At least one peculiarity of dubya is that he is not sophisticated enough to conjecture himself 'an emperor with no clothes' -the clothes? -(i) intelligence enough to consider that he may not be 'knowledgeable enough' to undertake a war more or less anywhere? -and (ii) intelligence enough to consider that the function of The Supreme Court entails more than the sophistication of a simple, idolizing dog?
Oct 20th 2005
Economist Magazine
Mission unaccomplished
Reuters Bitter Ritter
Book Review:
Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to> Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein. by Scott Ritter, Nation Books; $26. I.B. Tauris #17.99

DURING the heyday of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (Unscom) in the 1990s, Scott Ritter was the most controversial of its weapons inspectors. His door-kicking tactics sometimes alarmed western governments as much as they incensed his Iraqi minders. But Mr Ritter felt he had a job to do, and it was not only the Iraqis who were getting in his way. The CIA, he argues in this memoir of the inspections, deliberately sabotaged not just some of his activities in Iraq but also Unscom itself. The American government wanted to see Iraq stripped of weapons of mass destruction, but only in pursuit of its real aim: to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
   That last charge is hardly controversial. Senior American officials over the Unscom years (1991-98), and famously Madeleine Albright as Bill Clinton's secretary of state, argued openly and with feeling (if unhelpfully at the time) that sanctions on Iraq should not be lifted until Mr Hussein, a serial re-offender, was levered from power. Many Iraqis lost their lives in coup plots, some of which had American backing, trying to do just that.
   As for the role of foreign intelligence agencies, as Mr Ritter admits, Unscom was up to its neck in them. It had to be: Iraq's determination to hang on to its weapons secrets turned inspectors into forensic sleuths, reliant on the spies of America, Britain, Israel and others for clues, communications intercepts and analysis of aerial photographs. Mr Ritter is bitter that the CIA came to use Unscom as a cover to gather communications intercepts in Iraq for itself. That undermined Unscom's integrity. Yet he seems curiously incurious about the games others were playing: the Russians were heavily engaged, but on Iraq's side; the French, he claims, helped Iraq break Unscom's secret codes.
   Unscom's integrity was also undermined by a plague of informants. And it could, admits Mr Ritter, be monumentally incompetent, on one occasion mistakenly sending details of a planned raid on a hidden document archive by courier to the Iraqis ahead of time. Unsurprisingly, the inspection proved a failure.
   Could Iraq be expected to co-operate with inspections that were never likely to get sanctions lifted? A fair question, had Iraq shown inclination to co-operate at all. But, as Mr Ritter himself tells it, the Iraqis' own behaviour turned the question around: why would the outside world take on trust protestations that they had destroyed their weapons stocks in 1991 (which, for the most part, it later turned out they had), when they engaged in a massive cover-up to mislead inspectors? Unscom, concludes Mr Ritter, was trapped by Iraq's deceit. As, indeed, was Iraq itself.
   Yet he is still among those who see the inspections as a success. That seems an odd conclusion when, without Iraqi co-operation, there was no way to tell whether it was covering up past nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programmes, or concealing current ones.
   Why play it this way, when Iraq wanted sanctions lifted? Because, Mr Ritter concludes, Iraq wanted to hang on to enough documents, brains and militarily usable equipment to be able to restart banned weapons work once inspectors were gone. It was a tactic that Mr Ritter says he came close to exposing. Sadly for ordinary Iraqis, it was a self-defeating one, and the trigger for another war.

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