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[casi] Blair aide boosted dossier threat,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
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

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

Mr Scarlett added: "In other words, the recent
intelligence was more complex" than the draft dossier

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

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

"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.

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