WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com)–The victory celebrations by the general public in this country over
the toppling of the bronze statue of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in
Baghdad April 9 will amount to nothing more than cheering for a “West Texas
lynch mob” if Iraq’s banned weapons of mass destruction are not discovered,
according to a former chief weapons inspector.

What’s more, if the weapons which President George W. Bush
himself now admits may have been destroyed before the invasion were not in Iraq,
the U.S. action amounts to an illegal “war of aggression,” and is no more
justifiable than Adolph Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, or Iraq’s invasion
of Kuwait in 1990, Scott Ritter, the UN’s former chief weapons inspector told a
forum at the Palestine Center April 24.

“My problem is the process of removal,” said Mr. Ritter, who
served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 12 years, before working for seven years as
a UN weapons inspector. “There was no due process, it appears.


“This is more like a West Texas lynch mob, vigilante
justice. And while I’m happy to see ‘Black Bart’ strung up by the tree, I’m
saddened by what has occurred, because lynch-mob-mentality, vigilante-justice is
not the action of civilized society.”

The war, he said, is more than just the military defeat of
the Iraqi army, which was never in doubt. The U.S. spends more than $400 billion
per year on its military, while Iraq–denied access to upgrade its defenses
because of sanctions for the last 12 years–spends only $1 billion per

“If it turns out that the United States invaded Iraq on
false pretense, that the United States in invading Iraq itself is a violator of
the law É the Iraqi people will never recognize us as liberators, they will only
recognize us as occupiers, and they will never accept an American imposed
democracy, and we will have lost this war,” he said.

During a speech at an Ohio weapons plant celebrating the
victory, President Bush himself admitted that the weapons might never be found.
“It’s going to take time to find them,” Mr. Bush told cheering workers at a
factory that manufactures Abrams tanks.

“But we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them,
moved them, or hid them, we’re going to find out the truth,” said Mr. Bush. It
was the first hint that U.S. troops and others hunting for weapons might fail to
find chemical or biological arms.

“Mr. President: where are the weapons? Why did we go to
war?” Mr. Ritter asked rhetorically during his remarks.

“Don’t tell me it’s because we wanted to liberate the Iraqi
people. As nice as that is, that’s not justification. If that’s what you said
you wanted to go to war for, then why didn’t you put that out in your letter of
March 20 to the Security Council of the United Nations?”

Mr. Ritter insisted that while he was a part of the UNSCOM
inspection process, Iraq declared all of its prohibited weapons, in full
accordance with UN requirements. And most of those weapons were destroyed and
their destruction was verified between 1996 and 1998, he said.

But the administration still laid out what it called an
irrefutable case that Iraq had banned weapons–to the Congress, to the United
Nations Security Council, and to the American people.

That “irrefutable” legal justification, which was the basis
for a Congressional resolution last fall authorizing the use of U.S. military
force, may very well have all been an elaborate deception, said Mr.

The central questions to be answered now, said Mr. Ritter,
are: “Are there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Was Iraq in material breach
of its obligation to disarm? There’s only one answer: yes or no.”

Mr. Ritter admitted that during the seven year inspection
process from the 1991 Gulf War truce until weapons inspectors were withdrawn in
1998, “Iraq had to be dragged kicking and screaming into compliance, and the
manner in which Iraq eventually complied left open many questions about whether
or not they had actually been rid of their weapons of mass

“As I have stated repeatedly in my writings and my
statements, Iraq could only be confirmed to have a 90-95 percent level of
verifiable compliance by 1998. We don’t know what happened to everything. But
that does not automatically translate into retention of these weapons by

Ironically, even if Iraq did conceal the remaining five
percent of the banned weapons that the country had, they may have become
obsolete and useless, long before even the build-up to the war, and U.S.
officials are aware of that, Mr. Ritter told The Final Call after the
conclusion of his remarks.

“The main outstanding issues revolve around biological
agents like anthrax and chemicals like VX-nerve agent,” he said. There was also
1,000 tons of chemical agents that could have been present in a shortfall of
6,500 munitions.

But those materials may have been useless, he said “because
first of all the anthrax is liquid bulk anthrax with a shelf life of three
years. So, even though we can’t account for it, there’s no way it could exist
today. The same thing with the nerve agent. So, even though we can account for
(only) 90-95 percent, you can’t condemn Iraq for the potential possession of
25,000 liters of anthrax that can no longer be viable.”

In another damning complaint, Mr. Ritter pointed to a March
20 letter to the UN Security Council, in which the U.S. said that Iraq had
procured 100 tons of uranium ore from an African nation–Niger. Many in Congress,
he said, including some who were adamantly opposed to the war, said that those
documents and other information swayed them.

“It turns out the documents (that Iraq procured 100 tons of
uranium) were forgeries. Forgeries. Crude forgeries at that, which were
uncovered in less than 24 hours by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But
the C.I.A. felt so good about those documents that they allowed them to be
presented to the President of the United States.

“And the President of the United States quoted the data
contained within these documents in his State of the Union address to the
American people, justifying why we’re going to war. It was a lie Mr. President.
It was a lie,” said Mr. Ritter, passionately.

“Now, the question I have for you, Mr. President is: Did you
know it was a lie when you told it? Or are you just not that good?

“American families are burying their sons and daughters who
perished in combat overseas, Mr. President, because you said there was a threat
from Iraq that was worthy of that sacrifice,” he said.

“If we don’t find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” Mr.
Ritter emphasized again, “the United States will have waged a war of aggression.
That’s an important term because a war of aggression is a term that was used in
the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 at the aftermath of World War II, to hold to
account the German politicians and German generals for the crimes they committed
during the Second World War.”