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Dynamite Scott Ritter at Barnes & Noble

Scott Ritter, the Weapons Inspector-turned-antiwar-activist Marine talked to a group of about 60 at the West Seattle Barnes & Noble. It was two days after his much larger audience at Town Hall. I was front row, a few feet away.

An employee of the store (self-described as a "soccer mom persona") told us she is a former weapons inspector also, a friend of Ritter's; he asked to appear at B&N at her request. The friend introduced him as a man of more integrity than anyone she knew. "If  Scott says it, you know it's the truth.."

The sheer strength of this man's personality and knowledge of the subject is hard to resist. If anyone disagrees with him, they better be able to back it up...

More below:

Ritter is righteously angry about the series of outrageous lies that led up to the Iraq invasion, and refuses to "get over it". He said: "I don't care about book sales--I don't care if you buy one copy and share it among yourselves." ("No-o-o!" whispered the store employee behind stacks of "Iraq Confidential".)

He reviewed some history between U.S. and Iraq; said the famous meeting between Rumsfeld and Saddam in the 80s (we've all seen the handshake photo) was when Rummy assured S. that the U.S. would not interfere if he used chemical or biological weapons.

Then a lot of technical details about how weapons inspection is accomplished, how the weapons components are traced to shipments and suppliers, how they might be disposed of or hidden by a secretive government. Ritter said a weapons inspector's job is to investigate, determine the facts, and report. Not to analyze or propose solutions.

Ritter asserts the Weapons Inspectors had a track record of impressive accuracy, and resents that they were portrayed as bumblers who couldn't do their job, so that politicians or CIA plants could deliberately distort or suppress facts and manipulate public opinion. He talked about the political purposes of the invasion that had nothing to do with WMD. (Sorry I can't remember more, but it was a huge amount of info to digest without taking plenty of notes. That's the purpose of the book, I suppose.)

Ritter mentioned 9-11 only once, briefly. Apparently he thinks all of this would've gone down even without 9-11.

He's infuriated by suggestions that staying the course is a way to honor the sacrifice of casualties. As if it will demoralize the troops to be told they're going home, instead of staying in that hellhole until "victory", or indefinitely, since the mission has never been defined.  

People ask how to withdraw from Iraq, he said. Send the troops home!--that's how. U.S. presence is the problem, not the solution. There is no way to "fix" the mess. We will see horrible things unfold after we leave and it's our fault, we must face it.

This makes me recall a recent Caucus prep by the 43rd district Dems. A "Withdrawl Resolution" was being drafted and re-drafted. The members were desperately trying to word it in such a way that retained some shred of integrity for the U.S. government. We should withdraw and "call for peace talks"...no, the U.S. has lost any credibility as a peace broker...we should call for peace talks to be facilitated by the U.N...should offer an incentive "dividend" when peace talks are begun...no, when peace agreement is reached...should pay reparations to innocent civilians who were harmed...should help rebuild infrastructure....It's fantasy, isn't it? None of those things will happen with the Bush administration in charge. And if they did propose any of those things, the deal would be rotten with corruption and dishonesty on both sides. If we achieve "regime change" in the U.S., even by impeachment--it'll be too late for a new Marshall plan. We can't revert to our archetypal (mythical?) role as the Good Guys.

Ritter: "People say I'm wrong because the attack-Iran operation I predicted last year hasn't happened. But it will, all the components are in place; it needs just the order of the President."

I am giving the impression that Ritter did nothing but rant. Actually he does have a sense of humor as well, and a sense of irony. There were a few smiles.

After an hour's rapid talk, Ritter took a half-hour of questions:

"Could you have done anything more to stop the Iraq invasion?" Answer: No. TV, radio, magazine, newspaper interviews, I've done them. Speak to Townhalls, I've done it. Write articles, I've written lots. Books, I've written four books.

"How much trouble are you in?" "How's the war connected to oil?" "How's it connected to racism?"

War is always about racism, he said. It's about killing, pure and simple. You must dehumanize your enemy in order to kill efficiently. This time it's sand jockeys, ragheads, hajis...

He said: "I say this as a longtime Republican who voted for George Bush in 2000. Vote Democrat! Vote Repubs out."

I asked: "What's your opinion of a Democratic senator who thinks regime change is a good idea, who says she has no regrets for her pro-IWR vote, who pretends we're spreading democracy, who for the most part refuses to address the subject, who's up for re-election this year?"

He said: "Without singling out any one of them...a politician who says they have no regrets, knowing what we now know, that they were lied to; who thinks we should stay the course...that person has forfeited your trust and your vote." (Applause)

As Ritter said: His forte is facts, truthtelling--not solution, analysis or nuance. We are left pondering that.

< Simple Dem Position on Immigration: Repugs Just Lie! | Mike Sells and John McCoy win one for Higher Ed >
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