I consider myself a neutral party when it comes to Scott Ritter and Gonzalo Lira. I know they had a dust up last year that ruptured whatever relationship they had previously. I have known Scott a lot longer than Gonzalo and consider him a friend. Being a friend does not mean you never disagree. Some will recall that Scott and I had different views on the importance of the U.S. supplying Himars to Ukraine in the summer of 2022. Scott insisted it was a “game changer” and I said it was not. I think that subsequent events support my side of that dispute.
So now Gonzalo Lira is missing and Scott is accusing Gonzalo Lira of being an intelligence asset (or agent) of Ukraine’s intelligence service, the SBU. I decided to weigh in on this contrived controversy after receiving the following email from one of Scott’s followers (a gent named Bruno):
Scott explains that all of those who responded or participated with Liras Roundtables would have had been compromised by the GRU. When Lira was released on bail he was clearly 100% under the watchful eye of the GRU. I may be misunderstanding your point, but do you seriously believe the GRU weren’t closely monitoring him? Patrick Lancaster also casts doubt on Lira’s torture story. Lira has no military training, smokes multiple packs of cigarettes a day, appears woefully out of shape and yet magically he can survive being tortured with no visible effects? No way. The GRU owns him.
Well, I appeared on several of Gonzalo’s Roundtables and am not, to my knowledge, compromised by the GRU. Sort of tough to be compromised by the GRU when I am in Florida rather than Ukraine. I would note that there are at least a dozen folks, like Brian Berletic, Alexander Mercouris and Ray McGovern, who also were frequent guests on the Roundtables and none of them have been compromised. When I am interviewed I say what I believe. I am not beholden to any intelligence service or person. Just myself.
You can read Scott’s allegation against Gonzalo here. Scott has no evidence — e.g., documentation, eye-witness, foreign intelligence report, etc. — to support his claim that Gonzalo is a SBU asset. All Scott offers is guilt by association and speculation. He writes:
Gonzalo Lira was arrested by the SBU, or Ukrainian intelligence service, on April 15, 2022, and released five days later. Lira has been circumspect about both the arrest and the conditions of his release—he blithely calls it his “missing week.” Lira does acknowledge that his computers and phone were seized by Ukrainian authorities, and that he was released under conditions of “house arrest,” implying some sort of continued monitoring and control of his activities by the SBU. Nonetheless, he was able to gain access to a computer, set up a new email account, and immediately begin posting information critical of the Ukrainian government.
There is only one logical explanation for this chain of events. Gonzalo Lira was arrested by the SBU for crimes he himself admits gets people arrested, tortured, and murdered. He is released five days later—unharmed—and immediately allowed to resume the exact same activity that led to arrest in the first place, only this time on a computer and email account controlled by the SBU.
This is a classic “catch and release” scenario, with Gonzalo Lira playing the role of “police confidential informant”—someone who provides information in exchange for lenient treatment. There literally is no other plausible explanation for what happened other than this.
I am really shocked by Scott falling into so many logical fallacies. He is a highly intelligent person. But his claim that, “There is only one logical explanation for this chain of events,” is ridiculous. Gonzalo Lira has never admitted that his actions got people arrested, tortured or murdered. His podcasts before his first arrest concentrated on debunking much of the Western and Ukrainian propaganda being circulated about Ukraine’s fantastic “successes” in defeating the Russians. Remember the Ghost of Kiev? How in the world does Gonzalo “serve SBU” interests by repeatedly exposing Zelensky and his military chiefs as liars? If that is really the “plan” of the SBU, it helps explain Ukraine’s failures on so many fronts.
I have an alternative explanation for Gonzalo’s first arrest — he pissed off the Ukrainians and they wanted to shut him up. Only one little problem — Gonzalo is a U.S. citizen and a Chilean by birth. The SBU could beat him, torture him and shake him down for cash, but his profile in the West was sufficient to give them pause in executing him. So they let him out.
I challenge Scott and anyone else to explain how Gonzalo was operating as a “police confidential informant?” Who was he ratting out? All of the Round Table discussions were public. Nothing in secret. I have no knowledge that Gonzalo, when he was not doing a Round Table, was galavanting about in Kharkiv trying to identify Ukrainians who favored Russia. If that was his mission (assuming he was a SBU “agent”) then why in the hell would the SBU arrest him again and send him away for 9 weeks? If you have an active, effective confidential informant you do not pull the plug on them like this.
While I never recruited or managed an intelligence asset while at the CIA, I did have several confidential informants working for my consulting business as we investigated money laundering by major tobacco and liquor companies and product counterfeiting. This included members of drug cartels. So I do have a good understanding of what you look for when you are recruiting someone who is either going to filch secret information for you or who is going to introduce you to guys operating under a cloak of secrecy. Gonzalo Lira does not fit any of those categories.
So here is my recommendation. If you have some actual evidence that Gonzalo is an SBU asset, then bring it forward. Otherwise, keep you opinions to yourself. If it turns out you are wrong then you are guilty of unfairly and unjustly smearing an innocent man.
Scott Ritter should know this better than anyone, given his history of being targeted by the FBI and entrapped. I know that he wants folks to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his past run-ins with Federal Law Enforcement. I think he should extend the same courtesy to Gonzalo Lira.