Back to warmwell.com website
http://www.sundayherald.com/39548Spy chiefs warn PM: don't blame us for war
25th January 2004 Sunday Herald
BRITISH intelligence chiefs launched a pre-emptive strike against Tony Blair last night, ahead of the publication of the Hutton report, and blamed the government for pressurising them into cherry-picking intelligence to justify the war on Iraq.
The UK's leading spies believe the political fallout from the publication on Wednesday of the Hutton Inquiry's report will result in an attempt by the Prime Minister and his senior Cabinet colleagues to blame the intelligence services for the shoddy information which was used by the government to convince the British people and parliament that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were a threat to the UK.
The views of senior members of the intelligence community were passed to the Sunday Herald. They include those from:
The Defence Intelligence Staff, which helped supply intelligence for Blair's disputed September 2002 WMD dossier. The Joint Intelligence Organisation, which includes John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – the body which liaises between the intelligence services and the government and which was supposed to have sole control of the drafting of the dossier – and the JIC's support staff. MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, the main agency responsible for gathering the intelligence which went into the dossier.
The intelligence community is speaking out now in order to pre-empt any attack. It is warning the government that it will not be blamed for the failure to prove the case for war, the death of Dr David Kelly and the lack of WMD in Iraq.
The key points it wants on the record are:
Many had been openly sceptical about the presence of WMD in Iraq for years. The intelligence community was under pressure to provide the government with what it wanted, namely that Iraq possessed WMD and was a danger. Intelligence was "cherry-picked", with damning intelligence against Iraq being selectively chosen, while intelligence assessments, which might have worked against the build-up to war, were sidelined. lIntelligence work had become politicised under Labour , and spies were taking orders from politicians. They provided worst-case scenarios which were used by politicians to make factual claims.
They accept that intelligence was used for political ends, but believe it is not their job to help politicians justify their actions, as that distorts the nature of intelligence work.
Britain's senior spies believe they are not in the firing line over Hutton, but realise that a rethink is needed over the future of British intelligence. They say they want changes made in order to maintain their integrity.
The first attacks on British intelligence, ahead of the Hutton report, came from Donald Anderson, a Labour loyalist and chairman of the influential foreign affairs committee.
His attack followed the resignation on Friday of David Kay, the head of the Iraq Survey Group. Kay, who was appointed by the CIA to lead the hunt for Saddam's WMD, quit his post saying he didn't think WMD existed in Iraq.
Anderson said Blair and President George Bush had relied on intelligence regarding Iraq's WMD, adding that Kay's claims "raise very important questions about the quality of that intelligence".
Kay's successor, Charles Duelfer, said earlier this month that he did not believe banned weapons would ever be found.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell also conceded yesterday that Iraq may not have possessed any WMD – even though he gave a presentation to the United Nations in the run-up to war saying Saddam had large stockpiles of banned weapons.
news in focus: Waiting for Hutton what we think: Now we know. We were lied to about WMD. So now Blair should go
25 January 2004