Scott Ritter: 'Spy-Hunter'

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A major reason Saddam Hussein was so keen to get rid of Scott Ritter this week is that part of the former Marine captain's job is to probe Iraq's efforts to spy on the U.N. weapons inspectors, TIME correspondent William Dowell has learned.

"Iraq targeted Ritter because he was investigating Iraqi techniques of concealing evidence and how Baghdad was able to spy on UNSCOM," says Dowell. Ritter left Iraq Friday — rotated, not withdrawn — after having been stopped from making inspections all week. But the evasion began earlier: As Dowell says, "the Iraqis appear to be aware in advance of UNSCOM's intentions." When the U.N. inspectors went in search of a set of documents from an Iraqi facility Monday, all the documents on their list — and only those — were missing.

As long as Iraq can keep Ritter from counterespionage, it can keep the other U.N. inspectors from succeeding at their jobs.