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Ritter, (William) Scott, Jr. 1960-

RITTER, (William) Scott, Jr. 1960-


Born 1960, in FL; married. Education: Franklin and Marshall College, B.A. (Soviet history).


Agent—c/o Greater Talent Network, Inc., 437 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016; c/o Author Mail, Context Books, 368 Broadway, Suite 314, New York, NY 10013. E-mail—[email protected].


Weapons inspector, writer, and lecturer. United Nations, New York, NY, weapons inspector in Iraq, 1991-98. News analyst for CNN and NBC television networks. Producer of documentary film Shifting Sands: The Truth about Iraq, 2000. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps; attained rank of major.


Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem—Once and for All, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.

(With William Rivers Pitt) War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, Context Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America, Context Books (New York, NY), 2003.


Scott Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, has lectured and written on the U.S.-led invasion of that country and expressed his criticism of the reasoning that led to the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003. In Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem—Once and for All, War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, and Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America, Ritter criticizes Iraq policy as waged by both President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.

Born into a military family in Florida in 1960, Ritter grew up at postings around the world. After earning a bachelor's degree in Soviet history, he joined the armed forces, working in military intelligence in the former Soviet Union, where he met his wife. During the 1991 Gulf War, he served at Marine Central Command headquarters in Saudi Arabia under General Norman Schwarzkopf. At the end of that conflict, Ritter left the military service and joined the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) on weapons inspection in Iraq. Between 1991 and 1998, when he resigned, Ritter participated in fifty-two inspection missions, heading fourteen of those. In 1995 he and his team were responsible for tracking down missile guidance systems in Iraq purchased from Russia via a Palestinian intermediary. Three years later Ritter and his team were denied entrance to sensitive sites; the Iraqis accused him of being a U.S. spy. After months of repeatedly being denied access, and feeling that he lacked the support of the U.S. State Department or the United Nations, Ritter publicly resigned his position, indicating that weapons inspection in Iraq was more illusion than reality.

Thereafter, Ritter began lecturing and writing about the situation in Iraq. In the 1999 title Endgame, he writes of his experiences as a weapons inspector in Iraq, detailing the history of the Hussein regime and arguing for a Marshall Plan-style solution to the Iraq problem in which mutual cooperation might replace open antagonism between that country and the international community. The book was published at a highly politicized time, following close upon President Clinton's Operation Desert Fox, a limited military response to Hussein's noncompliance. Reviewing Ritter's book for Middle East Policy, Michael V. Deaver wrote that the former Marine offers "many interesting revelations." Deaver specifically felt that Ritter's "detailed descriptions of the organizational structures and responsibilities of the Iraqi concealment mechanism" are a "valuable" contribution to the literature. However, Deaver also complained of what he saw as Ritter's "reliance on loose logic and insinuation" in the author's explanation of why Iraq "chose to develop" weapons of mass destruction.

Reviewing Endgame for Commentary, Bret Louis Stephens found that Ritter "writes colorfully about what inspections were actually like." Further, Stephens noted that though Ritter "tells a riveting story, and paints throughout a grim picture of the Iraqi menace, the prescriptions [he] draws from his observations and experiences are disappointing and utterly unconvincing." Ritter observed in his book that, lacking an international coalition, a military response to Hussein was not practical; therefore, a diplomatic solution involving promised aid for disarmament should be sought. The Nation's William M. Arkin was equally skeptical of such a solution and also found fault with Ritter's portrayal of UNSCOM's activities. "The greatest damage Ritter does in his flawed book," wrote Arkin, "is in understating UNSCOM's achievements, thus also overstating Iraq's current potential for weapons of mass destruction." For a reviewer in the

Economist, however, the "real strength" of the book is its "extraordinary reporting." According to the same reviewer, "Amid his snooping, Mr. Ritter unearths a wealth of detail about the workings of Mr. Hussein's police state." Writing in RUSI Journal, Neil Patrick also had praise for Endgame, calling it an "exciting read, a veritable airport lounge pot boiler full of high drama." Patrick, however, had little faith in Ritter's proposed solutions, as did Tim Weiner in the New York Times Book Review. Weiner felt that Ritter's Endgame "is a map without a key," a book that "reads like a sputtering argument written in anger, laid out in fits and starts." Weiner did, though, find "several impassioned yet reasoned passages indicting aspects of American policy in Iraq." These include descriptions of the cost that sanctions on Iraq had on the most vulnerable of the population there, killing tens of thousands of children through lack of food and medicine. Weiner also noted that "some secrets are spilled here." These included the fact that many of those on the U.N. inspection teams were CIA operatives gathering information on Iraq.

With the buildup to renewed war in Iraq in 2003, Ritter became a vocal critic of President Bush's policies, seemingly turning against his own former hard-line policy regarding that country. He repeatedly argued that weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had successfully been dealt with by inspectors. Speaking with Massimo Calabresi of Time Online, he rejected the notion that he changed his mind about Saddam Hussein and his nuclear stockpiles. "I have never given Iraq a clean bill of health," he told Calabresi. "Never! Never! I've said that no one has backed up any allegations that Iraq has reconstituted weapons capability with anything that remotely resembles substantive fact." As reported by BBC News Online, Ritter observed, "'My government is making a case for war against Iraq that is built upon fear and ignorance.'" In War on Iraq, Ritter provides essentially a lengthy interview in which he further argues that Iraq was no threat to its neighbors and that over ninety percent of the country's weapons had been destroyed since 1991. Ritter also argues against any ties between the Hussein regime and the terrorist group al-Qaeda, which was responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. A reviewer for New Statesman felt that Ritter "states quite clearly what the war is and is not about."

In 2003, with Hussein toppled and American troops in Iraq, Ritter renewed his criticisms of U.S. Iraq policy in Frontier Justice, in which he points out the failure to locate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and takes the Bush administration to task for leading the nation to war, as he contends, in support of a lie. A contributor for Publishers Weekly found it "no surprise" that Ritter's book is considered "controversial." Despite Ritter's strong arguments, the same contributor found the author's "tone" to be "tiresome." Pointing to such phrases as "Ranger Bush and his west Texas lynch mob" that Ritter uses in his book, the same reviewer commented that such descriptions "may be amusing at first, but not after the umpteenth use." Ritter, the former military man, also notes in his book that he has become involved in a group called SAVE! which hopes to solve such conflicts in the future by "adopting a non-threatening posture."



Ritter, Scott, Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America, Context Books (New York, NY), 2003.


Boston Globe, July 20, 2002, Scott Ritter, "Is Iraq a True Threat to the US?"

Commentary, July, 1999, Bret Louis Stephens, review of Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem—Once and for All, p. 86.

Economist (U.S.), May 1, 1999, review of Endgame, p. 80.

Europe Intelligence Wire, October 5, 2002, review of War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know.

Foreign Affairs, July-August, 1999, Eliot A. Cohen, review of Endgame, p. 132.

Guardian, October 5, 2002, Steven Poole, review of War on Iraq, p. R31.

Maclean's, September 7, 1998, "Weapons Furor," p. 33.

Middle East Economic Digest, September 11, 1998, Toby Ash, "Iraq: UNSCOM in Crisis," p. 24.

Middle East Policy, October, 2002, Michael V. Deaver, review of Endgame, p. 180.

Nation, May 17, 1999, William M. Arkin, review of Endgame, pp. 31-34.

New Statesman, October 7, 2002, review of War on Iraq, p. 59.

New York Times Book Review, April 11, 1999, Tim Weiner, review of Endgame, p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, October 7, 2002, review of War on Iraq, p. 22; August 4, 2003, review of Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America, p. 71.

RUSI Journal, August, 1999, Neil Patrick, review of Endgame, pp. 91-92.


BBC News Online, (September 9, 2002), "Profile: Scott Ritter."

Greater Talent Network Web site, (November 7, 2003), "Scott Ritter."

NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Online, (August 31, 1998), transcript of interview with Ritter.

Time Online, (November 7, 2003), Massimo Calabresi, "Scott Ritter in His Own Words."*

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