Scott Ritter is a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, he has lectured and written on the U.S.-led invasion of that country and expressed his criticism of the reasoning that led to the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.
Born into a military family in Florida in 1960, Ritter grew up at postings around the world. After earning a bachelor's degree in Soviet history, he joined the armed forces, working in military intelligence in the USSR, where he met his wife. During the 1991 Gulf War, he served at Marine Central Command headquarters in Saudi Arabia under General Norman Schwarzkopf. At the end of that conflict, Ritter left the military service and joined the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) on weapons inspection in Iraq. Between 1991 and 1998, when he resigned, Ritter participated in fifty-two inspection missions, heading fourteen of those. In 1995, he and his team were responsible for tracking down missile guidance systems in Iraq purchased from Russia via a Palestinian intermediary.
Three years later Ritter and his team were denied entrance to sensitive sites; the Iraqis accused him of being a U.S. spy. After months of repeatedly being denied access, and feeling that he lacked the support of the U.S. State Department or the United Nations, Ritter publicly resigned his position, indicating that weapons inspection in Iraq was more illusion than reality.