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When I heard that Scott Ritter was appearing at a nearby library, I made sure I was going to be there.  How often do you get to shake the hand of someone who tried with all his power to prevent a war that has tragically damaged our country's place in the world.  The talk was part of his book tour for "Target Iran" which lays out the parallels between the run up to Iraq and what he sees happening now with Iran.  

Ritter, a retired combat Marine officer is proud to say he is no pacifist, giving even greater impact to the words he speaks.  I videoed about ten minutes of his talk to share with the readers here.  While we are part of his "choir" that he is preaching to, his words, his passion, just may light the fire under those elected officials who can cancel the second act of an increasingly tragic drama.

Here are a few points that Ritter made:

The invasion of Iraq was the end stage of the larger movement for "regime change" that began during the Clinton administration.  He has no respect for those Senators who voted for the Iraqi War Resolution, but has some extra antipathy for Hillary Clinton among those who are vying for the Democratic nomination.  

He has worked closely with Israel over the years and considers himself a supporter of that country.  He views AIPAC as separate from the state of Israel.  He says some of his Israeli friends say, ironically,  that AIPAC (the American Group) is willing to defend their country to the last drop of each Israeli's blood.  He also said that Israel never felt that Iraq was a real threat, but they do see Iran as the ultimate danger, even if it is not immediate.  

He rejects the accepted wisdom that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. He sees them pursuing a legitimate need for alternate energy sources once their oil is depleted.  He points out that during the Ford administration the Shah of Iran was being supported in this quest by the then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld (same man, both the youngest and the oldest in his two stints in that position).  The U.S. also agreed at that time that Iran should be able to produce their own enriched uranium so they would have a protected source. Ritter also points out that despite public perception, Iran has not withdrawn from the Non Proliferation Treaty.  What Iran is now doing is under IAEC inspection, with their reports, which support his thesis, available on the Internet.

He was also asked about his reaction to 9-11 conspiracy theories.  He starts off his response on a jocular vein saying that the U.S. Government could never pull off such a complex activity with the degree of competence to make it work.   Ritter is an outgoing guy with friends in all walks of life.  He knows building demolition professionals.  He spoke to a  man who saw with his own eyes the plane that crashed into the pentagon.  He lived with the fire fighters who were in the World Trade Center.  As much as he deplores the illegitimate use that Bush made of our country's response to 9-11, he expresses, with due courtesy that he shows to everyone, his conviction that conspiracy theories about that day of infamy have no basis in fact.

Of all those who have written about the Iraq war, Scott Ritter is the only one who spent years walking the streets of that country and breaking down the doors of suspected WMD stores.   He combines a steely toughness with a natural ease, a complete absence of pomposity, a clear analytical mind, and the courage to speak truth to power.  The failure of our country to heed his warning in 2003 is not a reflection on any failures of this man, but says volumes about the defects of our nation.  We cannot afford to make the same mistake a second time.  But it seems like we are about to do exactly that.

Scott Ritter, over the course of his contentious career, has had all of his flaws, all of his inconsistencies, all of his human failings exposed to the glare of public exposure.  The guy is no saint.  He is certainly not a pacifist.  But, when you try to place him on the common continuum anchored at the extremes by "Hawk" and "Dove," you can't.  He puts the need for military might in the appropriate ever-changing context of actual world events.  He is for a strong military, but to be used only under those circumstances when peaceful means of resolution are exhausted.

Trained as an intelligence analyst he sees all organizations in functional terms, noting their weaknesses and strengths.  Although having in the past been identified with Republicans, he is no party loyalist.  This allows him to criticize a Republican President who would continue to support an incompetent Secretary of Defense, as well as a Democratic Speaker who would appoint a clueless head of the Intelligence Committee.
If we want to place Scott Ritter on some scale, some continuum, we have to invent a new one.  On one extreme are those who, if they vote at all,  decide by slogans, not having any better information, since their free time is spent on the dross of our mass culture.  Going up this dimension we have people who try to stay informed,  try to get the best people elected by working and contributing, and maybe even writing articles.  Then we have people who actually make the great effort and sacrifice to run for office.  And higher still are those who maintain their integrity once they attain their electoral goal.

And at the top, you would have those who fight for their beliefs even when most of his fellow citizens are contemptuous of them; someone who is willing to die for his country if necessary, who never stops learning and sharing his observations, never stops trying to make his country live up to its ideal.  I have a word for that end point.  It is a word that, however debased by becoming a label for its antithesis, captures an ideal that we need to revere no matter how disappointed we become with the state of our political culture   The word, the label I would use for Scott Ritter, is Patriot.

Here's the ten minute segment of the speech I promised you.

Originally posted to ARODB on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 03:56 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this nice diary arodb (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, rapala, Nightprowlkitty, Joffan

    I remember listening to Ritter in the runup to Iraq and thought he made so much sense then.  

    So now I put a lot of stock into what he says.  Hopefully more people will take him seriously this time around...

    Got an issue, here's a tissue - Will & Grace

    by Flinch on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 04:15:34 PM PST

    •  He was one man (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, rapala, Flinch

      against the power of the Presidency, and the aquiesence of the institutions that are designed to balance this potential abuse.

      Congress, as an institution failed, as did the main stream media.  But those who say they were fooled are not convincing.

      All you have to do is read Robert Byrd, or better yet, Feingolds statement on the floor to realize how people approved the Iraq war with eyes wide shut.

  •  We need people who understand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rapala, corvo

    the world to run this country.  Instead, this is what happens when we wind up with a failure in every thing he'd ever tried, and a contractor.
    I mean Bush isn't even a lawyer, he had no career per se.
    Hence, the results.

  •  Excellent speaker (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MO Blue, arodb

    clearly well aware of the current status of Iran, their nuclear aspirations, the GWB administration and their deceptions.

    I have suggested elsewhere that an explicit exclusion of Iran from any current authorised use of force, perhaps as part of the limiting of action against any country not already acted against, ie. Afghanistan and Iraq, is a good early bill to bring to Congress.

  •  Ritter (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tikkun, rapala, corvo, mightymouse, MO Blue

    seems to have no credibility as far as the MSM or anyone in power is concerned.  I've long thought that he has to be ignored because he has been correct about so many things, has experience, knows from whence he speaks and doesn't sugar coat anything he says.  In short, in this day and age he is an extremely dangerous man.  

    "As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression..." William O. Douglas

    by Patricia Bruner on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 04:50:41 PM PST

    •  I htought it was because he was a pedophile or a (2+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      tikkun, TexasTwister
      Hidden by:

      homo faggot womanizer or a Gemini or something. Wasn't there something that the Right used to discredit Ritter with a single comment?

      •  Why'd I get trollrated? I'm simply asking (0+ / 0-)

        how the Right brushed Ritter aside years ago and made him "radioactive".

        •  When you use language that can be read (0+ / 0-)

          as hate speech, you need to take pains to show that you are not expressing this yourself.

          A simple set of quotations could have helped. If you had a record of more comments that showed this was an aberation I would not have troll rated you.

          If you just made a mistake, or if I made a mistake, simply forget it.  Just try to be a bit more careful in the future.

          Your explanation shows that you did not intend to cast this aspersion on Ritter.

          •  IMO (only) (0+ / 0-)

            H*** and F***** have no place on this site, in quotes or otherwise, unless you're directly quoting someone (and then ripping them a new one for same, hopefully).


            "It's a lot of easier to throw grenades than it is to catch them." --Tim Russert

            by grndrush on Mon Feb 26, 2007 at 03:52:25 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •   Now that's consistency (0+ / 0-)

          An absurd comment, followed by an absurb question concerning the absurd comment.


          "It's a lot of easier to throw grenades than it is to catch them." --Tim Russert

          by grndrush on Mon Feb 26, 2007 at 03:49:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Show your superiority by answering my (0+ / 0-)

            question. The Noise Machine made short work of Ritter and we're all SO much better off.

            •  LMAO (0+ / 0-)

              > Show your superiority

              What 'superiority'?

              Well, come to think of it, if you can't answer your own question from my two posts above....


              "It's a lot of easier to throw grenades than it is to catch them." --Tim Russert

              by grndrush on Mon Feb 26, 2007 at 06:05:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Never mind. I wiki'd Ritter for the backstory. (0+ / 0-)
                •  Well, I'd assumed you did know the real story, (0+ / 0-)

                  and thanks for the tone of your response; however, that ISN'T the point.

                  I htought it was because he was a pedophile or a homo faggot

                  Your UID indicates you've been here a good while. I would think by now you'd understand that (a) this is a DEMOCRATIC web site, (b) that an important (the MOST important?) plank in the Dem's platform is equal rights (INCLUDING SEXUAL ORIENTATION), and that (c) hate-speech isn't acceptable here. That's not to say you have to accept all the planks in the Dem platform - who does? There are parts I don't agree with, either. I sometimes voice my dissenting views - but I try to do so in an appropriate fashion.

                  Casually tossing out words like "homo" and "faggot" isn't acceptable here, any more than tossing out the "n-word" or the "c-word". Indeed, it's not acceptable "on the street" where I live.

                  Your comment marked you as a homophobe (whether you are or not). If you are, so be it; it's a free country. However, the speech at dKos isn't quite that "free". In case you haven't noticed, the gay community is well-represented at dKos, and they are welcomed with OPEN arms. I'm not part of that community - but I do volunteer at an organization whose mission is to fight the stigma against HIV+/AIDS patients, and part of that means fighting prejudice against sexual orientation - like I'm attempting to do right now.

                  Thanks for the exchange. Seriously.


                  "It's a lot of easier to throw grenades than it is to catch them." --Tim Russert

                  by grndrush on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 08:44:32 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the vid. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I remember Larry Johnson quipping, in response to some elaborate 9/11 theorizing, that he doubted it "..because these guys just aren't that good." Also remember professional hairdo Paula Zahn and other 'experts' on CNN working to discredit Ritter's cautionary comments on Iraq, almost all of which turned out to be true.

    Did he address the speculation that, if scheduled for action against Iran, some of the military leadership might openly refuse, seeing it as presaging the destruction of a military already hobbled by Iraq?

    Slap it. Shoot it. Kaboot it.

    by adios on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 04:51:16 PM PST

    •  the question of general's refusal to.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      adios, MO Blue

      carry out the order to attack Iran never came up, although it would have been a great one.

      Personally, I think the time to resign is before such an order is given.  Refusal to carry out an order can have serious personal consequences, that I would expect few would accept.

      Those at the top would know what was comming well in advance of the actual order to go.  

  •  really worth a view! You got 10 min! (0+ / 0-)

    An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. (Woodrow Wilson)

    by Alter Ego Manifesto on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 04:58:27 PM PST

  •  I agree. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ctsteve, corvo, MO Blue

    Scott Ritter is one hell of a man. He should be giving talks to the Commonwealth Club and Congress rather than some library in bumfuck, AR.  
    The RW did a number on him just like they did on Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. It's a shame they don't believe their own bullshit. You know that line about how they "respect our right...blah, blah, blah".  Respect this ! you treasonous lying beotches.

    •  EXACTLY the point... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, corvo

      Why is this man not testifying in front of, um, Congress? Wasn't that the point of getting majorities back?  If you can only get a non-binding resolution through the House, and you can't even get that through the Senate, at least let Ritter get to address Congress and get some national airtime.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 05:21:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  bumfuck, AR---Please (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grndrush, corvo

      it was Escondidos California.  The district of Duke Cunningham, and now Brian Bilbray.

      He can be attacked by the right wing, but it won't stick, any more than against Murtha.  He was dead on right about the Iraqi WMDs.

      This makes him harder to ignore.

      But they will try.  It could just be that America is awaking from its long slumber

      Al least we can hope.

  •  I am hung up on the Ritter child sex scandal (2+ / 0-)

    so I did some more research.  I was already a Ritter fan when I first heard this rumor a few years ago.  Hoping that since then there might be more info that might could shed some light on the case, I Googled up "Scott Ritter child pornography" to see what would come up.

    Let me tell you wasn't much.  One interesting blog that mentions this is by our very own emptywheel.

    Other that that, the arrest was mentioned only by one reporter (Joe Mahoney) of the DailyNYNews.  Elsewhere, rightwing blogs claimed that Ritter confessed while others say he denied the crime.  One article said that the case was dismissed.  Another says it was settled out of court.

    Not surprisingly, the right wing reports wrote in a way that made it sound like Scott Ritter had confessed to the deed.  However, the only thing that Scott Ritter did do was confirm he had been arrested.  

    It seems to me that more news reporting circles would have grabbed onto this but they didn't.  Might be because, back in 2001, Scott Ritter wasn't a household name (still isn't but should be).

    Needless to say, unless we can actually see the record on this, my investigation leans in Ritter's favor.

    •  Glad to hear this report (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Actually the story was it was a teen, a bit less onorous than a younger child.

      I think if there were some real evidence, he would have been prosecuted.  But, the internet can have a strange distancing effect on people.  There is a sense of ir-reality, that could allow a conversation to go in ways that were not originally intended.

      He would be a natural for elected office.  He has the smarts, the easy personality, and the presence to overpower most candidates.  He reminds me of Webb in that respect.

      This event, or non event, may be one reason he chooses not to go down this path.

  •  MOLYBDENUM, BITCHES!!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Thanks for this Diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tikkun, grndrush

    I've been following Ritter's efforts since the Clinton Admin when he was a Weapons Inspector in Iraq. He spoke truth to power then and has only gotten better with age.

    •  In person he is even more human (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'll repeat this from upthread, since it says a lot about the guy:

      While he was autographing books with a long line of people who would have loved to share a few words with him, he had a long conversation going.   It wasn't with a politician, or someone in the media.  It was with a navy enlistee who was serving in the Iraq theatre and simply talking about his experiences to Scott.

      The guy is a natural.  It is from this that he draws his strength.  

  •  YouTube has more Scott Ritter videos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    including, of course, the one posted in this diary.
    They are here.

  •  Help stop another unnecessary war (0+ / 0-)

    We can't stop Bush and Cheney unless we get a huge grassroots movement going that includes virtually all Democrats as well as many Republicans and Idependents.  This is urgent, and much more important than debating which Presidential candidate is the best.  We can do that months from now.

    Wes Clark - "Nobody does it better."

    by what if on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 09:23:05 PM PST

  •  Thank you very much for this video (0+ / 0-)

    I've sent it to everyone I know! You rock!

    "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it." - Abe Lincoln

    by munky on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 11:21:49 PM PST

  •  In the run up to the Iraq debacle, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Scott Ritter appeared many times on TV talk shows voicing the fact that Saddam's WMD were a figment of the imagination.It fell on deaf ears.

  •  i will link to this from (0+ / 0-)

    thanks for this

    by eteraz on Mon Feb 26, 2007 at 06:57:59 PM PST

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