>>If you want to see a list just like it go and read the Report that Dr. Hans Blix and Scott Ritter submitted for presentation to the Security Council of the United Nations in January 1999. So are you telling us that UNSCOM lied? If so why? Job protection perhaps? I'd like to see your substantiation for that.<<
I can't find any such report. Ritter didn't submit anything in 1998 because he had left the year before.
What does Ritter say about all this?
SCOTT RITTER: Well, first of all, the reason that we're there. They think that this was an accident, that this was a noble cause, that people like the President, like Bill Clinton before him, like their respective administrations, journalists like Judith Miller just honestly got it wrong. And I don't think – you know, here we are today in Iraq, and it's a disaster. I don't think anybody's going to debate that statement. Some people say though, 'We're working towards a continuation of this noble objective. We got rid of Saddam Hussein. That's a good thing. And now we're going to try to build on that good.' And I'm not going to debate whether or not getting rid of Saddam Hussein is a good thing or not. But, you know, if you embrace the notion of the ends justify the means, that's about as un-American a notion as you can possibly get into.
We're talking about solving a problem. We have yet to define the problem. And the problem isn't just what's happening in Iraq but it's the whole process that took place in the United States leading up to the war, this dishonest process of deliberately deceiving the American public. And it's not just George W. Bush. For eight years of the Clinton administration, that administration said the same things. The C.I.A. knew, since 1992, that significant aspects of the Iraqi weapons programs had been completely eliminated, but this was never about disarmament.
They knew it, (a) because of their own access to intelligence information, and (b) because of the work of the weapons inspectors. In October of 1992, I personally confronted the C.I.A. on the reality that we had accounted for all of Iraq's ballistic missile programs. That same year they had an Iraqi defector who had laid out the totality of the Iraqi biological weapons program and had acknowledged that all of the weapons had been destroyed. The C.I.A. knew this.
But, see, the policy wasn't disarmament. The policy was regime change. And disarmament was only useful insofar as it facilitated regime change. And that's what people need to understand, that this was not about getting rid of weapons that threatened international peace and security. This has been about, since 1991, solving a domestic political embarrassment. And that is the continued survival of Saddam Hussein, a man who in March 1990 was labeled as a true friend of the American people and then in October 1990 in a dramatic flip-flop was called the Middle East equivalent of Adolf Hitler.
JUAN GONZALEZ: You were involved for quite a long time with UNSCOM. At what point did you, as you were working for the United Nations, reach the conclusion that regime change really was the intent of the program that – well, the United States intent behind the program that you were involved with?
SCOTT RITTER: It wasn't a matter of reaching a conclusion. When I joined in September of 1991, that was already the stated policy of the United States government. I outlined this in the book. The fact that in April 1991, the United States helps draft and then votes in favor of a Chapter 7, Resolution 687, that creates the weapons inspections, call upon Iraq to disarm and in Paragraph 14 says if Iraq complies, economic sanctions will be lifted. This is the law.
A few months later, the President, George Herbert Walker Bush, and hia Secretary of State say economic sanctions will never be lifted against Iraq, even if they comply with their obligation to disarm, until which time Saddam Hussein is removed from power. It's the stated policy of the United States government. What we weren't quite aware of is just to what extreme they would go in undermining the credibility and integrity of the United Nations inspection process to achieve this objective.