Whenever U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspection teams get close to uncovering Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, with the cowardly connivance of the U.S. and U.N. Security Council, calls them off.
This is the gist of highly credible charges made by tough-talking, straight-shooting former U.S. Marine Scott Ridder, a concealment expert and seven-year veteran of the inspections regime.
Ritter quit Thursday. He sees no sense in continuing the inspections as a public relations cover for the fact that the U.N. and U.S. are just as anxious as Iraq is to block UNSCOM teams from doing their job.
In his letter of resignation, Ritter said the Security Council's decision not to take stronger action after Iraq froze cooperation with weapons inspectors on Aug. 5 "makes a mockery of the (inspections) mission" and shows the U.N. "is no longer willing and or capable of (implementing) its own law."
Ritter singled out the United States for failing to fight for inspectors' unrestricted access to suspected weapons sites and ripped the secretary-general for allowing his office to become a "sounding board for Iraqi grievances, real or imagined."
Annan's pathetic response was that it's his job to "listen to the complaints of member states." Right, and unfortunately that does not include enforcing U.N. resolutions or even making Iraq live up to the deal it struck with Annan in the last inspections crisis.
Patriots will salute Ritter for his courageous candor. He confirms suspicions that for several months the Clinton administration has been working behind the scenes with Annan to quietly sabotage the inspections program.
Even if it's revived, it'll just be for show, another public relations spin to lull the public into believing President Clinton is just as tough on Saddam Hussein as President Bush ever was.
In truth, eight years after the Gulf War ended, Clinton has turned that hard-won victory over to Saddam Hussein. And the president still enjoys a 60 percent job-approval rating? Not for long, if Americans listen to Ritter.