Ritter: A 'Sham Hearing' on Iraq
Von Sponeck: Weapons Sites 'Defunct and Destroyed'
- July 29 -
Ritter, who was a chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, is the author of Endgame:
Solving the Iraqi Problem Once and For All. He said this afternoon: "Sen.
Joe Biden is running a sham hearing. It is clear that Biden and most of the Congressional
leadership have pre-ordained a conclusion that seeks to remove Saddam Hussein
from power regardless of the facts, and are using these hearings to provide political
cover for a massive military attack on Iraq. These hearings have nothing to do
with an objective search for the truth, but rather seek to line up like-minded
witnesses who will buttress this pre-determined result.... This isn't American
democracy in action, it's the failure of American democracy. Before we go to war
with Iraq, we must be able to determine that Iraq poses a threat to the national
security of the United States. Such a determination must be backed up with substantive
fact. I believe that Iraq does not pose a threat to the U.S. worthy of war. This
conclusion is shared by many senior military officers. According to President
Bush and his advisers, Iraq is known to possess weapons of mass destruction and
is actively seeking to reconstitute the weapons production capabilities. I bear
personal witness, through seven years as a chief weapons inspector in Iraq for
the UN, to both the scope of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and the
effectiveness of the UN weapons inspectors in ultimately eliminating them. While
we were never able to provide 100 percent certainty regarding the disposition
of Iraq's proscribed weaponry, we did ascertain a 90-95 percent level of verified
disarmament. These are the sort of facts that must be included in any hearing
that seeks to determine the threat posed by Iraq today. It is clear that Sen.
Biden and his colleagues have no interest in such facts."
HANS VON SPONECK,
As a former UN Assistant Secretary General, Von Sponeck headed the UN "oil-for-food"
program until he resigned two years ago in protest over the continued sanctions
on Iraq. He was in Iraq two weeks ago, visited sites purported to be weapons sites
and found them to be "defunct and destroyed." He said this afternoon: "Evidence
of al-Qaida/lraq collaboration does not exist.... Six years of revisions to sanctions
policy on Baghdad have repeatedly promised 'mitigation' of civilian suffering.
Yet, in 1999, UNICEF confirmed an estimated 5,000 excess child deaths every month
above the 1989 pre-sanctions rate. Four months ago, UNICEF reported that more
than 22 per cent of the country's young children remain chronically malnourished.
Credible opposition groups outside Iraq have called for delinking economic and
military sanctions. At the March Arab summit in Beirut, all 22 Arab governments
(including Kuwait) called for the same. If the economic embargo on Iraq is not
in their interest, then in whose interest is it?"
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