Scott Ritter has the misfortune to be articulate, well-reasoned, and tenacious in staking our officialdom-offending views. That has put him on Twitter’s permanent shit list. We’ll recap his current must-read article on Consortium News describing in painful detail why his second ban this month is on obviously fabricated charges. And to add insult to injury, Twitter has allowed a Scott Ritter impersonator to set up shop, despite that clearly violating Twitter’s own policies as well as identity theft laws in New York, where Ritter lives, and California, where Twitter is headquartered.
Ritter is far from the only once-prominent Twitter voice to be suspended for wrong-think on Ukraine:
– When we banned you for questioning the NATO role in and claims about Ukraine, that wasn’t censorship. It was just “content moderation.”
– Oh, OK, great. Never mind then. pic.twitter.com/n5WyEzTNG7
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 13, 2022
And even though it would require discovery to prove it to the “preponderance of evidence” standard, Twitter’s posture as Enforcer of the Narrative sure makes it walk and talk like a state actor.
By way of background, the former UN weapons inspector was one of the loudest, most persistent, and effective critics of the bogus “WMD in Iraq” claim, which was the basis for our invasion. Ritter has now been making the rounds, mainly on non-mainstream leftish shows like CN Live! Greyzone, Maverick Multimedia, and the Antiwar Coalition as well as what is stereotyped as the bro-ish libertarian right, such at The Duran and Gonzalo Lira. Oh, and he has the temerity to still appear on the verboten RT.
Ritter’s view of the war has been decisively opposed to the version pumped out by the press: Russia is winning and will win decisively. He’s been overly bullish on the timetable, but has given detailed accounts of how Russia has engaged in classic “maneuver warfare” to shape the battlefield and dictate the nature and timing of the engagement. He’s also stressed that media employees and supposed military experts who’ve never seen a day of combat keep projecting US methods onto Russia and thus completely misconstruing what is going on. Russia has not gone the US route of taking out electricity, cell towers, the Internet, and railroads at the onset. Nor has it bombed cities into rubble, which it could easily have done. It has instead gone easy on civilians, taken more military losses, and has prosecuted the war in a more step-by-step, grinding manner, slowly but systematically destroying Ukraine’s ability to wage war while avoiding its cities as much as possible. Russia follows Clausewitz, and Clausewitz argued the fastest path to victory was destroying armies, not cities.
That all was well enough tolerated for a while. But then Ritter tweeted on Bucha, and Twitter being Twitter, he was limited to his bottom line:
The Ukrainian National Police committed numerous crimes against humanity in Bucha. Biden, in seeking to shift blame for the Bucha murders onto Russia, is guilty of aiding and abetting these crimes. Congratulations America… we’ve created yet another Presidential war criminal!”
As Ritter explained in his current Consortium News piece, he had support for that provocative statement. We’ll take the liberty of quoting at length, on the assumption that he wants others to see his work:
On the television screen before me, the President of the United States was making a live appearance, where he addressed the Bucha killings. “You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal,” Biden told the gathered reporters. “Well, the truth of the matter,” he continued, “you saw what happened in Bucha….
I had just finished an article for Russia Today (RT) on the Bucha incident…
The available data coming out of Bucha was ultimately inconclusive but, if anything, strongly suggested Ukrainian culpability, not Russian. The certainty expressed by the President led me to believe that he was privy to classified information otherwise unavailable to the general public…it looked like I might be in the uncomfortable position of having to withdraw my conclusions and correct the record….
Shortly after Biden spoke, however, my cellphone alerted me to a Reuters article with a headline proclaiming, “Pentagon can’t independently confirm atrocities in Ukraine’s Bucha, official says.”….
I turned off the television, and proceeded to spend the next 40 or so minutes researching the available information about the Bucha incident. One of the leading news stories was a New York Times report based upon commercially available imagery which the authors of the article, Malachy Browne, David Botti and Haley Willis, claimed was taken on March 19, 2022, putting a lie to Russian claims that when its troops pulled out of Bucha on March 30, no bodies were present.
However, when I examined the video and still photographs of the Bucha bodies, I was struck by the fact that they didn’t appear to have been left in the street to decompose for two weeks (the bodies were “discovered” by the Ukrainian National Police on April 2.) Bluntly speaking, bodies begin to bloat some 3-5 days after death, often doubling in size. They will remain this way for up to ten days, before they burst, spilling a puddle of putrid liquid into the ground around the corpse.
In comparing The New York Times’ image with the video of the bodies on the ground, I was struck by a scene in the movie My Cousin Vinny, where Vincent Gambini, a streetwise New York lawyer played by Joe Pesci, cross examined a witness on the issue of the preparation of Grits. “Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than on any place on the face of the earth? Well perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove!”….
The available evidence that could be extracted from the images from Bucha showed bodies that by appearance appeared to have been killed within 24-36 hours of their discovery—meaning that they were killed after the Russians withdrew from Bucha. The exact time of death, however, could only be determined after a thorough forensic medical examination.
Many of the bodies had white cloth strips tied to their upper arm, a visual designation which indicated either loyalty to Russia or that the persons did not pose a threat to Russians. The bodies that lacked this white cloth often had their hands tied behind their backs with white cloth that appeared similar to that which marked the arms of the other bodies.
Near to many of the bodies were the green cardboard box adorned with a white star which contained Russian military dry rations that had been distributed to the civilian population of Bucha by Russian troops as part of their humanitarian operations.
In short, the evidence suggested that the bodies were of civilians friendly to, or sympathetic with, Russia….
On April 2, an article appeared in an official Ukrainian government website, LB.ua, entitled “Special forces regiment ‘SAFARI’ began to clear Bucha of saboteurs and accomplices of Russia.” According to the article, “Special forces began clearing the liberated, by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, city of Bucha of the Kiev region from saboteurs and accomplices of Russian troops.” According to the article, the Safari Regiment was comprised of personnel from various special police units, including the Rapid Operational Response Unit and the Tactical Operational Response Police.
There was other information—a video where a Ukrainian official warns the citizens of Bucha that on April 1 a “cleansing operation” was going to be conducted in Bucha, and that the citizens should remain indoors and not to panic. Another video, also from April 1, purported to show members of the Safari Regiment shooting civilians who were not wearing the blue distinguishing armbands signifying loyalty to the Ukrainian cause.
Ritter continues with the Twitter kangaroo court part of the story. He was banned for “abuse and harassment”.
Scott Ritter has been banned *again*. Here is the tweet in question and their reasoning: pic.twitter.com/lfljkKA2Sp
— Richard Medhurst (@richimedhurst) April 10, 2022
This is absurd because the only person about whom Ritter said bad things was Joe Biden. If Ritter had actually threatened Biden, he would have been whisked off by the FBI in no time flat. Instead he merely called Biden a war criminal, which this site has done (for Yemen) and many others have done for every US president going back at least to Clinton. Even for defamation, which has a much lower legal bar, public figures are assumed to be used to being on the receiving end of criticism.
A lot of Twitterati complained about the Twitter ban. Ritter was reinstated at the very end of April 6. By the morning of April 10, he was banned again. It has all the hallmarks of someone having leaned on Twitter to go back to its original stance.
Twitter invoked a Ritter reply to an April 3 tweet….which had been deleted by its author @MattGallagher0 so the world at large could not review even one side of the exchange. This was Ritter’s response:
The Marines [murdered] more Iraqis in Haditha than the Russians killed Ukrainians in Bucha, for the simple fact that Haditha wasn’t a case of false flag mass murder. Bucha, on the other hand…
In case you care about the fine points, Ritter explains Haditha in his article, and he’s also sometimes referred to it in his videos.
This tweet was again depicted as harassment and abuse. Clearly it isn’t. Rather, Twitter has a zero tolerance policy about anyone saying that Bucha sure looks like a Ukraine caper.
Ritter has company:
Land of the free pic.twitter.com/3bzYAW7h6R
— Wyatt Reed (@wyattreed13) April 13, 2022
Now we get to the part where Twitter is making it clear it has it in for Ritter. I won’t belabor the painful and absurd details, which Ritter documents at Consortium News. But the short version is Twitter has allowed a Ritter impersonator to set up shop, and the impersonator explicitly states that his account is a revived account of the old @realScottRitter. Despite Ritter’s protest, despite the fake account clearly violating Twitter policies as well as laws against identity theft, Twitter is refusing to take it down.
Frankly, this is stupid on Twitter’s part, since it makes it indisputable that they are carrying out a vendetta against Ritter, as opposed to acting on corporate policies.
Glenn Greenwald has the stature to describe the larger narrative-enforcing machinery on Twitter:
This isn’t that far off from what is actually happening. Occasionally they create “fact-checking” groups with the most neutral and benign-sounding names (Center for Extremism Studies) that are always funded by the same western security state agencies and liberal billionaires. https://t.co/7qt7zjOMDu
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 13, 2022
This is the new “disinformation,” “fact-checking” and “anti-extremism” industry: they choose neutral-and-benign sounding names, present them as “experts” to trash anything they can’t control, always funded by US/NATO and Soros/Omidyar to control speech:https://t.co/Iy2S1BeIHq
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 13, 2022
This sorry episode illustrates one of the big reasons we’ve never spent much time on Twitter. As we say here regularly, “If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business.” Yes, if Lambert, Jerri and I spent more time on Twitter, we’d probably have more followers. We’d also have much less rich interactions (think of all of the careful and well reasoned comments here, with their many links). And it would all be owned by the platform.
Naked Capitalism is like a poor Barvarian kingdom: out of the way, with a big flat expanse in all directions (as in highly visible approaches), with a shabby castle. But we have a very deep moat, very high walls. and enough grain, goats, chickens, and root vegetables to last out a very long siege.