Right now one of the big Rove Administration talking points is that “Everyone thought Saddam had WMD’s, not just Bush”. This nicely supplements the main point dutifully being trotted around: “This was an intelligence failure, and Bush is going to get to the bottom of it”.
However, before the war there was one guy who was quite vocal about his belief that Saddam did not have WMD’s: Scott Ritter. And as a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, Ritter was in a position to know what he was talking about. He was right, and almost everyone else was wrong. So where is he these days?
Well, he’s not on TV. According to Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler, Ritter has been seen on national broadcast media exactly three times in the last six months — and one of those times he was slimed by Gloria Borger. (My own Googling research turns up very little more since 2002). Meanwhile, the people who got us into this mess run from talk show to talk show and from interview to interview, explaining endlessly why it wasn’t their fault and how they were basically right all along. Rumsfeld or Condoleezzea can make three national TV appearances in one day.
So why is it that we don’t we see Ritter? Mostly because he was smeared. In January 2003 there was a leak of a story about a 2001 misdemeanor arrest for attempting (via the internet) to meet a minor for sexual purposes. The legal case was dropped and the records sealed — but this was enough to permanently discredit Ritter in the eyes of the media. Since then he’s been almost invisible: Ritter was disappeared.
The case shouldn’t have been in the news in the first place, since court records were sealed, and in any case the sex-scandal story (a misdemeanor with the charges dropped) was never seen again after February 2003. But after the story came out, Ritter (the one guy who apparently knew what was going on in Iraq) got considerable ink in the foreign-language and British press, but almost no attention in the U.S.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Sidney Blumenthal and Greg Palast can’t get published in the American daily media either, and they aren’t even kinky. You don’t want to go overboard about this, but the controlled media we have now should bother everyone. What we’re seeing goes far beyond the traditional domination of the media by centrist points of view, and approaches the situation to be found in one-party states.
Moniker pointed out in the comments that many people worldwide doubted Saddam’s WMD. That’s correct, and I should have made it clear that what I was talking about was an engineered American unanimity. I will write more on this soon.
SECOND UPDATE Col. David Hackworth has proposed that Ritter be nominated to the MWD probe commission. Makes perfect sense, but somehow you doubt that it will happen.
P.S. I never did tell you whether Ritter was guilty or not, did I? The answer is, I don’t know, and almost no one else does either. The normal presumption when charges are dropped on a misdemeanor case is that there wasn’t much there in the first place. The few facts we have are consistent with a frameup, entrapment, or blackmail, though these are not the only possible explanations. And of course, if it was blackmail, then apparently Ritter did something un-nice — even if it was also unprosecutable.
The real point is that Ritter was right when almost everyone else was wrong, and that the media have been ignoring him since February 2003.
LINKS: I have parked links to this story here. I have also added links to stories about the movie Ritter made in 2001 (before 9/11) with funding from an Iraqi businessmen. The film has also been used to discredit Ritter, but I think that the case against him is weak.
While checking up on the film story, I did find that Ritter is sort of an oaf, with rather odd mannerisms, and thus not the best spokesman for his case. Or at least, that’s how slick media people feel about him.