One of the more interesting revelations elicited
by Seymour Hersh from Scott Ritter during their public
discussion last month, sponsored by the New York Society for Ethical Culture,
about the Bush-Cheney administration’s not-so-secret plans to effect regime
change in Iran, was the extent to which Ritter has been – and apparently still
is – intimately associated with Israeli intelligence analysts.
According to Ritter, the involvement began during his service as a US Marine
intelligence officer, assigned to the staff of General Norman Schwartzkopf,
during our preparations for – and execution of – Operation Desert Storm.
The Iranians and the Iraqis had launched hundreds of Scud ballistic missiles
against each other in the Iran-Iraq war, but Saddam Hussein was known to have
some left. Ritter’s job was to find out – using on-the-ground human intelligence
and spy-satellite imagery – where those missiles were. Ritter soon concluded
that the Israelis – who correctly feared Saddam might launch those missiles
against them – had already done most of his job for him.
During his seven years of post-USMC service as Chief Weapons
Inspector for the UN Special Commission on Iraq, Ritter says he
continued to rely heavily on Israeli intelligence to do his job.
Furthermore, in response to prompting by Hersh, Ritter revealed that his latest
Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change, was
heavily informed by ongoing conversations with Israeli intelligence analysts.
So, when Amy
Goodman – host and executive producer of Democracy Now! – was interviewing
Ritter about "Target Iran," she knew Ritter was the man to describe
the similarities "between the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq [in 2003]
and what’s happening now with Iran,"
"The biggest similarity that we need to point out is that in both
cases no evidence was put forward [by the White House] to sustain the
allegations that are being made.
"Iraq was accused of having weapons of mass destruction programs,
reconstituting chemical, biological, nuclear, long-range ballistic
There was an [UN] inspection process in place that had access, full access
to the facilities in question, and no data was derived from these inspections
that backed up the Bush administration's allegations.
And yet, Iraq was told, it’s not up to the inspectors to find the weapons.
It’s up to Iraq to prove they don't exist. Iraq had to prove a negative. And
We now know that in 1991, Saddam Hussein had destroyed the totality of his
weapons programs. There weren’t any left to find, discover. There was no threat."
(Ritter did not make in the Goodman interview the accusation he has made –
and provided documentary evidence for – in the past. Namely, that from 1997
onwards, "we" – Clinton-Gore and Bush-Cheney – did know that
Saddam had totally destroyed his "weapons of mass destruction" and
his capability to produce such weapons, and had made no attempt to reconstruct
"We now have Iran.
It’s alleged [by the White House] to have a nuclear weapons program. And yet
the International Atomic Energy Agency, the inspectors who have had full access
to the sites in Iran, have come out and said, "Well, we can’t say that
there isn’t a secret program that we don’t know about. What we can say, as a
direct result of our investigations, there is no data whatsoever to sustain
the Bush administration's claims that there is a nuclear weapons program."
(Ritter revealed in the public discussion with Hersh that Israeli intelligence
has also been unable – despite considerable use of on-the-ground human
intelligence and analysis of spy-satellite images – to find any indication that
Iran does have a secret nuclear program.)
"And yet, the Bush administration once again is putting the onus on
Iran, saying, 'It’s not up to the inspectors to find the nuclear weapons program.
It’s up to the Iranians to prove that one doesn’t exist.'
Why do we go down this path?
Because you can’t prove a negative!
There’s nothing Iran can do that will satisfy the Bush administration, because
the policy at the end of the day is not about nonproliferation, it’s not about
It’s about regime change. And all the Bush administration
wants to do is to create the conditions that support their ultimate objective
of military intervention.
Read the 2006 version of the National
Security Strategy, where Iran is named sixteen times as the number one threat
to the national security of the United States of America, because in the same
document, it embraces the notion of pre-emptive wars of aggression as a legitimate
means of dealing with such threats.
Look, Bush has already said that he doesn’t want to leave Iran to the next
president, that this is a problem he needs to solve now."
And why does Bush feel he needs to effect regime change in Iran? Because of
pressure by the Likudniks, here and abroad.
"Israel has drawn a red line that says, not only will they not tolerate
a nuclear weapons program in Iran, they will not tolerate anything dealing
with nuclear energy, especially enrichment, that could be used in a nuclear
So, even if Iran is telling the truth – Iran says, 'We have no nuclear weapons
program. We just want peaceful nuclear energy'– Israel says, 'So long as Iran
has any enrichment capability, this constitutes a threat to Israel,' and they
are pressuring the United States to take forceful action."
The New York Times has just published an exhaustive pre-election
poll [.pdf]. Somewhat to the Grey Lady’s surprise, the issue most on voters
minds is not same-sex marriage; it’s the ongoing war in Iraq, which most voters
now believe was launched under false pretenses.
The voters are not much concerned about North Korea’s nuclear weapons, indeed,
do not consider North Korea a "threat."
But what do the voters think about Bush’s upcoming preemptive attack against "the number one threat" to our national security?
The New York Times doesn’t know. You see, there was no mention of Iran
in their exhaustive pre-election poll.