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Re: [casi] Intelligence? the British dossier on Iraq's securityinfrastructure

The Guardian (White, MacAskill and Norton-Taylor, i.e very good and
well-informed journalists) today:

> It emerged yesterday that the dossier issued last week - later found to
> include a plagiarised section written by an American PhD student - was
> compiled by mid-level officials in Alastair Campbell's Downing Street
> communications department with only cursory approval from intelligence or even
> Foreign Office sources....

> The four officials originally named on the website version of the 19-page
> dossier include Alison Blackshaw, Mr Campbell's senior assistant, and Murtaza
> Khan, described as a news editor on the busy Downing Street website.

So it seems that "Intelligence" involvement in the dossier was zero. At
first sight this rather undermines Glen's comments that the dossier
"indicates that the UK at least really does not have any independent
sources of information on Iraq's internal politics." The UK intelligence
services MAY have independent information, but none of it was drawn upon by
the "creators" of the dossier.

(One wonders if the Intelligence Services WOULD supply real intelligence
data -- supposing any exists -- even upon a request from Downing St.)

Officials seem keen to defend MI6 at least:

> Even before the latest row some Whitehall officials were protesting that MI6
> and other intelligence material was being used selectively by Downing Street.
> A well-placed source made it clear that the dossier had been the work of
> Downing Street and the Coalition Information Centre, the body set up after
> September 11 to put the US-British case on the war against terrorism. The
> source dismissed a key section of the dossier as full of "silly errors"....

> In Whitehall one official who regularly sees MI6 reports said that Britain's
> knowledge about Iraq until recently had been very poor. But another claimed
> there has been a recent transformation: "What has happened in the last nine
> months is that there is now strong intelligence coming through."

It is not explained how the "official" is able to tell "strong intelligence"
from unsubstantiated and inaccurate guesses, and all the other garbage that
no doubt crosses his desk.

Glen is of course correct to say (in his original "dossier" message)

> Thus any further claims to information based on
> "intelligence data" must be treated with even more scepticism.

But it seems -- unfortunately -- that this episode doesn't _in itself_
indicate that the UK intelligence services are as clueless as one might
suspect. Any comments?

Andrew Goreing

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