associated with the opposition Iraqi National Congress, who he
>said could have been "pre-briefed in advance to tell lies."
>"Are these legitimate defectors or are they deliberately out there
>falsifying testimony? I don't know. What I do know is I'm not willing to put
>American lives on the line based on the testimony from an Iraqi defector. I
>want something a little bit more solid than that," Ritter said.
>But he stressed he is not arguing that Iraq does not possess weapons of mass
>destruction - merely that the U.N. inspectors should be given sufficient
>time to do their job in Iraq and make a final determination based on solid
>evidence. (Kyodo News)