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Dinner With Ahmed

Posted on Mar 17, 2008
Ahmed Chalabi
AP photo / Hadi Mizban

A man with many powerful American friends, Ahmed Chalabi was once trumpeted as the George Washington of Iraq. Twists of fortune have hindered but not ended his political ambitions.

By Scott Ritter

Editor’s note: Five years after the invasion of Iraq, Scott Ritter reconstructs from his memories and notes one of the seminal events in the march to war.

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As we approach the fifth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I find myself thinking back on how we got ourselves into this predicament. Like many who played a direct role in the issues surrounding Iraq in the years leading up to the decision to invade, I have wrestled with the demons of history, wondering about the specific impact my actions (or inaction) may have had on the course of human affairs. I’ve also wondered whether or not I have been witness to any events that, if more fully reported, might enable others to have a better understanding of the events that shape our world today, for better or for worse. As I examine where we are today and contemplate our future and those who are positioning themselves to play a role in Iraq, it seems to me that there is at least one such incident, a dinner party I attended at the home of Ahmed Chalabi in June 1998 that is worthy of a more public illumination.

During my time as a weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), I frequently traveled to Washington, D.C., for liaison purposes. The usual customers, so to speak, included the State Department, the CIA and the Department of Defense. All such meetings were conducted in accordance with instructions I had received from the executive chairman of UNSCOM (from 1991 until July 1997 this post was held by a Swede named Rolf Ekéus and after July by an Australian, Richard Butler) and as such were considered “official business.”

I strayed from the umbrella of “official business” only once during my tenure as an inspector, when, in June 1998, during a scheduled official trip to Washington, D.C., I ventured out into the shadows of back-bench domestic American politics. Bill Clinton was president then, and there was a growing undercurrent of neoconservative ideology that was gripping the nation’s capitol as the right wing of the Republican Party, frustrated by its inability to outmaneuver the president on the domestic front, chose to instead do battle on matters pertaining to foreign policy and national security. Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein was deeply entrenched in Baghdad. Economic sanctions, which served as the primary vehicle for containing the Iraqi dictator by denying him markets for his oil-based economy, were collapsing amid international concern for the humanitarian toll that such sanctions took on the people of Iraq, and in the face of old-fashioned greed. U.N. weapons inspections were floundering and the Clinton administration seemed to lack any coherent plan on how to bring order from the foreign policy chaos that was Iraq.

In early June 1998, UNSCOM weapons inspectors received a technical report from a U.S. military laboratory in Aberdeen, Md., which specialized in chemical and biological agent analysis. In March 1998, UNSCOM had retrieved from Iraq several fragments of ballistic missile warheads from a site that had been used by the Iraqis in their program of unilateral destruction of WMD in the summer of 1991. The Iraqis, in an effort to clarify glaring discrepancies in the accounting of their weapons-of-mass-destruction stockpiles, had admitted that a certain number of these warheads had been filled with chemical and biological agent, in particular nerve agent, and anthrax and botulinum toxin biological agent. In an effort to verify the Iraqi claims, UNSCOM had excavated warhead fragments from the declared destruction sites and sent them to the U.S. military laboratory in Aberdeen for analysis.

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By early June 1998 the results were back, and they were, on the surface, stunning: Rather than finding evidence of the declared chemical or biological agent that the Iraqis had admitted placing in the warheads, the Aberdeen lab results showed trace evidence of the chemical degradation byproduct of stabilized VX nerve agent, one of the most deadly substances known to man. The Iraqis had admitted trying to produce VX nerve agent in the past, but denied that they had ever succeeded in stabilizing the volatile chemical (i.e., preventing the agent from deteriorating over time and becoming useless as a weapon), let alone filling any warhead with VX. The lab results from Aberdeen, if correct, dramatically contradicted the Iraqi claims and potentially turned the entire disarmament effort of UNSCOM in Iraq on its head.

Butler, the Australian diplomat who headed UNSCOM at the time, was arriving in Baghdad when the Aberdeen lab results were released. Inspectors in New York were able to transmit a copy of the report to Baghdad, and the senior UNSCOM chemical inspector in Iraq at the time was able to meet Butler at plane-side to personally brief him on the dramatic news. Butler was in Baghdad to undertake a delicate negotiation with the Iraqi government on a so-called road map that would serve as the basis upon which UNSCOM and Iraq would seek to work together to clarify outstanding issues, and seek verification for declarations made by Iraq, such as its stance on VX nerve agent, which UNSCOM was unwilling to take at face value. The Aberdeen lab report threw a monkey wrench into Butler’s tightly scripted plan, and he decided to keep the report under wraps for the time being in order to let diplomacy take its course.

The UNSCOM chemical inspectors were furious. Over the years they had uncovered one lie after another about Iraq’s VX nerve agent program. Initially, the inspectors proved that a VX program existed when Iraq claimed it did not (in order to prove that point, inspectors had to burrow down inside bombed-out buildings to recover buried documents the Iraqis thought lost). Later, the inspectors were able to force the Iraqis to admit that the VX nerve agent effort was in fact larger than the laboratory-scale research and development program they tried to peddle once their denials had been proved false. The chemists had already contradicted the Iraqis on the issue of stabilized VX, by finding traces of VX stabilizer in VX agent recovered from containers the Iraqis had thought had been thoroughly sanitized. This discovery forced the Iraqis to admit having attempted VX stabilization. But in the end, the Iraqis maintained that all of their efforts had failed, and that VX agent had never been “weaponized,” or loaded into a warhead or shell. Now, with the Aberdeen lab report, this last lie seemed to have been uncovered.

Over lunch in the U.N. cafeteria, I listened while the UNSCOM chemical weapons inspectors vented their anger and frustration. Butler was selling out, they speculated. Why else wouldn’t he make use of this material? I asked the chemists how certain they were of the lab results. One hundred percent, they said. The lab results had discovered incontrovertible proof of the existence of specific chemicals on the warhead fragments, which could be explained only as the result of the degradation over time of VX stabilizer. “What would be the ideal situation vis-à-vis this information?” I asked. Everyone at the table believed that Butler was being pressured by the Clinton administration not to provoke a major crisis with Iraq over the issue of disarmament, so as not to break the existing Security Council consensus on maintaining economic sanctions. As such, the best scenario would be to have this information made public, published in the press so that neither Butler nor the Clinton administration could ignore it. Several of the inspectors around the table had served as background sources for some of the world’s leading journalists. “Why not slip a copy of the report to one of these press contacts?” I asked. The lab report, they responded, was tightly held. If it was leaked out of New York, suspicion would automatically gravitate toward them, a situation none of the inspectors wanted to deal with. “What if,” I asked, “I could get the lab report released in Washington, D.C., with no UNSCOM fingerprints?” The chemists liked this idea, and slipped me a copy of the lab results.

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By Shenonymous, June 16, 2008 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

Part 1:
JMCSwan: (any relation to The Ghost of Freedom Lost Anonymous?)  Yes, that was my mother.  Remorse, public remorse, well I’ve heard a few exiting Washington crooked Republicans express remorse.  And didn’t Bill Clinton say he was sorry about the ML affair?  If there was any understanding of pain anybody experiences from the corridors of power, I guess I’d be thunderstruck. 

Pain as a noun, means physical suffering or distress due to injury, illness, etc.; a sudden sharp twinge; mental or emotional suffering or torment; also can mean laborious or careful efforts,or to cause mental or emotional pain; as a verb, means to have or give pain, to hurt   Synonyms include: torture, misery, torment, ache, agony, anguish.  I know one ex-Marine who reads a lot of Bertrand Russell and Simon Blackburn and is touched by others’ pain.  No finer man lives and I am proud to call him my friend. 

I have seen many of Scott Ritter’s articles on Truthdig.  His criticism of September 7, 2007 of the war in Iraq was head on and bold saying “We don’t belong [in Iraq],”  and what he says in his recent column “Taking a Stand Against War” and the Bush determination to have a war with Iran. I cannot disagree with him and he is one loud voice desperately needed in the airwaves.  I have a hard time believing he is Republican knowing what he seems to know.  Whatever he is, it would be good for him to endorse either Obama or McCain to see where the the cards of truth stack up.

If we want to say he changed from his conversation with Chalabi, and I don’t think he did, we would have to see where he was before the dinner and what he says in this article.  And let’s do remember that this article is March this year and the dinner was 10 years ago.  Isn’t that a long time acoming?  So any change that happened would have happened long before we ever knew of him. 

It is all we can all do to stay sane, JMCSwan, to withstand the manipulation of others.  You might be lucky that you wre able to “create a world that is even a little less insane.”  And of course not you nor anyone can be responsible for other’s intentions.  We ourselves must remain authentic, genuine, sincere.  What contemptible Machiavellians do must be counteracted to whatever degree of power we have.  The entities that exist that only want power and to control the world, they aren’t satisfied with their own ambience, they covet everything and everybody. 

There are voices that have been clamoring against the treachery of devious corporate power all along:  John Edwards, Ralph Nader, even Hillary Clinton has spoken against corporate assumption of power and control over everything. You are right in your analogy of corporations to a virus.  Corporations see only profit margin and do not see any real humanity in existence except for that they want humanity to buy its products or other moneymaking programs. The snake eating its tail is an ancient logo and used by a lot of people.  The snake eating its own tail, called the Ouroboros, was made popular by Kurt Vonnegut in his Breakfast of Champions, also X-files Dana Scully had an ouroborus tatooed on her, James Bond, and often found among alchemists symbols.  But more than that it appears in almost every religon.  The self eating animal usually represents infinity or unity and even by Carl Jung who thought the tail-eater played a large part as an archetype in the human psyche.  Mike Ruppert’s comparison to corporate virulence sounds most appropriate.  Seems whoever it is walks a fine line between power and extreme power when it comes to the presidency.  Is it inescapable?  I think so.  If as you say it is only a matter of what concessions not whether there will be any, then we have a completely pessimistic future. 
Yes, “what about all those citizens who have a responsibility toward particpation in their Constitutional Republic…..?”

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By Shenonymous, June 16, 2008 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

The thing is, all citizens have that responsibility, but most of the public do not even think about what is their responsibility.  There is a small segment of the population, count us among them, who are even conscious that there is a responsibility.  We attribute too much political intelligence to the general public.  Most people are too busy eking out a life.  I think the problem of vastness is at the root of a lot of what is perceived as apathy.  Expectations may be beyond what is reasonable from as large a population as we have.  That is why we need a democracy instead of a republic.
I get your analogy but I don’t agree with it.  I don’t see the demos as obstinate belligerent mules refusing to move, but rather as an ignorant sheep who need to be transformed through education into American Mustangs able to hold their own against the purebred Arabians. 

I don’t think it is a matter of moronic stupidity that “they” do not confront reality.  I think the powers that be know the reality and wish to change it to their own advantage.  They are perfect examples of the Thrasymachus character in Plato’s
Republic who recklessly defends injustice and staunchly claims that justice is the advantage of the stronger.  “They” do not want an egalitarian society even though they may sophistically say they do.  But do you think we are headed for a totalitarian-like state of government?  I think there are too many watchers out here, don’t you think there are enough?

I agree with the face-to-face honest conversation.  I found some folks I’ve met on the forums as honest, but not very many.  Some I thought were, turned out to be chimeras.  Very disappointing.  I don’t know about that word love.  Seems to me to be as I’ve said elsewhere, a hypothetical construct.  We create our worlds and those we want to love.  Your brother was still feeling his pain.  He has to lick his wounds yet.  You intruded on his hurting psyche.  Mugabe torturing children now, either each human being has value or we are just hypocrites when we say that.
I’ve enjoyed the conversation JMCSwan.

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By JMCSwan, June 15, 2008 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous (part 2)

You ask who I refer to as ‘we’. Good question! I was meaning generally as ‘we’ by anyone who considers themselves concerned about how the current political, corporate corrupt system, functions, and who seriously want to create or support a movement for a system that is not hell bent on Hooveresque blackmail of political leaders. The blame is not only on those who are already compromised in the system; what about all the citizens who have a responsibility towards participation in their Constitutional Republic and supporting whistleblowers and who did not do so, and now are sitting with a feint thread to a ‘democracy’. A democracy is to a Constitutional Republic, what an obstinate beligerrent mule, that refuses to move, is to an Arabian thoroughbred, whether wild on the moors of Mongolia, or whispered to in Wyoming; for a National Velvet Mounty. If you get my analogy.

I agree, ‘they’ do know how things work, and yet I’d imagine they would have to be beyond moronic stupidity, if they were not willing to confront the reality, that things cannot go on as they have, for without some joint action towards a more enlightened egalitarian society, the alternative option ain’t going to be pleasant for them either, in the same manner that the corporate ironfists of the Third Reich, found out too late.

Thank you for enlightening me that “How is it that there can be honest conversation since that implies honest participants?” The only way in which I have managed to hold a really honest conversation, is face-to-face, in person, with both parties sincerely interested in the conversation. Written word helps, however it’s so one dimensional, lacking tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, question and answer in the moment; and even better, in my opinion is where both participants are not stuck in personal withheld resentments or appreciations, obstructing themselves from being willing to be really open to listening to the other, from a place of love.

The ‘leave them alone’ ‘none of whomever’s business’ remarks reminds me of a conversation I had with my brother, which I share as an analogy; in terms of politicians (whether Iraqi, or American) and their ‘children’, namely citizens, voters. Subsequent to my brother and his wife ‘having’ children, their relationship went seriously downhill. They spent thousands on psychologists to patch it up, and then seperated. One day I asked my brother whether any of the psychologists he had spent thousands and thousands of rands on, had ever asked him and his wife, whether prior to them having children they had sat down and seriously considered what commitments they wanted to make prior thereto, to each other, why were they having children (to patch up their marriage, or just cause everyone does it, or why?, what is the political situation like, what is the future twenty years from now, within the current political climate for such children, and so on). Anyway he looked at me, as if I had just landed in a UFO on his front lawn, and slapped him in the face; and told me it was none of my business. On a political leader relativity scale: Sort of like Mugabe saying what he does to his Zimbabwean children, whether it’s torture, or whatever, is none of the international community’s business.

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By JMCSwan, June 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous (any relation to The Ghost of Freedom Lost Anonymous?)

Hi. I didn’t know that Scott is often a guest on KPFK - how interesting, considering Scott being a republican. KPFK were shall I say slightly paranoic about getting former LAPD narcotics investigator and From the Wilderness editor and investigative journalist on either KPFK or KPFA. Interesting. I haven’t a clue what the Lila Garrett, Connect the Dots show is about, although I can imagine.

Sincere remorse is not an emotion our current society encourages the expression of in public, and I’d go as far to say that great efforts are made, whether conscious or unconscious, within the corridors of power, to discourage any contemplation towards sincere attempts at understanding another’s pain, and consequently even if we did what we did with the best of intentions, doesn’t mean we cannot understand how our good intention conduct, still contributed to allot of pain and suffering for another.

The Marine Corps does not exactly encourage it’s souldiers to wear the hearts on their sleeves, yet I must admit to having been lucky to know a few Marine’s whom were touched, by anothers pain, when confronted with it, personally.

Scott’s dinner with Ahmed was indeed very different to Andre and Wallace’s, yet for some reason, I don’t consider Scott as the type of Marine and man, who was not somehow changed by his interpretation of the conversation. Perhaps I am wrong, don’t know.

I too have been used by others manipulations, all that keeps me sane, is knowing that at all times, my intentions were simply to remain true to those I love, as best I could, and do my little bit to attempt to create a world that is a little less insane and as destructive of human’s spirits, souls, and so much else. I cannot be responsible for other’s intentions.

I read Fadel Abdullah remarks on March 18, 7:15 pm to Mike Mid-City, about Chalabi. He is probably correct about Chalabi, I don’t know; it’s easy to judge. And if it is true of Chalabi, how true is it of most other politicians? One of the telling sentences in Scott’s essay is how he describes the obvious, political power only comes from a base of economic power. Corporate CEO’s are not blind to this reality, anything but, they exploit it to the maximum. Unfortunately very seldom considering long term visions and goals for the consequence of their actions on humanity. The corporate exploitation of the political process, isn’t much different to an immune destroying virus in a human body, as it eats it’s host, and we can see the consequences thereof in our world. Mike Ruppert used to describe it as a snake eating its own tail, thinking it nutrition.

Is it possible to become a president, or leading politician in any country, without being compromised by corporate manipulations and corrupt practices? I am not attempting to endorse it, although it may sound that way, I am simply saying that once you reach the pinnacles of political or corporate power, where the media consider your opinions worthy of their distribution, you are already compromised, and consequently, in a Hooveresque manner, any serious criticism of this unholy system is avoided.

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By Shenonymous, June 14, 2008 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Gad, I closed the italics incorrectly.  I hope it doesn’t ruin further comments.
Duh. What one little typo can do.

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By Shenonymous, June 14, 2008 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

JMCSwan (I got it right this time), I understand your allusion to the film MDWA, having seen the Louis Malle film many years ago.  Conversations sometimes can be life changeing it?s true.  Their conversation gets involved in the nature of reality aside from forms of theater.  Reality often is referred to as theater of a type.  It is more a philosophical film. 

This article has been sleeping for quite a while but I am okay to re-discuss it.  I have been listening to Scott Ritter for over five years.  He is an often guest on KPFK in Los Angeles, the Lila Garrett, Connect the Dots.

In this article about his 10-years ago dinner with Chalabi, Ritter doesn?t express much in the way of remorse for not following up immediately on the plans of Trent Lott, et al Republicans who were more interested in harpooning Bill Clinton than dealing with the reality of Iraq and Hussein. And although there was a dinner had, it is quite unlike Andre Gregory?s and Wallace Shawn?s dinner at a restaurant.  Chalabi?s and Ritter?s conversation was hardly philosophical and neither men were changed by their confrontation. 

Ritter now is quite safe to make his literary memories and make great capital discussing openly What Should Have Beens and from any employment ramifications by making known both the fact of the meeting (so cleverly arranged by Lott and Chalabi who obviously thought Ritter could be instrumental in furthering their respective agendas: Chalabi?s coveting the presidency of Iraq and Lott?s vendetta against Bill Clinton).  You might check Fadel Abdullah remarks on this forum, especially the lengthy March 18, 7:15 pm to Mike Mid-City. 

Regarding your statement, ?Until we understand how things currently work and the problems therewith,..? Provisionally I agree, but who is the ?we? you to whom you are referring?  For I highly suspect ?they? know how things work, so even if ?we? understood what could ?we? do about impropriety and lies and such manipulation of our whole lives which suffer in every area of society the ramifications of the actions of the Republican and corporate ironfists.  Then you say further, ?...we cannot have an honest conversation to how we may want it to work differently.?  How is it that there can be honest conversation since that implies honest participants?

To briefly comment on Joe?s March 19 comment about Ritter?s alleged ?shimata,? which I say was little to none, and I charge that Ritter ?places himself near the top of the list,? in a rather Johnny-come-lately style that made his book much more salable, as selling books seems to be the soup du jour.  Joe as a misery loves company amelioration accuses ?all of us? when all of us did not support any of the actions taken with respect to Iraq.  The fact that we the people are powerless against the powerful politicians and military industrial complex does not make us accomplices.  And further, let?s note how well Ritter?s very small voice if at all was at the time and little stronger voice but very late advice to ?leave them alone? was taken.

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By Shenonymous, June 13, 2008 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

Mr. MCSwan I apologize for my last previous posting but I was riled up.  I have practiced being more calm.  I should very much like to respond to your post but I am presently involved in a project.  I will think about what you said and hopefully get back to your comments very soon.

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By JMCSwan, June 13, 2008 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment


Re: Your question of in what way can the details of the dinner party help .....

My perspective on Scott’s article, and your question, is that it was written by him, as an analogy to the movie by the name of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. In MDWA, he goes to dinner with a friend in NYC, and in the conversation over dinner, the conversation and ideas shared have such an impact on him, that when he leaves the dinner party, it’s as if he has a totally new way of looking at the world, as if his worldview has fundamentally changed, and that all he now sees is seen with new tinted lenses, meaning new meanings, creating new perspectives, and he notices so much more.

In applying that to Scott’s article, I imagine Scott’s looking back on how his actions, in his chalabi dinner story, did the same. Further more I found it highly informative in terms of the detailed factual sharing of how openly regime changes are discussed, like you or i may ask ‘is it raining outside?’, others in power say ‘how can we overthrow this or that goverment?’

In terms of dinner, if we consider the principle of ‘It’s the spiked (by the media) oink-oink yum-yum economy stupid’, his dinner is poignant. Over dinner they were discussing how to overthrow Iraq, which would, and did cost many lives; we call ourselves human, but in many ways we are as predatorial, if not more so, than the most predatorial animals on earth. The economy’s foundation is energy: oil. What Scott is saying, I think, is this: As humans we have our own food-chain, the poor, the cannon-fodder souldiers, and those the corporate predators eat, are simply the bottom of the econyum-yum food chain. The hors d’oevres and dinner were simply plausibly an attempt to educate that reality to those who see the symbology thereof.

You also state: There is an implication for action in the original intent of the article. 

I’d imagine, some of it is part of Scott’s conscience, looking back, he sees blood on his hands, although of course not directly, and it’s partly his disclosure, and his attempt to educate, on the importance of honest conversation and the reality of how things currently work. Until we understand how things currently work and the problems therewith, we cannot have an honest conversation to how we may want it to work differently.

What exactly does anyone think it is? I’m not sure if I am accurate in my interpretation. Scott would know. Just sharing what I ‘heard’ him saying in his writings, among other things.

YOur thoughts would be interesting. Let me know, if you want.

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By Shenonymous, March 29, 2008 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Actually I do much with my life!  But it isn’t any of your fucking business what that is!  Why don’t you go stick your freaking head in a bucket of shit!  Obviously you haven’t the foggiest idea what the word action means.  Buy a freaking dictionary and get outta my freaking face!  You bet I am an instigator of crap, uh, shit!  You make about as much sense as a freaking pimple.

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By keller, March 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment
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If you are such a person to call to action, why do you sit on your computer to the call of 721 comments??????  Go and freaking do something with your life.  Call to action??  what the hell does that mean??  You are an instigator of crap.  Oh sorry () ()( s ) and you can’t spell or use proper diction in your ‘call to action’ prose whilst you sit at your computer wishing for a different world.

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By Fadel Abdallah, March 19, 2008 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

Greetings Cyrena!

Thank you for your confidence in me to suggest that I should be involved in writing about Chalabi. I’d rather spend my precious time and energy writing about a noble personality, not a crooked one like this guy.

As to your point about the importance of knowing the language and the culture, this is indeed a very important aspect of bringing understanding and perspective to the international village we live in. In fact, despite a late surge in American college students who are interested in learning Arabic and other critical foreign languages, the field will continue to have great deficiency in the number of enlightened Americans who can make a difference in the long run.

As to Scott’s knowledge of Arabic or Persian, I cannot comment on that since I do not know. But, I assume that he knows the language to have been selected to work as a weapon’s inspector, which must have involved some deciphering of Arabic documents.

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By Joe, March 19, 2008 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment
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Shenonymous,  Re your thoughts, “There is an implication for action in the original intent of the article.  What exactly does anyone think it is?” 
and “an American construction of an incorruptible Iraqi government?,”  over the course of several Ritter articles, I think the intent is to express the Japanese notion of shimata (sp?), the admission that we have made a mistake. We meaning all of us and, here, Ritter places himself near the top of the list. The implication runs counter to your idea of the US constructing a different Iraqi government. From page 5 of this article, “<cut>the twists of fortune that mark the instability inherent in the disastrous American occupation of Iraq..”

The message is stop what you’re doing. Leave them alone.

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By Shenonymous, March 19, 2008 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

In what way can the details (scant as they are) of the dinner party help those who can AND WILL do anything about an American construction of an incorruptible Iraqi government?  Or is it just another case of additional rhetoric.  I am a person who always calls for action and especially not ultimately empty and bombastic words and descriptions.  There is an implication for action in the original intent of the article.  What exactly does anyone think it is?

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By cyrena, March 19, 2008 at 8:07 am Link to this comment

How about Scott’s Arabic? That’s another major key to getting the record down correctly. Not an easy language for Americans to learn, especially as we get older. (well, from my standpoint at least).

This was one of the first major strategic blunders of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. We sent in all of those troops and other people to descend on Iraq, and none of them knew the language or the culture.

How stupid was that?

I’m guessing that Scott Ritter probably DOES know something of the language and culture, (though is work on Iran is equally good, so do you think he knows Persian as well?)

See what I mean? We still need to read this stuff as written by someone who DOES know the language and the culture from being one with the culture. Scott might be a smart guy, but he still can only tell us the story from his interpretation as an American.

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By cyrena, March 19, 2008 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Greetings Fadel!

I think you should write the book on Chalabi. You can of course get info from Scott Ritter, and I’d be more than willing to do some interviews for you. I’m sure Scott would be willing to help.

I know that Scott knows the operation from his perspective, (as we’ve seen here) but it needs an additional historical perspective that could best be done by someone who knows the area as a native to the region.

So, what do you think?

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By Blackspeare, March 18, 2008 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

Like the Phoenix, Chalabi will rise to head an Iraqi government——that is if he’s not assassinated first by the Sunnis!

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By Fadel Abdallah, March 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Mike-Mid-City, greetings my friend!

In few words, Chalibi is a classic example of what one might call scum of the earth, evil opportunist with a corrupt soul. He worships money and power in place of the One Mighty God.

Even in Jordan, where corruption is a way of life, he was sought by the authorities for banking fraud and money laundering. He must have done terrible things there for the authorities to seek him. Given that the Jordanian political establishment is a close ally and friend of the U.S. political establishment, I am still wondering why the American authorities did not extradite him to Jordan to stand trial when he was living in the U.S. for many years.

I was initially shocked when I learned that he was embraced and financed by the CIA, the State Department, and particularly by the neocons in Congress for many years, and that he was a major player in pushing for a destructive war against his mother land. But my initial shock was removed when the full picture about this unholy alliance with Chelabi started to emerge. 

This is the extent of what I know about this miserable soul. I believe everything Scott Ritter wrote about him, but I further believe his full story needs to be researched and written in a book-length account, for it will make an interesting, though sad chapter, in the war on Iraq. I hope Scott Ritter will write a book-length account about this devil.

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By nils cognizant, March 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment
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john,  after carefully reading the article, I too was struck by the frankly announced sequence of actions in which Mr. Ritter took part. I’d like to give my more charitable take on this, though. This article must have been a struggle for Ritter to work through. The fact that he is man enough to detail these events is a tribute to him; a man I believe to have grown tremendously since the Chalabi days. I’ve been loosely following Iraq’s travails since the Clinton years and the awful suffering inflicted on the Iraqi population by that President, with needed medical and water filtration supplies stopped before they could be delivered and the careless, frequent use of depleted-uranium anti-armor missiles launched at Iraqi targets (in the South, I think)as we used the Iraqis for target practice.

My observation of Mr. Ritter is that he underwent a spiritual change in the late 90’s, overcoming his Marine Corps aggressive training and finding the Iraqi people to be worthy of rescue rather than rough handling and invasion. He is becoming a model for military men here and abroad; those with an expanding world-view and a systematic, solutions-based approach to foreign policy.

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By Shenonymous, March 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

Since I think the George W. Bush War in Iraq is the one crucial factor in the upcoming election and is what is driving our sick economy and other pernicious ailments of our country, I read every article about this topic as I can.  But evidence or so called evidence of anything to do with this subject must be looked at critically to determine the veracity of it.  We are duped too easily as recent history has shown.

Following Ritter’s account of his travels from one office to another he made mention that he stopped at the CIA on the way to the State Dept. meeting about “ongoing intelligence support programs.”  Now since the VX report is such a hot item, you would think it would be topic of interest to the CIA and discussed at that particular meeting.  Interesting that the report on VX is 10 years old and the meetings Ritter had with Chalabi for the second time in 1998 even though it looks like Ritter is reminiscing over the last five years, when the reality is that his reminiscing is a decade old.  Much water has passed through the Ganges since then.  The insight about the tests proving 100% evidence of VX on the fragments show the information is specious at best.  A dead rat is being smelled.  Conventional wisdom says judgment is best held in reserve in view of ambiguous and “fuzzy facts,” as well as a readiness to vociferously agree or disagree with such vague information and to do so would appears rash for either side.  At the end of the day nothing has been substantiated and nothing will change the plan that is in place already for the crooked and nefarious Chalabi who continues to have magical powers of stamina in the offices of our government.  Hindsight is one way to exculpate one’s historic blindsight to truths that were so obvious.  One wonders what is really at bottom here?

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By Hammo, March 18, 2008 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

The many deceptions and destructive outcomes of the invasion and occupation of Iraq are obvious. The current challenge is deciding what to do now.

What is best for the Iraqi people, the region and the other stakeholders … including Americans?

If we can go forward with effective “peace operations” – real peace efforts, not the lies of the Bush-Cheney administration – we might be able to make significant progress in Iraq and around the world.

More on this in the article ...

“U.S. global peace officer or corrupt cop? Peace operations explored”
December 20, 2007

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By Purple Girl, March 18, 2008 at 3:34 am Link to this comment

Thank You for substantiating information many of US have known all along.
Such Courage needs to be commended and acknowledged.
The Iraq war has been a charade (control of Oil), and has led to far more Treasonous acts since th einvasion in’03, War Crimes and the seizing of many of our Constitutional Rights in the name of ‘national Security’. I can only hope others realize the need to step forward and reveal what they know (Military, telecoms…). WE realize the web is complicated and expanisve, but through the admissions of Patriots we will be able to Unspin it’s intricacies to get to the heart of the Conspirators.
You have done the right thing- admitting what you know, I can only hope others hear the call and provide US with the concrete evidence we need to hold those responisble fro not only the Iraq fiasco, but the aftermath it has inflicted on OUR GREAT COUNTRY.WE are not after the minor characters in this ‘play’ but the leads. Let more follow your example before the Curtain drops on US.
Thank You Again

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By Outraged, March 18, 2008 at 1:20 am Link to this comment

Re: Scott
Excellent article, and while I’d love to say something seriously intelligent here, I’m afraid that your article says it all.  Thanks.

Re: Mike Mid-City
Very moving post, great analysis. Thanks

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By Fadel Abdallah, March 17, 2008 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment

Cheers my brother and friend Mike-Mid-City! Great post in support of a great American patriot, Scott Ritter. I, too, wish he can run for high office! I once expressed this idea and I am pleased to see it circulating.

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By Joe, March 17, 2008 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment
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Heavyrunner—check the last page of this article. Ritter makes the same points you have made in criticizing the lab findings. Of course, since he is not a chemist, Ritter had no reason to suspect the original report.

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By heavyrunner, March 17, 2008 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

Something does not sound right in Mr. Ritter’s description of his early information regarding the scientific reports of stabilized VX.  Either he was being set up, or he does not remember the reports correctly, because it was a red flag to me immediately when he said the lab people told him it was 100% sure that they found evidence of stabilized VX.  Analysis of old bomb fragments that had been found scattered about would almost never reveal something with a 100% degree of certainty.  A lab that analyzed a DNA sample that was fresh and uncontaminated would still talk in terms of probability, and that would not be 100%, even in that case.

So something is not right in this telling of the story.

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By john in california, March 17, 2008 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment
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Now let me see, Mr. Ritter. You betrayed your boss, your job, your oath to leak information that you had no way to verify and that was subsequently (waaay subsequently) found to be false, giving this info to the political foes of someone you deemed weak knowing they would use it to your boss, your agency and your mission. You were also, apparently, a spy for the CIA, in direct contradiction of everything you and your agency said at the time, though it was the main rationale for Saddam kicking out inspectors. You not only gave secret info to a politico who may have had security clearances but also to an Iraqi national in direct contradiction of your agency’s and your own sworn oath. And all of this you could have revealed before the war but waited until it is useless in stopping the carnage and for this you expect what? Sympathy? Praise? Respect for now mildly questioning you judgment then? Oh, mea culpa, me oh my! Or are we to think you were so naïve that you thought taking this unreliable info to those trying to sabotage the use of inspections would produce something good for Iraq? In truth, you were just pissed off at your bosses for not paying enough attention to you so you thought “ To hell with them! I’ll just sneak around to my right wing buddies in DC and fuck over all this diplomacy shit!”  Great job, Mr. Ritter, great job!

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By Nancie, March 17, 2008 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment
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It is amazing to me that Chalabi continues to have the blessings of people in power.  He’s a two-bit politician without any credibility at all.  Whoops, reminds me of so many others in the Bush Administration—a plethora without credibility!

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By troublesum, March 17, 2008 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

On the 5th anniversary of the Iraqi holocaust has a story today abut vets of the war talking in graphic detail about their war crimes if you can stand to listen.  I couldn’t.

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By Bill Blackolive, March 17, 2008 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment
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Scott, this is tiring.  As can be seen at patriotsquestion9/11 you too know there is a US coverup of 9/11.  Get ye back to there to see and understand there will be no time to kill you when a thousand respectable folks have enough heart to say there is this coverup of the US government’s attack on its people, attack on the populace’s mind after bodily murder.  You are safe, man, you are safe and please help gang up because otherwise there will be the worsening.

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By Bill Blackolive, March 17, 2008 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scott, this is tiring.  As can be seen at patriotsquestion9/11 you too know there is a US coverup of 9/11.  Get ye there to see and understand there will be no time to kill you when a thousand respectable folks have enough heart to say there is this coverup of the US government’s attack on its people, attack on the populace’s mind after bodily murder.  You are safe, man, you are safe and please help gang up because otherwise there will be the worsening.

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By Jimmy McStubble, March 17, 2008 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment
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I think it’s just the nature of our society.

My generation doesn’t speak out like they did in the 60’s.  We know nothing of real activism, and those who we wish to influence know only of actual gatherings.

The days of Washington DC protests are over.  We are in a digital world now, and perhaps it will only be time until my generation is in power and all of our blogging will start to make a difference.

I have always promoted that we combine the efforts and try and bring the future sooner.

The military personnel didn’t speak out because they didn’t want to lose their jobs, or end up MIA.  It’s rough out there looking for work.

I’ll be 23 this year, and I’ve had Bush in office since I was 15 years old, so I don’t know much else.

Just what’s in history. 

I guess i’ll stop because I got off topic lines ago.

part-time blogger at

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By tomack, March 17, 2008 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Mike Mid—you are correct! Real patriots, as Mark Twain said, “Show loyalty to Country always; to their government when it deserves it.”

I has also asked Mr. Ritter via blogs if he were interested in politics. I guess his wisdom explains his silence.

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By STORMY7, March 17, 2008 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
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By desertdude, March 17, 2008 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

will be the next Dictator of Iraq. The man is worthless but he is the US backed worthless scumbag.
America will have to pull out and than he can be our man.

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By KISS, March 17, 2008 at 7:05 am Link to this comment

Ahmed Chalabi, reminds me of the words of ” Frankie and Johnny, He was our man but he done us wrong. Thanks Scott Ritter to the insight of the nefarious undertakings of the political establishment for the oil of Iraq. Trent Lott, the weaver of deceit and chicanery found a most willing partner in George W. Bush.

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