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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #25 - 1 msg

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Today's Topics:

   1. Brian Jones in the Independent (Peter Brooke)


Message: 1
Date: Fri, 06 Feb 2004 08:17:36 +0000
Subject: Brian Jones in the Independent
From: Peter Brooke <>
To: <>

Dear all

I don't think we've had this one yet. The most extraordinary revelation is

'the best available current evidence that Saddam actually had chemical and
biological weapons (CW and BW) was the inference that this must be so from
the claim of an apparently unproven original source that such weapons could
be "deployed" within 45 minutes.'

So, leaving aide the supersensitive intelligence we won't be able to examine
until the public records are opened in thirty years time, the 45 minute
claim was not, as we all thought, the cherry on the icing on the cake. It
was the cake itself!

Best wishes


*  Brian Jones: 'There was a lack of substantive evidence... We were told
there was intelligence we could not see'
Independent, 4 February 2004

In his statement to the Commons on the Hutton report last week, Tony Blair
declared that "we can have a debate about the war, about WMD and about
intelligence". Yesterday, he made clear an independent investigation would
finally go ahead.

In the Commons and in his evidence to MPs yesterday, the Prime Minister
referred to my own concerns about the Government's assessment of the Iraqi
threat. Now that the Hutton report has been published, I feel able to speak
on what is in the public domain and on the issues that I believe should be
examined by any investigation into "intelligence failure".

It is clear from the evidence to the Hutton inquiry that the experts of the
Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) who dealt with chemical and biological
warfare, including those working directly with me, had problems with some
aspects of what was being said in various drafts of the dossier that was
published on 24 September 2002.

The problem was that the best available current evidence that Saddam
actually had chemical and biological weapons (CW and BW) was the inference
that this must be so from the claim of an apparently unproven original
source that such weapons could be "deployed" within 45 minutes. Although the
information was relayed through a reliable second source, there was no
indication the original or primary source had established a track record of
reliability. Furthermore, the information reported by the source was vague
in all aspects except, possibly, for the range of times quoted.

I believe the DIS experts who worked for and with me were the foremost group
of analysts in the West on nuclear, biological and chemical warfare
intelligence. It is their job to consider all other related evidence. What
was missing was, for example, strong evidence of the continuing existence of
weapons and agents and substantive evidence on production or storage.

There was no indication that the Iraqi military had practiced the use of CW
or BW weapons for more than a decade. But it was known that Iraq had
previously possessed CW and BW capabilities and used chemical weapons.
Further, Saddam had failed to satisfy the UN that the capability had been

On balance the DIS experts felt it should be recorded that a CW or BW
capability at some level was a probability, but argued against its statement
in stronger terms. Despite pointing this out in comments on several drafts,
the stronger statements did eventually appear in the executive summary, the
part of the dossier "owned" by the chairman of the Joint Intelligence

Without such a strong summary, the translation of a probability into a
certainty that occurred in the foreword drafted by Alastair Campbell, the
Prime Minister's former director of communications, would have been more

My recollection is that the disagreement of the experts in the DIS was not
so much resolved as finessed. My belief is that right up to the publication
of the dossier there was a unified view amongst not only my own staff but
all the DIS experts that on the basis of the intelligence available to them
the assessment that Iraq possessed a CW or BW capability should be carefully

But we were told there was other intelligence that we, the experts, could
not see, and that it removed the reservations we were expressing. It was so
sensitive it could not be shown to us. It was held within a tight virtual
"compartment", available only to a few selected people.

The two DIS representatives on the dossier-drafting group were told at the
last drafting meeting on 17 September that the compartmented intelligence
would be shown by the SIS (MI6) to only the two most senior members of the
DIS, the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) and his deputy (DCDI).

At a subsequent DIS meeting on that day, the DCDI ruled that he was
satisfied by the SIS reassurance and that no further objections on the
contentious issues should be raised with the Cabinet Office Assessment
Staff. It transpired from evidence to the Hutton inquiry that the clinching
intelligence was never seen by the DCDI.

By the time I returned from leave on 18 September to a very disgruntled team
the deadline for production of the dossier was fast approaching. I examined
the relevant reports and discussed them with my experts and decided they
were right to be concerned.

My experience of the intelligence process made me suspicious of what was
happening. I was not reassured when my boss said he had been assured by a
representative of the SIS that the new sensitive material was reliable and
negated our concerns. My boss was brand new to the intelligence business,
unfamiliar with the assessment process and not in the compartment.

I considered who might have seen this ultra-sensitive intelligence and
reached the conclusion that it was extremely doubtful that anyone with a
high degree of CW and BW intelligence expertise was among the exclusive

It was becoming clear that it was very unlikely we could achieve the balance
we desired in the dossier and it was important to register our misgivings

Earlier in my intelligence career, I and others in my branch had not taken
similar precautions and suffered for it. We believed that no large
stockpiles of chemical weapons, such as those present in 1990/91, existed
because if they did they would probably have been detected by intelligence.
The smaller quantities of chemical weapons that might exist would be hard to
find, as would small but significant amounts of BW agents and delivery

I foresaw that after the likely invasion and defeat of Iraq, it was quite
possible that no WMD would be found. If this happened scapegoats would be
sought, so I decided that we should record our concerns about the dossier in
order to protect our reputation. But this is a big step to take and I wanted
to be as sure of my ground as possible.

The UK intelligence community is not large and you can usually find your way
to someone "in the know." They need not stray beyond the limits of what they
are allowed to reveal, but they can still be of assistance. I eventually
found someone who was in the relevant compartment. Information was not
volunteered and I did not ask about the detailed content of these reports. I
explained the reservations that we had about the draft dossier and asked
whether the compartmented intelligence resolved any of these concerns. I was
advised they did not.

A draft of the dossier arrived on the 19 September. We were told this was
the "final" version for proof-reading and no substantive comment would be
considered. In any case the DCDI had ruled that no further objections should
be made.

I arranged the short meeting with David Kelly and others that I have
described in testimony to Lord Hutton to satisfy myself that the basis of Dr
Kelly's view that the dossier was "good" did not contradict our own
position. By the end of the day I was confident of my ground and I sent a
memorandum to my director and copied it to the DCDI, who, as a member of the
JIC, could still intervene if he chose to do so.

Once my initial memo was in, my deputy, who was also the CW expert in my
branch, was able to contribute a more detailed and direct explanation of our
concerns in the light of yet another "final" draft that had appeared.

Neither memo produced a direct response. We could only suppose that the
compartmented intelligence seen by the CDI was clear and unambiguous for him
to disregard, without discussion, the recorded views of two senior analysts
who, although only of middle rank were, like the late Dr Kelly, the UK's
foremost experts in their field.

During the course of their own inquiry, the Intelligence and Security
Committee was given sight of the relevant intelligence and, despite the fact
that they are not expert intelligence analysts, they reported rather
enigmatically that they could "understand the basis on which the CDI and the
JIC took the view they did".

But with all that has and has not happened since, I believe the advice I
received in September 2002 about the compartmented intelligence was valid.
Now that it is being so widely suggested that Britain went to war on the
back of an "intelligence failure", it is important that the nature of that
failure is understood. An intelligence failure can be the result of many
things. The absence of significant "raw" intelligence would be a collection
failure. There was a self-inflicted dearth of information on Iraq following
the withdrawal of Unscom inspectors before Operation Desert Fox in 1998 and
an additional degree of uncertainty once their constraining influence was

A failure can result if the significance of a piece of "raw" intelligence is
not recognised, or its analysis is flawed, or its context misunderstood.
This would be an assessment failure. The failure of policy-makers to accept
or act on information can also be called an intelligence failure because of
the inadequacy of its presentation by the intelligence community.

Whether or not there was a failure of intelligence assessment should be
judged, not on the dossier, but on relevant JIC papers. Similarly, whether
or not there was a failure in intelligence collection should be judged on
the reports the collectors issued. Arguably, the dossier revealed more about
the top end of the process and the fashioning of a product that has hitherto
been alien to the UK intelligence community.

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.

It would be a travesty if the reputation of the DIS and its dedicated people
was besmirched and the organisation as a whole undermined. The DIS includes
the only significant body of dedicated professional intelligence analysts in
the UK intelligence community and they are a much under-valued and
under-resourced national asset. It is the intelligence community leadership
at the level of the membership of the JIC and the upper echelons of the DIS
- those who had access to and may have misinterpreted the compartmented
intelligence - that had the final say on the assessment presented in the

Lord Hutton describes the JIC as, "the most senior body in the Intelligence
Services charged with the assessment of intelligence". But this is

The members of the JIC are mostly extremely busy officials. Some are
effectively the chief executives of large organisations with large budgets
and all that goes with that responsibility. Others have a wide range of
other responsibilities. All will have a limited time to study personally
intelligence reports and the related archives in detail. Most will have had
quite limited experience of analysing intelligence.

From my perspective the JIC's function is to oversee the assessment of
intelligence and question and challenge the experienced and dedicated
analysts and intelligence collectors on issues where they, the JIC, might
understand the broader relevance and significance of a particular
assessment. When they take it upon themselves to overrule experienced
experts they should be very sure of their ground, and if a decision to do so
is based on additional sensitive intelligence unknown to the experts, it
must be incontrovertible.

Events have shown that we in the DIS were right to urge caution. I suggest
that now might be a good time to open the box and release from its
compartment the intelligence that played such a significant part in
formulating a key part of the dossier.

I recognise this could possibly be one of a few exceptional circumstances
that means the content of the compartmented intelligence remains sensitive
even after the fall of Saddam. If this is the case it should be clearly
stated. Otherwise the simple act of opening this box and explaining who had
the right to look into it before the war could increase the transparency and
hasten the progress of the new inquiry.

Dr Brian Jones was formerly head of the branch within the Scientific and
Technical Directorate of Defence Intelligence Staff that was responsible for
the analysis of intelligence from all sources on nuclear, biological and
chemical warfare. He retired in January 2003

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