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SCOTT RITTER in Maplewood Monday October 17th

Ritter Iraq Confidential1.jpgScott Ritter returns to Maplewood on October 17, 2005, for an appearance at the Woman's Club of Maplewood, 60 Woodland Road, at the intersection of Woodland Road and Inwood Place, one block from the BankAmerica building on Maplewood Avenue. CLICK FOR DIRECTIONS.

Scott will be available to sign copies of his new book, "Iraq Confidential," provided by Goldfinch Books of Maplewood at 6:30 pm and his talk will begin at 7:30 pm.

Scott's talk will focus on "An American Exit Strategy from Iraq."

In the October 2,2005 issue of Independent of London, Scott wrote the following:
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"There is a viable exit strategy: the gradual withdrawal of US and British troops, with a policy to re-enfranchise the Sunni population, strengthen the hand of the Kurds and Shia outside the sphere of influence exerted by Iran, and disenfranchise the pro-Iran elite.

There will, of course, need to be a guiding hand, which cannot be American or British. The European Union, Arab League and United Nations could all play a role in this, an effort each would support if only the US and Britain would let them. To date, these two nations, and more so the United States, have been loath to allow other parties to trespass on issues pertaining to Iraq. Only these countries, so the thinking went in Washington and London, had earned the right - through sacrifice, in removing Saddam and dealing with the occupation - to be involved.

"Now that this sacrifice is no longer deemed a price worth paying, perhaps the time has come for other nations to become involved in Iraq's future."
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Scott's talk will also cover the October 15th Iraqi referendum, US politics of war-and-peace and the possibility of a US attack on Iran.

And of course, Scott will also discuss his new book, Iraq Confidential.

Admission is free, but South Mountain Peace Action appreciates donations of $5.00 to $10.00 to help defray the costs of this important meeting.

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Excerpt from Forward to Iraq Confidential:

Here's an excerpt from Nation Books's press release and an excerpt from Seymour Hersh's forward to Iraq Confidential:

Nation Books
Description: Scott Ritter is the straight-talking former marine officer who the CIA wants to silence. After the 1991 Gulf War, Ritter helped lead the UN weapons inspections of Iraq and found himself at the center of a dangerous game between the Iraqi and US regimes.


As Ritter reveals in this explosive book, Washington was only interested in disarmament as a tool for its own agenda. Operating in a fog of espionage and counter-espionage, Ritter and his team were determined to find out the truth about Iraq's WMD. The CIA were equally determined to stop them. The truth, as we now know, was that Iraq was playing a deadly game of double-bluff, and actually had no WMD. But to have revealed this would have derailed America's drive for regime change.


Iraq Confidential charts the disillusionment of a staunch patriot who came to realize that his own government sought to undermine effective arms control in the Middle East. Ritter shows us a world of deceit and betrayal in which nothing is as it seems. A host of characters from Mossad, MI6 and the CIA pepper this powerful narrative, which contains revelations that will permanently affect the ongoing debates about Iraq.

Excerpt:

from the introduction by Seymour Hersh

This book shows just how petty and short-sighted bureaucrats can be when vital questions of war and peace are at stake. It is a book about the unwillingness of the American Central Intelligence Agency and the President's National Security Council to permit an arm of the United Nations, led by an American Marine major, to carry out successful investigations into what weapons capacity Saddam Hussein actually had. Ritter was tipped off about the American double cross by some of his old friends in the British intelligence community. Iraq Confidential is a book to make you, like Ritter, angry.


It also helps explain why America's warning agencies, with their thousands of FBI agents at home and thousands of CIA operatives abroad, failed to provide advance information on Al Qaeda's planning for the September 11 bombings. At crucial moments, the FBI would not share its information with the CIA and the CIA, in almost all moments, refused to share its files with the FBI.


Ritter was in the middle of such madness as he tried, throughout the 1990s, to sort out what Iraq had, or did not have. Ironically the chaos surrounding UNSCOM was counterbalanced by the remarkable unity and team-spiritedness of its culturally diverse members. Ritter's story sometimes reads like a thriller, as U.N. inspectors chase and are chased by Saddam Hussein's henchman. There is slapstick, as inspections go awry for the most mundane of reasons, and as Washington repeatedly fails to understand the consequence of its actions. And then, finally, there is fear and foreboding in learning how capriciously the most important efforts towards peace and disarmament can be undermined, even when they are led by Americans.

The most important thing to know about Scott Ritter, the man, is that he was right. He told us again and again in 2002 and early 2003 as President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair prepared for war in Iraq that there were no weapons there. The Iraqi WMDs, the main sales tool for the war, did not exist.

With each such statement, Ritter became more and more unpopular -- with the politicos in the White House, the neoconservatives in Washington, the war planners in the Pentagon and the American press corps (which was, with a few exceptions, panting for the war). Ritter was in their face, and stayed so -- even after the shock and awe began in Baghdad. As the American bombs fell, and embedded journalists filed dramatic stories about young GIs in the battlefield, wearing their overheated chemical warfare suits, Ritter was telling all who would listen that there could be no usable chemical warheads in Iraq, simply because there was no evidence of any chemical warfare production facilities in Iraq. No commander would go to war with chemical weapons left over from the 1991 Gulf War, he insisted -- even if such weapons did exist.(unlikely). He was right about that, too.

I've known Scott as a journalist, and later, as a friend, since the late 1990s and I think I understand somewhat, just a little, what makes him tick. He is a purist, an uncompromising believer in empiricism who has never been afraid to tell the truth to superiors. Somehow, he never perceived, or wanted to perceive, that magic formula for bureaucratic success in Washington -- never be the bearer of unpleasant facts. He is a Thomas Becket in a world full of Bush Administration yes-men.

His finest, and most controversial, moment came in the fall of 2002, with the war machinery in place. Scott flew to Iraq (against the advice of many of his friends), to speak to the Parliament in Baghdad and try to convince Saddam Hussein to allow the United Nations weapons inspectors to return to Iraq, thus removing the core public justification for the war. Five days after he left, Saddam publicly announced that the inspectors would be allowed back, without any preconditions. It was, so it seemed, an extraordinary personal triumph. Nonetheless, Ritter was widely criticized by his government and by the American media for his effort to stop a war that was based, as Scott knew, on faulty intelligence.

Since March of 2003, Ritter has continued to criticize the Iraqi war, in his speeches and newspaper essays, and he continues to be right. It is not a "winnable" war, by any means that provide succor to the long-suffering Iraqi people. In this book, Ritter digs deeper into his deep pocket of secrets and tells far more than he has in the past about the inability of the White House -- be it Bill Clinton's or George Bush's -- and the intelligence bureaucrats to listen to real-time information suggesting that Saddam's WMD arsenal was empty.

Denials will come when this book is published, but I can vouch for Scott's amazing recall and his extensive knowledge of the Iraqi disarmament game. That Scott continues to do what he does says something about his determination, his self-confidence, and his Americanism. He is still gung ho about his country, as a good Marine should be, and he believes that it can be -- must be -- changed for the better. All I can add is hurry up, Scott -- at this writing, George Bush has more than thirteen hundred days left in office, and that is a long, long time.

Seymour Hersh
Washington DC
20 June 2005

 
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