Land of the Free? Better watch what you say and to whom



Many individuals who actually care about the United States Constitution and its guarantee of basic liberties for the American people have been seriously concerned over how recent Administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have taken steps to control and limit the rights of citizens to exercise free speech as well as freedom to travel and associate freely. This abuse of power, for that is what it is, has unfortunately escalated sharply due to the uncompromising commitment of the Joe Biden White House to both Israel and Ukraine. It manifests itself in many ways, but most often includes steps to make it difficult for concerned Americans to learn for themselves the truth about what is taking place in the various international hot spots that the US State Department appears to be cultivating in such a fashion as to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Those truth-tellers who persist in exposing the criminality in high places have been targeted and labeled in some government circles as “info-terrorists” and there has been what appears to be a sustained effort underway to undermine the credibility of journalists who are daring to report favorably on either Russia or the Palestinians. Interestingly enough, the Ukrainians have established the gold standard in identifying dissident journalists through their Department of Disinformation called “Myrotvorets.” It includes a list of names of those individuals who might be assassinated to silence them. The US has, not surprisingly, been seeking to establish a similar government agency, though hopefully without the kill list.

In the latest manifestation of denial of fundamental rights in an attempt to shut down a critic, on June 3rd the State Department forced former Marine intelligence officer, Chief UN weapons inspector, journalist and author Scott Ritter off a plane headed to Russia by way of Istanbul and confiscated his passport. According to Scott “As I was boarding my flight out of New York I was pulled aside by three armed Customs and Border Patrol officers, who seized my passport. When asked why, they said orders of the State Department. No further information was provided. My bags were removed from the flight, and I was escorted out of the airport.” Ritter, who has been a persistent critic of both the ongoing wars in Gaza and Ukraine, was traveling to participate in the highly respected annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum as a guest speaker. The seizure of the passport to block his travel is a violation of the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

In an interview later that day with Judge Andrew Napolitano, Ritter admitted that he had been taken aback by what had happened to him and should have been more aggressive in defense of his rights. He did not, for example, demand to see a warrant or be given a receipt for the passport and did not get the names of the three officers who had taken it away and escorted him out. He also should have demanded the name of the State Department Official who had signed the order to accost him in the most embarrassing fashion possible as he was boarding the plane and take his document.

Interestingly, Scott Ritter’s name appeared prominently on the Ukrainian “Disinformation” hit list. And not terribly surprisingly, the mainstream media, which is in sync with the government on the wars in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, did not give the Ritter story much coverage. The silence is particularly remarkable as the press, which has been protecting President Joe Biden and his Homeland Security lackeys as they watched millions of people illegally cross the Mexican border into the US failed to exercise any vigilance when a single American citizen was unsuccessful in trying to go the other way completely legally.

Ritter, to be sure, has been a powerful voice critiquing the Iraq War, where his inspections turned up no WMD and he declared, in August 2002, that a case had not been made for attacking Saddam Hussein. If George W. Bush and his gang of neocons plus Congress had only paid attention to Scott Ritter, the US would have been spared the loss of thousands of soldiers and the utter waste of trillions of tax dollars. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis also died as a result of the US attack on their country.

Since that time, Ritter has been an activist who calls for dialogue, negotiation and diplomacy to avoid wars, particularly in the current context where the United States is supplying tens of billions of dollars in arms to expand the war with Russia, sustain the attacks on Gazans and establish a pretext for a war with China over Taiwan. Ritter has traveled to Russia and Iran, as well as to other hot spots, without regard for his personal safety, driven by the desire to tell the truth about what is being propagandized in hopes that he will make politicians think twice about what they are doing. Scott has reported what he sees and describes the conversations he has had with local people without fear or favor, always with the objective of avoiding war and death. For his pains, he inevitably is accused of being a source of Russian and anti-Israeli disinformation and even acting as “Putin’s poodle,” but his information has proven to be overwhelmingly reliable.

Interestingly, this week’s incident was not the first time when Ritter was targeted by the US government for truth-telling. In the wake of the passport seizure, he recounted on X how “The similarities between what happened to me on June 3, and what transpired some 21 1/2 years ago, are disconcerting. Then, the FBI carried out a concerted effort to prevent me from making a documentary movie, ‘Shifting Sands,’ about the flawed case for war being promulgated by the US government. They threatened me with arrest, they engaged in acts of physical intimidation, and—when this didn’t work—they played a role in manufacturing a case designed to destroy my personal character in the eyes of the general public. The 2001 incidents were a warning shot across the bow for me to begin toeing the line. When I refused to do so, releasing my documentary film and actively speaking out against the US case for war with Iraq, the FBI then arranged to have the information about the 2001 incidents leaked to the press in an effort to destroy my credibility on the eve of a February 2003 trip I was planning to take to Iraq, together with a high-profile international delegation, that was designed to prevent a war between the US and the government of Saddam Hussein.”

Scott is not alone in being a target for government attempts to discredit him.