Finally, the summer of 1992 comes around, and we happen to get some very
quality intelligence information about the location of an archive of
documentation that the Iraqis are using to build the foundation for
reconstitution of their weapons programs. Millions of pages of documents. It
turns out, the intelligence was absolutely correct. These documents, some were
later found at the ... chicken farm when Hussein Kamel defected. |
But, at the time, we had a good idea [they] were there, but we didn't know for
sure, but it was really quality intelligence. So we ginned up another one of
these inspections, got the Americans in, did the intelligence planning, brought
in the British, built a team, and sent it in. And the first target we hit,
agricultural ministry. Surround it, and the Iraqis say, 'You can't come in.'
And we say, Well, you've got to let us in. I mean, we're the United Nations.
We've been through this already. There was Resolution, 707--you remember,
you tried this with the IEA, there was international crises? We don't want to
go down that path again. Now, we want in, let us in. Oh, no. This is a
ministry, this is a symbol of our national sovereignty.
And we said,' All right, you want to play that game? We're parking. We're
surrounding it. Nobody's going in and out unless they run through our
inspectors. 'The Iraqis went,' All right, we'll play that.'
And we said--'OK. Security Council, they're not letting us in.' Nothing. Day
goes by--'Excuse me, gentlemen, we're parked out in front of the agriculture
ministry. They're not letting us in. We want to do an inspection.' Silence.
Now the situation starts to deteriorate, because the Iraqis are looking around
and nothing's happening. All right. Let's jack up the pressure.
Demonstrations started occurring. First, small demonstrations. Then, as each
day goes by, the demonstrations get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until we
literally have thousands of Iraqis storming the agricultural ministry, egging
our cars, stoning us, not stoning but throwing rotten vegetables at us, shaking
the cars. And the Security Council's doing nothing. Zero.
And, ultimately, we got to a situation where the Iraqi security service brought
in somebody who tried to stab an inspector, through a window, and at that point
the lives of the inspectors were at risk and we had no other choice than to
withdraw the team. The Security Council did nothing. It was fascinating.
And, of course, once we were through with the team the Iraqis were through with
the archive. So, weeks later, when Rolf Ekeus, the security council and
everybody came up with a compromise solution, and a team reappeared at the
agriculture ministry, and were let in; of course they found nothing. They did
find some rooms where nothing was there, but we found no documents. A very
embarrassing situation, and a frustrating one.
And it pretty much signaled that UNSCOM had to start changing the way it did
business, because our ability to mobilize these teams--We proved that we had
the operational and technical capability of mobilizing the team on short notice
and sending it to targets. The problem was, we were echelons ahead of where
the Security Council was, in terms of being prepared to deal with that kind of
crisis. So we had to scale our operation back and start approaching the Iraqis
from a different angle.
So, the agriculture ministry was a watershed event.
Rolf Ekeus, the executive director of UNSCOM. What did you make of
Well, Rolf Ekeus is a brilliant, and I emphasize brilliant, diplomat, and one
of the most experienced arms controllers out there. He's Swedish, and he is as
enigmatic as any Swede. But he gave birth to a unique organization, and there
was no precedent for what was being done. And you can be very critical of Rolf
Ekeus, in some of the things he did. I'm not. I think he was masterful in how
he allowed UNSCOM to develop as an organization, within the framework of
Security Council indifference, Security Council internal struggles between the
Russians, the French, the Chinese, the Americans, the British, that
maneuvering; keeping UNSCOM alive, and functioning, and improving, in the face
of Iraqi obstruction. And allowing the organization to grow as the situation
And he was insightful, and he had a vision, he knew where he wanted to go, and
he managed very effectively. He was a hands-off manager. He had a vision, he
trusted his experts; if the experts came to him with a solution to the problem,
and you laid it out, you debated it, and if he agreed with it he'd let you run
with it. He'd manage it, though. You didn't run wild. He'd say, Excuse me,
Come on back here, son, you're little ahead of me right now.
But when you came up with a good idea, no matter how controversial it was, if
it was focused on achieving the mission objective of disarming Iraq, within the
framework set by the security council, Rolf Ekeus approved it. And he was
assiduous in enforcing that UNSCOM, and only UNSCOM, meaning Rolf Ekeus, and
only Rolf Ekeus, is in charge. No other country came in and tried to throw
their weight around Rolf Ekeus. He'd send them out on their heels, and he did
that, on several occasions.
Let me ask you about another person, a Russian--one of the people, the U.N.
is bringing in from different countries--Nikita Smidovich.
Nikita Smidovich is a great friend of mine, and a protege of Rolf Ekeus. He
and Rolf Ekeus go back, to their time in Vienna, working with disarmament
issues there. Nikita is, like Rolf Ekeus, a brilliant man. Nikita and I
became a team early on, when Rolf had this hard-charging, wild-eyed marine
running around, trying to take on the world. And Rolf said, Great idea, Scott,
but a] you're young; b] you're untested in the world of international
diplomacy. I'm not challenging your ability to lead troops in combat or
operate under pressure. You can do that. But we're talking diplomacy here.
We need some finesse that maybe you don't have. You're a little rough around
So, I'm going to team you up with a guy that I trust implicitly, Nikita
Smidovich, and Nikita and I became a team. I came up with ideas, I ran them
through the Nikita mill, he ground them down, refined them into something that
Rolf Ekeus would accept, checked in on me, making sure we didn't lose what we
were trying to accomplish. We'd go to Rolf, Rolf would sign off on it, and
Nikita and I would go in the country. He'd be the chief inspector, the
diplomatic front, and I'd be his operations officer and deputy. And together,
I think we performed near-miracles.
So, here's this pretty unlikely group. The gentlemanly, Swedish diplomat,
and you've got a Russian, and you've got a marine, hard-charging, as you say,
no shrinking violet. And yet, you guys are working together, and you're
Well, it's not just the three of us. What you've just described is UNSCOM, in
a nutshell. UNSCOM was the most unlikely grouping of people you'd ever--we
had the mad German rocket scientist, Dr. Norbert Reinecke. Brilliant. Mad.
Effective. We had British, quiet British scientists, who were low-keyed but
equally brilliant. We had people from The Netherlands, we had people from
around the world who were just the tops in their fields, and we brought them
together, and we coalesced as a unit. And we were doing the impossible. We
were very, very effective at what we did--across the board.
So, in a sense, to expand the word, UNSCOM is a spy inspection agency from
the beginning. It's just working for the U.N., it's not working for a
We're in a situation where on-site inspections and high-altitude photographs
aren't doing the job. Iraq is still holding onto the information. What do we
do? And Rolf Ekeus had the courage and the fortitude to say, We must expand
how we collect information. And we started using different techniques.
Now, these techniques are traditionally associated with espionage and spying,
but as long as Rolf Ekeus is in charge the people he picks are working for him,
and the activity they're doing is done on behalf of UNSCOM, and only UNSCOM, it
is lawful inspection-related activity, not espionage. And Rolf Ekeus everybody
knew the difference, and he recruited people he could trust, and he retained
So, the issue here is not that you might not have someone from the C.I.A.
working on UNSCOM, as part of an inspection team, the point is that he is
working for Rolf Ekeus and for UNSCOM, not for the C.I.A.
That's right. Look, when I was brought in, in September of 1991, for one
purpose and one purpose only, and that's to help create something called the
Information Assessment Unit. That's Ekeus speak for an intelligence
capability. Now, when we started, it was primarily an analytical ability.
We'd get photographs, we'd store them, collate them, and help look at the
photographs and receive other information to help inspectors go to sites in
But you don't--what do you do, pick up the phone and call the United Nations
photographic interpretation center? Hi, yeah, how many people do you have that
are experienced in looking at U-2 photographs? None? Gee, sorry. Because
there is no such organization. If you want to look at photographs you have to
get people who do it for a living, and they come from governments. Now, who in
governments look at photographs from U-2 aircraft for a living? People who
work in intelligence organizations, either civilian organizations or
So, we recruit those kind of people, bring them in to help us. But they worked
for us, they worked for Rolf Ekeus. They didn't take orders from anybody else.
When they came in, there was no strings attached.
It's the same thing with other kinds of intelligence: you bring in the people
you need to do the job. You don't care where they come from. ...
... So now, when I'm tasked with helping look at U-2 film so that we can gain
insights into how Iraq is hiding their weapons of mass destruction, we go to
the United States, and we say: What you're providing isn't adequate, we need
additional help. Well, what do you need? Well, what I'd like to do is come
down and spend a couple of weeks with your photo interpreters, looking over all
the film, not just single photographs but all the film, poring over it, and
then being able to ask questions to your intelligence analysts, and get
responses. Oh, that takes too many people, too much time, we think we're doing
an effective job as is, we're not going to help you.
Well, thank you very much. You go to Rolf Ekeus and say, Boss, if you want me
to do my job, find these weapons, how Iraq's hiding them, I need to get trained
photo interpreters on the job. Now, the Israelis happen to have an entire
cadre of highly qualified photo interpreters, and they were more than willing
to help us. So, Rolf Ekeus authorized this. We did get permission from the
U.S. Government. We said, you know, it's U-2 film, we want to take it in, the
U.S. government signed off on it, provided the film that we requested--Every
request to go to Israel was done in writing, to the U.S. Government, and they
responded back, Here you go, and off we went, to Israel.
Now, some people in the U.S. Government understood why we were doing it and
concurred. Others in the U.S. Government were dead set against it, because
they started losing control of the process. Information is power, and in this
case the United States had lost control of the flow of information to
This cooperation with Israel. Obviously, that's sensitive. I mean, Israel
and the Arab world, that's the pariah, right? So, are we maybe crossing some
kind of line here?
We're not crossing any line, in terms of the legalities of what UNSCOM's doing,
but it's called being politically aware. We needed Israeli help, and I'll be
frank with you: If it weren't for the government of Israel and the assistance
it provided the special commission, the information fuel that feeds the
inspection process would have run dry by the end of 1995. It was Israel and
Israel alone that kept us going, through some very difficult times, and allowed
UNSCOM to establish its own independent capability, its own independent
credibility with other governments, and get the process flowing, so that by the
end of 1997, early 1998, UNSCOM is again back on its feet, running the show,
with Israel help but now with the help of other governments.
... It was also absolutely critical that we don't shoot ourselves in the foot.
You don't want to advertise the fact that you have this intelligence
relationship with the Israelis. And we insisted, with the Americans, that they
respect our need for security on this and that the Americans don't leak the
fact that we have this Israeli connection. The Israelis were equally
But I'll give this to the Israelis: they had the courage to move forward and
do almost everything we asked them to do.
Around 1995, UNSCOM's under a lot of political pressure to declare Iraq free
and clear. And, all of a sudden, Hussein Kamel defects. ...[B]asically it
calls for a new strategy. There's a lot there that needs to be found. And at
that point, you go in with this new philosophy--"shake the tree."
Well, first of all, let's correct sort of a misperception that's out there.
UNSCOM was on the case well before the defection of Hussein Kamel. Remember,
we first went to Israel in October of 1994, with the shake the tree concepts.
We proposed the sharing of U-2 film with Israel in December of 1994, and we
actually started the Israeli relationship in July of 1995, a full month before
the defection of Hussein Kamel. ...
You guys are up to speed, but when he defects, it adds a sense of
It adds a definite sense of urgency. Up until that point, what we were
proposing was a very controversial regime that Rolf Ekeus I don't believe knew
how he was going to explain to the Security Council. Because here we are, he's
authorized Scott Ritter to go off and do some pretty controversial things to
try and find out how Iraq is hiding their weaponry, but Ekeus has signed off on
getting me up to the point where I'm ready to carry out the inspection, but not
really authorizing the inspection.
Suddenly, Hussein Kamel defects, and it's out there, laid before the world:
Iraq is cheating, Iraq is lying, Iraq has not complied, and not complied in a
big way. What are you going to do about it? Now, all the breaks are off.
Ekeus said, Go, and we started running, and almost immediately we ran into a
brick wall called the United States Government, because the U.S. Government
went, You want to do what? When? How?
And what we were talking about was UNSCOM moving out of the realm of just being
an assessor of intelligence to UNSCOM getting actively involved in the
collection of intelligence, and using techniques and methodologies that it
normally only associated with national governments, not with international
organizations, not with a bunch of guys with blue hats and funny sounding
... You described going in with a certain attitude, to basically shake up
the Iraqis, to intimidate them, and you talk about an alpha dog. What was the
We didn't go in with an alpha dog attitude initially; we went in saying we were
going to do these new inspections. But what we found was that the Iraqis
weren't very happy about letting us do these inspections, and they were
obstructing us, and not just obstructing but the Iraqis would attempt to
intimidate us: When we'd send in a team to carry out these shake the tree type
inspections, the Iraqis would respond by threatening us with force, bringing
out guns, intimidating us, yelling at us, posturing.
Now, a United Nations type organization, when confronted with the obstruction
of a sovereign state, usually defers to the sovereign state, and that's what
the Iraqis were hoping, and, indeed, I would say with a number of UNSCOM chief
inspectors, that tactic works, and it has worked historically.
Now, when you bring a team together, of inspectors--you know, we have our
cadre of experienced personnel in New York, but that's not the team that goes
in. There's only a handful of us, and then we bring in other inspectors. We
bring in computer specialists, we bring in linguists, we bring in biologists,
we bring in rocket scientists, we do bring in some commandos, some military
type background people--the whole gamut that we need to make this thing
called an inspection team.
But they'd never trained with one another, they never worked with one another,
and now I'm getting to send them into a situation, Iraq, where it's going to be
confrontational, and the Iraqis will try to intimidate us, to break down the
cohesiveness of the team. And it's important that I take these people and not
only trained them on the technical job that I want them to do but also on the
psychology of the inspection.
And that's where I delivered the posturing which has become known as the alpha
dog, and basically what I said is, Look, when we go into Iraq they're going to
try to intimidate you. To them, fear is like blood around a shark: they smell
fear, they're going to come at you, they're going to come at you hard and
they're going to try and make you lose focus on what you want to do. They're
going to bring out guns, they're going to yell, they're going to posture.
And I said, It isn't going to work with this team, because there's only going
to be one alpha dog in country, and that's me. When the Iraqi come up with
their tail up, my tail goes higher, when they growl, I growl louder, when they
bark, I jump on them and I kick them to the ground, because I'm in charge, and
you work for me. So, when the situation goes to hell in a handbasket, I don't
want you running around with fear in your eyes, I want you looking up and
looking at me and focused on me. As long as I'm standing there, proud, in
charge, in control, you don't have to worry about a thing. Don't worry about
anything else that's going around you, because I'm in charge, I'm the alpha
dog, and when they situation calms down I'm going to turn you on task, and I
want you perform.
And they loved it, they ate it up. The teams always worked, they always worked
effectively. Now, there were some UN people that would hear this speech, and
panic. This isn't the United Nations. What's going on? But I guarantee you,
the bulk of the inspectors, when presented with the concept of the alpha dog
and the alpha dog approach, not only liked it but respected it and wanted to be
a part of it, because we were the most effective teams that operated in Iraq.
You actually used the cameras as a kind of way to get what you wanted done,
Well, it's to document obstruction. It's very easy to get into a he said-she
said on these things: You did this. No, you did this. No, you did this. And
you take that to the Security Council, and you're going to lose. So you want
to be able to document Iraqi obstruction. That's the last things Iraqis you
wanted to you do, is document the obstruction. So they would put pressure on
you not to use cameras, not to record incidents as they were occurring, and so
we would try to film an obstruction.
If the Iraqis were obstructing that, we'd have a backup camera filming that
obstruction. ... We had cameras backing up cameras. And I called them--These
were our fire support systems. We don't have machine guns, we have cameras.
And when you go into an inspection site, you have to do a fire support plan:
Where are you cameras, your primary, who's backing up the primary, who's
backing up that? If this goes down, who takes its place? It's a very military
type operation, without the guns.
Without the guns. And they do have guns.
Well, the vast majority of inspections went off without a hitch, the vast
majority. If you lined up the entire gamut of the UNSCOM experience, most
inspections are pretty exciting in terms of doing an information hunt, but if
you try to transform it into a movie, a Hollywood movie, people would be asleep
in their seats, because it's an intellectual game. Every once in a while,
though, the stops came off, and things got pretty hot, pretty quick. And when
they get hot in Iraq, it means guns, it means loaded guns, and it means guns in
the hands of people who aren't afraid to use them, and have a history of using
them. And when that happened, it got your attention really, really quick.
Rolf Ekeus leaves. You got a new boss--what's Richard Butler like?
Well, he is a completely different sort of character in many ways, similar in
others. Richard Butler's a man who has an extensive arms control background,
with the Non-Proliferation Treat, etc., with the Australia group. He's
respected in his field. He is more abrupt than Rolf Ekeus. He has an air
about him that many find attractive, especially people who had to deal with the
very diplomatic not double speak, but enigmatic ways of Rolf Ekeus--You
suddenly have this Australian comes in who says like he sees it: You're a
bastard, you're an idiot, I like this, we'll do that. And to a lot of people
that was a breath of fresh air.
But it also put him in situations, sometimes, that could have been avoided.
And ultimately, I believe, led to the downfall of UNSCOM. Richard Butler's a
man who wanted to do well, tried to do well and on most occasions did well.
But he ultimately failed, and he failed, I think he was a victim of his own
brusque, abrupt ways.
Did you get along?
Richard Butler and I got along, all the way up to the very end. But one of the
saddest things about this whole experience is that somehow our friendship, our
relationship has suffered grievously. I think it was inevitable. We're on
different sides of the spectrum. It's a deeply personal issue, and it comes
off as a personal struggle.
But Richard Butler's a good friend of mine. I had the deepest respect for
Richard Butler. I don't agree with everything he did, and I'm certain that he
doesn't agree with everything I've done, especially after my resignation. But
I can say, as long as I worked with Richard Butler, or for Richard Butler, he
and I were joined at the hip, we were on the same team, we were doing the job.
He made some decisions, as executive chairman, that I disagreed with. I
believe that some of those decisions that he made showed bad judgment, bad
judgment which ultimately resulted in the demise of UNSCOM. But that has no
impact on the character of Richard Butler. He was put in one of the most
difficult situations imaginable. When Rolf Ekeus punched out, in the summer of
1997, and went off to be the Swedish Ambassador to the United States, here's
Richard Butler, who inherited a whirlwind. We're in the middle of a major
crisis with Iraq. He's got this thing called Scott Ritter and this sensitive
intelligence collection capability that bears no resemblance to what he
understands arms control is.
He's got the Iraqis, who are saying, we're clean, Rolf Ekeus was a bad guy, we
want to work with you to come up with a solution. He's got the Security
Council that has its own expectations, he has Kofi Annan, he has the United
States, he has Russia--everybody's pulling at him, and he's got to come in,
and he can't make one mistake. He's in a fish bowl. You make one mistake,
everybody jumps on you. And I challenge anybody to get into that situation and
Richard Butler did the best he could do. He was in a tough situation. He got
behind the eight ball early on, from no fault of his own, and he was never able
to catch up. And eventually, it overwhelmed him. It would have overwhelmed
just about anybody. Unfortunately, when you're the commander at the helm of a
ship that goes down, people blame you, and Richard Butler's going to get the
lion's share of the blame thrown at him.
But I tell you what; I don't think anybody could have done a better job, in
totality. People might have made different decisions at the end, and I believe
one of the big differences between Richard Butler and Rolf Ekeus was that Rolf
Ekeus was not enamored with the United States. Richard Butler was. Rolf Ekeus
took everything the U.S. did with a grain of salt. Richard Butler took the
U.S. at face value, and the United States Government, the Clinton
Administration, betrayed Richard Butler.
Now, tell me about that. There's a lot I want to talk about here, but
Madeleine Albright, at one point, gives a big speech [in March], '97, where she
says that we are going to keep economic sanctions, we, the United States. ...
[W]hat was wrong with Madeleine Albright, in that speech and that policy?
Well--economic sanctions were put on Iraq because Iraq invaded Kuwait.
After the liberation of Kuwait, in 1991, early 1991, economic sanctions were
extended, as part of a package to get Iraq to disarm. Economic sanctions would
be lifted, especially the provision on oil sales, would be lifted if Iraq
complied with its disarmament obligations. The priority and the emphasis
should be on disarming Iraq, not on the maintenance of economic sanctions.
That's not what it's about. That's a tool. It's about disarmament.
So, when Madeleine Albright comes out, and makes the most ridiculous statement,
saying, it doesn't matter if Iraq complies with its disarmament obligations.
Regardless, we're going to continue to keep economic sanctions in place, until
what? Until Saddam Hussein is removed from power. Well, show me the Security
Council resolution that says that's the case. It's the U.S. that started
jumping in to operating outside the framework of international law.
And now you have a situation where Iraq says, What are we supposed to do? If
we cooperate, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter. And now they start looking
at UNSCOM, now there's an implementor of Security Council policy, but actually,
as an organization designed to create confrontation, that gives the United
States an excuse to maintain sanctions, we became not just an inconvenience, we
became the bad guys. And it's the United States that's to thank for that.
Madeleine Albright's mindless policy. And that's the beginning of the end for
September, 1997. What happened?
UNSCOM 207 inspection, September, 1997. The purpose of the inspection was to
carry out investigations into how Iraq was concealing weapons of mass
destruction and related activities from UNSCOM. And it followed on the heels
of an inspection in June of 1997, in which Iraq was obstructive. The Security
Council passed a resolution that said Iraq had to comply or else there would be
automatic sanctions imposed on the travel of high-level Iraqi officials.
So, it's a very important inspection; the world's looking at it. So, we're
doing this inspection, and we're getting obstructed by the Iraqis. They're
just not going to comply. We go to one site, and they delay our entry; go to
another site, and they destroy documents; they go to another site, and they
say, you can't get in.
But I was frustrated by that, because people were saying, well, that's enough,
and I was saying, Well, no, no, we have the end of the inspection to go. We
have some very good intelligence that we want to follow up on here. But
Richard Butler made a decision that that was it.
Halfway through the inspection, there's another inspection team in country.
Contrary to popular belief, UNSCOM did not revolve around Scott Ritter. There
was a lot of other activity taking place. And one of these was a biological
inspection team, headed by an American biologist, a scientist named Dr. Diane
Seaman. And she's one of the--UNSCOM is full of unique characters, and she
is one of the unique characters. She is a coldly efficient woman, a warm human
being but, man, she is professional as the day is long.
And Diane was doing no-notice monitoring inspection. And normally, a team
would show up, and you arrive in the front of the building, and the Iraqis
greet you, shake your hand, you go in and you have a cup of tea with the
director, you talk about your program, then you go off and you monitor the
Well, Diane said, I'm not going to play that game this time. We're going to
show up and we're going to go straight to the back stairs and go upstairs, and
see what happens.
Well, what happened was, as she got upstairs she ran into two guys coming
downstairs who had briefcases, and they saw her, she saw them, they tried to
bar the door and run. She said, No, not in my life time, and she got the door
open. Imagine it: These are two burly, Iraqi special security organization
personnel, running away from little Diane Seaman. She caught them, she
intimidated them, she was the alpha dog, she got them in the room, and got the
briefcases from them.
She opened up the briefcases and started rifling through, and the first thing
she sees is the letterhead of the Special Security Organization. Now, Diane
and I, and other chief inspectors, have been talking about the importance.
I've been trying to educate people that if you see something about the S.S.O.,
that's critical. And she went, Ritter told me about that, this is big. And
she starts flapping through, and she sees biological activity staff of the
S.S.O. Man. Looked through more: Clostridium perfringens, gases,
gangrene, something the Iraqis had weaponized, a prohibited toxin,
No further questions. Locks it up, hands the briefcases to one of her
inspectors, says, Take them down to the car and get out of here. And the guy
got out, and as he was going down and getting in the car, the big Iraqi team
came up, burst in, said, We want the briefcases. Too late, Diane had already
taken them back to the BMVC, where they were studied more.
And I had talked with Diane about this, and one of the sites that we had wanted
to inspect was the Al Hyatt building, because we had information that it was
the administrative offices of the Special Security Organization and we felt
that certain activities, to include the biological activity, were being
conducted there, at least staff was headquartered there. And Richard Butler
had decided that that was too controversial, too confrontational, and that he
was going to scratch that off of this inspection.
I now have documentation which justifies this kind of activity. So, I worked
with Diane and we coordinated with Richard Butler, and we confronted the Iraqis
at an evening meeting. And I had already told the Iraqis that my inspection
was done, I'm going home. Richard Butler said, If the Iraqis don't answer your
questions, you're authorized to do a night inspection of the Al Hyatt
So, we go in, and we start meeting with the Iraqis, asking questions, and
they're not giving us the answer we want. So, after a while I interrupt the
meeting, I say, Look, we can do it the easy way, or we can do it the hard way.
The easy way is, we ask a question, you answer it to our satisfaction, and
we'll confine this discussion to this room, and we'll be done tonight. The
hard way is, we ask a question, you don't answer it to our satisfaction, and
then we're going to run a night inspection, and I'm telling you, you're not
going to like it. And they were like, But you said your inspection was done.
I said, You can start it again in a heartbeat, by not cooperating.
Apparently, they might have thought we were bluffing. We asked the question,
they didn't give us the answer, we terminated the meeting and went back, got
final authority from Richard Butler, and now we assembled an inspection team to
go to the heart of the presidential palace area in Baghdad, where Saddam
Hussein lives and works. In the middle of that is the Al Hyatt building, where
the Special Security Organization had offices.
And we take off in a convoy, a convoy of about 14 vehicles, Diane Seaman, me,
the rest of the inspectors, and we move down. Now, in the front of me is a
vehicle driven by my operations officer, Chris Cobb Smith, the brilliant Chris
Cobb Smith, a former Royal Marine, artillery gunner, courageous man, a
brilliant planner, and he's navigating us in. He and I had spent hours looking
over U-2 photographs, picking the best route in.
So, he's leading the convoy in, as navigator. And as we approach the turn-off
to the Al Hyatt building, we come to an intersection. Now, we had anticipated
that there would be a roadblock there, but there wasn't, the road was clear,
light was green, so Chris' vehicle starts snaking through. Light turns yellow
at that point, so Chris accelerates through, because standard operating
procedure is, once a convoy commits through a traffic light, we all go through.
Normally, what the Iraqis do is block traffic to get us through. We don't want
to have a convoy split, in the city.
So, he accelerates through. As he accelerates, an Iraqi Special Republican
Guard, one of the elite troops protecting Saddam Hussein, who's supposed to be
manning this roadblock, had apparently been snoozing on the side, wakes up and
goes, My God, cars. So, he comes up and he slaps Chris' car, but Chris just
kept going. He turns around, and there's my car. Now, I have a French driver
that night, a French military officer, whose command of the English language
was limited. And I look at the situation. The guy's got a gun. And I said,
We might want to stop the car right now. And he keeps going, towards this
soldier. The soldier's screaming, shrill voice, panicked. I said, We really
might want to stop the car right now, go ahead and stop the car.
He keeps going, straight at the solider. The solider locks and loads his
weapon, puts it on fire, gets down into a crouch--I mean, he's ready to fire.
You see him bracing, and he's screaming. I turn, and I scream at the top--
Stop the damn car, you son of a bitch. Stops. The guy's screaming, getting
ready to shoot, and I'm thinking, That's it, we're dead, when this flash of
green comes off of my right shoulder. It was one of the Iraqi minders, the
people who escort us, and he jumps between me and the soldier. A spilt-second,
I think, we would have all been dead. The solider now has it, and he's
screaming at this guy, getting ready to knock him off.
Meanwhile, another guy comes up, a Special Security Organization uniformed
officer, pulls his pistol, points it at this Iraqi colonel, then points it at
me, he's got it leveled at my head, and he's going back and forth, the
soldier's going back and forth, screaming at the top of the voice, and I'm
thinking, This is really interesting.
Chris, meanwhile, is zipping on, and three Iraqi vehicles were following him at
high speed. So, Chris is moving on fast, and in front of him there's another
check point. And you see guys pulling out RPGs, rocket propelled grenades,
loading machine guns, getting on their knees, ready to shoot. I grab their
radio, and I don't want to make any sudden moves because I've got these two
goons, who are very nervous: Chris, you might want to stop the car, these guys
And Chris had an Australian driver, a military guy, at the wheel, who's a very
cool character, and slowly, without screeching the brakes, stopped the car.
The Iraqis come in front of him, and we finally get Chris back, and the
situation calmed down, somewhat.
Later on, we had more S.S.O. guys come out, and they were not happy about us
being here. These were big thugs come out, and they're all waving their
pistols around, and a lot of guns in the area, a lot of testosterone and a lot
of adrenaline and a lot of energy. And it was a very, very tense situation
there for a while. We got it calmed down and we were able to get people
focused on the matter at hand, which was, do we--are we going to be allowed
to proceed to the Al Hyatt building? The answer, in short, was no.
But it was a tough situation, and it's about the closest, I think, we came to
getting a lot of people killed. It was just that close.
[W]as the Clinton Administration doing enough to explain and sell its
policy regarding UNSCOM and Iraq to the United States?
The Clinton Administration didn't have a policy on Iraq. What they were doing
was reacting to a situation. They were confronted with a situation where we
had Iraqi non-compliance. The Iraqis had stopped an inspection team, an
inspection team led by me, wouldn't let us do our job. Then they insulted
Richard Butler. He came there to try and craft a solution. They insulted
Richard Butler. It's black and white non-compliance. Well, the U.S. didn't
know what to do. So then they said, Well, we've go to be tough. Well, what
does being tough mean? How do you justify going to war with Iraq to the
American people? How do you craft it out?
The U.S. wasn't a big supporter of UNSCOM to begin with, at that point in time;
we were merely a means of implementing the continuation of sanctions. So,
suddenly, you had to fall in love with UNSCOM all over again, and decide that
you were willing to go to war for the inspection process. But they didn't
really understand the inspection process. I mean, you had the Secretary of
Defense doing what I think were extremely tacky demonstrations: holding up a
bag of sugar: This is a bag of anthrax. It would kill the entire--Well,
thank you very much, Secretary of Defense, but what does that really mean?
What does the Iraqi biological weapons capability truly, honestly speaking,
what do they have? The answer is, you don't know, do you? No one knows.
UNSCOM has an idea, and what they have is seed stock: the ability to
reconstitute a biological weapons program. But we've destroyed their
biological weapons factories. We have inspectors monitoring the others.
Yeah, there's a handful of Special Security Organization guys, running around
with briefcases that have plans and ideas for larger activity. Iraq's not
clean, in any sense of the word. But there's not this great factory. Don't
hold up a bag and say that's what the threat is. You've oversimplified it, and
when you oversimplify, and you come under sharp criticism, you'll fall to
And that's what happened at Ohio State, they fell to pieces. They couldn't put
together a sound policy, one that could be explained to the American people.
Meanwhile, they're saying you're the problem, you're causing these
confrontations. It's a Scott Ritter problem. There's pressure put on Butler
to remove you, essentially.
And you finally, in August, just quit. Is that why you quit?
Well, look, I quit for reasons that dealt with honor and integrity, not because
Madeleine Albright or Sandy Berger or anybody put pressure on me. If that was
the case, I would have quit a long time ago. Richard Butler knew that I was
doing UNSCOM's work. That's what I stayed on, because I still had the trust and
confidence of my boss, Richard Butler.
The problem came on a number of fronts. I talked about the intelligence game,
and the fact that UNSCOM was now getting involved in techniques and
capabilities that are normally only associated with national governments. In
entering this realm, this rarefied air of national level intelligence, we ran
head-to-head with the bureaucratic self-interests of a number of agencies and
organizations who viewed us as competition. They weren't there to facilitate
the work of UNSCOM, they were there to kill UNSCOM. Why? Because UNSCOM was
on their turf. It became a turf war.
So, we had this struggle going on, and that bled over into a nasty little
incident that developed out of my work with Israel. People started spreading
the word that somehow I was an Israeli spy, that I wasn't doing the work of the
United States or of UNSCOM, I was doing the bidding of Israel.
And that came to a head in January. In fact, it was the U.S. saying that I was
an Israeli spy that prompted the withdrawal of my team from Iraq, in January.
It's an amazing piece of information there, but--
You also found out that the F.B.I. started to investigate.
Well, then I came back and said, Well, why did you pull me out? And it became
clear the reason why they pulled me out was because there's this F.B.I.
investigation, charging me with espionage. So, this is absurd. Everything
I've done in Iraq is approved by Richard Butler, is in conformance with the
mandate of the Security Council, and, furthermore, has been reported and
approved by the United States Government. How dare you investigate me for
something you've approved of.
And what happened, I got into a situation, every time I did my job, for Richard
Butler and UNSCOM, my file at the F.B.I. got thicker. It was absurd. And one
reason why this occurred, of course, is because of this turf battle. They had
to destroy me. You destroy me by attacking my credibility, and you go after
those operations which you fear the most. Our involvement with Israel gave us
a large degree of independence from the United States intelligence community,
independence which many in the U.S. intelligence community found
So, the best way to handle it is to kill the operation, kill the man operating
the operation, destroy his credibility, and that ends up with the whole Israel
connection falling apart. And that's what I believe they were trying to do.
The other problem was this information that the Israelis gave us was liberating
us from the U.S. It was also high quality information. And suddenly, we were
being armed with the data we needed to use to go into Iraq to find weapons.
But what did this mean? When UNSCOM went in, we were no longer beating the
bush, we were going to sites where the Iraqis were going to stop us. There
would be confrontation.
And now, the State Department had to be confronted with the reality of, you let
Scott Ritter continue to run these inspections, the Iraqis will block him; if
the Iraqis block him, what do we do? The answer is, We don't know what we're
going to do, we're not prepared for that. The solution: Stop Ritter from
doing the inspections.
And all of this came to a head in the January-February-March  time frame,
and resulted in some pretty childish antics on the part of Madeleine Albright,
in which she personalized the issue and tried to get me removed from doing my
Let me jump ahead, to later in the year. There's a lot of talk--we want
to back up UNSCOM even if it comes to war, or to bombing. Eventually, for
whatever reasons, in December of 1998, Clinton bombs Iraq: Desert Fox. What
do you think about Desert Fox.
I think Desert Fox will go down in history as one of the most ill-planned,
ill-conceived adventures of the Clinton Administration. What did Desert Fox
achieve? What was its goal? What was its purpose? If the United States
wanted to back up UNSCOM, there was plenty of legitimate reasons to do so.
During the summer of 1998, we tried to launch two inspections which were geared
around extremely high quality intelligence on where weapons and weapons
components were hidden. These inspections most probably would have resulted in
a confrontation, the Iraqis obstructing. That would have been a wonderful
trigger for the United States to come in and talk tough and say, we're going to
back up the work of UNSCOM.
And I'll tell you what. It might have resulted in UNSCOM inspectors being
kicked out of Iraq, but it would not have been the death of UNSCOM, because
UNSCOM would have been a fair, impartial implementor of Security Council
policy, nothing more, nothing less. The Iraqis could have kicked us out, but
all we were doing was our job, and no one could doubt that or criticize us for
that. The debate would have been within the Security Council, on how to
enforce its resolution.
But the U.S. opted out, said, no, we're going to stop those inspections, we're
not for that kind of work. ...
Is UNSCOM dead?
Deader than a door nail. I don't think there's anybody out there right now
that thinks that UNSCOM will go back into Iraq configured the way it was in
December of 1998.
And who killed UNSCOM?
Well, there's a large number of players involved here. You have Iraq, which
was not complying fully with Security Council resolutions. What I mean by
fully is they weren't letting UNSCOM complete that last few percentage points
to get us up to 100 percent.
So, Iraq is complicit, but that'd been happening for eight years. UNSCOM was
alive and well and breathing for seven years. So, you can't say that Iraq
killed UNSCOM because Iraq behaved the same way throughout, and UNSCOM still
The Security Council created UNSCOM under Chapter 7 of the United Nations
Charter, and that carries with it a promise to enforce its own law, and the
Security Council wasn't enforcing its law, and that helped to perpetuate this
cycle of cheat-and-retreat confrontation, and then, backing down.
You could say the Security Council killed UNSCOM, but again, that's a process
that's been taking place for years, and UNSCOM was still alive, well,
breathing, kicking, doing its job.
Now we come down to the final two players. You have an executive chairman who,
for whatever reasons, has become enamored with the support of the United
States. You have a United States administration, the Clinton Administration,
which, as we've seen with Madeleine Albright's unfortunate statements of 1997,
have decided to pervert international law and say that it doesn't matter what
Iraq does with disarmament, we're going to keep economic sanctions in place.
Now, these sanctions are becoming harder and harder to defend, on two fronts.
One, what good are they doing? Are they having an impact on the target, Saddam
Hussein? The answer is no. Who suffers under sanctions? Innocent Iraqi
people. Thousands of children under the age of five die every month because of
these sanctions, and while the American public might be oblivious to this,
believe me, the rest of the world is not, and the longer we continue this
program of economic sanctions targeted against Iraq, the more isolated the
United State becomes.
But Richard Butler had come to a decision that we couldn't carry out certain
activities without the support of the United States, that the United States was
somehow our No. 1 backer in the Security Council, and he allowed the United
States to start calling the shots. An inspection a little too confrontational,
Richard? Why don't we pull the plug on it, buddy, and stop it.
Do you have any regrets about some of the comments you've made, that exposed
The most important issue here is salvaging a failed policy. Now, the U.S.
Government has committed itself towards this failed policy, and there's a lot
of people whose reputations are at stake there. And if Scott Ritter's going to
go out and try and change that failed policy, there's going to be some ruffled
When I resigned, I put the U.S. Government on notice that I'm going to stick to
policy issues, that I have no intention of going out and blowing the cover off
of the intelligence operations, that those are truly sensitive and they should
not be exposed. But I also said a couple of things. One, if you attack my
integrity, I will defend myself. If you attack my patriotism, I will defend
myself. If you come after my family, I will counter-attack viciously, I will
destroy you. Don't push those buttons, and we've got a good relationship.
Stick on policy. I say you're wrong, you say you're right, let's have it
What's the first thing that happened? The Pentagon released information
talking about an F.B.I. espionage investigation into my relationship with
Israel. I didn't bring up the Israeli issue. They did. And by putting it out
there, they were calling me a spy. I had to defend myself. I did so
factually. Rolf Ekeus may be saddened, he may have a right to be saddened, but
I guarantee you, everything I have said is factually correct. I haven't
exaggerated anything, I've stuck to the facts. If people don't like the
history, I'm sorry.
Let me ask you, then, specifically about the facts, and this is in your book.
You describe a C.I.A. agent who you give a fictitious name, Moe Dobbs, and you
say that you worked with him for a long time. Tell me a little about that
relationship, and then it changes. But you worked with this C.I.A. agent.
I told you, early on, that the United States provided intelligence from the
very beginning, to help UNSCOM carry out inspections. I talked about the great
SCUD hunt of December 1991. That was intelligence provided by the United
States. To support the provision of intelligence and to support operational
planning, the United States intelligence community created something called the
Operational Planning Cell, at C.I.A. It brought in Department of Defense
personnel and C.I.A. personnel. Some of the C.I.A.'s best operational planners
come from their covert actions branch, para-military specialists who do a
number of things, plot coups, but also know how to operate in hostile
territory, "get things done."
Moe Dobbs was such a person, a senior member of this C.I.A. element who worked
with UNSCOM to help us carry out inspections, to get intelligence sent to us
and help us operationalize this intelligence. I had a very close relationship
with this guy, and his team. Very professional. But he also is a C.I.A.
employee. Rolf Ekeus knew this. We didn't talk about it, it was just one of
those things. You said you asked for this capability, this is what you get.
But being a C.I.A. employee, later on, when U.S. policy changes, he's not
responsible to Rolf Ekeus, the way I am. And when the government tasks him to
do certain things, he will do it. My job, and Rolf Ekeus's job, was to make
sure that they didn't do those things while they were working for UNSCOM, and
we did our best. And I'm very careful, in the book, to say I have no direct
But one of the problems is, is that you have a situation, in June of 1996,
where the United States is fomenting a coup against Saddam Hussein, a coup
based upon Special Republican Guard units. At the same time, you have an
UNSCOM inspection, UNSCOM 150, which is in Iraq, creating a confrontation by
inspecting Special Republican Guard sites.
On our team are nine covert operatives from the C.I.A.'s covert activities
branch. Now, they're doing the work of UNSCOM, they were part of planning
UNSCOM, they provided communications support, logistics support, operational
support, the kind of guys you need for these inspections.
But the Iraqis were questioning Rolf Ekeus on the timing of this inspection.
Why were you doing it? And Tariq Aziz was very critical of that. And what I
was trying to do is put into a perspective some of the Iraqi concerns. It's
important to realize that the Iraqis do have legitimate national security
interests. No matter how much we hate Saddam Hussein, it's in their national
security interest to keep him in power, and when you have the United States
government, or any other government, trying to create a coup to throw him out,
they're very concerned.
Now, when they met with Rolf Ekeus, they knew that the coup was planned. They
had penetrated the coup plotters for months, they knew exactly what was going
on, and they probably knew something about our inspection team that we didn't
know. They probably had insights that we didn't have. I was confronted with
such insights by one Iraqi, who said, You know, you guys are being used to
support a coup. Now, I objected vehemently, I said, No, I'm UNSCOM, Rolf Ekeus
would never authorize that, I would never be a part of that. We're doing our
job. He said, Well, I'm just telling you, we know something. ...
... What was Operation Tea Cup.
Well, Tea Cup, as a name, talks about UNSCOM's ability to carry out the
interdiction of Iraqi covert procurement activities, procurement of prohibited
materials in violation of Security Council Resolutions. Tea Cup particularly
involved a relationship that UNSCOM had with Israel, ... and the deal was that
the Israelis would provide specific intelligence tip-offs to UNSCOM, so that
UNSCOM could operationalize this information. UNSCOM could use its mandate to
go to governments and inform them of some illicit activity taking place, in an
effort to interdict it or to monitor it into Iraq.
We ran six Tea Cup Operations, from 1995 to 1998. The Rumanian Operation was,
I believe, Tea Cup 5, and what happened was that in September of 1997 we
received a specific tip-off from the Israeli government. We went to the
British government, asked for assistance. This dealt with Iraqi procurement
activity in Romania, specifically the buying of a Rumanian aerospace firm,
Aerofina, by the Iraqis and the procurement of guidance and control production
equipment and guidance and control devices for ballistic missiles--the
activity was prohibited, under Security Council Resolution.
So, you found out, or you got this tip, from the Israelis, that Iraq was trying
to get missile parts and missile production through Romania.
From Romania, through Jordan, into Iraq. Correct. And we went to the British.
The British were very receptive. The British took me to Romania, I met with
the head of the Romania Intelligence Services, and we set up an Operation.
Richard Butler was informed every step of the way, and in case he wants me to
do it, I can produce a document, signed by Richard Butler, authorizing me to
have these contacts. ...
What happened, in this particular case?
... The United States intervened, with the British Government, and said, Stop
doing business with Scott Ritter. You can't have an intelligence relationship
with an American citizen unless it's controlled by the C.I.A. Well, the Brits
said, Stuff it. Ritter's a UN person, and we're dealing with him in his
capacity as an UNSCOM official, not an American citizen, and we're going to
And to make a long story short, the Americans undertook a number of measures
which effectively sabotaged this operation. It ended up killed it. We were in
a situation where, in the end, we were able to interdict the Iraqi procurement
effort. I don't think there'll be anything coming out of Romania to Iraq, any
time soon. But we never got to take it the step further.
We interviewed Bart Gellman, The Washington Post. In effect he says, in a
particular Operation, that the CIA went in on an UNSCOM operation and put in
special antennas so they could monitor military communications within the
Iraqis. Does that sound plausible to you, not plausible?
Now we're getting into national security areas for the United States of
America. I think that's something that's best left to American officials.
What I can say is the following. One on occasion, I uncovered activity taking
place in Iraq, under the auspices of UNSCOM, that I viewed as being suspicious.
I felt that it was intelligence activity related to the collection of
intelligence information and that it was being done on behalf of the United
States. And I didn't think that Rolf Ekeus was aware of this and had given his
But I'm also an American, and there's no way that I'm going to blow the lid off
of an American intelligence operation. That's the last thing that the patriot
does. We have people's lives at stake, etc., national security at stake,
things that I may not be cognizant of.
But the Deputy Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, Charles Duelfer, is an American,
the senior American. So I went to him with my concerns, and I laid it out, and
I said, Charles, this is what I think's happening, what are we going to do
about it? Well, his response was, Scott, I can't talk about it, and my advice
to you is to stop digging, son, because you're getting into national security
areas and if you keep moving you'll have a problem with the F.B.I. It's a law
enforcement problem, it's espionage, and you'll lose that game.
And I said, Fine. But I did submit a page and a half memorandum, in writing,
detailing my concerns, and I said, I am officially notifying you, as the Deputy
Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, that I, an UNSCOM official, have this problem.
What you choose to do about it's your own business, but I clean my hands.
Maybe that was a cowardly act. If I was truly an UNSCOM official, maybe I
should have taken it to Rolf Ekeus. But I'm American, above all else. And I
felt I did the most that I could do in that situation.
I'm not confirming or denying anything that Bart Gellman wrote about. I'm just
saying that there were situations like that that did occur, that I was aware
of, or at least thought I was aware of. I could have been all wrong. Charles
could have been telling me, You're heading down the wrong path, there's nothing
there, nothing of substance. I don't know.
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