Americans Were 'Bushwhacked'
Says Weapons Inspector Ritter

By John Intardonato
Staff Writer
Claiming Americans were "bushwhacked," Scott Ritter, former United Nations chief weapons inspector in Iraq, believes President Bush not only hid the truth, but he used deception to get citizen support for the war.
"Instead of presenting the issue honestly to the American people, face-to-face, and letting us decide, we were bushwhacked behind our backs," he said.
Ritter, who is one of the Bush Administration's principal critics over the war, will deliver a first-hand account of the Iraqi dilemma and its failures this Monday, June 28, at the Napa Valley Opera House at 7 p.m.
"Look at the evidence coming out now. Clearly we were lied to about the link to Al-Qaeda, about the weapons of mass destruction, and about Saddam Hussein being a threat to the United States," Ritter said. "We were told we'd be greeted with flowers--It'll never happen."
Pessimistic About Outcome
Ritter is unusually pessimistic about the ultimate outcome for the United States.
"I just don't see a transfer of power within the next few weeks," Ritter said. "[Iyad] Allawi (the interim prime minister) has no constituency, no government, or even a country."
Since 1991, Ritter participated in 52 weapons inspection missions, 14 of them as its chief. He spent 12 years in military intelligence, including assignments in the former Soviet Union as well as the Middle East. He led the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq in 1998.
"Based on my recent observations, I'd be surprised if Allawi survives to January of next year," he said. "The insurgents have a bigger grip on the country now than he does. There are car bombings every day, and scores of police are being killed."
Media Sequestered In Compounds
Ritter says Americans are not getting a true picture of the war because the media are afraid to leave their compounds.
"They rely on what they're told, and that's what they tell the American people," he said. He believes that Iraq can be another 10-year disaster, which could be a tremendous drain on the U.S. economy.
He believes at this point that it is a political failure and not a military one.
"I don't think our troops or the military have been affected by this problem, yet. The world still knows how strong we are. Our politicians have been hurt, not our military," Ritter said.
"I don't think Bush thought up the Iraqi war himself. I think high people in his administration took advantage of our trauma after Sept. 11, to move the idea forward," Ritter said.
If the U.S. fails to find a quick solution, Ritter believes the end result would leave us in the same predicament the Israelis are in.
Ongoing Nightmare In Israel
"When Israel left Lebanon, they thought they had set up a friendly government. In no time, the Hezbollah took over, and the result has been an ongoing nightmare," he said.
"While no one doubts the future of Israel, the country is plagued with terrorist attacks. They must consistently use their wealth and manpower in bomb-and-destroy missions, chaining their nation to an endless occupation," Ritter said.
"We, too, can continue to pound our chest at the world, but the cost and drain on our economy, our young people, and our prestige will be very high," he said."
© 2004, Pulitzer Newspapers, Inc.



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