In September 2002, Scott Ritter stepped in the path of the White House’s PR blitz, challenging the administration and quickly becoming one of very few prominent critics of the looming war. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed (9/10/02), Ritter exposed a deception on the part of Vice President Dick Cheney that should have sent reporters scurrying to catch up. Cheney claimed in an August 2002 speech (8/26/02) that the Iraqi regime had been “very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents,” and continued “to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago.” To back this up, Cheney added, “We’ve gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors, including Saddam’s own son-in-law”—a reference to Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel, the former Iraqi weapons chief and Iraq’s highest ranking defector. (See Extra!, 5-6/03.)
Ritter pointed out that Cheney was omitting an inconvenient part of Kamel’s story:
Throughout his interview with UNSCOM, a UN special commission, Hussein Kamal reiterated his main point—that nothing was left. “All chemical weapons were destroyed,” he said. “I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed.