Wednesday, March 9, 2005
Scott Ritter: Iraq Vote Fixed
Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter said Tuesday that January's historic election in Iraq, which set off a wave of democratic reform throughout the Middle East, was fixed.
Claiming he was vindicated when the U.S. failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Ritter insisted that the election results were changed using a "secret recount" held three days after the vote.
"It's as obvious as anything," the former weapons expert told WWRL Radio's Steve Malzberg and Karen Hunter.
Ritter maintained that in initial election results, the Shia majority won nearly 60 percent of the vote, giving them control of Iraq's National Assembly without having to form a coalition with any other group.
However, said Ritter, "Suddenly there's a government-ordered lockdown of the votes, while there is a secret recount - not a public recount - this wasn't Florida where you had people checking chads - this was a secret recount where American troops were escorting ballot boxes into undisclosed locations to be counted by [interim Prime Minister] Allawi's government."
Ritter told Malzberg that the secret recount dramatically changed the political landscape, with the Shia vote dropping to 48 percent and Allawi's government picking up nearly 10 points of support, from 4 percent to 13 percent.
Why didn't Allawi just award himself a majority?
"You don't want to cook it so that no one will believe it," Ritter explained. "You cook it so that the Shia cannot have a majority in the National Assembly, so that there will not be a democratically elected theocracy."
Ritter also claimed that the White House has already approved plans to attack Iran within the next four months, explaining, "In October of 2004 the president reviewed the Pentagon's plans for military operations against Iran in June 2005 and he signed off on them."
Ritter said the administration is laying the groundwork for an attack in case the U.N. Security Council fails to back economic sanctions against Tehran - the next step in the U.S.'s bid to get the Iranian government to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Scott Ritter is now a columnist for Al-Jazeera.