Transcript of Donahue: Ritter/Butler/Haig


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ĎDonahueí for January 13

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Read the complete transcript to Mondayís show

Guests: Scott Ritter, Richard Butler, Jim Bohannon, Brian Haig

ANNOUNCER: Tonight: As the president continues to beat the war drum, tens of thousands of Americans are sent to the Persian Gulf. Is January 27 a deadline for war or a speed bump to a diplomatic solution?
DONAHUE goes inside the issues with two men on polar opposite sides:
former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who claims Iraq is not a threat; and his former boss, Ambassador Richard Butler, who says Iraq poses the greatest threat to global security.
DONAHUE, a live studio audience, and your phone calls-America speaks out on Iraq, starting right now.
(APPLAUSE)
PHIL DONAHUE, HOST: Good evening and welcome to DONAHUE.

Tonight, we have an exclusive television event. Iíll tell you about that in a second.
Tonight, weíre talking about going to war with Iraq. Go to our Web site at DONAHUE.MSNBC.com to register your vote.
Iím here with nationally-stand up, gentlemen. I want them to know who you are. This is the national radio talk show host Jim Bohannon, retired Lieutenant Colonel Brian Haig, who happens to be the son of General Alexander Haig. Theyíll be joining us shortly.
Thank you, gentlemen. Weíll be looking for you in just a second.
Debating now, for the first time face to face, are two men once charged with the task of ridding Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. That was then. And now, they are bitterly disagreeing on how much of a threat Saddam is to the world. Here are Ambassador Richard Butler, MSNBC analyst and former executive chairman of the United Nations special commission charged with the disarmament of Iraq; and Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector, under Butler. Scott Ritter is here and so is Ambassador Butler.
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: Well, Scott, you wrote a book titled ďEndgame.Ē You once reported to Richard Butler. He was your boss. And now you disagree with him.
Kindly make your case, Mr. Ritter, sir.
SCOTT RITTER, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, I think the basic issue of disagreement is what exactly constitutes the threat that Iraq poses today.
I think, clearly, Richard and I understand that Iraq is obligated to disarm, that they possessed massive quantities of weapons of mass destruction and they have an obligation...
RICHARD BUTLER, FORMER CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Thatís right.
So, you say massive quantities.
RITTER: They had massive quantities.
DONAHUE: You said had. Past tense?
RITTER: Absolutely.
BUTLER: I thought you said has. They had. Which one?
RITTER: Had. Possessed. Past tense.
And they were obligated, under international law, to be disarmed by weapons inspectors. I served seven years as a weapons inspector, from 1991 to 1998. And Ambassador Butler was my boss from the summer of 1997 until my resignation in August 1998. And, during that period of time, we did our job. We werenít able to complete our job.
We make it clear. To disarm, to do what youíre obligated to do under international law, a couple things have to have happen. One, Iraq must fully cooperate with the inspectors. And I think we can be in agreement that, during our time in UNSCOM, Iraq never completely cooperated.
BUTLER: Phil, weíre going to have a very dull debate, because, so far, I agree with everything he said.
(LAUGHTER)
(CROSSTALK)
RITTER: Two, the Security Council must enforce its law. If youíre going to pass a law, you have got to enforce it. And, clearly, when Iraq is obligated to disarm and they donít cooperate with the inspectors, the Security Council needs to do something. If they donít, you donít have viable inspections. And, three, the integrity of the inspection process must be respected throughout. That means that, not only do we hold Iraq accountable to the rule of law, but we ourselves, in implementing the rule of law, must likewise.
And this is where I have a problem. You see, the United States government has a policy of regime removal, getting rid of Saddam Hussein. And, since 1991, my experience has been that that policy of regime removal, which has taken priority over disarmament, corrupted the integrity of the process.
And I think we have to identify that this corrupting influence does have an influence on what takes place and how we interpret what goes on vis-a-vis Iraq. Let there be no doubt. During the seven years that I was a weapons inspector, the United States took advantage of the unique access we enjoyed as inspectors in Iraq to seek information about the security of Saddam Hussein and attempt to eliminate Saddam Hussein. And this corrupted the integrity of the work of the weapons inspectors.
And, ultimately, this is why there are no weapons inspectors in Iraq today. Now, we have inspectors in Iraq today...
BUTLER: But there are weapons inspectors in Iraq.
RITTER: No, no. We donít have UNSCOM there today. Now, we have inspectors back, UNMOVIC. And theyíre doing their job. Iraq is not interfering, to date. And the Security Council said they will enforce the law.
But let there be no doubt. The United States has a policy of regime removal and the United States still intends on getting rid of Saddam Hussein, regardless of what international law says. And they will and are corrupting the integrity of the inspection process at this point in time. And thatís my bone of contention.
Unfortunately, Richard, it was during your tenure as executive chairman, when you were captain of the UNSCOM ship, that we ran aground, that the United States did its worst in regards to abusing the inspection system. So, with all due respect, I hold you a little bit accountable for what occurred.
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: Ambassador Butler, you wrote a book titled ďFatal Choice:
Nuclear Weapons and the Illusion of Missile Defense.Ē We should say that you served as ambassador from Australia to the United Nations. And now you find your former employee-youíre taking some incoming here. Your comments, please.
BUTLER: Iím not sure what the applause was about. Was that because of what Scott said about...
DONAHUE: I think it was, sir.
BUTLER: About what the United States has done? Was it?
(CROSSTALK)
BUTLER: Well, thatís really very sad, because, up to that point, I agreed with what Scott said, Phil.
Scott, you know as well as I do that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction and did use them. You know as well as I do that, when they threw us out four years ago, they continued to have retained quantities of weapons of mass destruction.
Now, you will remember, when you resigned, that there was an enormously hostile situation toward us, you and me and our organization, in the Security Council. In particular, the Russians were saying that we were lying, that we were wrong, and that we had to get out of Iraqís life and so on. And even though there was such a hostile situation, in my final report to the Security Council, in which I said, look, Iraq still has retained weapons of mass destruction, even the Russians in the end had to go along with that.
Now, thatís a baseline. And thatís a baseline that weíre still dealing with today. Four weeks ago, when Iraq tabled a 12,000-page declaration on its weapons of mass destruction, which began with an enormous lie, where they said they have none, one of the ways they sought to sustain that lie was to refuse to give any account of those weapons that you and I left behind four years ago, that even the Russians agreed to were there, the whole international community agreed to were there.
Iraq today doesnít address that at all. So, thatís my first point, Phil. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction from the past that need to be accounted for. How good they are, how dangerous they are is another question. And Scott and I might actually agree that theyíre not as dangerous as some people say. But there can be no doubt that Iraq has had weapons of mass destruction, retains them to this day, and they need to be accounted for.
Secondly, what happened in the four years after we were thrown out? What happened? Now, there, you and I might agree. Thereís actually a lot of speculation and a lot of doubt. And I think this is the area within which the Security Council, the United States, and other governments, need to make themselves very clear. Did Iraq produce more? Does Iraq continue to constitute a threat to the region and beyond, because of what had happened in the past and what it may have produced under circumstances of four years where they had no inspection? We donít know about that. And itís that unclarity about that that is proving to be very, very difficult.
But, finally, what we do know is this; 2 Ĺ weeks from now, the man who succeeded me in that job, Hans Blix, will report to the Security Council. And, Phil, I want to clear something up. A lot of people have been saying that this report on the 27th in January is the end game. It is not.
DONAHUE: Is it the beginning of the end game?
BUTLER: Well, if you look at the resolution under which he is operating, it says that he will give a situation report after 60 days. And that will be very important.
And I think we already have a good idea of what he will say, because heís hinted at it and the facts are out there. What he will say is this:
One, as I said, Iraq has not accounted for all the weapons of the past. There remain things that need to be accounted for. Two, the inspection process in the last few weeks has been OK, but itís not actually been really serious.
Three, Iraq has not proactively cooperated. There are places to which it should have invited the inspectors to go which it did not. And I suspect-and this is a prediction and itís always dangerous-I expect that he will then say: I need more time.
So, to get down to where we are politically, the United States of America, the British, others in the Security Council,will have to decide on the 27th of January, do we give that more time? Or do we say, itís over; letís enforce the law?
DONAHUE: Would you want to answer that yourself, that question?
BUTLER: I hope he says, letís give it more time.
DONAHUE: You would like to see him continue the weapons inspection process.
BUTLER: I think for a while. This first 60 days was to be a situation report. More will be required.
(CROSSTALK)
DONAHUE: Do I understand that an assault in the summer is not a feasible idea?
BUTLER: I donít work on that stuff, Phil. Iím not a military person.
DONAHUE: Not your job.
Mr. Ritter, a comment on the final point that he made-briefly, please.
RITTER: What Iíll say is this, is, I take strong disagreement with the contention that you know that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
BUTLER: Oh, come on, Scott. Thatís on the public record.
RITTER: Of course itís not. The public record actually says, with all due respect...
BUTLER: You signed the papers to me, when you worked for me, advising me-with all of your intellect and knowledge, you signed pieces of paper to me saying that Iraq has hidden weapons of mass destruction.
RITTER: Never.
I signed pieces of paper to you that said we have credible intelligence information that says Iraq has it. And I asked you permission to carry out an inspection. But, understand, itís an investigation. You just made a definitive statement that says you know Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. But, with all due respect, Richard, that is never reflected in any of the documents, even the one you just mentioned.
BUTLER: Thatís not true.
RITTER: It is true. I have it here tonight. Do you want to go through the document page by page and show the people?
DONAHUE: Well, probably not.
(LAUGHTER)
BUTLER: Itís absolutely established that Iraq has not accounted for...
RITTER: Bingo. I agree with that, has not accounted for. But thatís an accounting issue.
BUTLER: So, where are the 500 shells with mustard in them? Where is
the 400 tons of
(CROSSTALK)
RITTER: These are good questions, but do you have evidence that they have it?
BUTLER: Where are the missiles?
RITTER: Do you know they have it for a fact, that they possess it as we speak? Or is the problem that Iraq has provided an accounting that we donít have evidence to back it up, that we canít confirm the Iraqi version of disposition? My point is...
BUTLER: Why are you assuming such a degree of innocence on the part of the Iraqis?
RITTER: Because 200,000 Americans are going to war based upon a perception of a threat. You testified before the U.S. Senate that Iraq has these weapons. And people listened to you and they gave that credibility, when the fact is, you do not know with absolute certainty that Iraq has these weapons.
BUTLER: Scott, the United States...
(APPLAUSE)
RITTER: And Iím not going to stand by and let Americans die in combat because people like you mislead the American Congress. I just wonít allow that to happen.
BUTLER: Oh, for Godís sake, for Godís sake, I mislead the American Congress?
RITTER: You said you know where the weapons are. Where are they?
BUTLER: Please allow me to finish.
There is on the record at the United Nations pieces of paper signed by you...
RITTER: I have them here.
BUTLER: ... addressed to me, saying, these people have concealed weapons. Please authorize me to go find them.
RITTER: And you signed those documents.
BUTLER: Sometimes I did and sometimes I told you no.
RITTER: Give me an example when you said no.
BUTLER: I told you no because I thought what you were doing was excessive.
RITTER: Give me an example, Richard.
BUTLER: Come on.
RITTER: No, please, in front of the people here tonight. Youíve said this many times. Youíve brought my credibility into question. I can document every time weíve met, every time I briefed you, and every time you signed it. Please, for the benefit of the public tonight, one example of when you turned me down.
DONAHUE: Iíll give you an opportunity to answer that question when we come back in just a moment.
(APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: Around the world, the Bush push for war is increasingly met with dragging feet. When DONAHUE returns: more on what the January 27 U.N. report means for war with Iraq.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DONAHUE: Weíre back, talking about going to war with Iraq.
Go to our Web site at DONAHUE.MSNBC.com to register your vote. You think this is a good idea? Go to our Web site.
Weíre talking with two men with firsthand experience.
You said that he never said no to you.
RITTER: Well, thatís my recollection. Iíve just asked Ambassador Butler to provide me with an example.
DONAHUE: Regarding what, to those who have joined us late? Said no to what, Scott?
RITTER: I worked for Ambassador Butler. And I would present him with my assessments in regards to the situation, how Iraq was concealing, and brief him on potential inspection opportunities. I would present the appropriate paperwork. And he would sign off on them. And my recollection of the events are that, during my entire tenure working for Ambassador Butler, he never once said no.
BUTLER: Thatís not my recollection, Phil, but I donít want to make this go on into a sterile point.
Look, when Scott resigned from UNSCOM service, he wrote a letter that I found deeply appealing. And I want to share this with you. He really did. He said that he was in despair-not the exact words, Scott. Forgive me. I donít mean to...
DONAHUE: Itís all right. Thatís all right.
BUTLER: But he basically said he was in despair at a process that was not being allowed to do its job properly.
DONAHUE: I recall.
BUTLER: He said bad inspections are worse than no inspections. And I wrote back to him saying: I accept your resignation. I thank you and your wife for the fabulous service youíve done to the world. And I said-using for the French philosopher, I said: I may never agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.
And I do that here tonight, Scott. I donít agree with some of the things youíve said. I defend your right to say them.
Phil, I think thereís a bigger picture here.
DONAHUE: What is that?
BUTLER: The bigger picture is, what do we do about weapons of mass destruction, of which Iraq is only one case?
DONAHUE: We have almost 250,000 of our finest young men and women gathering now.
BUTLER: Right.
DONAHUE: Around in the region. And we have two of the main players in the inspection drama disagreeing about whether or not Saddam Hussein is a threat. This is more than just a dialogue between two patriots.
BUTLER: Oh, you mean these two players?
DONAHUE: Yes.
BUTLER: Oh, come on. Come on. Look, I think Scott and I would agree that weapons of mass destruction are bad for peopleís health.
DONAHUE: We all agree.
BUTLER: OK? And we have to do something about it.
DONAHUE: Right.
BUTLER: Iíll tell straight up what my concern is.
I have no doubt about the evil that Saddam Hussein constitutes.
DONAHUE: Everybody says...
BUTLER: No doubt that he has weapons of mass destruction that need to be accounted for, and probably made more.
But what I am concerned about is that, if we go and attack Iraq on the basis of their weapons of mass destruction, that people will ask, why now? Why this country now? What about the other weapons of mass destruction in the world? Or are you really just about oil or whatever? We have to be a whole lot clearer about the reasons for which weíre doing this, given that our record on weapons of mass destruction isnít good enough. Saddamís is one thing. But what about ours? What about other countries?
(CROSSTALK)
DONAHUE: Hang on one second.
If you believe he has weapons of mass destruction, then you agree with President Bush. Thatís why weíre going to get him. What are we waiting for? You have just given a resounding endorsement to the presidentís policies.
BUTLER: Thatís what the president says is his policy. But there are other ways of skinning this cat. Why isnít Saddam in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, like Milosevic? Heís killed a million people. Why isnít he being tried for crimes against humanity, for example? Why havenít we pursued that? Do you agree?
RITTER: Well, one of the problems is, we donít have...
DONAHUE: Iíll give you a chance to respond to that as we return-itís still a commercial television program-in a just a moment.
ANNOUNCER: Would waging a war on Iraq in the next month be jumping the gun? Next on DONAHUE: the pros and cons of extending the search for weapons of mass destruction.
Weíll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DONAHUE: Weíre back with Ambassador Butler and Scott Ritter.
Sir.
RITTER: Well, again, what I would like to say is this. Weíre talking about going to war here. And this is a very serious issue, one that I think we both are in agreement with. This is not a game, no matter what the media does.
DONAHUE: No, no, no, we know that, Scott. We know that.
RITTER: Itís not a game. Itís real.
So, there has to be real justification. And the justification has to be a threat posed to international security or to the security of the United States by Iraqís weapons of mass destruction. I share your concern over the Iraqi declaration. I find them insufficient in terms of closing all the gaps.
However, the Iraqis have provided an accounting. And until which time we can demonstrate that this accounting is false, that they actually possess weapons, Iím in favor of pursuing weapons inspections until hell freezes over before we send any Americans across the line of departure into harmís way. And my big concern is that the United States government-and, unfortunately, Iíve heard you say things that echo this-have stated, without any doubt, Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has chemical weapons. Iraq has biological weapons.
And the America public accepts this without debate. There must be a debate. There must be a dialogue, because, ladies and gentlemen, the United States government has lied about Iraq in the past. The United States government has a policy of regime removal, getting rid of Saddam Hussein, that has been in place since 1991 and has corrupted the moral character of the international communityís effort to disarm Iraq.
Understand that, in December 1998, it wasnít Iraq that kicked the
inspectors out. It was a phone call from Peter Burleigh to you that got
the inspectors out, so the United States could initiate a bombing campaign,
Desert Fox, which used U.N. intelligence to target Saddam Hussein. That
destroyed the credibility of the inspection
(CROSSTALK)
DONAHUE: Ambassador, briefly, sir.
(APPLAUSE)
BUTLER: You said briefly, right? Scott has just covered 15 things.
DONAHUE: Well, Iím sorry.
BUTLER: OK, Phil. But itís too hard to cover that briefly.
Let me just try and encapsulate it this way. I agree with some of the things that Scott said. I profoundly disagree with some others.
DONAHUE: Well, Iím going to give you the freedom to make the case uninterrupted, sir. I truly apologize for the interruption.
And weíll be back in just a moment.
ANNOUNCER: When DONAHUE returns: the gathering storm. Does the buildup of American forces in the Persian Gulf mean the decision to wage war has already been made?
DONAHUE will be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DONAHUE: The U.S. military is on the move, and it appears the prospect of war is looming. Is there anything that could stop the president from pushing forward with plans to take on Saddam Hussein? Two former weapons inspectors divided over the issue take on each other. But first the news from MSNBC.
(NEWS BREAK)
DONAHUE: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - JANUARY 24, 1991)
GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it is the United Statesí view that we must keep the United Nations sanctions in place as long as he remains in power. And this also shows we cannot compromise for a moment in seeing that Iraq destroys all of its weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, and we will not compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - SEPTEMBER 12, 2002)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Weíve tried sanctions. Weíve tried the carrot of oil for food and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has a nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONAHUE: That was four months ago my president said that. His father made those observations 12 years ago.
Welcome back. Weíre live at 30 Rockefeller Center. And you had just received long pass from Mr. Ritter, here, Ambassador Butler. How would you respond to do observations that he made?
BUTLER: Well, Phil, as I said, Scott made some points that I agree with and others that I donít. I think weíd better move this program along into some of the heavier issues, and so I wonít go into that. But let me must make this point, and maybe Scott can find favor with this. The problem I have with what the president of the United States has said is that if the U.N. doesnít do it, we, the U.S., will. OK?
Now, the ďitĒ is disarming Saddam. I think thatís really important. I think Scott would probably agree with that. I think itís really important that we control weapons of mass destruction around the world. The thing I have a problem with is when George W. Bush says weíll do it by ourselves if the U.N. wonít do it. Why, Phil? Because thatís against international law. Thatís wrong. The United States is not able...
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: To what, sir?
BUTLER: International law since the Second World War in the charter of the U.N., the thing that we all live by, says that every state shall be independent. Every state, country, that is, shall be able to choose its own government. All political disputes must be settled by peaceful means, and it is against the law to invade or attack anyone. The only use of force that is legal is A, in your own self-defense, and B, when the Security Council says that itís OK to defend the peace.
Now, Washington will say that an attack upon Iraq is OK to defend the peace. And this is maybe where Scott and I will join each other. We need evidence for that. We need something better than the simple threat by George W. Bush that says, If you wonít do it, we will.
DONAHUE: Right.
BUTLER: That sounds awfully lot like American imperialism to me, and I think thatís very dangerous.
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: Tonight weíre asking you if you are in favor of the U.S. going to war with Iraq. So log on and vote on donahue.msnbc.com. Over 3,800 of you have already cast your vote, and here are the results so far:
25 percent in favor the U.S. going to war, and 71 percent are against it. Four percent of you arenít sure. Thereís still time to vote. Weíll have final results at the end of the show.
Iím also joined now by Jim Bohannon, the national radio talk show host on the Westwood One radio network, and retired Army lieutenant colonel Brian Haig-yes, heís the son of the general-author of ďKingmaker.Ē
Well, youíve been listening in, gentlemen. Go get Ďem, talk show host. Youíre the man. Youíre on the air. What do you think?
JIM BOHANNON, WESTWOOD ONE RADIO HOST: Well, Phil, I think that, unfortunately, international law, such as it is law, has not kept up with reality. And harsh reality has provided with us harsh options at...
DONAHUE: So weíre going to decide which laws, then, have kept up, and weíll...
(CROSSTALK)
BOHANNON: We are going to decide when itís necessary for the survival of civilization. Quite simply, yes. In an era of weapons of mass destruction proliferation, there could be two dozen nuclear powers in another decade. The proliferation of means of delivery, such as ballistic missile technology-these things make this a far more dangerous world than it used to be.
DONAHUE: All right, Colonel Haig...
BOHANNON: And you cannot simply sit back...
DONAHUE: ... wanted to say?
BOHANNON: ... and wait for a mushroom cloud to, in fact, verify that these weapons exist.
DONAHUE: Colonel Haig?
BUTLER: But the only...
DONAHUE: Let...
BUTLER: The only mushroom cloud weíve ever seen is the one delivered
by the United States on Japan.

(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: Two delivered by the United States.
BOHANNON: In defense of the free world against fascism, at a time of grave national peril.
DONAHUE: Very good.
BOHANNON: And I have no apologies to make for the use of that weapon!
DONAHUE: Very good. Colonel Haig?
BRIAN HAIG: You know, one of the key points here thatís being overlooked-and I know thereís never a popular case to be made for why to go to war. However, thereís a key point. The decision by three successive administrations, including one that, of course, wanted Saddam to just go away as a problem-the decision that said you need regime change is based on the fact that what you have here is a serial warmonger.
Saddam Hussein has started three regional wars, and since 1991, heís attempted to start two others...
DONAHUE: Well...
HAIG: ... both of which were deterred by U.S. forces who rushed to the region. So the U.S. has a heavy voice here, and we deserve a heavy voice. Weíve earned it. Weíve earned it through the efforts of people like Scott, who fought in the Gulf war. And weíve earned it because we are the ones who carry the burden in this region. And what you have is a serial warmonger, and he has to be controlled.
DONAHUE: Yes. Kimberly from Maryland, are you there?
CALLER: Yes, Iím here.
DONAHUE: You wanted to say?
CALLER: I just want to say I totally support the war. I mean, I just wanted to ask each of the people who are speaking, you know, how much longer is this going to go on? We started this epidemic 10, what, years ago...
DONAHUE: Yes.
CALLER: ... and now weíre still going on with it. Is it going to be my children that have to deal with it?
DONAHUE: I have an e-mail from Lloyd, who supports your point, Kimberly. ďWhat is the debate about? Saddam Hussein is a mad dictator who used weapons of mass destruction against women and children, killing hundreds if not thousands of them and permanently altering their genetics in the process. He should have been killed years ago.Ē
Somebody wanted the-Scott?
RITTER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right here. Hey, Kimberly, go to war, then. But Iím not going to support you. I wonít stop from you going off and dying, but Iíll tell you what. I took an oath when I went to war to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic.
And what I will remind everybody, including the gentlemen around this table-Article 6 of the United States Constitution clearly states that when the United States enters an internationality agreement or treaty that is ratified by two thirds of the United States Senate, it is the law of the land here. We are signatories to the United Nations charter. The United Nations charter prohibits unilateral military action. It prohibits regime change.
Frankly speaking, President Bush is launching a frontal assault not only against the innocent people of Iraq, not only against the dictator Saddam, but against the Constitution that define us as a nation!
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: Brian Haig...
(APPLAUSE)
(CROSSTALK)
DONAHUE: Brian Haig is on the air.
BOHANNON: ... is required to simply sit back and wait for the inevitable! I would like nothing better than a world, quite frankly, in which the rule of law really existed...
DONAHUE: Right.
BOHANNON: ... and there were effective enforcement mechanisms. But we donít have that. We have either vigilante justice or no justice.
BUTLER: Oh, thatís not...
BOHANNON: And as tragic as that is, itís real.
BUTLER: Oh, thatís not (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
DONAHUE: Colonel...
(CROSSTALK)
DONAHUE: Colonel, get in here!
HAIG: You have an overstatement here, and that is as to whether all lawyers would agree with your reading and your reading of United Nations resolutions. There are cases for preemptive war, and weíve done it several time in the past. And when George Bush said that it was part of our policy, he was simply stating something we have done any number of times. You can go back and look at Grenada. You can go back and look at Bosnia.
You can go back and look at Kosovo. It has been done. This is not...
DONAHUE: The young woman wanted to say, please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentlemen, my question is, 12 years-I know of at least seven resolutions that Saddam has just flat-out denied from the U.N.
DONAHUE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is enough enough? Has September 11 not taught us that we need to be proactive...
DONAHUE: You want to go now, donít you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... in defending our-Iím just saying that if that is what the intelligence points to, then we need to support our president and get behind him and support him going to war because those men and women we are sending over there need our support. And we have got to be proactive in defending this country!
DONAHUE: Well...
RITTER: As somebody who was there in 1991, Iíll tell you this. I will go to war to take care of any threat against this country. But you just made a remarkable link between September 11 and whatís going on in Iraq right now. What link? You show me how what happened that horrible day here on September 11 ó how that had anything to do with the situation in Iraq right now. There is no link. There is no reason for us to go to war against Iraq until you demonstrate that Saddam Hussein represents a threat to the United States of America. And 12 years of violating international law does not constitute justification for the death of a single American.
You know, we can contain Saddam. Iím a firefighter in Delmar (ph), New York. And when we have a building on fire, if thereís people inside, we run inside. We put our lives at risk to get them out. But you know, if there ainít no one inside, we just surround and drown. Right now, Saddam doesnít pose a threat worthy of the sacrifice of life. Surround and drown. Iíd rather be inconvenienced than attending the funerals of...
(CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir...
BOHANNON: You can contain 99 percent effectively, and the 1 percent is the fatal 1 percent!
DONAHUE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand...
BOHANNON: Containment is not going to work in the long run!
DONAHUE: Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree with your point, and I respect you for being a firefighter. But my link to September 11 is that there was intelligence there that we did not act upon. And if there is intelligence here...
DONAHUE: Well, thatís-thatís in our own country, though.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... then that is a job...
DONAHUE: Yes. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iím just saying that if thereís intelligence here that he has weapons of mass destruction, I am not going to sit around and wait and see if he uses it against us. I think we need to (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
DONAHUE: Ruth from Florida, Iím glad you waited. Thank you for waiting. Are you there?
CALLER: Yes. Iím for the war.
DONAHUE: Youíre for the war.
CALLER: Because Scott Ritter says that they had found three nukes that Clinton pulled them off of when he was with UNSCOM...
DONAHUE: Yes?
CALLER: ... that they wouldnít let him destroy it.
RITTER: Thatís not what I said.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iíd like to know where those three nukes went to.
RITTER: Well, first of all, maíam, with all due respect, I never said they had three nukes. I said that we had credible information from a Dutch government source-itís the first time Iíve revealed the nation that gave us that information-that said Iraq was hiding components of a nuclear device, minus the fissile core.
Now, this is intelligence information. Letís talk about that because I was an intelligence officer for a long time, and Iím here to tell you right now it ainít a perfect science. Intelligence is often flawed. In fact, when it come to the intelligence information that governments provided the weapons inspectors about Iraq, most of the time they were wrong. But it was our duty to investigate this. I was trying to investigate it, and Madeleine Albright pulled us off the task.
All I was saying is if weíre going to accept intelligence information and hold Iraq accountable, then we must be allowed to go through the process of confirming or denying whether or not the intelligence is credible.
DONAHUE: Ambassador Butler wanted to say.
BUTLER: Iím really interested, Phil, in this idea that we should simply go to war and solve the problem this way.
DONAHUE: If thereís one-half percent chance, old Jim Bohannon wants
to get in there and go get him!~
BOHANNON: Itís a harsh world out there.
DONAHUE: How about-how about Iraq? Do you want to go get them, too, Jim? Who else you going to attack?
(CROSSTALK)
DONAHUE: How many other people you want to attack?
BOHANNON: North Korea could go second on the list.
DONAHUE: All right.
BOHANNON: And after that, weíll think about the Sudan...
DONAHUE: Ambassador-Ambassador Butler? Please.
BUTLER: The problem I have with the pro-war people...
DONAHUE: Is what?
BUTLER: ... is that they think that it will simply solve the problem, just like that. Phil, this is stunning. No one has any idea where that war would lead, the humanitarian catastrophe that would be authored by it, the cost of it, the outcome of it. No one has what kind-any idea of what kind of government would be in Iraq. Now, sorry. Youíve got to let me finish this, OK?
Also, I am dead against this greatest democracy in the world becoming the largest lawbreaker in the world by so violating international law.
DONAHUE: Me, too.
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: Me, too. And weíll be back in a moment. But first letís look at President Clinton after ordering air strikes against Iraq in 1998. President Clinton, 1998.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - December 16, 1998)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earlier today, I ordered Americaís armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraqís nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors. Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States and, indeed, the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world. Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: More on the case against Iraq, with audience questions and your phone calls, when DONAHUE returns.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DONAHUE: Weíre back talking about Iraq.
Scott Ritter, you must respond to the people who suggest that youíve compromised yourself because you received $400,000 from an American citizen who was an Iraqi-of Iraqi origin to put together a documentary on the inspections and the Iraq drama. Youíll respond by saying what, sir?
RITTER: Well, hey, I didnít receive $400,000. My production company took a loan of $400,000 from an American citizen who had the courage to fund a movie, which I think is fundamental for all Americans to see at this point in time because it addresses the weapons inspections, Iraqís disarmament obligation and the complexity of the problem. You know, at the end of our weapons inspection, we went to war. We fought a 72-hour air campaign against Saddam Hussein that got us into the mess we are right now. I didnít make a bloody cent off this. Anybody who thinks that I would ever take money from the government or Iraq or from Saddam Hussein doesnít know Scott Ritter.
DONAHUE: No, no. I donít think thatís the suggestion. The suggestion is that the-the American citizen of Iraqi origin might have had a political bent, a political...
RITTER: I donít care what his political bent is. He gave me $400,000, to my production company, loaned us $400,000 to make a movie that he had no editorial control over. And God bless him because if it wasnít for his investment, this movie wouldnít have been made. Itís in 20 countries now. Itís showing in the United States...
DONAHUE: An e-mail from...
RITTER: ... and the American (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
DONAHUE: ... Ron. ďI agree with Scott Ritterís position, but please ask him if anyone in any way is paying him or compensating him in any way to promote his no-war opinion.Ē
RITTER: Oh, I get called to colleges several times a month, and I get paid an honorarium to speak. But itís my opinion. Money never influences me at all. So...
DONAHUE: Did you have something you wanted to say about Desert Fox?
BUTLER: Oh, yes, just quickly, Phil. Seeing President Clinton there took me back but also brought up to-brought us all up to what Hans Blix faces today, right? That was four years ago.
DONAHUE: Right.
BUTLER: I had to give a report, like Blix does on 27 January...
DONAHUE: Right.
BUTLER: ... of whether Iraq is in compliance or not, under great pressure, thinking that if I said theyíre not, there would be war. But I decided to ignore that pressure and tell the truth. There was a bombing. I hope that Hans Blix on 27 January does the same thing, ignores all this pressure and simply tells the truth.
DONAHUE: Allman from Pennsylvania, hi.
CALLER: Yes, hi. Donahue, I just want to make it clear, I believe that this is truly U.S. imperialism on its most blatant scale.
DONAHUE: Yes. Make your point.
CALLER: The world knows the oil reserves are shrinking. Bottom line is, Iraq has the second largest reserve of oil. Look, Iím not ready to die for my SUV or my neighborís SUV. Letís get it together, alternative energy. Itís a bunch of crap, this whole thing!
DONAHUE: We thank you for your comments.
This gentleman wanted to say?
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: Hold on a minute. Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. It just seems to me that as the only remaining superpower in the world that we have a responsibility to be a global leader in a global village.
DONAHUE: So you want to go in there, then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No. But Iím not against going in. But Iím not convinced, as a voter, as an American citizen, that weíve reached the point of inevitability. And it doesnít seem to me that as a global leader, we should be conducting gunboat diplomacy.
BOHANNON: A 100 percent standard of proof is simply not required here! Thereís too much at stake. We know certain things. We know, number one, Saddam Hussein has tried very hard to obtain these weapons. We know that in the case of chemical and biological, he has. Nuclear, heís gotten, at the very least, very close. We know, third, heís used these weapons, in some cases again his own people. These are stakes far too high to sit back and require 100 percent verification before we take action to defend ourselves!
DONAHUE: Yes, you had...
BOHANNON: You had a different ballgame...
(CROSSTALK)
DONAHUE: Go ahead...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wonder...
BOHANNON: ... proliferation of weapons of mass destruction!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... have any of us ever in the United States ever taken the time to ask Saddam Hussein what weíve done to hurt him so bad that he feels the need to strike out against us to heal his pain?
DONAHUE: Yes.
BOHANNON: Itís probably...
DONAHUE: I donít know whether...
BOHANNON: ... his socioeconomic status!
DONAHUE: Iím not sure heís available for that kind of conversation. But I thank you for your contribution. And weíll be back at 30 Rock in just a moment.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DONAHUE: Weíre back talking about Iraq. And weíll have the poll for you. If you want to vote, donahue.msnbc.com.
Yes, maíam?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iíd like to know who originally supplied Iraq with many of its weapons of mass destruction? Who has the most weapons of mass destruction in the entire world, probably more than all other countries combined? Who has already used depleted uranium in Iraq? And who has already withdrawn...
DONAHUE: And what is your answer...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... from some nuclear...
DONAHUE: ... to those questions?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... treaties? My answer is the United States.
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: Do you support that observation, Scott?
BUTLER: No.
RITTER: No, no. First of all...
BUTLER: No. Sorry.
(CROSSTALK)
DONAHUE: All right, go ahead. Go ahead, please.
BUTLER: The United States was a major supplier to Iraq, but it would
Phil, it would be so unkind of us to leave out the Russians, the Chinese and the French.

(LAUGHTER)
DONAHUE: Yes. But theyíre not threatening to put a shiv in his belly, either. I mean, what weíre essentially appear to be doing is sending...
BUTLER: Yes, but I think...
DONAHUE: ... a quarter of a million people to fix...
BUTLER: But I think thatís...
DONAHUE: ... the mess that we created.
BUTLER: I think thatís a different...
BOHANNON: At the time that we were...
BUTLER: Thatís a different question.
BOHANNON: ... supplying Iraq...
BUTLER: What this lady is talking about is the ubiquitousness, the widespread...
DONAHUE: Very good.
BUTLER: ... nature...
DONAHUE: Yes, it is.
BUTLER: ... of countries participation in the evil business of supplying weapons of mass destruction.
DONAHUE: Yes. Brian?
HAIG: If I may-if I may ask these two this question because this is a-this is a fallacy that is put out a lot, that we gave chemical, biological or nuclear technologies to Iraq. Is that true?
BUTLER: Actually, we gave Iraq technical advice on how to use its chemical weapons against Iran.
(CROSSTALK)
BOHANNON: We gave them satellite photos at a time when Iraq was considered the lesser of two evils.
HAIG: Do you know for a fact we gave them technical advice on how to use chemical weapons?
BUTLER: Absolutely undisputed.
HAIG: In what sense?
RITTER: Wafiq Samarai (ph), the former head of the Iraqi intelligence service responsible for Iran-I have met with him many times, and he has said that U.S. advisers were sitting there as Iraq planned the inclusion of chemical weapons in the Anfal (ph) offensive.
HAIG: I will never believe that.
DONAHUE: Yes. Yes.
RITTER: Furthermore, the United States provided $4 billion worth of agricultural loans that we know the Iraqi government was diverting to buy this equipment from European countries. Itís not American equipment, but itís American money...
(CROSSTALK)
BUTLER: But Scott, you would agree with me itís not about blame-laying now. Itís about the bigger question of how...
RITTER: Solving the problem.
BUTLER: ... in the name of God we bring weapons of mass destruction...
RITTER: Amen.
BUTLER: ... under control in this world.
(CROSSTALK)
BOHANNON: Only by regime change!
HAIG: Iíd like to raise one other point because we have the two UNSCOM inspectors here, OK? The understanding was at the end of the Gulf war in 1991, you had Saddam Hussein, who attacked and slaughtered Kuwaitis ó he pulled back. He lost the war, right? Now, did not the U.N. resolution say that it behooved him to tell us what his weapons...
(CROSSTALK)
BOHANNON: The burden of proof in Resolution 1441 is on Baghdad!
HAIG: On him?
BUTLER: Absolutely. Yes.
HAIG: And then in 1994 and í95 ó and I believe this is why you became head of the concealment unit-what we discovered from two different Iraqis was that they had lied about what they possessed.
BUTLER: Yes.
HAIG: So one question becomes why did they lie and continue to lie all the way until í98, when your inspections ended?
BUTLER: Right.
HAIG: And what onus does that put and what belief that does cause you to have?
RITTER: Well, one reason why the man lied is because the CIA had been trying from 1993 to assassinate Saddam Hussein, using information collected...
DONAHUE: Right.
RITTER: ... as part of...
DONAHUE: Gentlemen...
RITTER: ... piggybacking onto the weapons inspections.
DONAHUE: Gentlemen, I want you to know...
HAIG: That might be one reason why they lied...
DONAHUE: I thank you all. I think weíve made a contribution toward understanding this very complex issue. Iím very grateful to you.
Our poll-ĒAre you in favor of going-the United States going to war with Iraq?Ē Over-almost 10,000 of you voted: 24 percent say yes, go to war, no, 74 percent, 2 percent arenít sure.
(APPLAUSE)
DONAHUE: I thank you, gentlemen. I thank this audience. And now hereís Chris Matthews and ďHARDBALL.Ē
END



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