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Scott Ritter speaks to all the flakes in LA
Gene Expression Weblog ^ | 11/14/02 | Joel G

Posted on 11/14/2002 1:36:22 PM PST by spycatcher

all the flakes in LA

Tonight Caltech's Social Activism Speaker Series brought erstwhile weapons inspector Scott Ritter to campus. Doors opened at 7:30, but I figured it would be popular, and I was the 10th person (or so) in line, shortly after 7. The Green Party, "War For Sale", and "Amnesty International" all set up tables right in front of the lilypond I'm always tempted to push people into, and boy was I tempted tonight.

Some guy selling "Revolutionary Worker" papers came through the line and asked me if I understood that the United Nations was just rubberstamping Bush's war plans. "Of course," I told him, "that's what they're there for!" He smiled approvingly and walked on.

The auditorium (seats 400 or so) filled up fast, and they filled an overflow auditorium and stuck several hundred people more on the lawn with loudspeakers. Caltech is not a political place, by and large, so at first I thought maybe people had come hoping to see John Ritter. But it seems like every flake in the greater Los Angeles area showed up.

After being introduced by a kid with pink hair ("pinko!"), Scott Ritter showed up and expressed his pleasure that Iraq had agreed to accept inspectors. But, he maintained, the new tough resolution was a sham. For starters, it had arbitrary deadlines in it ("Why 30 days to turn in an assessment? why not 60? or 90?" I was unable to point out that either of those would be equally arbitrary.)

Ritter had the answer: because of airplane carrier logistics, the optimum window for attacking Iraq opens around December 15 and closes in March. And so the UN resolution was crafted with those precise dates in mind.

"WE'RE GOING TO WAR!" Whenever the crowd's attention level seemed to have dropped a bit, Ritter would pipe in again, "WE'RE GOING TO WAR," in his folksy "I'm-just-a-marine" drawl. This segued into the anti-war portion of his speech:

War is about one thing and one thing only: death and [sic] destruction. People will die. So look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Am I willing to die for Iraq?" What gives you the right to send people to Iraq to die?
So began an evening of moral equivalence, bad analogy, and faulty logic, all of which the crowd ate up.

Then he started talking about the Constitution: "I took an oath to a piece of paper! ... The Constitution defines who we are as people." His point seemed to be

* GWB's new war powers are unconstitutional,
* we joined the UN via a treaty (per the Constitution), and so
* we should do what the UN says

At this point he began an extended spiel on "Democracy." We, you see, have "failed as a democracy" by not voting on War with Iraq. (This part made little sense to me, and I was partially distracted by making Arrow's Theorem jokes to the friend I'd dragged along). Ritter noted that we'd just had an election, but "was Iraq part of that election? No!" I don't particularly agree with this -- one could argue that the election results constituted tacit endorsement of GWB's Iraqi plans. But Ritter would have none of it:
We're not a democracy!

We're a dictatorship of one!
This brought rousing applause from the crowd.

Next he went into a description of his inspection strategies. He'd done a good job, he assured us, and any assertion that Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction seemed to be an affront to his competence. Ritter described repeated patterns of Iraqi lying, UN detective work, and weapons destruction, the general logic of which went like this:

(1) So they lied to us about having VX gas.
(2) But then we found evidence they had VX gas.
(3) Oh, right, we had VX gas, they told us. But only 10 gallons.
(4) But then we found evidence of 50 gallons.
(5) They proved to us that they'd destroyed 48 gallons.
(6) We were satisfied.

In short, they seemed to be satisfied with very little, largely on the basis of self-congratulation regarding their own detective work.

He hadn't spoken about sanctions, so he did that now. Saddam might be "pulling the trigger," he assured us, but the US (and hence you and I, as citizens) were surely responsible too. Imagine, he asked us, that on the way from the airport to Caltech he'd asked his driver to stop at a bank, at which point he'd gone in, robbed it, and shot two people. He [analogous to Saddam] was "the triggerman" but the driver [analogous to us] was legally an accomplice. I leave it to you to pick out the holes in this analogy.

Not willing to stop at one bad analogy, he demanded to see GWB's evidence for Saddam's WMD. Imagine, he asked this time, that you went to the doctor who told you you had a brain tumor and that he needed to cut open your head on the spot. And further, when you asked him to see the X-ray, he assured you that he didn't need to show it to you. This, he maintained, was what GWB was doing to us. I leave it to you to pick out the holes in this analogy.

At long last he brought out the "U" word -- unilateralism. Why, unilateralism is a rejection of "international law!" In fact, it's outright "imperialism." And Scott Ritter will be damned if he's going to let us become an empire! [Wild applause.]

Finally, we descended into utter bogosity: "why do they hate us?"
Because we consume their resources. Our "consumer attitude" is a threat to their existence. [True, but not in the way Ritter meant it.] We're removing hope [huh?] of a better life, and they have no choice but to blow up buses because that's the only option we give them.
And with that, we opened up the floor to an amazing Q&A session. People lined up at the microphones, and one of them -- a fat guy in a nice suit -- had a certain air about him. "Watch him," I told my friend, "that guy's crazy."

The first guy thanked Ritter for his courage, and then asked -- on behalf of his "conservative neighbors" -- about Ritter's film deal. Ritter gave a fairly convincing explanation of where the money came from and some associated FBI investigations, and I decided not to hold this particular incident against him.

Next someone asked about Iraq's purchases of nerve gas antidotes, and whether that meant Saddam had nerve gas. Well, Ritter told him, we were good inspectors, and he didn't have any in 1998. But it only takes 6 months to produce, so he guessed Saddam might have some now.

An old lady wearing a strange hat and lots of buttons started giving a speech: "You are a true patriot..." and then started talking about "spontaneous [sic] demonstrations we have every week." There was limited time for Q&A, so people started shouting at her, "QUESTION! QUESTION!" She kept on with her speech and finally people shouted her down.

Someone asked what role oil plays, and -- surprisingly -- Ritter said he thought it played very little role: "This is not about oil, it's about ideology." He was very very very focused on American Unilateralism. The next person asked "why Iraq," and Ritter reiterated his view that Iraq was a "case study for American Unilateralism."

Since it had been a while since we'd had any real loopiness, the next person asked, "what about American weapons of mass destruction?" The whole audience laughed. Clearly, our possession of such weapons is the same as the Iraqi's, and we've just discovered a new glaring hypocrisy! Ritter made some astonishingly naive assertions about nuclear strategy, included in which were the propositions

* The Soviets pursued nuclear weapons only because we already had them, and
* If we got rid of all nuclear weapons, then no one would want any anymore.

This naivete brought, as expected, overwhelming applause.

An old woman approached the microphone and argued: "I do believe the major factor is oil!" (She was quickly shouted down with "QUESTION!", though Ritter praised their "agreement to disagree" as healthy for democracy.)

Next someone asked Ritter how his story had changed since 1998. "It hasn't changed; it's evolved."

Ritter was asked about his address to the Iraqi "parliament." Well, he told us, Bush and Blair were getting together in early September to discuss war plans, and were going to send out Condi and Cheney and Powell and Rumsfeld on the Sunday shows to pitch war to the nation. And he had to do something to pre-empt them. So he went to Baghdad and used his "bully pulpit" and convinced the Iraqis to take back inspectors. And on Sunday morning, Bush's people had to deal with him, dadgummit!

The next question was about sanctions, to which Ritter (who supports lifting them, obviously) responded, "You can't have a policy that results in the deaths of innocents." I though about pointing out that raising speed limits from 55 to 65 resulted in the deaths of innocents, but I decided it wouldn't be productive.

Finally, my much anticipated fatman got to the mic, and he didn't disappoint:
Why isn't it mentioned that the mideast is supposed to be a nuclear-free zone. Isn't there a double standard against Israel? [my ears perked up at this point] I read the British papers, and I wonder why the papers here don't report on the Radical Zionist Agenda of Paul Wolfowitz and others in the administration!
Amazingly, this comment brought loud applause! (I was at this point waiting for someone to shout out "kill the Jews").

Ritter backed away from this guy, but he didn't really call bullshit on his ludicrous anti-Semitism. Then he closed with the assertion that immediately after 9/11, Americans were sold the idea of Saddam (rather than Osama bin Laden) as the 9/11 mastermind. While I'm sure that there are people who believe this, I read a lot of news and I can't remember any suggestions that this was the case (other than the supposed Atta-Iraq connection). And so we ended. The flakes shuffled out, and I came back to my office to turn 13 pages of scribbly notes into this. :)

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Political Humor/Cartoons
KEYWORDS: inspections; iraq; scottritter; traitor
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1 posted on 11/14/2002 1:36:23 PM PST by spycatcher
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To: spycatcher
Once again:

Scott Ritter's main complaint is that not enough people are paying attention to Scott Ritter.

2 posted on 11/14/2002 1:38:58 PM PST by wideawake
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To: spycatcher
A traitor's noose or a firing squad made up of Marines, the choice is yours Comrade Bin Ritter.
3 posted on 11/14/2002 1:39:11 PM PST by Sparta
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To: spycatcher
Flakes, indeed.
4 posted on 11/14/2002 1:41:17 PM PST by Saundra Duffy
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To: spycatcher
Scott Ritter speaks to all the OTHER flakes in LA. Flakes of a feather...or a whatever.
5 posted on 11/14/2002 1:42:17 PM PST by cake_crumb
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To: wideawake
He's also concerned for his friend Saddam
6 posted on 11/14/2002 1:43:24 PM PST by spycatcher
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To: Sparta
Generally firing squads are 12 people. There might be too many volunteers.
7 posted on 11/14/2002 1:45:15 PM PST by BushRep
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To: spycatcher
But...But...This is what Ritter said after he left his job in 1998:

"...Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed. UNSCOM lacks a full declaration from Iraq concerning its prohibited capabilities, making any absolute pronouncement about the extent of Iraq's retained proscribed arsenal inherently tentative. But, based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas. This agent is stored in artillery shells, bombs, and ballistic missile warheads. And Iraq retains significant dual-use industrial infrastructure that can be used to rapidly reconstitute large-scale chemical weapons production.

Meanwhile, Iraq has kept its entire nuclear weapons infrastructure intact through dual-use companies that allow the nuclear-design teams to conduct vital research and practical work on related technologies and materials. Iraq still has components (high explosive lenses, initiators, and neutron generators) for up to four nuclear devices minus the fissile core (highly enriched uranium or plutonium), as well as the means to produce these. Iraq has retained an operational long-range ballistic missile force that includes approximately four mobile launchers and a dozen missiles. And, under the guise of a permitted short-range missile program, Iraq has developed the technology and production means necessary for the rapid reconstitution of long-range ballistic missile production..."

Saddam's Trap - Why We're Doing Exactly What He Wants ( Ritter on Iraq 12/21/98 )
8 posted on 11/14/2002 1:46:17 PM PST by Shermy
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To: BushRep
Well we'll have to have a lottery to pick the lucky 12.
9 posted on 11/14/2002 1:46:49 PM PST by Sparta
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To: BushRep
"Generally firing squads are 12 people. There might be too many volunteers"

Maybe we could have a raffle.

10 posted on 11/14/2002 1:48:25 PM PST by Darlin'
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To: Sparta
11 posted on 11/14/2002 1:49:08 PM PST by Darlin'
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To: spycatcher
I thought "they" said Scott Ritter was brain-washed.
12 posted on 11/14/2002 1:53:10 PM PST by Dixie republican
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To: spycatcher
You shouldn't have been surprised at the great reception, especially for the antisemite. CalTech is full of visiting Arab and sympathizer students. Here is one place the INS could get started, IMHO. In 2002, the place was plastered with Gore Lieberman stickers.
13 posted on 11/14/2002 1:54:21 PM PST by Inkie
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To: Inkie
Oops, I meant 2000.
14 posted on 11/14/2002 1:54:44 PM PST by Inkie
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To: spycatcher
The term "useful idiot" was invented for this guy.
15 posted on 11/14/2002 1:54:57 PM PST by valkyrieanne
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To: spycatcher
This is one of the most entertaining (and erudite) posts I have read in some time. Thanks.
16 posted on 11/14/2002 1:57:09 PM PST by winstonchurchill
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To: wideawake
Well, I had hoped this discredited traitor had finally crawled into his hole to hide, but at least he has been reduced to only finding an audience with the most extreme left fringe.
17 posted on 11/14/2002 1:57:34 PM PST by Moby Grape
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To: Dixie republican
Ritter is a curious chameleon. He needs to be watched as carefully as Steven Hatfill
18 posted on 11/14/2002 1:58:50 PM PST by spycatcher
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To: spycatcher
Why don't he move to iraq!He seems to care more for those"diaperheaded sand crawlers"than his own countrymen.
19 posted on 11/14/2002 2:01:58 PM PST by INSENSITIVE GUY
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To: winstonchurchill
Thanks, I've noticed more freepers are watching weblogs now so we can share gems like this
20 posted on 11/14/2002 2:02:21 PM PST by spycatcher
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