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Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002 11:09 a.m. EDT

Powell Slams Ritter's Speech to Iraq

Secretary of State Colin Powell slammed former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter on Sunday for making a speech to the Iraqi parliament critical of the Bush administration's position on Iraq.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Powell responded to Ritter's claim that the administration's contention Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction was baseless.

Ritter told the Iraqis late Saturday, "The rhetoric of fear that is disseminated by my government and others has not to date been backed up by hard facts to substantiate any allegations that Iraq is today in possession of weapons of mass destruction or has links to terror groups responsible for attacking the United States. Void of such facts, all we have is speculation."

"We have facts, not speculation," Powell shot back. "Scott is certainly entitled to his opinion but I'm afraid that I would not place the security of my nation and the security of our friends in the region on that kind of an assertion by somebody who's not in the intelligence chain any longer.

"If Scott is right," Powell complained, "then why are they keeping the inspectors out? If Scott is right, why don't they say, 'Anytime, any place, anywhere, bring 'em in, everybody come in - we are clean?'

"The reason is," Powell concluded, "they are not clean. And we have to find out what they have and what we're going to do about it. And that's why it's been the policy of this government to insist that Iraq be disarmed in accordance with the terms of the relevant U.N. resolutions."

Powell said the best way to enforce those resolutions is with a "regime change" in Baghdad.

Neither he nor "Fox News Sunday" host Tony Snow noted that Ritter was paid $400,000 last year by a wealthy Iraqi-American supporter of Saddam Hussein to make a documentary film that, in Ritter's words, would "de-demonize Iraq."

Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:

Bush Administration
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