Thursday, October 03, 2002


        Major Scott Ritter has caught onto the 'chickenhawk' meme. Seth Gitell of the Boston Phoenix bore his angry brunt.

        When I asked, "Why not war?" Ritter all but exploded. "First of all, to hell with you and that question, " he said, arguing that concern for "over a million American servicemen" and "tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians" dictates doing everything possible to avoid war. "'Why not war?' My God, what a question." Pressed on the point that to "exhaust all the possibilities" would only result in keeping Hussein in power, Ritter dismissed my "interpretation" and turned the tables again. "Before we talk about going off to war and having people die - other people by the way, you're not going to die, you're not going to die ..."

        Gitell, though disturbed by this example of the "[D]isturbing ad hominem twist to the debate over Iraq right now," gamely tried some reporter's judo.

        "How do you know I'm not a member of the Reserves?" I asked Ritter, challenging his assumption (which was correct, by the way, at least in my case) that a journalist of my age would not be in the service.

        Ritter was not fooled by this attempt at creating a real debate. He's to clever for that, so he turns to the puerile insults.

        But Ritter mocked this suggestion: "Okay, you and I. We'll go. Go sign up."

        Ritter did not just attack the reporter...

        Last month, I wrote a short piece about Ritter, in which I quoted his former superior, Ambassador Richard Butler, on Ritter's impassioned opposition to the position that Hussein might still have dangerous unconventional weapons and possibly even nuclear weapons. This is what Butler told me: "On Ritter, it's simple. Either he misled me when he worked for me, as he utterly insisted that Iraq had WMD [weapons of mass destruction], or he's now misleading the public when he says there were no weapons left in Iraq at that time. The facts make clear that he did not mislead me. I don't know why he's saying what he is saying. I'm not a psychoanalyst."

        Right out of the box - with two other reporters present - I asked Ritter his response to Butler's comment. (He was traveling abroad and didn't have time to respond to my inquiries for the original article.) And right out of the box, Ritter almost bit my head clean off: " I don't understand the allegations. Misleading about what? What specifically did he say? " I explained, and Ritter turned his ire on Butler. " It's very clear, never once in any of the documents that I submitted to Richard Butler did I say that Iraq retained ... weapons, " Ritter said. His version is that he merely told Butler that " we have information that basically there might be documents or some other evidence existing in certain sites that could lead us to the ability to account for this material, and therefore I believe we should go off and do this inspection. "

        So now, it seems, it's a question of credibility between Ritter and Butler.

        My money is on Butler.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002


        I have made two major pronouncements which I have to recant. The first, and more trivial, relates to my football team. The first player I drafted was Shaun Alexander. Because he had been almost completely unproductive, I benched him this week.


        Glad I got that out of my system.

        I had previously ranted against the senile delinquents- er- wise elders- of 60 Minutes. This week they kicked butt and took names. First was the devastating hatchet job about Yasser's papers with Leslie Stahl playing Lizzie Borden. Being associated with CAMERA, I could not help but to be amused but to think how pissed off I would be if I were an idiotarian propagandist. The main Israeli spokesman (sorry, no gender neutral taurine poopie on this blog) was an attractive, articulate and eloquent woman who was a colonel in the intelligence service. To add injury to devastating insult the PA did not have an official reply. But you might say one of their officials spoke. Stahl went to an Israeli prison and met with a leader of Islamic Jihad, who was wide eyed and asked how did CBS get those secret documents.

        Even more significant was the link between Palestinian Authority terror and the rouge regimes of Iran and Iraq.

        The other segments were also excellent. The second segment was a thoughtful analysis of the mania among TV executives for younger demographics. While I agree with the inherent skepticism of the piece a TV executive did get off a good zinger, asking Ed Bradley if the past weekend he at any fast food, went to a movie, bought a soft drink or had a six pack of beer. The answer was 'no.' Still, the thirtysomethings and twentysomethings the marketers crave watch less TV than their elders. After all, they have more entertainment options than suckling on the rancid milk of the boob tube.

        The last segment was about the children of Saudi fathers and American mothers who are being held forcibly in that loathsome regime. Maybe we need to start a propaganda move to warn young college girls that the debonair and dashing man could easily turn into a snarling abuser when he gets you back to his misogynistic medieval monarchy.