Jared Israel on 'How the Lies of Scott Ritter
the Strategic Goals of the Bizarre Iraq War' - - Part 2
Subscribe to Emperor's Clothes
Please send this
the link to a friend.
Have you seen the Emperor's Clothes
It proves the
Western media lied about Bosnia!
Learn more about 'JUDGMENT!' here.
With Internet Explorer, Best Viewed With Medium Text Size
Transcript of Scott Ritter's September 3, 1998 Senate testimony
This transcript includes
text quoted in Part 2 of our
series on Scott Ritter, the part entitled "The Source of the Claim
that Iraq had Nuclear Weapons was... Scott Ritter," and posted at
[Posted 13 May 2004]
[ www.tenc.net ]
DCH Political Transcripts; September 3, 1998, Thursday; Type: Committee Hearing; Length: 23791 Words; Committee: Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Headline: Holds Hearing With The Senate Armed Services Committee On U.S. Policy Regarding Un Weapons Inspections Of Iraq; Location: Washington, D.C.; Senate Committees On Armed Services And Foreign Affairs Hold Joint Hearing On U.S. Policy Regarding Un Inspections Of Suspected Iraqi Chemical Weapons Sites September 3, 1998
SEN. THURMOND: (Gavel.) The committees will come to order.
I am pleased to open today's joint hearing of the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations on U.S. policy regarding Iraq weapons inspections. Let me first welcome my fellow chairman, Senator Lugar, who is filling in for Chairman Helms, who unfortunately could not attend today, and all of our colleagues from the Committee on Foreign Relations to this hearing. I expect we'll be able to gain valuable lights and insights on this important national security and foreign relations policy issue.
I also want to welcome our witness, Major Scott Ritter, former chief of the concealment and investigation unit, United Nations Special Commission on Iraq.
The basis for all our problems on this matter has not changed. Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein wants to retain chemical and biological weapons so that he can use them to menace or attack his neighbors and even Iraqi citizens who oppose him. Saddam, a pathological killer, wants these weapons so badly that he has been willing to let the Iraqi people anguish under economic sanctions for seven years.
The Armed Services Committee is very concerned about our military objectives in the Persian Gulf and the status of our military forces who have been deployed in this region for an extended period of time. The effect of such deployments on readiness and morale is significant. Saddam Hussein has craftily played provocative brinksmanship for several years, causing the U.S. to constantly react, incurring large expenditures for force deployments to the Gulf. Even with the recent withdraw and drawdown of deployed forces, the United States still maintains almost 20,000 military personnel in the Persian Gulf area.
My concern over the use of U.S. forces is directly linked to our foreign policy in this area. It has been my understanding that U.S. policy has supported the inspections by UNSCOM and that we were prepared to back that policy with force if necessary.
I believe that such a policy is critical to our leadership on the Security Council of the United Nations and essential to the effectiveness of UNSCOM.
Curbing Haddam Sussein's (sic) blatant behavior is now linked to a U.N. agreement and resolution which threatens very severe consequences if Iraq obstructs inspection of suspected military installations. Recent news reports indicating that U.S. resolve may have weakened has caused concern in the Congress.
On April the 6th the president submitted a report to Congress which clearly stated that a diplomatic solution has been tried. The administration's alternative was a memorandum of understanding. However, Iraq has not been held accountable on this agreement that they have signed with the secretary-general and which was endorsed by the Security Council in its Resolution 1154. The U.S. had warned Iraq that compliance on this agreement would invoke the severest consequences. However, recent press reports indicate that U.S. officials may have discouraged UNSCOM from conducting necessary inspections where the intelligence indicating the need for such inspections is difficult to obtain and highly perishable.
The U.S. has just taken direct action against Afghanistan and the Sudan, where we recognized a threat to our nation and the international community. This is commendable.
However, Iraq continues to refuse to cooperate with the U.N. mandate which requires that it reveal and destroy weapons of mass destruction similar to those Osama bin Laden was producing in the Sudan. Why has the United States decided to act against bin Laden and not against Iraq, which represents a direct to our national interests and the Gulf region? At a time when United Nations weapons inspectors say they are closing in on hiding places where Saddam has established his deadly viruses and nerve gases, the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. government cannot enforce an inspection's (sic) right to inspect. If Saddam will not let the United Nations weapons inspectors resume their inspections, then the U.S. must exert its leadership in the Security Council and, along with our allies, take military action to exact severe consequences for Saddam's refusal.
SFRC-SASC-RITTER-IRAQ PAGE 4 09/03/98
Experience of the past seven years shows that the threat or use of force against Iraq has in effect been effective in achieving a variety of objectives. It is incorrect to state that the use of the military option has been ineffective or to imply that its past approach failed because it placed insufficient emphasis on diplomacy. Force and diplomacy are two sides of the same coin. The so-called diplomatic option alone is not a viable long-term approach. Its adoption by the administration marginalizes UNSCOM, weakens the policy of containing Iraq, and invites further challenges by an emboldened Saddam, setting the stage for further confrontation with Iraq.
The United States is again in the odd position of bargaining with a tyrant and war criminal who is dodging long-overdue compliance with lies and empty promises. I am pleased that Major Ritter has consented to appear before our committees to give us his views on this important matter.
Major Ritter served with the U.S. Marine Corps as an intelligence officer in the gulf war. He has been on the UNSCOM inspection team since 1991. He is known to have been a tough, demanding inspector. He has indicated that he has chosen to resign from UNSCOM because he felt that the United States and the U.N. Security Council were not providing adequate support to UNSCOM. Saddam Hussein had reason to fear Major Ritter's expertise and perseverance and continually tried to have him removed from the UNSCOM and Iraq. I regret that he is no longer an UNSCOM inspector. I felt better knowing that he was on the job. I know all of us are looking forward to hearing from this dedicated American.
As the combined membership of our committees totals up to 36 members, it would be a challenge to conduct these hearings in a manner that ensures that each and every member is afforded the opportunity to be recognized. Therefore I will diligently enforce the five minute rule.
I urge the cooperation of all members in closely adhering to this limit in order to accommodate as many members' questions as possible.
I will recognize the acting chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the ranking members of each committee, for five minutes for opening statements, which I also must strictly enforce. Then following Major Ritter's statement, each senator will be allowed five minutes for questions.
Let me now recognize Senator Lugar, the acting chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, for any opening remarks he might like to make. Senator?
SEN. RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
This hearing affords both our committees an excellent opportunity to review international efforts and specifically our United States's role and policy to stop Iraqi programs involving weapons of mass destruction.
For more than seven years, we have been engaged in an international effort to prohibit Iraq from producing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and the missile capability to deliver them. It has been an unprecedented collaborative effort to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Success or failure will set a precedent. The outcome is critically important to the security interest of all countries.
During these seven years, Saddam Hussein has dodged, weaved and deceived the world community in order to limit and to avoid international monitoring and inspections of Iraq's weapons facilities. He has repeatedly grabbed the initiative and forced international inspectors in UNSCOM to respond.
Last fall, Saddam Hussein dramatically broke off cooperation with international inspectors, expelled U.S. UNSCOM inspectors and provoked a protracted confrontation, which resulted in the threatened use of military force to compel Iraqi compliance with the U.N. resolutions. That crisis was resolved in February through the intervention of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. This threat of force at that time gave credibility to international diplomatic efforts and made the Annan agreement possible. The administration accepted the Annan agreement but threatened, quote, "the severest consequences," end of quote, if Iraq failed to comply with the agreement. That threat of force is essential and must remain. The use of force must be a credibly viable option. The Annan agreement came unglued last month when Iraq again ceased cooperating with UNSCOM. UNSCOM has not been able to carry out its mission since early August. We are again at a serious crisis point with Iraq. No one appears to be quarterbacking a game plan in which intrusive inspections continue and produce results.
We have noted for some time that international apathy has been creeping into enforcement of the inspection regime in Iraq. There appears to be a steady erosion of international will within the U.N. Security Council, the United Nations, and among regional states who should have the most to fear from a resurgent Iraq armed with weapons of mass destruction.
These divisions in the coalition against Iraq may have encouraged Saddam to defy U.N. resolutions and interfere again with U.N. monitoring and inspection missions. The United States has been the most insistent country on the right to inspect Iraqi facilities anytime and anywhere and to destroy those materials and weapons proscribed in U.N. resolutions. We have, over the years, fought against pressures to compromise and against the weakening of international resolve to compel Iraqi compliance. Without U.S. vigilance and determination in the face of international apathy and fatigue, Iraq would resume developing weapons of mass destruction, threatening its neighbors and destabilizing an already precarious situation in the Gulf.
Now we face a new situation in which frequent press reports allege that U.S. leadership is slipping and that we are backing off surprise searches of suspected Iraqi weapons sites. The Washington Post reported last month that the United States had discouraged some aggressive challenge inspections since last fall, even as we were threatening the use of force against Iraq.
The administration has denied these allegations of interference and argued the overall context of activities must be more carefully considered. Our witness today resigned in the wake of these charges of inspection interference and is before this joint committee to express his thoughts about United States and U.S. policy toward Iraq.
Let me say before listening to Scott Ritter's testimony that U.S. policy and behavior towards Iraq must be unwavering and unrelenting. We must stop weapons of mass destruction from being produced in Iraq. We must insist on comprehensive inspections and unconditional access to enforce the assurances on compliance given by Iraq at the end of the Gulf War. We fought and led the international coalition against Iraq in Desert Storm war to ensure that victory would lead to an international effort to rid Iraq of all stocks and materials supporting weapons production.
We must be insistent on this. There must be no exceptions, no waffling, no seepage in our determination and our leadership. If there is Iraqi noncompliance and Iraqi noncooperation, we ought to no just threaten force, we should employ it. We should consider doing so with or without international cooperation. The stakes involved are not trivial.
I look forward to hearing Mr. Ritter's testimony.
I think you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: I now recognize Senator Levin, the ranking minority member of the Committee on Armed Services, for any opening remarks he would like to make.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And the subject of U.S. policy regarding U.N. inspections of Iraqi sites is a very important one, and it's appropriate indeed that our two committees should hear from today's witness.
I understand that our two committees are going to have an opportunity to hear from Secretary of State Albright and Secretary of Defense Cohen next week on the subject.
Mr. Ritter, let me add my welcome to you to this committee. I want to thank you for you work in your recent capacity as chief of a United Nations special commission, UNSCOM, team carrying out inspections of Iraq suspect sites.
On March 2nd of this year, I visited with UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler in his office at U.N. headquarters in New York concerning UNSCOM's inspections relating to Iraq's weapons-of-mass- destruction programs and their means of delivery. That visit eventually led to Chairman Butler's trip to Washington for a classified briefing for all senators on UNSCOM's efforts. That briefing, which was attended by almost all members of the Senate, gave us all a real appreciation for the work that Mr. Ritter and the other members of UNSCOM had been performing for the last seven years.
I believe, and I surely hope, that we all agree on the goal of getting Iraq to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the destruction of Iraq's weapons-of-mass- destruction programs and any means to deliver them. I don't know how anybody could disagree with that goal. It must be and remain a goal of the United States until it is accomplished. Now there have been differences as to how to achieve that goal. Last January and February, when the administration was preparing to carry out military strikes against Iraq in response to Iraq's refusal to permit UNSCOM inspections, there were differences of views within the Senate about the use of force.
And I'm sure there are differences today. The town meeting at Ohio University with Secretaries Albright, Cohen and National Security Adviser Berger reflected a variety of views among the American people as well.
For example, these are some of the questions which need to be faced from a policy perspective:
If Saddam Hussein does not back down to another threat of military strikes and the assembling of U.S. forces as he did in February, are we prepared to follow through?
Would military strikes achieve our objective? Or would they galvanize sympathy for the plight of the Iraqi people under the yoke of Saddam Hussein?
If military strikes did not achieve our objective, would it be desirable to use U.S. air and ground forces to remove Saddam Hussein from power to achieve the objective?
And perhaps the key question of all: If I introduced a resolution this afternoon to authorize the president to use all necessary and appropriate force to compel Iraqi compliance with U.N. resolutions, how many senators would be willing to support it? Would a majority of the Senate do something which they were unwilling to do a few months ago, which was to support that kind of a use of force by the President of the United States to compel Iraqi compliance with U.N. resolutions? Last January and February the Senate was unable to reach agreement on the appropriate wording of a resolution supporting the use of U.S. military force against Iraq to compel compliance with U.N. resolutions. I don't know if that has changed today. I would hope it would. But I do not know, and I have real questions as to whether or not a majority would, indeed, support such a resolution.
Now, complicating the matter are the issues as to whether we could obtain international support for the use of force, and if not, whether or not we should act unilaterally, and, of course, what the impact of the use of force would have on other important American objectives.
Those are some of the complicated issues that merit consideration. I hope this and subsequent hearings with representatives of the administration will help us address them.
But in any event, I want to add my voice of welcome, and I think every member of this committee would and will add their voice of welcome to you, Mr. Ritter, look forward to your testimony, and thank you for your endeavors to try to accomplish these very critically important inspections.
SEN. THURMOND: Finally, let me recognize Senator Biden, the ranking minority member on the Committee of Foreign Relations, for any opening statement he would like to make.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am not objecting, but I wish we could have had this hearing at a time when the secretary of state and the secretary of defense were sitting with you. But we'll have a chance to do that next week.
Let me begin by saying I think, Major, you've provided -- have provided and are providing -- a very, very, very valuable service to your country by coming forward as you have, because, quite frankly, I think what you've done is you've forced us to come to our milk here -- all of us in the United States Congress. You've forced us to face up to a very, very, very basic conflict. And it's a policy decision, a policy judgment that ultimately the administration has to make and we have to make as well, whether we agree or disagree with them, and hopefully come forward and state it.
You have clearly stated, from what I've read and I expect to hear today, two of the most likely options available to us in terms of policy. One -- and I hope that at the end of the day -- not literally this day, but the end of the debate and the political gain and loss that falls out from your appearance and the things you've raised -- I hope at the end of the day we end up taking a stand, an unequivocal stand -- we in the Congress, we in the Senate in particular. And I hope we won't shrink from the choices that you've basically presented to us.
You've stated very clearly that your view -- your view in several ways, as I read your statements in the past and your written letter. You say the illusion of arms control is more dangerous than arms control at all -- a view shared by a significant number of very prominent Americans serving in and out of the Congress, implication being what we have now is the illusion of arms control. And I -- it's hard to deny that that would be a reasonable characterization.
You've also stated, and I quote, that "the decision to seek diplomatic alternatives to inspection-driven confrontation with Iraq," end of quote, was one of the reasons why you stepped down.
A very clear, precise statement that this notion of inspection-driven confrontations with Iraq was an alternative that was shelved by the Security Council, shelved by the United States at this moment, and diplomacy was, of course, sought and obviously you disagree with that, as many, many experts do.
And also, although this is not a quote, you have stated that you believe Iraq and Saddam have made a very basic decision, that they can absorb the kind of air power we threw against them the last time and it's a price worth paying to be able to maintain, at a minimum, a modicum; at a maximum, a significant portion, of their program related to weapons of mass destruction and the ability to use them.
The alternative view, the alternative view, seems to be -- and I'm not getting this in the administration; we'll hear whether this is correct -- seems to be that policy is, the primary policy is, to keep sanctions in place; to deny Saddam the billions of dollars that would allow him to really crank up, really crank up his program which neither you or I believe he is ever going to abandon as long as he is in place.
But that doesn't guarantee, if these sanctions are in place, that the program is going to be curtailed. Anything other than curtailed doesn't guarantee that we're going to be able to stop it. I think you and I believe and many of us believe here as long as Saddam's at the helm there is no reasonable prospect you or any other inspector is ever going to be able to guarantee that we have rooted out, root and branch, the entirety of Saddam's program relative to weapons of mass destruction.
And you and I both know and all of us here really know, and it's a thing we have to face, that the only way, the only way we're going to get rid of Saddam Hussein is we're going to end up having to start it alone -- start it alone -- and it's going to require guys like you in uniform to be back on foot in the desert taking this son of a -- the -- taking Saddam down. (Laughter.) You know it and I know it.
So I think we should not kid ourselves here. They're stark, stark choices. I happen to agree with your assessment: A, that diplomacy was picked over inspection-driven confrontation; B, that there's an illusion of arms control that cannot guarantee he will have no system of -- no weapons of mass destruction; and C, that as long as he's there, he's concluded he can absorb air strikes. So I think you've done a significant service for this country; a different policy judgment has been made. If we don't like the policy judgment -- in my view, from observation that's been made by the administration, and the Security Council and our allies -- if we don't like it, we should step up to the ball and say it, because you forced us and I think properly so, to a day of reckoning here about what our policy should be.
I look forward to hearing what you have to say. And welcome, even without the secretary of State and the secretary of Defense.
SEN. THURMOND: Major Ritter, I understand that you have an opening statement. Please proceed.
MR. RITTER: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee; last week I resigned my position with UNSCOM out of frustration because the United Nations Security Council, and the United States as its most significant supporter, was failing to enforce the post-Gulf War resolutions designed to disarm Iraq.
I can speak to you today from firsthand experience about the effectiveness of American policy or lack thereof, with respect to the United Nations's effort to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. I sincerely hope that my actions might help to change things.
It was very sad to hear the secretary of State on Tuesday night giving an interview from Moscow challenging my credentials. She told the world through CNN that Scott Ritter doesn't have a clue about what our overall policy has been, that we are the foremost supporters of UNSCOM.
I do have a clue, in fact several, all of which indicate that our government has clearly expressed its policy in one way and then acted in another.
Such clues include various statements by the secretary of State, a report to Congress on 6 April by the president of the United States and several statements made to me and to other UNSCOM officials at a variety of inter-agency briefings held at the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House.
If these were the only clues, the administration's record would be impressive. However, I can say without fear of contradiction and with the confidence that most of my former colleagues agree with me that those clues derive from the practical experience obtained on the ground in Iraq and behind the scenes at the United Nations tell another story: that the United States has undermined UNSCOM's efforts through interference and manipulation, usually coming from the highest levels of the administration's national security team, to include the secretary of State herself.
Iraq today is not disarmed, and remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and to world peace. Those American who think that this is important and that something should be done about it have to be deeply disappointed in our leadership.
I'm here today to provide you with specific details about the scope and nature of interference by this administration in UNSCOM, the debilitating effect that such interference has on the ability of UNSCOM to carry out its disarmament mission in Iraq and to appeal to the administration and to the Senate to work together to change America's Iraq policy back to what has been stated in the past: full compliance with the provisions of Security Council resolutions, to include enabling UNSCOM to carry out its mission of disarmament in an unrestricted, unhindered fashion.
Only through the reestablishment of such a policy, clearly stated and resolutely acted upon, does the United States have a chance of resuming its leadership role in overseeing the effective and verifiable disarmament of Iraq so that neither we nor Iraq's neighbors in the Middle East will be threatened by Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering such weapons.
Within the confines of the need to protect the sources and methods used by the special commission to gather relevant information, I am prepared to give you whatever details I can so you will understand why I gave up such an interesting, challenging and meaningful position in which I had hoped to have the chance to contribution to making the world a little safer. Thank you.
SEN. THURMOND: We'll now have five-minute rounds by the different senators. I will now take my five minutes.
Major Ritter, in what specific ways, to your knowledge, did United States or United Nations officials discourage any of your challenges or challenge inspections?
MR. RITTER: The United States has -- first of all, let me start by saying that the United States has been the foremost supporter of the Special Commission and as such has been the nation which has encouraged the Special Commission in setting forth on missions of discovery in Iraq to expose Iraq's retained capabilities. Having established such a policy, however, the United States has on repeated occasions put pressure on the executive chairman of the Special Commission and put pressure on member states of the Security Council to withhold support and to encourage the executive chairman to stop, postpone or cancel inspections of discovery inside Iraq.
SEN. THURMOND: Major Ritter, in several press accounts you alluded to possible discoveries not made because of U.S. intervention. What do you believe you were on the verge of discovering in Iraq?
MR. RITTER: Mr. Chairman, my job as the chief of the Concealment and Investigations Unit with the Special Commission was to expose the mechanisms used by Iraq to hide their retained weapons capabilities from discovery by United Nations weapons inspection teams. Therefore, my job was to expose this concealment mechanism, break through this concealment mechanism, and get to the retained capability. So the discoveries that the team that I was in charge of and the Special Commission as a whole were on the verge of making and, indeed, have made in the past include defining with certainty what this concealment mechanism was and closing in on the materials that this concealment mechanism were (sic) retaining.
SEN. THURMOND: Major Ritter, despite Iraq's refusal to allow the conduct of inspections to -- on at least 25 occasions and, more recently, in 1997 and '98, little progress has been achieved in ending Iraq's WMD program, according to the April 1999 (sic) report of the U.N. Special Commission.
However, I understand that the International Atomic Energy Agency gave Iraq a clean bill of health on this nuclear missile program in its April 1998 report.
In your opinion, has Iraq ended its nuclear missile program? And second, why are the U.N. and the IAEA at odds on this matter?
MR. RITTER: Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, I cannot speak on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Nuclear disarmament issues in Iraq are their purview. But what I can say is that we have clear evidence that Iraq is retaining prohibited weapons capabilities in the fields of chemical, biological and ballistic- missile delivery systems of a range of greater than 150 kilometers. And if Iraq has undertaken a concerted effort run at the highest levels inside Iraq to retain these capabilities, then I see no reason why they would not exercise the same sort of concealment efforts for their nuclear programs.
SEN. THURMOND: And, Major Ritter, you have been highly critical of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for being sympathetic to Iraqi grievances. On what information are your criticisms based? Do you believe that Mr. Annan is working in good faith to help achieve a full and complete accounting of Iraq's WMD programs?
MR. RITTER: Mr. Chairman, the secretary-general is a man of peace, a man responsible for providing leadership to the United Nations Secretariat and to the United Nations as a whole. It's a very important task. However, his task does not include managing the work of an organ of the Security Council, the special commission, which was established by the Security Council to carry out the resolutions of the Security Council. I believe that it is inappropriate for the secretary-general, who does not understand the nature of the work of the special commission, to be involved in managing the work of the special commission.
SEN. THURMOND: Major Ritter, this administration, citing its support for UNSCOM, points to your inspections of presidential sites in the immediate wake of Saddam-Annan agreement. Do you believe this is a fair statement?
MR. RITTER: Could you repeat that question, sir?
SEN. THURMOND: The administration, citing its support for UNSCOM, points to you inspections of presidential sites in the immediate wake of the Saddam-Annan agreement. The question is, "Do you believe this is a fair statement?"
MR. RITTER: Mr. Chairman, the inspections of presidential sites in Iraq were a farce from the beginning and actually represented one of the setbacks of the special commission. It is part of a continuing cycle of confrontation with Iraq in which Iraq gets concessions from the world body, to include the United States and the Security Council.
In the case of presidential sites -- the presidential site issue -- Iraq is the one who shaped the issue of presidential sites. The Special Commission never had intentions of inspecting presidential palaces; we never wanted to. Iraq defined this problem; the United States and the Security Council embraced this problem, and as a result of the Kofi Annan memorandum of understanding of 23 February, we now have a new category of sites, presidential sites, which require a new structure, the special group, which, through the complexity of this structure, prohibits in a de facto way the Special Commission from being able to carry out no-notice inspections of large areas of Iraq, to include areas where we know material related to Iraq's past proscribed programs are.
So, I don't believe that the U.S. support of presidential site inspections has furthered the work of the Commission. In fact, I believe it's done harm to the work of the Commission.
SEN. THURMOND: My time is up. Senator Lugar?
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Ritter, in your letter of resignation you stated, "The issue of immediate, unrestricted access is, in my opinion, the cornerstone of any viable inspection regime and as such is an issue worth fighting for. Unfortunately, others do not share this opinion, including the Security Council and the United States." End of quote.
Now, in response to Senator Thurmond, you've already illuminated this somewhat by indicating, as I hear you, that the Kofi Annan regime that was brokered last year does not give you unrestricted access to sites. In other words, you have described sites that are clearly off the reservation, is that a fair interpretation of your comments?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. Paragraph four of the memorandum of understanding establishes a new category of sites, the presidential sites, where there's a new regime of inspection that applies restrictions to our ability to do our work, yes, sir.
SEN. LUGAR: Why did the United States agree to this? In other words, if, in fact, our objective was, as you've suggested, unrestricted access, clearly we cannot obtain this. During the last few months that has not been an option for you, apparently.
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. Again, I believe that the February agreement is part of a cycle of activity which has started earlier -- much earlier -- in fact, the summer of 1996, in which Iraq provokes a confrontation with weapons inspectors, knowing that there will not be consensus for decisive action in the Security Council and as a result gets a concession from the Security Council.
What happened in February is such a concession. Why the United States supports this is that they, I believe they are understanding that it's difficult to put together a coalition, and they want to keep the inspection process moving forward.
However, they're in a situation where by saving the inspection process they are destroying the inspection process. And this is one reason why I felt the need to resign; I would not be part of a destruction of something of this nature.
SEN. LUGAR: So as Senator Biden has analyzed it, essentially we are in a situation, whether we've described it or articulated it to the public or not, that we're hopeful of keeping a Security Council majority, and certainly the big five, to keep a regime of sanctions on Iraq so that Iraq would not obtain the income really for truly explosive or dynamic developments. In our own way, although we've not articulated this, we've been willing to leave things at a dull roar in terms of whatever is going on in the hopes of staving off, through international cooperation, something that would be more explosive.
Is that a reasonable policy? Now granted, we'll find out when we talk to Secretary Albright whether that is the policy, but we're attempting to try to formulate what we are doing in the United States because it's not clear to the public at all what we are doing. But it may be that we've come to a conclusion that this is about the best we can do, and if so, maybe credit should be given to those that are constraining it. But what is your own view, as somebody on the ground and as privy to these meetings you've described in the White House, Defense Department, and what have you.
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir, one of my frustrations is that the Special Commission has been handed what indeed is a good task -- to rid the world of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. And the Security Council, in passing its resolution under Chapter 7, said that is was an enforceable task. The Special Commission has worked closely with member states of the United Nations, to include the United States, on defining methodologies and tactics and inspection approaches towards disarming Iraq. And as recently as May 1997, the United States embraced our -- the Special Commission's -- concepts on how to approach the concealment effort. That's what makes this so frustrating is because this cooperation, this coordination was clearly reflected in the 6 April report by the president of the United States to Congress. And we believed that after the Kofi Annan agreement, despite the restrictions placed upon us, that we would be allowed to get forward with our mission of disarmament. That was the stated policy of the United States.
However, following the president's report, by mid-April the red light had been given the Special Commission by the United States saying that we will not condone inspections of discovery -- meaning the kind of inspections that I was charged with executing in Iraq -- which would lead to confrontation.
We would not support confrontation with Iraq over the right of inspections for the purpose of gaining access to sites.
Mr. -- this is what this is all about. We are an inspection organization. We need to conduct inspections to find these weapons, and if you stop us from doing our job, what does that say? Iraq is allowed to have these weapons? It's a very frustrating experience.
SEN. LUGAR: My last question is on this confrontation situation. If that has in fact been the administration's hope -- to avoid confrontation and to keep the Security Council going -- confrontation means military action. It means coming up against once again the hard issues that senators have talked about today. I do not agree that we would have taken a position other than confrontation in the last go- around. And -- but that's for each one of us to count the votes as to where they were.
I would say that if that is what you are saying, however, you are, as -- Senator Biden once again has pointed to the fact that hard issues are here; that is, to what extent is the American public, through its armed forces, through its representatives, prepared really to be credible? To the extent that we are not credible, it appears that we are in for a long siege, and we will not have very many inspections. And at the margin, we will have seepage with regard to the Iraqi policy.
In your own inspections out there, what was the feeling of the inspection team as to where the Congress stood, where the public stood? In other words, did you have a feeling that you were operating as Lone Rangers out there, without the backing of people? Or was it your judgment that essentially we were credible, in a military sense, with Kofi Annan himself saying there would have been no diplomacy without the credibility of United States' military power?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir, the weapons inspection teams, to include the one that I was in charge of -- we don't base our decisions to do inspections upon the internal domestic policies of any member state of the United Nations. Our job is clearly set forth in Security Council resolutions -- to disarm Iraq through the process of inspection.
However, I can say that in my role as chief of this investigation team -- and I had very detailed coordination with the members of -- with administration people in the United States government, which established that they did clearly want us to carry out these missions of discovery, knowing full well that because these missions of discovery went to the concealment mechanism -- the concealment mechanism which is operated by the president of Iraq's own personal security forces -- that these had inherent friction, which would inevitably lead to confrontation. We were told that this is a good thing to do, we agree with the Special Commission's methodologies; go forth.
And yet when we tried to go forth, especially since April, we have been constrained. We have been directly told, "Do not do these inspections."
So, on the one hand, we felt that there was -- especially immediately after the memorandum of understanding -- implicit support on the part of the United States for us carrying out these tasks. But actions speak louder than words, and since April we have not been allowed to do these tasks, largely because of pressure placed upon the Special Commission by administration officials.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Levin?
SEN. LEVIN: The confrontation which was going to occur, in order to be successfully resolved, would have to be backed up by the use of force on our part. Would you agree with that?
MR. RITTER: The issue of enforcing Security Council resolutions belongs to the Security Council and its collective member states. I am a weapons inspector. I have been tasked with carrying out Security Council resolutions which call for the disarmament of Iraq. The Security Council has established the law. We have been told to implement the law. And if blocked, the Security Council has promised to enforce the law. How they choose to enforce it is their business. What I am saying today is we are being blocked from doing our job.
SEN. LEVIN: Yeah, but would you agree that it's important that if there's a threat of force, that that force be implemented and not just made and then ignored? If you're going to make a threat of force to enforce a policy, you darn well better carry out that threat if you are thwarted. Would you agree with that?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. This is part of the cycle of confrontation and concession that I have been talking about, and we can't give concessions. If we have confrontation, it must have a resolution.
SEN. LEVIN: Yeah. Okay, and that means then if your threat of force is credible, it's got to be implementable, and there's got to be a will to use force if necessary once that threat is made. Now that's where we are. That's where we were when the Senate was looking at a resolution to see if we could support the use of force to implement that kind of a threat. But it's better not to make a threat if you're not going to carry it out than it is to make a threat and ignore it, 'cause you're really worse off if you make a threat and then not follow through with that threat. Would you agree with that?
MR. RITTER: Senator, the threat was made back in April 1991.
SEN. LEVIN: No, I mean threat of force.
MR. RITTER: The threat of force was made back in April 1991 when the Security Council together with the vote and pushing and backing of the United States passed the original cease-fire resolution. I don't see anything that would have caused the law to be altered. Iraq has not been disarmed. I would assume that that threat of force still exists today.
SEN. LEVIN: Would you agree though that it needs to be -- it has to be credible if you're going to succeed?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. LEVIN: Okay.
Now, during the -- Mr. Butler, who's the UNSCOM chairman, was asked about pressure to hold off on surprise inspections of Iraqi facilities. And this is what he was quoted. This was after you resigned. This is his quote, and I want to you whether you disagree with his statement. Chairman Butler said, quote, "I have never felt that the pressure that the representation of those views would be described as undue pressure or persuasion.
Above all, I have never found that they cross the line between their legitimate interest in policy and my unique responsibility for operational decisions. Never." Now, that's an exact quote from Chairman Butler. Do you disagree with him on that point?
MR. RITTER: The executive chairman is a fantastic person, a man of honor, and a man who has one of the most difficult jobs one could -- you could imagine. He has to not only confront Iraq on issues of disarmament, but he also has to coordinate with a divided, a fractured Security Council. He works for the Security Council, which means he works for the collective body of the Security Council and he comes under extreme pressures from the permanent members of the Security Council. I would say you need to take a careful look at what the executive chairman is saying and read between the lines, because what he's saying is very disturbing, indeed.
The fact of the matter is the United States, as the single most significant supporter of the Special Commission, carries a lot of weight when it makes a phone call to the executive chairman. We cannot do our job without the backing of the United States. And what has happened is that the United States, A, gave us a green light to carry out these inspections and then, through sleights of hand, by expressing their legitimate concerns to the executive chairman, sought to have another result -- that is, stopping these inspections.
The executive chairman cannot say publicly that there is undue pressure, but I am here to tell you today that he felt this pressure and the pressure was real.
SEN. LEVIN: But just in terms of his public statement, then, putting aside what you say his real beliefs are, just in terms of what he said publicly, do you disagree with that public statement of Chairman Butler?
MR. RITTER: What I can say is that I was one of the executive chairman's close advisors. The closest, when it came to the issue of confrontational, concealment-related inspections, and I know the executive chairman's personal feelings and I know the pressures that he's been placed under, and I would say that that's why I would interpret these words in a different manner.
SEN. LEVIN: So that, you don't believe these really reflect his views?
MR. RITTER: No, sir, I do not.
SEN. LEVIN: My time is up. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Biden?
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I envy your position. I sincerely do. I envy the ability to have such clarity on this issue. Let me ask you a question, do you think you should be the one to be able to decide when to pull the trigger?
MR. RITTER: No, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: Isn't that what this is about? If you adopt the position that any time you are denied, your -- and there's four groups out there, of inspectors -- your -- the group you headed -- anytime you were denied, that that ipso facto requires the United States and the Security Council to act on what they said they would do, which is to use whatever means necessary to take on Saddam Hussein so you can get into that particular facility.
Is that not correct? Is that not your position?
MR. RITTER: Mr. Senator, I have a job to do -- or I had a job to do, and that was to disarm Iraq in accordance with the provisions of --
SEN. BIDEN: No, I got that.
MR. RITTER: -- (inaudible) -- resolutions.
SEN. BIDEN: With all due respect, if you -- I am not trying to be confrontational.
MR. RITTER: Okay.
SEN. BIDEN: I am trying to get this as clear as I can. I really mean this now. You have an absolute logic; you put together a very tight syllogism here. You have indicated that your job is to disarm. The only way you can disarm is to have access. And the only way you can have access is either with permission on the part of Iraq, or if denied, forced access. Right?
MR. RITTER: Compelled access, yes.
SEN. BIDEN: "Compelled." Well, okay, compelled. You sound like the lawyer, and I sound like the military guy. (Chuckles.) I mean, you know, compelled where I come from -- when my old man said, "You're compelled," it meant "I was forced." I mean, it was a real simple proposition. It wasn't -- you know, there wasn't much to debate.
Now there is a clear logic to that, and that's what I mean when I say I respect your position. But that means that whenever your choose a target that warrants inspection and you are denied, that ipso facto at that moment the only way your position can be satisfied or sustained is if the U.N. Security Council, or the United States acting unilaterally, uses force to guarantee access. Is not that true?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: Now that means that you get to choose the time and place when we would use force if we you force.
MR. RITTER: No, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: Of course, you do. If you choose the site and it's denied --
MR. RITTER: And we coordinate with the member states, to include the United States --
SEN. BIDEN: Exactly.
MR. RITTER: -- and prior to us going in, we have their agreement that this indeed is an inspection worth doing.
SEN. BIDEN: Okay. Inspection worth doing; everybody is agreed it's worth doing, and it gets stopped?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: At that moment, we're on automatic pilot as far as you're concerned -- period. No ifs, ands or buts. Now I respect that.
But now it seems to me the secretary of State might have a slightly different problem. The secretary of State might be sitting there and saying: "Now look over there on that side now. I remember so-and-so and so-and-so and so-and-so, and the 12 people on this side, they're all the ones that said they didn't want to use force. Now I am going to have to go tell the president now that we should -- or Secretary Cohen -- unleash whatever it takes to get it done." And our military assessment is the same as the major's.
The major's assessment is, privately held but publicly acknowledged later, that air strikes alone aren't going to do this. Saddam's not going to cave on this.
So, now, here's the deal. I recommended the president have at it, and let the chips fall where they may. A reasonable position for the secretary of defense and the secretary of state to take. But I respectfully suggest, major, I respectfully suggest they have responsibilities slightly above your pay grade -- slightly above your pay grade -- to decide whether or not to take the nation to war alone or to take the nation to war part-way, or to take the nation to war half-way. That's a real tough decision. That's why they get paid the big bucks. That's why they get the limos and you don't.
I mean this sincerely. I'm not trying to be flip, because I think -- and that's what I said at the outset. The reason why I'm glad you did what you did, we should come to our milk. We should make a decision. But in terms of whether the secretary of state has no more to consider than you do as the arms inspector -- you didn't get in, didn't get my job done, get me in! Period. You made the deal, right? That's the deal. A deal's a deal. Get me in! Scott Ritter, I'm ready to go. That's not how it works.
Now, maybe it should work that way. But wouldn't you acknowledge that if you were President of the United States or the secretary of state you'd sit there and say, "Now, okay. Old Scottie boy didn't get in. We said he should get it. We want him to get in. It's important that he does get in. They're not going to let him in. So what are we going to do now? We know that France and Russia aren't going to be with us. We're quite confident China's not. We've already run those traps; they're not there. We're not sure whether the United States Senate is. But have at it, boys. Go get 'em. And by the way, Scott and the boys say air power's not enough."
I think it's a legitimate debate, major. I think it's a legitimate debate. But I don't think we should be putting it in the context of, you have somebody up there at State saying "Now, look, how can we weasel out of this agreement? We don't want to let this guy out there hanging. We're not this -- ". It's a very practical political decision. The same kind of decision General Powell made. The same kind of decision President Bush made. Every president and every secretary of state needs to do it.
Like I said, they get paid more than you, their job's a hell of a lot more complicated than yours. They may have made the wrong decision. And you brought it to light. We should address it. We should say straight up where we are. And we should do it.
And for that, I thank you. But it's above your pay grade.
I yield the floor.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Warner?
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Major, you've leveled one of the most serious indictments against the top-level national security team of this country that has ever been done in contemporary times, in my judgment. And it is our responsibility to hear you out, as we're doing today, and then allow that security team to come before the Congress and give its side before we draw our conclusions.
But I'm drawn to the following statement in your opening remarks: "However, I can say without fear of contradiction and with the confidence that most of my former colleagues agree with me." Is your former colleague Mr. Butler in agreement with what you're saying?
MR. RITTER: I don't want to put words in Mr. Butler's mouth. I --
SEN. WARNER: Is he included in that statement?
MR. RITTER: I include the executive chairman as a "former colleague," yes --
SEN. WARNER: In that statement? I recognize -- now don't get technical on that --
MR. RITTER: Okay.
SEN. WARNER: -- he is a former colleague. But you've got a very important statement here, which leaves a severe impact on this senator: "However, I can say without fear of contradiction and with the confidence that most of my former colleagues agree with me." I simply ask you, in that statement, "most of my former colleagues agree with me," do you include Mr. Butler?
MR. RITTER: It's my feelings that Mr. Butler would agree with this statement, yes.
SEN. WARNER: Thank you. I joined with Senator Levin to bring him down when he briefed the senators. And speaking for myself -- and, I think, many -- we have a high degree of confidence, as I presume you do, in his judgments.
Now you say very clearly that the United States scuttled this inspection program.
MR. RITTER: Yes.
SEN. WARNER: And you made reference to Great Britain. Were they a full partner, a partial partner? Or to what extent, in your judgment, were they involved?
MR. RITTER: I believe that the United States and the United Kingdom coordinate closely on their policies towards Iraq. And as such, they both share equal responsibility for the actions that took place since April of 1998, in stopping the work of the Special Commission.
SEN. WARNER: I read through all of your statements very carefully, and you repeatedly referred to Secretary Albright and in one reference to National Security Adviser Berger, but really the third and fourth members of that team are the secretary of defense and the CIA director.
Do you have any knowledge that they participated in this decision?
MR. RITTER: I have no direct knowledge of that. No, sir.
SEN. WARNER: The question of the discoveries you were about to make relating to VX gas, and there was a considerable amount of publicity given to that discovery, do you feel that that publicity was a factor in the decision that you allege that the secretary of State took?
MR. RITTER: The decision to stop inspections?
SEN. WARNER: Yes.
MR. RITTER: My understanding of the -- first of all, I'd need to make clear that the issue of the discovery of weaponized VX in Iraq was done by another team, a team that I was not directly associated with. I'm familiar with their work. It's a very important discovery. It's one that shows clearly that, A, Iraq has not disarmed, and they've lied across the board about not just VX, but once we get to the bottom of the VX issue, we'll find it exposes additional lies, which cause concern for a number weapons issues.
When that issue became public in June of 1998, I believe that the administration was forced to endorse the findings that indeed there was weaponized VX in Iraq today, and as such, they expressed support for continued inspection operations in Iraq to disclose not only the VX but all aspects of Iraq's retained weapons capabilities.
SEN. WARNER: But that disclosure, do you feel that that was a factor behind the scenes in the decision made, as you allege, by the secretary of State?
MR. RITTER: I believe that disclosure forced this administration to turn on the green light, which it had turned off back in April, concerning inspections of discovery. And based upon this perception and even direct acknowledgment that the green light has been turned on, the special commission undertook to conduct inspections of discovery in Iraq to try and find these retained weapons.
SEN. WARNER: Had this cessation of inspections not happened, can you provide the committee -- committees with any estimate of how much longer your teams and others would have to do their work and the likelihood of what they might find?
MR. RITTER: Sir, that's a question that Iraq keeps posing to the Special Commission: how much longer will this go on? The fact of the matter is that since April 1991 under the direct orders and direction of the President of Iraq the government of Iraq has lied to the Special Commission about the totality of its holdings. We cannot conduct verification of Iraq's compliance with Security Council resolutions without an understanding of what there was to begin with.
Iraq not only lied to us in April 1991. In the summer of 1991 they conducted what they call unilateral destruction: that is, they disposed of certain materials without the presence of weapons inspectors and then destroyed the records of this alleged destruction. They also diverted certain materials to the presidential security forces. This has confused an already confusing situation.
We do not know the totality of what Iraq has. What we do know is that the declarations they have made to the Special Commission to date are false. And the explanations that they give to us about how they disposed of weapons are wrong. And therefore we know we have a job to do. How much longer will it take? I can say this, and I'll echo the words of the executive chairman. If Iraq gave us today a full and final accounting of all of its weapons of mass destruction -- programs and retained weapons capabilities -- our job would be over very quickly. But because we don't have such an accounting, our job has become a mission of discovery. We must go forth and find these weapons that Iraq is hiding. And that could go on a very long time, especially given the level of Iraqi obstruction today.
SEN. WARNER: My time is up, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Robb.
SEN. CHARLES S. ROBB (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, I might observe for our witness today that a new precedent may have been set. At least during the time that I've been here I believe it's the first time that the majority leader of the Senate has actually escorted a witness to a hearing and put the Senate in recess so that this hearing could take place.
Having said that, I don't know whether that's precedent or not, but I want to add my own thanks to you as a former Marine. And there are at least five of us that I can see quickly here, and most of the others have served in another branch of the service. I think all of us admire and respect what you have done.
You have been tough, you've been principled, you've been uncompromising, and you have acquitted yourself extremely well under the circumstances.
Let me just, if I may, read a very short, actually a sentence and a half, from former President's Bush's diary at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm, which, incidentally, I supported enthusiastically and whole-heartedly from the outset.
He said, on February 28th, 1991, and I quote, "It hasn't been a clean end; there is no Battleship Missouri surrender. That is what's missing to make this akin to World War II." There were no absolutes back then, and destroying Saddam Hussein's weapons of terror in their entirety has proven to be and continues to be a very, very difficult task. And I certainly share the frustration that you have felt and expressed today and have encountered on previous efforts to try to get the full compliance. And indeed, I don't think anyone would quarrel with your suggestion that if Saddam Hussein were to fully comply, that would solve the question. But he has not indicated a willingness, and so discover -- and you continue. So I am with you where you're coming from here.
My problem is this: when we had a near-confrontation the last time, which was being provoked as it has been in the past by the lack of compliance by Saddam Hussein, we were clearly prepared to respond militarily if necessary, almost unilaterally in terms of the major force effort and I won't go beyond that, but there was clearly a plan in place to carry out the enforcement side. Because of Secretary- General Kofi Annan's mission, that was not necessary, and as one who was prepared to support what I would call "phase one" at that time, I would have to confess that I was very much concerned about phase two. What do you do if phase one simply places you in a weaker position with respect to the international community, the support in the region, the support from the American people, et cetera.
That's still, as far as I am concerned -- remains one of the most difficult questions to answer with respect to any use of force in this particular arena. And it's already been alluded to by several of our colleagues here in terms of whether or not the Congress, much less the American people, the international community or others, would support such an activity.
In your capacity as a former Marine unit commander, if you were confronted with a situation where you had both the authority, the desire and indeed on your part, the ability to fulfill a discrete mission for a smaller unit but it would in some way compromise or undermine the larger mission or compel responses or consequences that we were -- or that the larger unit was either incapable of dealing with or unwilling to deal with or it was impolitic for a variety of reasons to deal with, would you concede that there might be circumstances -- and this goes to the question that my colleague Senator Biden posed in a little different way -- that a decision at a senior level or by the country's -- or in this case the Security Council members or others, might have consequences that would cause them to make a decision that might not be the same decision that you would make if just your mission alone was the objective that you were seeking to obtain?
MR. RITTER: A lot of speculation involved in answering this question, but what I can say is as follows:
The inspection process is about inspections. You cannot have a process of inspections unless you are allowed to carry out individual inspections. Our job of inspections is about disarming Iraq. We choose to carry out inspections of disarmament when we gather and gain access to information, which leads us to believe that Iraq is retaining proscribed weapons capability. We only go forward on an inspection not for the purpose of creating confrontation -- that's Iraq's responsibility when they refuse to comply with their obligations to work with us; we go forward on an inspection of disarmament when the executive chairman feels that through such an effort we will achieve what we have been mandated to do -- disarm Iraq.
You cannot say, "Don't do this inspection," or, "Don't do that inspection" and expect the inspection progress (sic) to have any validity. Which inspection would you ask us to stop, the one that leads us to the biological weapons plant, the one that leads us to retain VX, the one that leads us to the hidden Scud missiles? MORE
Which inspection do you want us to stop? Our job is disarm Iraq. We do it through the inspection process, and we cannot have a process of inspections unless we can carry out every single inspection that the executive chairman feels must be done in order to carry out his job.
It's like saying you want to save -- to use your Marine analogy, save the Marine battalion by doing away with the rifle company. You can't. You've got to have rifle company to have the battalion. You have to have the inspection to have the inspection process.
SEN. ROBB: My time has expired. I would say I admire your single-mindedness of purpose, even though we may disagree about the larger picture.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I thank you. My time has expired.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Coats?
SEN. DANIEL COATS (R-IN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Major Ritter, thank you for your willingness to come forward and testify before us and to be as candid and outspoken, in terms of stating what you believe is to be the truth, as you have been.
I -- because you didn't have a chance to respond to Senator Biden, I want to give you that chance. But I want to make sure I understand what it was you're saying, and correct me if it's wrong. As I re-read your statement, you were not calling on the secretary of state or the president or the secretary of defense and anyone else to use force; you were saying that you wanted this government to fulfill its commitment to allow you full and complete and immediate inspection of these sites.
You have said that this government has clearly expressed its policy one way, the policy being -- and you go on to describe what that policy is -- the policy being that which was stated by the president, unequivocably (sic), in his April 6th statement to the people of the United States and to the world, which was stated by the secretary of state, that policy being that we will absolutely insist on full, immediate, and complete compliance, with the right to inspect any time, anywhere.
And so you very clearly made that the point. You said, "I think it's important that something should be done about it" -- that is, because we have been told that we -- I can't go forward with that, having been led to believe why the unequivocal statements of the president and the United States that we could go ahead -- that this policy was now determined -- that you now think that something ought to be done about that, to allow you to go ahead and complete these inspections. You state that you were appealing to the administration and the Senate to work together to change this policy, as you say, back to what has been stated in the past -- full compliance with the provisions of Security Council resolutions, to include enabling UNSCOM to carry out its mission of disarmament in an unrestricted, unhindered fashion -- only through the reestablishment of that policy.
So of course it's up to the president and the Congress, secretary of Defense to decide what force to use, when to use force. I think it's pretty clear that we all thought that force would be used if Iraq didn't comply with this. But it seems to me exactly what you've called for is somewhat different than what the senator from Delaware suggested. Am I right or am I wrong in that?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. It's -- I'm not second-guessing the president of the United States. I'm not presuming to be in a position to make decisions on behalf of him or on the behalf of the secretary of State. What I'm doing is holding a mirror up to the Senate, to this administration and to the American people, and I'm asking you to look into it. In 1991, you tasked the special commission to carry out disarmament inspections of Iraq. And you said that Iraq, if they don't do it, because we passed this resolution under Chapter 7, we will enforce this resolution. And in 1998, today, I stand before you to say that, A, Iraq is not disarmed; and B, the United States, as a member of the Security Council which gave us this mission, is doing other than it has said it wanted to do. It set forth the policy in 6 April, and during the course of this summer, on at least the two occasion that I'm directly familiar with, it acted in a way in total contravention of that policy. It said in April, "Do the inspections. We support you." And in July and in August, it said, "Don't do the inspections."
SEN. COATS: On July 8th, 1998, the president of the United States wrote a letter to the majority leader, Senator Lott, in which he said, and I quote, "My administration will continue to support UNSCOM's right, as authorized by the United Nations Security Council resolutions, to use the means of its own choosing to pursue any evidence of Iraqi weapons-of-mass-destruction programs." Now, you're saying also in July, you were receiving instructions back indicated that that was not the policy that was going to be carried out?
MR. RITTER: What I'm saying is that in July of this year, and after coordinating with both the United Kingdom and the United States, the executive chairman had positioned a team of 45 inspectors inside Iraq who were prepared to carry out missions of discovery, discovery to find retained weapons of mass destruction. And based upon intervention by both the United Kingdom and the United States, pressure was exerted on the executive chairman to have him cancel this inspection.
SEN. COATS: It doesn't sound to me like that is allowing you to, quote, "use the means of your own choosing" --
MR. RITTER: No, sir, it doesn't.
SEN. COATS: -- to pursue evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The president in his April 6th message says: I believe if Iraq does not keep his word, we would have a unilateral right to respond. He also said, "The United States remains resolved and ready to secure by whatever means necessary Iraq's full compliance with its commitment to destroy its weapons of mass destruction." I think on the basis of that, any reasonable person would conclude that you had the authority to go ahead and demand complete immediate right of inspection?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. COATS: No further questions, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Feinstein.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman. And, Major, thank you very much for being here, and thank you for doing what you're doing.
You know, I think one of the big problems is that, with respect to the congressional action in February, I think the case has never really been made to the American people and perhaps even to this Congress. And I think what you're doing today is effectively making the case because what's clear to me at least is that the United States at this time, cannot afford to be a paper tiger and neither can the Security Council. And if that's going to be the case, then we might as well just pull up our stakes and move away.
Having said that, I wanted to ask you a couple of questions because I think what this does is in essence join a national debate on the subject: Are we going to press for full inspection? Are we going to do what we say we're going to do, or are we going to back away when the going gets rough?
I want to refer, if I can, to your article in the Wall Street Journal this morning. And you mention that on July 15th representatives -- and I take it you used the word "both countries," that's the United States and Great Britain --
MR. RITTER: Yes, ma'am.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: -- informed Mr. Butler that the time wasn't right for a confrontation with Iraq. And he explained to you that he had no choice but to cancel the planned inspections. And you had pointed out that for more than a month, you had positioned a team of some 45 inspectors in place to be able to carry them out. What exactly were you told at that time?
MR. RITTER: On July 15th?
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Yes.
MR. RITTER: I was told that the -- that I would not travel to Baghdad, and that the inspection teams who were in Baghdad would disperse within the next two days because there was no further taskings for them. The inspection that we had planned to carry out would not, in fact, be carried out.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Were you given a reason?
MR. RITTER: The reason was that both the United States and the United Kingdom felt that the timing was not correct for such an inspection, in spite of the fact that A, we had assembled the resources in cooperation with these two countries, on the hopes that we would be able to do a mission of disarmament, and B, we had precise information which we hoped would allow us to conduct effective inspections of disarmament in Iraq.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: And then, I gather, this was postponed, you were ordered to stand down but remain in Baghdad, is that correct?
MR. RITTER: No, ma'am; I was in New York at the time.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: You were in New York?
MR. RITTER: The team was dispersed from Baghdad. We lost the capability to carry out the inspection at that time.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: All right. I want to just move to August for a moment. August 2nd you were flying to Baghdad?
MR. RITTER: Yes, ma'am.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: And you were ordered to remain in Baghdad and -- was it to assemble this same team for an August 5th inspection?
MR. RITTER: Not the same team; similar capabilities. Each team is unique, and I was compelled after the dispersal of the first team of 45 to reassemble a team, get it back into Iraq, and be prepared to carry out missions assigned to it by the executive chairman.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: And what did Mr. Butler tell you at that time? MR. RITTER: Mr.. Butler told me at that time that he believed that this was a mission worth doing, we had hard intelligence information about specific locations where we would find retained weapons and evidence of Iraq's consummate mechanism, and that he believed that the mission should go forward but he needed to consult with members of the Security Council before he could give the final order.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Did he say with whom he was going to consult, other than just the generic members of the Security Council?
MR. RITTER: I was there when he made phone calls to specific members of the Security Council.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: To whom did he make calls?
MR. RITTER: He made calls to the secretary-general's office, to the Russian -- to the Russian representative, to the French representative, and he attempted to make calls to the British and American representatives, but was compelled to wait until he arrived in Bahrain to make final link-up.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Did he tell you what the result of those calls was?
MR. RITTER: From the Russians, we came under attack for a variety of reasons; they accused us of being provocative, they tried to divert attention from the Iraqi actions by bringing up minor incidents that had occurred earlier in the month.
The French likewise urged caution. "Do not create a crisis" was the words used. The secretary-general basically requested that the executive chairman -- do not refer to what has happened as a crisis; we must downplay this. We must keep this low-key.
And as far as the United States and the United Kingdom were, they were both at this time opposed to the inspections going forward.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Were you told why you had to keep it low-key?
MR. RITTER: Again, the idea of creating a crisis, of elevating it to a crisis level, means that the Security Council once again would be confronted with the need to enforce its law. By low-keying the problem, the Security Council would be able to be given more maneuver room to find a solution.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: And were you told the date was to be pushed back to August 10th?
MR. RITTER: I was informed on the 5th of August, by the executive chairman, that the inspection date would have to be pushed to August 10th to allow him time to return to New York, brief the Security Council, and confer closely with members of the Security Council.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: And he did do that?
MR. RITTER: He did do that.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: And then what was the result of that briefing?
MR. RITTER: The result was instructions for me to depart Baghdad. The inspection would not be carried out. And the specific elements of the inspection team were to be dispersed.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: And on August the 8th, that was the date he told you that all bets were off; there would be no inspection?
MR. RITTER: Yes, ma'am.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Let me ask you this question just quickly. My time has expired. What do you believe you would have found?
MR. RITTER: If Iraq had carried out its obligations to allow us immediate and unrestricted access -- which we believed they would not -- I'm -- I have to tell you that one reason why we wanted to do the inspection in August was to define the nature of the confrontation with Iraq. Iraq was choosing to divert attention away from its disarmament obligations and have the world address an issue, a diversion, which was "We have a problem with the chairman; we have a problem with the composition of the Special Commission." That's the fight that Iraq was -- positioned itself to fight in the Security Council.
We urged the executive chairman to carry out this inspection, because the fight we want the Security Council and the members of the Security to discuss is the issue of disarmament, and that can only be discussed in the framework of disarmament.
And that means Iraq stopping a specific inspection, in this case an inspection that, had it been allowed to go forward and had we been given access to the sites, we would have found, in most -- given the high quality of the intelligence information, components of ballistic missiles illegally retained by Iraq as well as specific documentation which listed the exact methodologies and capabilities of the Iraqi concealment mechanism. I say that with certainty.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much --
SEN. : Could you just repeat the last words? The Iraqi what?
MR. RITTER: Concealment mechanism. Yes, sir.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: So it was a very important inspection.
MR. RITTER: In the opinion of myself, the executive chairman, and the deputy executive chairman who conferred on this issue, it was, indeed, a very important inspection.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: But there are at least -- you have said that you had at least five paper tigers, the United States wasn't the only one, that everybody backed down.
MR. RITTER: Yes, ma'am.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Brownback.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): And that information now is retained by Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government, and no confrontation exists to take it out of their hands. Is that correct?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Mr. Ritter, I want to thank you for appearing before us today. I think you're a true American hero, and that future generations will look back and thank you for the number of weapons that you destroyed in the inspection regimes that you put in place. And hopefully we can get back to doing that so that we can protect future generations.
I want to focus my few minutes that I have on apparent duplicity that's taken place. It's cost and how we got to this point. I don't want to talk about policy issues as some of my colleagues have desired to talk about. Those policy decisions were already made. You were implementing, or supposed to implement policy decisions that were already made. And that was to inspect. I want to focus on implementation that was different from the stated policy decisions that were put in place.
Mr. Ritter, you've stated to Senator Feinstein's questions the specific nature of how you were stopped from inspecting in spite of, even as recently as July 8th of this year, a statement by the administration that you could use the means of your own choosing to pursue any evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. And you believed that, didn't you? That you had that choice?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BROWNBACK: And you were not told anything any different that that policy had changed, had you?
MR. RITTER: No, sir. In fact, we were told the opposite, that, indeed, that was the case, we could go forward with an inspection.
SEN. BROWNBACK: And, indeed, wasn't that even the public statement from the administration: Go forth?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BROWNBACK: And yet you were stopped on two occasions. In your opinion, in the absence of a robust inspection regime, how quickly could Iraq restart its weapons of mass destruction program?
MR. RITTER: Iraq has -- in my opinion, within a period of six months, simply put. Six months.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Do you have any information as to whether they are continuing with it to even today?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BROWNBACK: You do?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BROWNBACK: What's your opinion about that continuation of their weapons-of-mass-destruction program today?
MR. RITTER: They're -- Iraq has positioned itself today that once effective inspection regimes have been terminated, Iraq will be able to reconstitute the entirety of its former nuclear, chemical and ballistic missile delivery system capabilities within a period of six months.
SEN. BROWNBACK: The most difficult of those programs to continue is the ballistic missile program. Would that be correct?
MR. RITTER: That would be my assessment, yes, sir.
SEN. BROWNBACK: And you were on the verge of making a major confrontation and finding regarding that program?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BROWNBACK: And were stopped then in being able to do that, is that correct?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. We were prevented from being able to carry out our mission.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Mr. Ritter, I appreciate what you've done. I think though it actually points to a broader problem. Your principled stand here today though points out that bigger problem, that credibility is everything involving foreign policy, and now we have a credibility challenge and a credibility problem that statements of one policy publicly and that privately something goes a different way. And we're seeing that now front and center in our policy with Iraq. I've had real questions with the administration, what its real policy is towards Iran, notwithstanding public statements, or its real policy even towards Libya or Russia or Israel, notwithstanding its public statements to the contrary. I think it seems to me that in foreign policy issues, you've got to be able to speak clearly and straightly and not with duplicity or legal-ese or covering over matters of stating it one way and then taking actions another way. That, I think, really involves probing of us by other countries. It appears to me that Saddam Hussein has decided that he can probe the United States without us taking action.
Is that your estimation?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. It's not just the United States, but also the world collective, especially the Security Council. Saddam Hussein has stood up to the law of the Security Council and, as such, has confronted the Security Council and its member components to include the United States with their impotence in the face of his continued obstructions.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Mr. Ritter, is UNSCOM able to maintain its long- term monitoring equipment at Iraqi facilities.
MR. RITTER: The equipment can be maintained. The effectiveness of the utility of that equipment is questionable given the fact that we cannot carry out the full scope of inspections required to monitor Iraq on a meaningful basis.
SEN. BROWNBACK: What might Iraq do to dismantle long-term monitoring capabilities as a next step in its confrontation with UNSCOM?
MR. RITTER: I believe that the next logical step in this would be to expel the remaining U.N. inspectors from Iraq.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Do you anticipate that that will happen soon?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. BROWNBACK: So that we're just going to erode away from any sort of inspection regime whatsoever with Iraq?
MR. RITTER: We have no meaningful inspection regime in place today. And if the situation is allowed to continue as is, we may end up with no inspection regime in Iraq.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Mr. Chairman, my time's up.
But I think this points to a -- we can talk about policy issues, and we should at some time. I think this witness has pointed us to a much deeper problem, and that's duplicity of saying one thing and doing something else; that's far more troubling, far more broad-based. And it's something I think we need to pursue even further.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Cleland.
SEN. MAX CLELAND (D-GA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's an honor to be with this august panel here that's assembled to hear Mr. Ritter.
Mr. Ritter, nice to see you.
MR. RITTER (?): Yes, Senator.
SEN. CLELAND: You are a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, is that correct?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. CLELAND: Vietnam was my war, so you and I understand war and its price. I might say I'd like to ask you, should we have taken out Saddam Hussein in 1991?
MR. RITTER: Sir, I am here to speak based upon my experience as a weapons inspector, and with all due respect I would tarnish the objectivity of the Special Commission if I answered that question.
SEN. CLELAND: You fought in the war. You fought to in effect disarm him then, and then with UNSCOM for the last seven years, disarm his capability to make war. And that's why we're here today, to talk about how we do that. Looking back at the difficulty we've had with that and with him, and he continues to play this cat and mouse game, should we have taken him out in 1991?
MR. RITTER: There is no question that Saddam Hussein is the problem here. All decisions pertaining to his retention of weapons of mass destruction in direct disobedience of international law, are made by him and him alone. And he is the only one who can make the decision to comply with Security Council resolution. So I would agree with you that Saddam Hussein is the problem. How you resolve the problem of Saddam Hussein is an issue that's better left to people whose responsibility that is.
SEN. CLELAND: And that is why we are here today --
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. CLELAND: -- to talk with you to get your insight here into how we do that.
Apparently the inspection formula for the last seven years has worked somewhat and I understand it's destroyed more chemical and biological weapons -- you and your wonderful colleagues -- than was destroyed during the war, is that correct?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. CLELAND: And now we face another impasse. Six months or so since the last crisis, where we had a mirror held up to us and had to look ourselves in the mirror and find what in the world would be our policy towards Saddam Hussein. Now we have that mirror held up by you, and I appreciate that more than you know.
But what do you suggest we do now?
MR. RITTER: Sir, that's not my job. I have to respectfully remind you of the fact that for the last seven years I have been a weapons inspector in Iraq, tasked with discharging the responsibilities of disarmament. I am here today because we weren't allowed to do that job.
SEN. CLELAND: Now, who did not allow you do to the job? Was it the Security Council?
MR. RITTER: There's a collective responsibility. The Security Council is the body responsible for enforcing its law -- in this case, the Security Council resolutions passed under Chapter Seven calling for Iraq to disarm. But the United States, as a member -- one of the five permanent members -- and, in fact, as the single most capable and responsible member of the Security Council, the single nation which the world looks to to exercise leadership, I hold the United States directly responsible, because it is a failure of leadership to get the Security Council to enforce its own laws.
SEN. CLELAND: And you would recommend that this -- the United States government do what, now?
MR. RITTER: I recommend that the United States government seek to allow the Special Commission to carry out its tasks in conformity with the policy that had been set forth by the president of the United States in his 6 April report to Congress.
SEN. CLELAND: And if Saddam Hussein has said that the inspectors can't go back in, now what? MR. RITTER: That's a decision that's made by the president of the United States.
SEN. CLELAND: Do you see our choice between inspectors on the ground and war?
MR. RITTER: This, again, is a decision -- I am charged with carrying out a law that the United States says is a good law, a law that should be carried out. In so doing, the United States, together with the Security Council, has seen fit to send us in harm's way in Iraq to carry out disarmament inspections, and we have tried to do that for the last seven years.
I'm telling you today we are not able to do that, and I am -- we are reporting back to the Security Council that that is indeed the case.
SEN. CLELAND: And in January, when we did this drill earlier this year, we had a choice between making the inspections work and war. And Saddam Hussein backed down because he thought we were going to inflict unacceptable pain on him. Now we have that choice again, it seems to me. That's -- I think that's our choice.
Do you see it that way?
MR. RITTER: No, sir. What I see that occurred in January is that the United States, faced with the fact that it was -- that its bluff was going to be called about the use of military force, engaged the office of the secretary-general to intercede, on its behalf and the behalf of the Security Council, with Iraq and gave Iraq an opportunity to back out.
SEN. CLELAND: Looking back, do you think that was a good idea or a bad idea?
MR. RITTER: It's a bad idea. It's part of a systematic process of confrontation and concessions. And the more we do this cycle of confrontation and concessions, the weaker this collective body of the Security Council gets, the more ineffective the inspectorate -- the Special Commission becomes, and the more resolute Saddam becomes in keeping these weapons, because now he believes honestly that he can win.
SEN. CLELAND: And that means that we have fewer and fewer choices. Doesn't that mean a choice? We either make the inspections regime work or go to war with him. Is that correct?
MR. RITTER: I think it means we either make the inspection regime work or Iraq is allowed to retain weapons of mass destruction.
How we make the inspection regime work is a decision that the collective or -- the Security Council or individual action by a member nation might decide to do.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator McCain?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): I want to thank you, Mr. Ritter, for being here. And I -- one of my colleagues mentioned that the Senate had gone into recess. Perhaps he didn't know that the Senate went into recess because the other side objected to this hearing taking place -- the only hearing that they objected to. So in order to hold it, you -- we had to go into recess. So agree with my friend from Virginia who said it's unprecedented.
I want to say, Mr. Ritter, that I appreciate your courage. I appreciate the fact that you've given up a very important position because you felt that your obligation is to the American people.
And some of us who fought in another conflict wish that the Congress and the American people had listened to someone of your pay grade during that conflict, and perhaps there wouldn't be quite so many names down on the wall. So we appreciate the fact that someone of your pay grade would be willing to come forward with this vital information.
When you said that what do we do now, and the choice is that we either carry out the inspections according to the conflict -- the cease-fire as a result in 1991 or we allow Saddam Hussein to move forward with his acquisition of these weapons of mass destruction, how serious a problem is that if he moves forward, Mr. Ritter?
MR. RITTER: Senator, as you correctly stated, this issue is, indeed, part and parcel of the war that was fought in 1991, a war in which I participated in and a war in which hundreds of Americans lost their lives to achieve a specific aim: that was the liberation of Kuwait. In April of 1991 as part of the cease-fire resolution the Security Council added preconditions to termination of conflict. These preconditions were that Iraq must disarm, be rid of its weapons of mass destruction. In doing so, the Security Council set forth a marker on the table, saying "We are taking a collective decision to play a role in nonproliferation and disarmament activities in the world." And the United States in supporting that said this is a good role for the Security Council to do. What we have today is two things.
One, the cease-fire resolution is being violated on a continual basis by Iraq. And if we do not take action to turn this around, we will have, in fact, lost the gulf war. We will have, in fact, dishonored those Americans who died in the gulf war and those Americans who paid a heavy price, personal or physical, through the conduct of the gulf war. But even worse, Saddam Hussein will have disgraced the body of the Security Council.
SEN. MCCAIN: And isn't the unfortunate aspect of this, and perhaps one of the motivating factors in moving forward, is the United States is articulating one policy when in reality they are doing exactly the opposite? Isn't that the problem here?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. MCCAIN: And that's what's disturbing to so many of us. Seven months ago, the secretary of State threatened force if these inspections weren't allowed to be completed. And now apparently from what you and other evidence that we have, is the secretary of State is arguing against the completion of the inspections.
MR. RITTER: The Special Commission has intelligence information, which indicates that components necessary for three nuclear weapons exist, lacking the fissile material. Yes, sir.
SEN. MCCAIN: So that means to you that in what period of time, if these inspections cease, that Saddam Hussein will have that nuclear capability?
MR. RITTER: It's a question of how he chooses to acquire enriched uranium, either through indigenous enrichment or through procurement from abroad. If it's indigenous, it would take some time because the IAEA has effectively dismantled the internal enrichment -- but they have not dismantled the weaponization program per se.
SEN. MCCAIN: So what period of time are you talking about, roughly?
MR. RITTER: For a total reconstruction, it would be a period of several years to reconstruct enrichment capability. Yes, sir.
SEN. MCCAIN: And the biological and chemical?
MR. RITTER: That's a much less time frame. I believe within a period of six months Iraq could reconstitute its biological-weapons and chemical-weapons capability.
SEN. MCCAIN: And the missiles to deliver them?
MR. RITTER: Within a period of six months. We know in fact that Iraq has a plan to have a breakout scenario for reconstitution of long-range ballistic missiles within six months of the "go" signal from the president of Iraq. SEN. MCCAIN: So it is your opinion that if these inspections are further emasculated, then within a six-month period of time, Saddam Hussein would have the capability to deliver a weapon of mass destruction?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. MCCAIN: I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Kerry?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to begin with one question, and then I think I want to just share some thoughts with my colleagues.
But in your article today, Mr. Ritter, you said, "According to people present during these consultations" -- and you're referring to the consultation with Mr. Butler and Ms. Albright -- "the secretary of State made a strong argument against the inspection being allowed to go forward."
Who were the people present during those consultations?
MR. RITTER: One reason why I didn't name them --
SEN. KERRY: Who are you referring to?
MR. RITTER: I'm referring to the executive chairman and the deputy executive chairman of the Special Commission.
SEN. KERRY: Is there any possibility that that consultation took place privately between the chairman himself on a secure phone and no one else present?
MR. RITTER: Again, sir, I wasn't there, so that's speculation. What I know is that I was informed by two parties about the nature of that --
SEN. KERRY: Who informed you? Both of them informed you?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. KERRY: The people who informed you were the chairman himself and the deputy chairman?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. KERRY: Fair enough.
Now I began with that question just because I spent a considerable amount of time today on the telephone with Chairman Butler. And I just -- and I don't want to compromise anything that he said to me or our discussion had. But I want to say this to my colleagues:
First of all, I think most of us adhere to the concept of fairness. And that's certainly an important concept in my politics. The reason there was an objection today by the leader on the Democratic side was the notion that we ought to be here with both sides' point of view. This is too important an issue to allow five days to go by without the administration formally here to answer questions.
Secondly, I would simply say to my colleagues that this is much, much too important to allow it to become somehow politicized in any way possible. And I regret that even that process got a little clouded today by this process of having the hearing.
That said -- and I want to emphasize "that said" -- I'm very grateful to you, Mr. Ritter. I think you're a patriot. I know you're a soldier. And I think you've come to this with a very pure sense of duty, a sense of responsibility, and with deep frustration for what you've not been able to achieve.
And I accept what you say. I believe what you're saying to us. There may be a nuance here or there of interpretation that people can differ with, but you cannot differ with the conclusion that the work of UNSCOM is compromised. And it has been compromised for a considerable period of time, in my judgement -- preceding even these intercessions that you've referred to, of the administration.
And that's where I want to share with my colleagues the notion that we're all operating here, you know, off-kilter a little bit.
You know, Saddam Hussein has got to be delighted with what he's hearing here today and what he's seen in the last days, because he's winning. His strategy is working.
Make no mistake about it, his strategy is not to lift the sanctions. His strategy is to build weapons of mass destruction. And his strategy has been able to nip away at UNSCOM over the course of months so that he's created sanctions fatigue among our allies, who also have a different set of international or national interpretation of interest here. And the fact is that our administration recognized some time ago that it had great difficulty building the coalition to support what was necessary to let Major Ritter and his team do what they do.
Now, I happen to disagree with Senator Biden. I don't think the issue was simply if Scott Ritter and his team can't get in, then we do something. The issue is much bigger than that. If Scott Ritter and his team can't get in, then the fundamental accepted policy of our country and of the Security Council, to be able to enforce the notion that Saddam Hussein will not have weapons of mass destruction, is ineffective. And I think that's exactly what Major Ritter is trying to tell us, and has put his job on the line in order to emphasize.
But there's really a larger issue than that. And that's where I say that the Congress has a shared responsibility, and the American people have a shared responsibility, and our allies have a shared responsibility, because the hard reality is that when it came time to consider really following through and dropping some bombs, the American people had doubts, and Congress voiced doubts. And many of us were in room 407 when a lot of those doubts were expressed.
Now, I at the time suggested, as many did, that we ought to be prepared to use force to the point of guaranteeing we achieve our goals. I still believe that. But I know that America hasn't made that decision yet. And I know my good friend sitting to the left of me, both of them, Senator Robb and Senator Cleland, share with me a stark memory of what happens when the American people haven't made up their mind about sending people into harm's way and using force.
So we've got a major set of choices to make here. And we'd better make them. We've been sliding into a fundamental policy of containment, which I share with Major Ritter the notion is disastrous to our overall proliferation interests and disastrous with respect to the Middle East and our interests with respect to Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
But we have to make a decision whether we're prepared to do what is necessary, and I mean to the point of a sustained targeting of the regime; not the Iraqi people, but the regime. And now, given what's happened in Kenya and Tanzania, we have to do that in a climate where the United States may have to even ask itself whether we're prepared to be a country that's perceived as just willing to drop some bombs on Muslim nations without the support of other people in the world.
This is not a small issue, and we should not approach it in a way in the next days that's just working to find some scapegoats or find some guilty parties. We've got to find out what we're willing to do and commit to do it. And that's what's going to make real, I think, the efforts of Scott Ritter and the folks that he referred to. So I think we've got to stop playing around and get serious about the choices in front of the country.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Inhofe?
SEN. INHOFE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I -- Mr. Ritter, let me just repeat, it's been said so often, but this is so rare that we see your kind of courage before, at least, our committee, one of the committees that's sitting before you today. And I -- the acts of principle I just -- are so rare now, and I want you to know how much appreciate it. You're going to take a lot of heat; there's going to be a lot more coming, and you've shown the courage that you can do it and certainly the knowledge. I have been very much impressed.
I -- you know, we quite often have high-ranking officials come before my subcommittee that I chair, which is the Readiness Subcommittee, to try to get them to tell the truth as to our state of unreadiness -- the vulnerability of our country. And I'm hoping that your appearance here today and your actions that you've taken will not only give a little backbone to all of the American people in our resolve, but also to a lot of our military leaders who are less than straightforward in their answers as to our vulnerability today and our state of unreadiness, so I -- for that I thank you very much and I think we'll all benefit from it.
You've been there, Major Ritter, for seven years. I know that you are hesitant about responding to questions that are not directly within the line of responsibility that you had from the job that you resigned. However, you -- we look upon you as an expert, at least I do, in that area, so I may ask you a couple of things in terms of -- that might -- you may not be comfortable answering, but --
Insofar as the -- at what point did the United States stop fully cooperating with your inspection efforts?
MR. RITTER: It's difficult to define "fully cooperating" because if you -- for the inspectors, the issue is black and white. We have a job to do and we expect to carry it out in accordance with what the Security Council says. The United States indicates that they will support it on a strategic sense, but they must be given the flexibility to exercise some tactical discretion.
But what I would say is that in April of this year, the United States departed from its stated policy of allowing the Special Commission to carry out its tasks in accordance with the Security Council resolution and went to a policy of obstruction, where it prevented the Special Commission from carrying its job.
SEN. INHOFE: Yeah. The time that they went to the policy of obstruction -- and I think that accurately describes my understanding of it -- is that about the time that Secretary Albright was assuring us that Saddam would be, quote, "kept in his box," unquote?
MR. RITTER: I have to be honest and say I am not familiar with the exact timing of that quote, so I don't know. I do know it's a time when the president of the United States told the Congress that the diplomatic solution had been exhausted and that it was time for Iraq to be held accountable for complying with Security Council resolution and the United States encouraged the Special Commission to go forward with its task of disarmament.
SEN. INHOFE: Mr. Ritter, let me just make a statement that I think is necessary at this time. Some of my colleagues are offering a false dilemma, that we either back down or commit U.S. forces to war, and I don't think that's the issue. The issue is whether or not the United States will keep its commitments and defend its national interest. Would you agree with that?
MR. RITTER: That is how I am choosing to couch this problem. The United States must act in a manner which keeps up with the commitments it has made to the Security Council, to the world, to the American people.
SEN. INHOFE: Okay. I had mentioned the statement about "kept in his box" as offering perhaps a false sense of security to the United States.
We sat in the same room, I sat in the same chair, when Anthony Lake was up for his confirmation hearings to be the director of Central Intelligence. And during that period of time, it was my interpretation of his remarks that he gave the president this -- what I considered to be the greatest statement that served the greatest disservice to America, and that is when he said over 33 times that, "Now for the first time" -- this country in contemporary history -- "are there no missiles aimed at American children." And it's very disturbing when you are living in the threatening like we're living in right now, to hear those false senses of security. What I was going to ask you about was that you spending nine years over there know pretty much about the person of Saddam Hussein. You remember, nine months before Desert Storm, Saddam (Hussein ?) said -- and this is a quote: "Our missiles cannot reach Washington. If they could reach Washington, we would strike." Then shortly after the cease-fire, a statement that was made that, "If we had held off and not gone into Kuwait for five or six more years, we would have the missiles, the means of delivering the weapons that we have to deter the United States."
Do you remember those statements?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. INHOFE: Do you think, in your evaluation of the type of person that Saddam Hussein is, that he would hesitate in any way from using a weapon of mass destruction and delivering it to the United States, if he had the capability?
MR. RITTER: My experience with the Iraqi government is that it is a ruthless government and that it would carry out such a task if that was the decision of the president of Iraq.
SEN. INHOFE: Major Ritter, I appreciate your straightforward answers that you've given to the questions that I've asked you today, and -- as well as your actions. I consider you to be a great American. My time has expired. But I appreciate you very much.
SEN. THURMOND: No more on this side, is there?
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to correct the record right off the bat; Major Ritter is not a soldier, he's a United States Marine. There is a difference. (Laughter.)
MR. RITTER (?): Thank you.
SEN. : Amen.
SEN. ROBERT: Semper fi, Major. Semper fi and persevere.
MR. RITTER: Thank you.
SEN. ROBERTS: With all due respect to some of my colleagues, I don't think the issue is whether or not we are going to war, or whether you pull the trigger or we pull the trigger, or the threat of force. The issue is really -- as stated by my colleague from Kansas, the issue is the credibility of our national security policy.
I know that Senator Kerry said it might be a little unfair, with these statements without the secretary and the secretary of defense and the national security folks -- Mr. Berger. I want to know their point of view, because the stated point of view is not what you are witnessing to here, and I think we're saying one thing and we're doing another.
And I think there's an inference here today, Mr. Chairman, in regards to the Senate's lack of support for the threat of force. And I think that is very dangerous. The question is not whether we use the force, but how.
And I admit it; I was the one that stood on the floor, along with several others, and asked the tough questions about the limited strike that was being proposed in regards to Iraq. And those questions were not answered. We did not have the full support of our allies. We couldn't even have a strike force from Saudi Arabia, with the use of our planes and our base, and the same thing in Turkey; we had to go ahead with a plan in regards to naval platforms. We had a situation where we don't think it was planned well. It didn't have anything to do with the use of force.
And I must say that it is implied here by some, in regards to our colleagues here, that the United States Senate does not really feel we should use force.
And I think that is a very dangerous message, because I will tell you who's paying attention -- it'll be Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, it'll be Mr. bin Laden, it'll be those in Kuwait who have already brought an issue before the Security Council questioning as to whether we have the justification in regards to the missile strikes and in regards to terrorism.
If you don't have credibility, that's the thing that happens in regards to our allies, not to mention the 27,000 troops that are still stationed in the Gulf. If we can't inspect, what in the hell are they doing over there? That, it seems to me, to be the question, so I think it's a very dangerous road that we are implying here in this hearing by trying to saddle you with the decision as to whether or not we use the threat of force. I don't like that.
Let me ask you a question. Was the planned August 5th inspection completely and unequivocally pursuant to UNSCOM's mandate to enforce the 1991 cease-fire agreement with Iraq? Was there anything about that particular planned inspection that the Senate should be aware of as we consider the administration's conduct -- perhaps a motive for the secretary and the national security advisor other than avoiding a confrontation with Saddam?
MR. RITTER: Sir, the planned inspection was approved by the executive chairman in total conformance with the authority given him by the Security Council in its resolutions.
SEN. ROBERTS: I want to know your assessment -- I'm on the Intelligence Committee -- that's not an oxymoron, by the way -- (scattered laughter) -- and I want your assessment of the intelligence that you received related to force protection, i.e., warning you and your team's safety. Did you feel the information provided was timely, tailored, accurate and complete?
MR. RITTER: Sir, we don't receive intelligence about threats to the safety of the team. We only receive intelligence information pertaining to the targets that we desire to inspect. We --
SEN. ROBERTS: That's the second question. Your assessment of the intelligence received related to helping you and your team carry out your mission -- again, was it timely, tailored, accurate and complete? You've made some predictions here in response to Senator McCain; I'm very hopeful that that intelligence suited your purpose.
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. We have established a mechanism within the last seven years to get -- to try and get as timely and accurate intelligence to the inspection teams as possible.
SEN. ROBERTS: I would like to also point out, Mr. Chairman, the alternative to the use of threat is probably the statement by the secretary of State that we're going to use sanctions. Let me point out that under the exemption of oil for food and medicine, it is that revenue that led to the construction and the production in the Shifa plant in Khartoum that we have now struck with a missile strike. I think there's a paradox here.
Thank you, sir.
SEN. THURMOND: See who's next down there? Senator Hagel?
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE): Mr. Chairman, thank you.
We realize, Major Ritter, as far as we know, that you did not have a limousine; you did not make the big bucks. But, nonetheless, we are very pleased to have you.
MR. RITTER: Thank you.
MR. RITTER: We understand that, like sergeants and junior officers and people who carry rifles and have to actually do the fighting and to the inspecting, that you may have a perspective that the big-bucks people don't. And I join with my colleague Senator McCain in his suggestion, if we would have listened a little more to the riflemen and the sergeants and the junior officers before we got into Vietnam, we might have had a different outcome. So don't worry about the limousine problem, Major. We're pleased you're here.
Major, weren't you mentioned by name by the Iraqis earlier this year when they were so offended that the inspection teams had too many Americans?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. HAGEL: I suspect that means that they thought you did a pretty good job?
MR. RITTER: They believed that the inspections that I was tasked with carrying out were closing in on the weapons that they were trying to retain. Yes, sir.
SEN. HAGEL: Do you think there is any linkage between that emphasis on your ability, your leadership, and the call that came from National Security Adviser Mr. Berger to keep you in the compound, and then a couple days later, your boss, Mr. Butler, telling you to get on a plane and come home?
MR. RITTER: I know that there is concern by members of this administration's national security team that my presence in Iraq creates an inherent friction that they seem to find undesirable. They feel that the conflict should be about inspections, not the inspector. That's how they chose to couch this issue. Yes, sir.
SEN. HAGEL: And we surely don't want to make Mr. Hussein uncomfortable. Have you spoken to Mr. Butler since you resigned?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. HAGEL: Can you share any of that conversation with us?
MR. RITTER: I'd prefer not to, sir. It's private conversations between myself and the executive chairman.
SEN. HAGEL: Would you want to hint at his response at all in general terms, to your resignation?
MR. RITTER: I would say that the executive chairman's opinion today matches that which he made on the day of my resignation, which was that he views me as a professional and somebody of integrity, and he understands the work that I did in the past and what I am trying to achieve now by taking this stand today.
SEN. HAGEL: Following up on some of the questioning that has been presented here already this afternoon, on what might you have found if you had been allowed to pursue your job, your objective -- and we heard that, I think, rather clearly from you -- but let's take that beyond what you have already made very clear. What is the intent, do you believe, of Mr. Hussein?
MR. RITTER: The intent is clear; to retain the capability to possess weapons of mass destruction. Back in -- he made a strategic decision in the 1980s to get this capability. He's linked his capability directly to his person. And today his goal is to retain this capability, so that he can menace the region and project himself as a regional superpower.
SEN. HAGEL: Would it be fair to say to use potential nuclear/biological/chemical weapons to blackmail the region?
MR. RITTER: I believe that his past statements, especially concerning the threat in April 1990 to burn half of Israel, imply that that is indeed one of the tactics that he uses.
SEN. HAGEL: Mmm-hmm. And do you think our administration articulating a policy out front, but in fact pursuing a different policy behind the scenes, plays to Saddam Hussein's long-term objective?
MR. RITTER: Absolutely. I want to re-emphasize this is a cease- fire resolution. And what is happening here, to use the analogy of Senator Robb, who said that George Bush said this issue lacked a Missouri -- what's happening now is that we do have a Missouri. It's a cease-fire resolution, which states Iraq must disarm, and what we have is the vanquished boarding the Missouri and dictating the terms of conflict resolution to those who won the war. And it's a travesty, and I'm really sad that it's happening.
SEN. HAGEL: Mr. Berger's call to the U.N. mission that you reference in the Wall Street Journal article today -- was that unusual?
MR. RITTER: The fact that Mr. Berger or Ms. Albright called the executive chairman to offer their consultations is not unusual. No, sir.
SEN. HAGEL: But to specifically say, "You keep Major Ritter penned up"?
MR. RITTER: That's not the first time that this has occurred. No, sir.
SEN. HAGEL: That's not the first time?
MR. RITTER: No, sir.
SEN. HAGEL: Would you care to enlighten the committee on other times?
MR. RITTER: I can state that in March of 1998, both the national security adviser and the secretary of State intervened on numerous occasions with the executive chairman to keep myself out of Iraq as the leader of a concealment-based inspection team.
SEN. HAGEL: Major Ritter, thank you.
MR. RITTER: Thank you, sir.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Coverdell.
SEN. PAUL COVERDELL (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me first say, working off the senator from Massachusetts' remarks regarding the consensus of the American people, I believe this is a very dangerous time for every American citizen and every peace- loving citizen. And you cannot build a consensus or understanding of the level of this danger by disguising or making a false assurance to the American people. Yes, we are getting the inspection job done; but, no, we're not. If we are going to build a consensus, you can debate the policy -- I can agree with you or agree with somebody else -- but the policy has to be on the table so that the American people can be at the table.
Having said that, I am specifically interested in the events surrounding the inspections that had been planned for January 12th, 1998. As I recall, on January 12th, Iraq announced that it would not allow any further inspections because the team was dominated by British and American personnel. Were you leading the team in Baghdad when this happened?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: What was your reaction to the Iraqi declaration, and what did you think they were trying to accomplish?
MR. RITTER: We were allowed to carry out one day's worth of inspection. The issue that we were pursuing was the issue of Iraq's retention of biological weapons and the fact that they tested these weapons on live human subjects in the summer of 1995. And we had, during the course of that day, put together a considerable amount of evidence, which would allow us to pursue that effectively.
I believe that Iraq's decision to stop the team and to divert attention away from the disarmament tasks of the team towards the issue of composition of the team, was designed to stop the effective inspection and again get some sort of concession from the Security Council.
SEN. COVERDELL: Did Mr. Butler agree with your assessment of how Iraq was trying to dilute the expertise of the team?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: How did you and he agree to resolve this impasse?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. We decided that it would be best to call Iraq's bluff. And despite the obvious desire not to reconstitute the team and let Iraq dictate team composition, we felt that we could indeed come up with a team composition that would meet Iraq's requirements and continue to carry out inspections. And we chose to carry out inspections of sites which we had good intelligence information related to retained weapons and which we felt Iraq would be compelled to obstruct.
Therefore, we would call Iraq's bluff and confront the world with the reality that Iraq had no intention of allowing the Special Commission to carry out its disarmament tasks.
SEN. COVERDELL: So you are confident that Iraq would have refused UNSCOM access to these sites regardless of who was on the team, thus proving that the objections over team composition were just a delaying tactic?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: Now, am I correct that the SSO is a key organization tasked with concealing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction from UNSCOM?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. The Special Security Organization is the presidential security force and it's been tasked by the president to conceal these weapons.
SEN. COVERDELL: And at the time you were the chief of UNSCOM'S concealment investigative unit?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: Thus, I assume that it would have been essential that you lead the inspection of the SSO headquarters?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: But on January 15th, your inspection was cancelled and you never had the opportunity to expose Iraq's objection to your team's composition as a fraud. What happened?
MR. RITTER: Basically, what happened is that I received a call from the executive chairman and I was told to stand down and to withdraw from Iraq and to cease the inspection.
SEN. COVERDELL: So at the request of the administration you were pulled and the inspection was cancelled and as a result we missed a critical opportunity?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. The executive chairman received another one of these phone calls from the national security team instructing him to withdraw the chief inspector and to cease the inspection opportunity, and we did not have an opportunity to carry out the disarmament inspections that we wanted to.
SEN. COVERDELL: Major, as I would say to all members, no matter their rank, of the United States military, I thank you on behalf of the American people and I appreciate your courage you've demonstrated today.
MR. RITTER: Thank you, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: No further questions, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: Thank you very much. Senator Snowe?
SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R-ME): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I, too, Major Ritter, want to join my colleagues in expressing gratitude to you for the services that you have rendered, not only to this country but to the world in trying to make it a safer world and also for being here today. The fact -- we know that it's not easy, it's not easy to resign a position to which you have given so much, and we appreciate your forthrightness and your honesty and your courage by being here today and by expressing your position and the reasons why you resigned from the Commission, regrettably, because obviously you've made a tremendous commitment to this endeavor, which is a very significant endeavor.
And I think it's a sheer tragedy that we're in this position today because of the failure of a commitment, not only by our country and this administration, but the other members of the Security Council, to back up and to reinforce the efforts and the work of UNSCOM.
Tell me -- I think it's -- frankly, I thought it was rather unusual for intervention by this administration with respect to particular inspections by UNSCOM. Since you have been on -- in inspection teams since 1991, can you tell me, was this similar to previous administrations, since you have worked through two administrations? Had you experienced similar interventions by the previous administration with respect to specific inspections or timing of inspections or types of inspections?
MR. RITTER: We've always consulted closely with the United States on issues of -- pertaining to inspections, as we've consulted with other members of the Security Council, and they've all provided us with their tactical opinion. But I would say that it's since November of 1997 that the Special Commission has encountered specific interventions to stop given inspections.
SEN. SNOWE: Right. And there were six different encounters, I gather, since November 23rd of 1997. Is that correct? There are six different instances which -- specifically Secretary Albright intervened to cancel the inspections or to encourage the disruption of the inspections?
MR. RITTER: There's at least six. There may be more. And it may not have all fallen on the shoulders of the secretary of state; it could have been other members of the national security team. But the United States has intervened at least six times to stop inspections since November. Yes, ma'am.
SEN. SNOWE: Did -- do you know whether or not the United States attempted to influence other members of the Security Council with respect to the cancellation of these inspections?
MR. RITTER: I do know that the United States has exerted pressure on other members of the Security Council and other government -- other nations, supporting nations within the United Nations community, to maybe not encourage or not give the Special Commission the resources required to carry out its disarmament tasks, yes.
SEN. SNOWE: Did administration officials intervene in this manner prior to November of 1997? MR. RITTER: Not in such a conclusive way. As I said, there's always consultations, and we might have disagreement of opinion on consultations.
But in terms of dramatic intervention for the purpose of obstructing inspections, this started in November.
SEN. SNOWE: Now in the first instance, on November 23rd as I understand it, Secretary Albright called Mr. Butler, seeking cancellation of a no-notice visit to Iraqi Republican Guard facility. Now she indicated at the time, at least according to newspaper reports, that the appropriate diplomatic and military groundwork had not been laid.
Is that true in all of the other instances? Had any effort been made by the administration at least from a diplomatic standpoint, to work with the other countries to ensure that these inspections could go forward?
MR. RITTER: My understanding of the situation that I developed through close consultations with people in the U.S. administration, is that the reason for obstruction in November and December were to buy the United States time to assemble a coalition; to assemble the resources required militarily and politically and diplomatically, to enforce its resolutions, and that by January, when we started our inspection in January, these resources had indeed been assembled.
SEN. SNOWE: And that was a particular problem at the time -- (I mean ?) -- the failure of the administration to lay that groundwork to make your job possible. And that obviously was an essential component of allowing you to do your job and also to reinforce the United Nations resolution with respect to the use of force or to respond to Saddam Hussein in the prevention of these inspections. But obviously, that didn't happen in any of these instances, and obviously these calls were made to cancel these inspections?
MR. RITTER: Yes, ma'am.
SEN. SNOWE: Have inspections of any consequence occurred at all this year?
MR. RITTER: We have had inspections of consequence. We exposed the VX warheads through the inspection process. We discovered a document, which exposed the absolute lie that Iraq's told about consumption of chemical weapons. What I would say is that inspections designed to expose Iraq's concealment mechanism have not been allowed to proceed.
SEN. SNOWE: Could you also tell me why Secretary Albright was concerned about particularly intrusive inspections?
MR. RITTER: As I have tried to explain, to go after the concealment mechanism, you are going after the forces that protect the president of Iraq. He made the decision to use his personal protection forces to also protect these weapons.
This makes the inspection process inherently confrontational, especially the inspection process involving going after the concealment mechanism. So that's, I think, why these would be of particular concern.
SEN. SNOWE: Yeah, but weren't those the bases for the resolutions that were developed between the United Nations and Iraq?
MR. RITTER: Yes, ma'am, it --
SEN. SNOWE: In February?
MR. RITTER: We made a decision that in order to go after these weapons, we had to go after the concealment mechanism. This is part and parcel of the requirement to get Iraq to disarm.
SEN. SNOWE: And finally, one other question. Have you, during your years as an inspector, ever uncovered evidence which indicated direct personal interest by Saddam Hussein in specific chemical or biological weapons?
MR. RITTER: Yes, ma'am. We -- I mean, we have uncovered innumerable pieces of intelligence which indicate that the president of Iraq directs -- specifically directs -- the financing associated with covert procurement in this area and he also is the one responsible for directing the forces who do the actual acts of concealment. This is tied directly to the president of Iraq.
SEN. SNOWE: Thank you. And thank you, Major Ritter, for being here today.
MR. RITTER: Thank you.
SEN. THURMOND: I believe we don't have enough people to -- we won't have another round, but a few of us just have one question, and so I will start and if anybody else has a question, I'll be glad to give them a chance to ask it.
In light of Iraq's most recent refusal to allow on-site inspections, what is the status of this monitoring program?
MR. RITTER: The monitoring program requires that the Special Commission be allowed to conduct the full width of its inspection activities. You cannot take -- treat monitoring as one aspect or another. It has to be the totality of all the inspection tools available to the Commission. So the fact that we are not allowed to carry out a category of inspections, in this case, inspections of discovery, means that we are not carrying out effective monitoring of Iraq today.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Lugar, I believe you had a question.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Ritter, you stated in a Washington Post article, at least you were quoted as saying, "I know the Iraqis are concealing weapons and they are violating sanctions -- that they are doing their best to, for instance, covertly procure proscribed capabilities."
Let me ask, in the oil-for-food program, do you have evidence that they have used that program for procurement activities?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. Again, in accordance with my desire to protect the sources and methods, I can't get into very many details on this, but the Special Commission and the United States government have specific intelligence information which shows that Iraq uses the oil- for-food program to -- as a front to facilitate the acquisition of either dual-use or proscribed material.
SEN. LUGAR: Do you have any idea of the extend to which that has occurred in terms of either dollar amounts, quantities, anything that can give us a handle on how serious this procurement is?
MR. RITTER: It's definitely a serious issue. The one issue which I was directly involved in in a recent case involved dollar amounts of over $800,000. But again, we do not know the totality of this effort. We know that it's taking place, and part of our job as inspectors is to define just to what extent Iraq is violating sanctions and carrying on its weapons programs.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Levin.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I understood you to say in response to a question from Senator Feinstein that you did not expect Iraq necessarily to allow you access to the facilities that you sought to inspect because of the inherently confrontational nature, but that their refusal to do so would be useful, because if they refused to do it, then the world would be confronted with the fact that Iran -- I mean that Iraq was not complying with U.N. resolutions, and that then the world hopefully would be forced to confront that reality. Is that a fair summary of what you were saying to Senator Feinstein?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. LEVIN: Well, I want to thank you for that. I think that you have indeed confronted not just the world, but the Congress with this reality that we've all known about: that Saddam Hussein is thwarting the will of the world community. That's the bottom line. And so far, he's getting away with it because he's been able to survive the sanctions. And we have a choice as a Congress whether or not we're just going to support a sanction policy or whether we will do what we have not done and were not able to do a few months ago, which is to agree on a resolution authorizing the use of force to achieve what the U.N. resolution said and he agreed must be done.
That's really what you're confronting us with as well as the world, and I just want to thank you for that. I think it's a very useful function.
SFRC-SASC-RITTER-IRAQ PAGE 99 09/03/98
And I hope Congress responds, not just by saying, "Look, he's ignoring the world U.N. resolution and getting away with it," and "Look, we've said we're going to do something about it, and haven't," but, looking inward to ourselves as a Congress, "Okay, will we then resolve to use necessary force to force him to comply with the U.N. resolution? Or are we just simply going to go along with a sanction policy, in the hope that that will somehow or other weaken him?" You have forced us, I think, to confront ourselves and what we ourselves have not yet done, which is to come to grips with this very difficult issue: Are we willing to support the use of all necessary force to, one way or another, make sure he does not have weapons of mass destruction?
Thank you for stepping forward and confronting us with that choice.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Robb?
SEN. ROBB: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Just one last question: Following up on the analysis, as well as the question that Senator Levin just asked -- and I share the collective appreciation of the entire committee for what you have done and for forcing all of us who have policy responsibilities to come to grips with the situation that confronts us. You have understandably been reluctant to suggest exactly what the executive branch of the United States government or other members of the Security Council might do in terms of the specific enforcement question. But I would ask you if you think that there is anything short of the suggestion that was just made by Senator Levin, in terms of the full application of military force, that would have accomplished your specific objections -- objectives as the leader of the inspection team. In other words, would -- is there anything short of that particular approach, in your judgment, that would have advanced your cause to discover and -- both the items and the methods of concealment -- could you take a shot at that as a -- my final question?
MR. RITTER: Okay, sir. Thank you.
What -- again, you confront me with the position where, as an inspector, I could possibly taint a process of inspection that I want to -- I hope will continue, by trying to step into the purview of the Security Council or the United States.
But what I would say is that in June 1996, when this process of confrontation and concession began, had the Security Council stepped up to the plate and taken decisive measures, the price we would have had to pay for compliance would have been small indeed. I think a minimal amount of force could have been applied to Iraq to get them to comply.
But because the cycle of confrontation and concession has taken place now over the course of more than two years, and is continuing to take place today through Security Council resolutions that are being discussed where the secretary-general will be allowed to conduct a comprehensive review of the inspection team, the price that has to be paid today is much greater. What that price is, what exactly has to be used to compel Iraq, I can't define, but I know that it will be heavy; it will be significant.
SEN. ROBB: History is replete with examples where, if we had acted in some capacity sooner rather than later, the ultimate consequences might have been borne more easily. But given the situation as it exists today -- and I am not asking for any specifics -- just is there in your judgment anything short of the application of sustained force and all that that implies that would have advanced your program?
MR. RITTER: No, sir.
SEN. ROBB: Thank you very much, Major Ritter. And again, I compliment you.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Coverdell.
SEN. COVERDELL: Major, I have a series of questions that I am essentially doing for the record. I'll read them rather quickly, and your responses can be -- although they have been direct and very brief as it is --
In an interview on CNN two days ago, on September 1st, Secretary of State Albright made the following statement: "There have been great inspections that have taken place in the last several years where we have made it possible for them" -- UNSCOM -- "to go to the Ministry of Defense, for them to go into a number of areas that had never been inspected before."
Mr. Ritter, did you or anyone else at UNSCOM ever argue that there was compelling evidence to inspect the Iraqi Ministry of Defense for arms-control reasons?
MR. RITTER: No, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: But the secretary of State is clearly claiming that the United States "made it possible," quote-quote, for UNSCOM to inspect the Ministry of Defense. That would imply that UNSCOM wanted to conduct that inspection. Whose idea was it to conduct that inspection, UNSCOM's or the United States's?
MR. RITTER: The United States has been pressing the Special Commission to inspect the Ministry of Defense now for -- since 1991, and both of the executive chairmans have repeatedly held off from authorizing this because there was no compelling arms control reason presented to them for the conduct of such inspection. In March, the Special Commission was again -- or, in February, the Commission was confronted with a request -- even a demand -- by the United States that the Ministry of Defense be included in the list of disarmament targets. And the executive chairman was confronted by members of his staff, to include myself, and reminded that we had no compelling arms control reason to do this, and that this was probably heading down a slippery slope of confrontation which could not be backed up by our mandate.
SEN. COVERDELL: But UNSCOM yielded to U.S. pressure to conduct the MOD inspection?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: When you agreed to conduct the MOD inspection at the request of the United States, what was your estimate of the time that you needed to prepare for a thorough inspection of the site?
MR. RITTER: We informed the executive chairman that we would need up to three weeks to assemble the number of inspectors required to carry out an inspection of a facility the size of the MOD -- approximately 150 inspectors.
SEN. COVERDELL: Well, you've answered my next question. Please explain why you need so many people, and when you got into the Ministry of Defense, what happened?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir. We'd been telling the executive chairman and anybody who would listen that access does not start just by getting in the door. Access must be throughout the inspection. We must prevent Iraq from destroying documents, from removing documents, and from hiding documents and materiel in a site designated for inspection. A facility as big as the Ministry of Defense requires us to surround the facility, to block every exit, to put observers in every corridor, and to monitor the major rooms while we proceed with the course of the inspection. So we needed 150 inspectors to carry this task out.
SEN. COVERDELL: In your expert opinion, could you have done a credible arms control inspection of MOD facilities with that few inspectors in so little time?
MR. RITTER: No, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: Did you make your views on this known to Mr. Butler, and thus, presumably, to Secretary Albright at the same time?
MR. RITTER: I made my views clear to the executive chairman.
SEN. COVERDELL: But you were told to go forward anyway?
MR. RITTER: Yes, sir.
SEN. COVERDELL: I think you for your prompt response.
Mr. Chairman, I conclude my questions.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Snowe, do you have any further questions?
SEN. SNOWE: No, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Lugar?
SEN. LUGAR: We're all set.
SEN. THURMOND: Senator Levin?
SEN. LEVIN: No, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Mr. Ritter.
SEN. THURMOND: Do you have any further questions?
SEN. ROBB: No, I think that's --
SEN. THURMOND: Well, I think we've finally completed the hearing.
I want to thank all the senators who came and participated in this hearing. I think it is one of the most important hearings that we have held in a number of years. I especially wish to thank you, Mr. Ritter, for your appearance, for your excellent testimony, and you have proved that you are a real patriot and a great American. We're proud of you.
Now, if there's nothing else to come before the committee at this time, we now stand adjourned until the call of the chair.
LOAD-DATE: September 4, 1998
Copyright 1998 Federal Information Systems Corporation
All Rights Reserved
Posted for educational purposes - for Fair Use Only
[Footnotes and Further Reading follows the fundraising appeal]
[Make a donation]
To those who have responded to our fundraising appeal -Thank you! With your help we are now partly out of immediate trouble. To those who have not yet responded, if you can make a donation, and you value Emperor's Clothes, please help now!
Your donations are our only source of funds. Our best is yet to come...
Footnotes and Further Reading
on 'How the Lies of Scott Ritter Reveal
"Part 2: The Source of the Claim that Iraq had Nuclear
Weapons was... Scott Ritter," by Jared Israel at
This Website is
Jared Israel on the Lies of Scott Ritter and the Bizarre Iraq War - A Series
Jared Israel on the Lies of Scott Ritter and the Bizarre Iraq War - A Series
Jared Israel on the Lies of Scott Ritter and the Bizarre Iraq War - A Series