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http://www.guardian.co.uk/hutton/story/0,13822,1048495,00.html Blair aide boosted dossier threat Last minute intervention told intelligence chiefs to harden danger of Saddam's chemical weapons Richard Norton-Taylor and Nicholas Watt Wednesday September 24, 2003 The Guardian One of the prime minister's closest aides instructed intelligence chiefs to change the government's Iraqi weapons dossier to make it appear that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was much greater than they believed. A document shown yesterday to the Hutton inquiry shows Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff, asked the joint intelligence committee to redraft a passage in the dossier to state that Saddam had plans to use chemical or biological weapons against the west. His request - likely to be seized on by those who believe No 10 "sexed up" the dossier - was sent by Mr Powell by email shortly after the deadline for final comments on the dossier before publication. "I think the statement... that 'Saddam is prepared to use chemical and biological weapons if he believes his regime is under threat' is a bit of a problem", Mr Powell told John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee, and Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's communications chief. He added: "It backs up... the argument that there is no CBW (chemical and biological warfare) threat and we will only create one if we attack him. I think you should redraft the para. My memory of the intelligence is that he [Saddam] has set up plans to use CBW on western forces." The email was shown at the Hutton inquiry yesterday to Mr Scarlett by Andrew Caldecott QC, counsel for the BBC. Mr Scarlett was also shown a draft of the dossier dated September 19 - the day Mr Powell sent his email - which included the phrase that Saddam was "prepared to use chemical or biological weapons if he believes his regime is under threat". The dossier which was published on September 24 2002 omitted this passage. Instead, it said only that intelligence "indicates" Saddam is willing to use such weapons "including against his own Shia population", before adding the disputed claim that they could be deployed within 45 minutes. Mr Caldecott told Mr Scarlett that the effect of the change was to remove the suggestion that Saddam was only a defensive threat and imply he was an "offensive threat". Yesterday, Mr Scarlett told the inquiry that Mr Powell's email prompted him to look again at the passage in the draft dossier. He said he and his colleagues found "there was no standing JIC assessment which made it clear whether we were defining Saddam's threat, if you like, as defensive or... offensive". They also found recent and "quite clear" intelligence that placed Saddam's "attachment to CBW and the importance he placed on it very much in the context of his perception of his regional position, his plans to acquire and maintain regional influence", said Mr Scarlett. Mr Scarlett added: "In other words, the recent intelligence was more complex" than the draft dossier implied. Mr Powell faced further embarrassment when the inquiry heard he described Dr Kelly as a "rogue element". Jeremy Gompertz QC, counsel for the Kelly family, seized on the remarks in an attempt to show that No 10 orchestrated a campaign to smear the scientist. Mr Powell's comments were made in the course of a series of questions and answers about Dr Kelly which were designed to help the Ministry of Defence as it drew up a briefing note for journalists after the announcement that an individual - later revealed to be Dr Kelly - had admitted that he had met Andrew Gilligan. The final question asked whether this disclosure proved that the cabinet minister, John Reid, was wrong to have blamed "rogue elements" in the security services for briefing against ministers. Mr Powell's answer said: "Yes. This rogue element was not part of the intelligence services at all!" No 10 faced another difficult moment when Mr Blair's official spokesman admitted releasing personal details about Dr Kelly in an attempt to undermine the BBC. Tom Kelly, who was asked about Alastair Campbell's claim in his diary that the "biggest thing" was to out the scientist, said he gave the details to challenge a BBC statement insisting Dr Kelly could not have been its source. "I genuinely wanted to protect Dr Kelly's identity but I had to explain the discrepancies between the BBC statement and the MoD statement," he said. __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software http://sitebuilder.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk