The second Judas

By WND Staff

You have to give Saddam’s propagandists credit for picking people who, when they were bought, stayed bought. Former U.S. Marine and U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter’s very public turnaround – and the substantial finances associated with it – are very much in the news. This is yet another masterful Iraqi manipulation of the media – and with it, world opinion.

All that is required in this situation from a political perspective is to muddy the water sufficiently so that a united international coalition is more difficult to mount. Given the substantial trade interests of the French and Germans (amongst a host of others) in an open-for-business Iraq, it makes sense to give them a putatively reasonable basis for their potentially profitable demur. Enter Scott Ritter and the introduction of what passes for reasonable doubt in the international arena – and at a relatively bargain price to boot.

Ritter is the Iraqi replacement for Peter Arnett, formerly of CNN. While some readers may recall that WND’s Joseph Farah broke the reality of the phony nerve-gas story that was the end of Arnett’s career at CNN, what is not public knowledge is the quiet U.S. investigation of his ties and those of CNN to Saddam.

The first June 1998 “Valley of Death” segment of the premiere of the now-defunct CNN-TIME “NEWSSTAND” program had at its basis a purely manufactured story of how the U.S. military had used sarin nerve gas in September 1970. The show’s second segment featured an introduction by Arnett that directly tied the sensational story to the credibility – and thus the leadership – of the U.S. in maintaining U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq.

It was the immediate acceptance and worldwide dissemination that provided the de facto disintegration of the U.S.-led international consensus to maintain weapons inspectors in Iraq. CNN and most other sources never internationally disseminated the fact that the story simply fell apart in less than a month, as its scurrilous fiction was widely exposed. Even in Britain, it took a governmental order for the Sunday Times of London to print the retraction. Elsewhere it received short shrift indeed. As the well-muddied international waters continued to swirl, Iraq successfully expelled the U.N. weapons inspectors, leading us to where we stand today.

The fallout from the TIME and CNN retractions were financially punishing for the companies and career-shattering repercussions for the show’s producers and, eventually, its front man, Arnett, who was forced to sit in virtual limbo while the U.S. investigation into possible ties to Saddam’s regime ground on. Damaged past any profitable usefulness as a correspondent, his CNN contract was bought out a year later. However, in the last four years, Arnett has proven himself resilient, if nothing else, and he has recently surfaced on “The Factor” as a resource on Iraq as the taint begins to fade.

That brings us to just how this quietly conducted investigation is known to me: I was the one who presented the initial intelligence brief to the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the Capitol building in late June of 1998.

Scott Ritter’s job is to muddy the political waters as effectively as did his predecessor for their client-in-all-but-name. Eventually and inevitably, Ritter will be discredited and disappear from our screens, but the damage he did will remain. But buck up, Scotty … you can always call on Arnett at Camera Planet for help with an appropriately obscure job.

Tom Marzullo is a former Special Forces soldier and a veteran of submarine special operations. He resides in Colorado.