September 03, 2003

Bombshell hits government's claims

Remember how much ink and air time was squandered on
the "mystery surrounding the death of Vince Foster"?
Well, although it is earth-shaking news in the U.K., the inquiry into the alleged suicide of Dr. Kelly--which unlike the sad Foster affair, involves questions of war, peace and national security--is receiving
almost no ink or air time here in the Orwellian States
of Stepford...Afterall, it only underscores the
"trafficking in untruths" that the _resident and "all
the _resident's men" engaged in during the ramp up to
the foolish military adventure in Iraq...Do you think
the _resident will ever be asked one direct question
about the Kelly affair?,13822,1034862,00.html

Bombshell hits government's claims

Click here to enter the Hutton inquiry website

Ciar Byrne, Matthew Tempest and Julia Day
Wednesday September 3, 2003

The government was dealt a devastating blow today when
two intelligence officers revealed there were deep
concerns about the strength of the language used in
the Iraq intelligence dossier, with one complaining
the document was shaped for political purposes.
Brian Jones, a retired branch head of the defence
intelligence analysis staff, told the Hutton inquiry
there were several concerns about the 45 minute claim
and one of his staff felt some of the assessements of
the threat posed by Iraq were "over-egged" in the

The inquiry heard the "shutters came down" on the
dossier before intelligence officials' reservations
had a chance to be properly considered and there were
fears "spin merchants" had been too involved in the
dossier's production.

In an afternoon that dealt a series of blows to the
government's claims that the dossier was not "sexed
up", another intelligence officer, who went under the
codename Mr A, said the dossier "had been around the
houses" in order to find "words that would strengthen
certain political objectives".

Dr Jones told the inquiry his department had been
concerned about "the tendency... to, shall we say,
over-egg certain assessments, particularly in relation
to the production of chemical weapons".

Dr Kelly intimately involved in dossier

Then, in a bombshell revelation, it was revealed David
Kelly was intimately involved in the dossier and knew
of concerns about claims the Iraqis could launch
chemical weapons within 45 minutes of an instruction
to do so - the central allegation that sparked the
bitter war of words between the BBC and the

At a meeting of seven or eight intelligence officers
on September 19, five days before the dossier was
published, Dr Kelly suggested between 12 and 14
changes to the dossier, which were adopted.

One concern was the mention of a factory producing a
poisonous gas, which was described in the dossier as
of "particular concern".

The intelligence services and Dr Kelly believed it was
used for legitimate purposes and the "spin merchants"
were to blame for its insertion.

In an email to Dr Kelly, Mr A described its inclusion
as "another example supporting our view that you and I
should have been more involved in this than the spin
merchants in this administration".

Dr Jones recalled a "flurry of activity" in the week
leading up to the publication of the September 24

He said he believed that on or around September 19 or
20 "the shutters were coming down on this particular
paper" despite the fact Mr A, his chemical weapons
colleague, "remained unhappy that comments he had made
had not been incorporated".

This referred to the dossier's claim that Iraq was
manufacturing phosgene at the al-Qa'qa plant, which
could be a precursor to WMD.

45 minute claim was 'tentative'

Earlier Dr Jones told the Hutton inquiry he felt the
45 minute claim warranted inclusion in the dossier but
it should have been made clear it was a tentative and
not a conclusive claim.

His staff, he said, had three principle concerns:
first that there was lack of detail and second there
was a lack of supporting evidence for the claim.

Third, and most significantly, the intelligence staff
also questioned the credibility of the source of the
45 minute claim, revealing they did not feel the
source knew enough about the subject.

"The way in which the information was reported didn't
give us any feel that the primary source knew very
much about the subject he was reporting on, so we were
left wondering did the secondary source (from whom the
primary source had received his information) know
these sort of things," Dr Jones said.

The evidence is a significant setback for Downing
Street, which has hotly disputed any suggestion that
the 45 minute claim was hearsay that did not come from
a credible source.

Last week John Scarlett, the chairman of the joint
intelligence committee, said the 45 minute claim had
come from an "established line of reporting quoting a
senior Iraqi intelligence officer".

Turning point in the inquiry

It could prove a turning point in the inquiry and may
provide the BBC with some critical evidence to support
its argument that it was justified in broadcasting
Andrew Gilligan's Radio 4 Today programme report the
government had "sexed up" the Iraq intelligence

Dr Jones said the use of the word "indicated" to
express the strength of the intelligence on the 45
minute claim in the main body of the dossier was "a
little bit strong but I felt I could live with that".

But when it came to the executive summary and foreword
he said he was unhappy with the words used. "I thought
they were too strong," he said.

In an insight into the world of intelligence, he
explained staff agonised over the weight given to the
claims through the wording in the documents.

"Those are the things which we spend hours debating...
the use of a 'might' or a 'may' does convey some
uncertainty," he said.

Dr Jones told Lord Hutton that Dr Kelly, who had
regular contact with his department and had the
security clearance to come and go as he liked, was
certainly aware of concerns among staff about the use
of intelligence in the dossier.

Dr Jones first learned of his staff's concerns when he
returned from holiday on September 18 to find his
department had been frantically working to look at,
and respond to, drafts of the dossier.

"There were different views on the dossier within the
offices," he said. "Some of my staff had said they
were unhappy with all the detail that was in the

"[Dr Kelly] was certainly aware at that time, or
shortly afterwards, there were concerns over the 45
minute claim, from contact with myself and people in
my branch," Dr Jones said.

"My concerns were that Iraq's chemical weapons and
biological weapon capabilities were not being
accurately represented in all regards in relation to
the available evidence."

Reservations about dossier

Although Dr Jones reiterated he and his staff were in
overall agreement with the dossier and its
publication, he did write a memo to his MoD bosses
outlining their reservations about the finished
product after its publication.

This included the caveat that the 45 minute claim was
"a failure to differentiate between the two types of

Dr Jones added he and his staff were concerned about
the motivations of the primary source in passing on
this intelligence.

"We wondered whether he might have been trying to
influence rather than inform," he said.

Dr Jones said that only under "fairly special
circumstances" could biological weapons be delivered
in 45 minutes, leading him to assume the dossier was
referring to chemical weapons.

He also told the inquiry a chemical weapons expert
within his branch was concerned about the intelligence
in the dossier relating to the production of chemical
weapons in Iraq.

"He was concerned he could not point to any solid
evidence of such production. He did not dismiss it may
have happened... but he didn't have good evidence it
had happened.

"It is the difference between making the judgment that
the production of chemical weapons had taken place as
opposed to that judgment being that it had probably
taken place or even possible taken place. It was that
degree of certainty in the judgment that was being

Dr Jones described how he had returned from holiday on
September 18 to find his staff working to a very short
timescale to look at and respond to drafts of the
dossier, which was eventually published on September

He added that while some of the changes suggested by
his staff were adopted, others were not.

Dr Jones assured Lord Hutton that Dr Kelly knew about
these concerns but his boss, who received the
memorandum, was new, from outside intelligence and was
"having a difficult time coming to terms with all

Dr Jones said that if his staff had been talking to
journalists in such a way as Dr Kelly had spoken to
Gilligan it would have been "beyond the bounds of what
they should have been doing".

Forensic biologist's evidence

The final witness of the day was forensic biologist
Rory Green.

He explained one of the reasons why the paramedics who
gave evidence yesterday had been surprised by the
apparent lack of blood at the death scene was that Dr
Kelly's body was on top of "leaf litter", which was
very absorbent to blood.

He revealed there were blood stains on the Evian
bottle and cap next to Dr Kelly's body, perhaps
because extreme blood loss usually makes a victim

He suggested the blood stain on Dr Kelly's right knee
was from "contact", possibly with a pool of blood, and
that a blood stain on his right jacket sleeve possibly
came from contact during the cutting injury.

He added there were still 50 items at his laboratory
as part of the investigation and said assistant chief
constable Michael Page would report to the inquiry on
those findings when the investigation was complete.

Posted by richard at September 3, 2003 01:18 PM