February 05, 2004

Intelligence chief's bombshell: 'We were overruled on dossier'

Another name for the John O'Neill Wall of Heroes: Dr.
Brian Jones...

Independent/UK: Dr Jones, who is expected to be a key
witness at the new inquiry, says: "In my view, the
expert intelligence analysts of the DIS were overruled
in the preparation of the dossier in September 2002,
resulting in a presentation that was misleading about
Iraq's capabilities."

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Hutton Aftermath

Intelligence chief's bombshell: 'We were overruled on dossier'

Ex-cabinet secretary to head WMD intelligence inquiry


Intelligence chief's bombshell: 'We were overruled on
dossier'
By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor
04 February 2004


The intelligence official whose revelations stunned
the Hutton inquiry has suggested that not a single
defence intelligence expert backed Tony Blair's most
contentious claims on Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction.

As Mr Blair set up an inquiry yesterday into
intelligence failures before the war, Brian Jones, the
former leading expert on WMD in the Ministry of
Defence, declared that Downing Street's dossier, a key
plank in convincing the public of the case for war,
was "misleading" on Saddam Hussein's chemical and
biological capability. Writing in today's Independent,
Dr Jones, who was head of the nuclear, chemical and
biological branch of the Defence Intelligence Staff
(DIS) until he retired last year, reveals that the
experts failed in their efforts to have their views
reflected.

Dr Jones, who is expected to be a key witness at the
new inquiry, says: "In my view, the expert
intelligence analysts of the DIS were overruled in the
preparation of the dossier in September 2002,
resulting in a presentation that was misleading about
Iraq's capabilities."

He calls on the Prime Minister to publish the
intelligence behind the Government's claims that Iraq
was actively producing chemical weapons and could
launch an attack within 45 minutes of an order to do
so. He is "extremely doubtful" that anyone with
chemical and biological weapons expertise had seen the
raw intelligence reports and that they would prove
just how right he and his colleagues were to be
concerned about the claims.

Downing Street was triumphant last week when Lord
Hutton ruled that Andrew Gilligan's claims that the
dossier was "sexed up" were unfounded, but Dr Jones's
comments are bound to boost the case of the BBC and
others that the dossier failed to take into account
the worries of intelligence officials. Colin Powell,
the US Secretary of State, said yesterday that he
might not have supported military action against
Baghdad if he had known that Iraq lacked weapons of
mass destruction.

Acutely aware of the American inquiry into the war, Mr
Blair said that a committee of inquiry would
investigate "intelligence-gathering, evaluation and
use" in the UK before the conflict in Iraq. Lord
Butler of Brockwell, the former cabinet secretary,
will chair the five-strong committee, which will meet
in private. The Liberal Democrats refused to support
the inquiry because they said that its remit was not
wide enough.

Dr Jones was the man whose decision to give evidence
electrified the Hutton inquiry as he disclosed that he
had formally complained about the dossier. The
Government attempted to dismiss his complaints as part
of the normal process of "debate" within the DIS and
claimed that other sections of the intelligence
community were better qualified to assess the
45-minute and chemical production claims.

But today Dr Jones makes clear that he was not alone
and declares that the whole of the Defence
Intelligence Staff, Britain's best qualified analysts
on WMD, agreed that the claims should have been
"carefully caveated". Furthermore, the Joint
Intelligence Committee (JIC), which allowed the
contentious claims to go into the dossier, lacked the
expertise to make a competent judgement on them.

Dr Jones makes clear that it was John Scarlett, the
chairman of the JIC, who was responsible for including
the controversial claims in the executive summary of
the dossier that was used to justify war. It was Mr
Scarlett's strong assessment that allowed Alastair
Campbell to "translate a probability into a certainty"
in Mr Blair's foreword to the document, Dr Jones adds.


He says he foresaw at the time of the Government's
dossier in September 2002 that no major WMD stockpiles
would be found. He made a formal complaint about the
dossier to avoid himself and his fellow experts being
cast as "scapegoats" for any such failure.

In his article, Dr Jones warns that intelligence
analysts should not be blamed for the lack of any
significant finds in Iraq and points out that it was
the "intelligence community leadership" the heads of
MI6 and MI5 and Mr Scarlett who were responsible for
the dossier. It would be a "travesty" if the DIS was
criticised over the affair, he says.

Dr Jones complains that he and others were not allowed
to see vital intelligence supporting the 45-minute and
chemical production claims.

He reveals, however, that he has discovered from a
colleague that the reports from the ground did not
meet his and others' concerns about the wording of the
JIC's assessments. Also, he says, the Deputy Chief of
Defence Intelligence, Tony Cragg, did not see the
supposedly clinching intelligence and took on trust
assurances from MI6 that it was credible.

The Government yesterday finally slipped out its
response to the Intelligence and Security Committee's
report last autumn on the intelligence case in the
approach to war.

For the first time ministers conceded that they
"understand the reasoning" for the committee's
criticism that the presentation of the 45-minute claim
in the dossier "allowed speculation as to its exact
meaning", including the firing of WMD on long-range
missiles. But the Government said it had not linked
the claim to ballistic missiles.

It also rejected the MPs' call for complaints such as
that of Dr Jones to be sent direct to the JIC
chairman. "It is important to preserve the line
management authority of JIC members," it said.
5 February 2004 04:06

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Posted by richard at February 5, 2004 08:23 PM