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'The Decision to go to War in Iraq', UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee Inquiry, June, 2003

Note: the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons is currently conducting an inquiry into 'The Decision to go to War in Iraq'. The Committee is expected to report in the next couple of months. Robin Cook was until recently Leader of the House of Commons and was formerly Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs. Clare Short recently resigned as Secretary of State for International Development. Full transcripts of Foreign Affairs Select Committee hearings are available at: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/

I. 'Intelligence... is a bit like alphabet soup'

Oral evidence Taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee, June 17, 2003, Excerpts. MR ROBIN COOK, a Member of the House, examined.

...Mr Cook: I set out in that paper the cluster of five questions which I think it would be helpful for the Committee to address. Firstly, why is there such a difference between the claims made before the war and the reality established after the war? Much of that is not going to change with any more period of time. We have found no chemical production plants. We have found no facilities for a nuclear weapon programme. We have found no weapons within 45 minutes of artillery positions. Those are not going to change however much more time is now given. Secondly, did the Government come to doubt these claims before the war? It is very well known that the State Department came to have doubts in February. Did they share those doubts with us? It is interesting that those key claims in the September dossier were not actually repeated in the March debate. Had the Government itself come to lose confidence in them? If so, should it not have corrected the record before the House voted? Thirdly, could biological or chemical agents have fallen into the hands of terrorists since the war? One of the points that was made very strongly, particularly in the March 18 debate, was the danger that such material would pass to terrorist organisations? If they existed in Iraq at the time of the war, they have existed for the past two months unguarded and unsecured, which is very alarming. Is there any clarity that that material has now not passed into the hands of terrorists? Fourthly, why do we not allow the UN Weapon Inspectors back into Iraq? I find it difficult to avoid the conclusion the reason we do not is because they would confirm Saddam did not have an immediate threatening capability. Lastly, does the absence of weapons of mass destruction undermine the legal basis of the war? The opinion of the Attorney General is entirely on the justification for war being the need to carry out the disarmament of Saddam Hussein. If he can find no weapons to disarm does that legal opinion still have basis? Finally can I just say, Chairman, reading the record it is striking that the Foreign Office and Mr Straw were more cautious in the statements that they made in the run-up to the war. I understand that your inquiry is looking at the Foreign Office in the context of the Government as a whole but, in fairness to the Foreign Office, I hope it will be acknowledged that they did exercise care in what they said.

Q3 Chairman: ...Two questions arise: firstly, the quality of the original intelligence; and, secondly, the use made of that intelligence by the Government of the September 24 dossier and thereafter? From what must be a privileged position in the Cabinet, what conclusion do you now draw generally on the quality of the intelligence material which came from the agencies?

Mr Cook: I had no access on a privileged basis to secret material after I had ceased to be Foreign Secretary. I saw the published dossiers and I took part in the Cabinet discussions on them, and I also had a briefing from the SIS in the way that all members of the Cabinet had in the closing stages. If I could just say something about the intelligence available to us up until the time when I left Office in the 2001 General Election. At that time we were fairly confident that Saddam did not have a nuclear weapons capability, did not have a long-range missile capability and indeed, at one point in the late 1990s, we were willing to consider closing those files and moving from inspection on to monitoring and verification. We never actually got to the point of reaching agreement on that, but we were fairly confident they had been closed down; which is one of the reasons why I was surprised to see allegations of a nuclear programme resurfacing. It was very difficult to achieve any precision about the chemical and biological portfolios because they were much more easy to hide and to disperse. Nevertheless, we did make a number of moves in the late 1990s to try and make programmes. For instance, we did negotiate a new text at the Security Council in which the removal of sanctions would be dependent upon progress towards disarmament, not on the completion of disarmament. I was a bit startled that the general tendency of Western policy up until 2001 was sharply thrown into reverse thereafter...

Q6 Chairman: Was there any difference between the briefing which you received and that which appeared in the dossier to give credence, or not, to the allegation that the evidence was hyped, sexed up, exaggerated for political purposes?

Mr Cook: ... I actually have no doubt about the good faith of the Prime Minister and others engaged in this exercise. If anything, I think perhaps the problem was the burning sincerity and conviction of those who were involved in the exercise. Intelligence, one should understand, comes in an enormous broad range. It is a bit like alphabet soup - you get all the letters of the alphabet. You can study it carefully to try and come up with a coherent statement. I fear on this occasion what happened was that those bits of the alphabet that supported the case were selected. That is not deceit, it is not invention, it is not coming up with intelligence that did not exist, but it was not presenting the whole picture. I fear the fundamental problem is that instead of using intelligence as evidence on which to base the conclusion of a policy, we used intelligence as the basis on which we could justify a policy on which we had already settled...

Q9 Sir John Stanley: I was going to refer to that particular statement you made in your resignation speech which clearly was very much at variance with what the Government was saying publicly in the assessment which was produced in September and then what became known later as the "dodgy dossier". Can you tell the Committee at what point you came to have serious anxieties as to the accuracies of the intelligence material that was being put into the public domain in those two documents?

Mr Cook: My anxiety about the drift to military confrontation goes back a very long way to the spring of 2002. I assumed during that summer period it may be that intelligence had appeared since I had left of which I had not been aware; but I must say I was disappointed at the quality of intelligence laid out in the September dossier. If you read the September dossier very carefully there is a striking absence of any recent and alarming and confirmed intelligence. The great majority of the paper is derivative. That is, it starts out from what we know we had in 1991, what we know he has disposed of since 1991 and, therefore, there is a leap of assumption that the balance is therefore still around. It is also a highly suggestible document, in that there are a lot of boxes there telling you how you go about producing a nuclear weapon, or what sarin does; but there is no evidence actually that he did have that capacity to produce a nuclear weapon, nor indeed a capacity to produce sarin. Stripped down, there was very little in that document that actually represented intelligence of a new, alarming, urgent and compelling threat. I remember in the Cabinet discussion saying at the time I was disappointed just how derivative the document actually was.

Q10 Sir John Stanley: Could I just ask you about the second document, the one known as the "dodgy dossier" entitled Iraq - its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation...

Mr Cook: One of the considerations that impelled me towards resignation was the impossibility of answering these questions at the time, and I am not sure I am in any better position to answer them now. The dossier plainly was a glorious, spectacular own goal. I personally do not think there is anything wrong whatsoever in re-printing an academic study of Saddam Hussein's security apparatus, but it ought to have been labelled as precisely that and taken from an academic study. Certainly we should not have tampered with the language in it. I think the most outrageous error, and one that is impossible to defend, was the decision to remove the words "opposition groups" and replace them with the phrase "terrorist organisations", which was not in the original academic study. What I find interesting about that document is that actually it does not add an iota to the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. In the entire document in all three parts of it there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that he does have a capacity for weapons of mass destruction. I do find it extraordinary that after the September claims nothing subsequently happened either to advance those claims, in the sense of taking them forward, or to defend them, or even to repeat them; which does beg the question of whether the authors of the September dossier themselves had come to doubt it before they printed the second one...

Q18 Mr Maples: Mr Cook, what I am interested in is when it is decided to use intelligence in a public document, as happened in this case, and the roles which various people play... I wonder how that went from the point of being a JIC assessment, looked at by you and the Prime Ministers, into being a published document? Who had input into that? Who drafted it? Whose hands did it go through?

Mr Cook: I would have to be quite frank and say that, after five years, I would need to refresh my memory and go through the papers before I could hope to give you an authoritative reply to that. 1998 was a time when the inspectors were being removed from Iraq and when we had a substantial confrontation over the operation of inspectors. If I am blunt, there was at the time a lot of frustration, particularly in Washington, with the repeated political controversy when Saddam had refused to allow inspectors to go into one building or another. There was also a sense that we could successfully contain Saddam without inspectors by making sure we maintained a tight cage of sanctions around him. That was effectively the policy the West then adopted. Actually, from what we have learned in Iraq since we went in, containment worked even better than we had hoped at the time...

Q21 Mr Maples: ...I just wonder if the intelligence you thought you were seeing in the run-up to Desert Fox - for which we did authorise military action and Iraq was bombed by American and UK planes as a result of this - presumably at that time the Government was confident that this intelligence was correct and this WMD capability or threat existed and you shared that confidence?

Mr Cook: We were certainly quite clear that we had not come to the bottom of the chemical and the biological portfolios - the different portfolios that UNSCOM, as it then was, was pursuing. Indeed it was the case that Saddam was extremely obstructionist in trying to enable us to get to the bottom of it. You mention a number of phases. There was a crisis early in the year round about February when we drew back from military action following a visit by Kofi Annan which resulted in an agreement. That agreement was to provide for wider access for the UNSCOM inspectors and it was constantly frustrated by Saddam over the next six months. That is what brought us to Desert Fox. We had managed to avoid military action at the previous time. Frankly, I do not think either the British or American governments had any alternative but to proceed to military action in the autumn of that year, given that we had entered into an agreement that we would not act if Saddam honoured his side of the bargain, and he did not. Having said that, I would just point out that, with the extreme difference of quantity and quality of military that was taken then and the action that followed in March and April of this year, we did not attempt to invade Iraq or to take over Iraq. Indeed, the bombing campaign itself was aimed very strictly at what we thought might be part of any weapons programme. Can I repeat what I said earlier. Whilst at the time, and it is perfectly fairly set out here, we had anxieties about his chemical and biological weapons capability, we did not believe he had a nuclear weapons programme; nor did he have a satisfactory long-range missiles programme. I cheerfully say, frankly I am rather surprised we have not discovered some biological toxins or some chemical agents. Indeed, in my resignation speech I said they probably are there. The position actually has turned out to be even less threatening than I anticipated at the time I resigned...

Q25 Mr Chidgey: Can I then turn to the chemical and biological programme which you have already said was the area, as far as you were concerned, where there were questions. In a previous stage of our reporting on weapons of mass destruction, we were advised by one key witness that a thousand litres of anthrax or less would be almost impossible to discover in a place like Iraq. I would like you in a moment to ask me whether that was the intelligence services' view as well. Presumably that information would have been passed to Government. The real key to this for me is, if it is impossible to discover a thousand litres or less of anthrax, which clearly has a potential to do incredible damage to many people, would the advice have been that if it was impossible to remove the threat of a chemical or biological weapon the only sensible policy to pursue would be to remove the organisation that would use that threat? At what stage was an assessment made that the only safe way to go forward in terms of our interest would be pursue a policy regime change rather than suppression or destruction of chemical weapons that were so difficult to find?

Mr Cook: I think you reflect more of the United States' debate than the British debate. For the period that I was Foreign Secretary we did not have anxiety that anthrax, to which you refer, was on the verge of being turned into a weaponised capability. As I said earlier, we were frustrated by the fact, as you rightly say, that these things are difficult to find, easy to conceal and, therefore, we were not able to make the progress that we had hoped up until 1998. On the other hand, after 1998 we did not have any compelling, urgent reason to believe that containment was not working in the sense of keeping Saddam in his cage. I would also make the point that biological agents such as anthrax are extremely toxic and a menace to anybody near them, but they were not weaponised then, and if not weaponised cannot be used for military purpose. We are fortunate in that it is not particularly easy to weaponise biological agents because weapons do tend either to explode or incinerate, which tends to have the effect of destroying the biological agent that they are carrying. This is fortunate for humanity because it is actually quite easy to get hold of biological agents; it is fortunate it is not particularly easy to turn them into weapons. I never actually saw any intelligence to suggest that Saddam had successfully weaponised that material. The one other point I would make is that, whilst it is certainly true that 10,000 litres is a small volume and not terribly easy to find if you are searching for it, we now actually have under interrogation all the senior figures from the Iraqi weapons programme. It makes it particularly odd, if these exist, that we have not been led to them. Their existence must be known to scores if not hundreds of people who were involved in the transport, storage and protection of such material. It is curious that none of them have come forward, since the reward would be immense. They could have their own ranch in Texas if they were to lead us to such a thing at the present time. That does also leave the very real anxiety, if they have not come forward to us and if these things exist, have they come forward to a terrorist organisation? If priceless works of art can be smuggled out of Iraq could 10,000 litres of anthrax? ...

Q28 Ms Stuart: What I am really trying to get at is do we have a structural weakness in the use of the way intelligence information is used? ...

Mr Cook: No, the conclusion I came to in that article, and repeatedly throughout my period as Foreign Secretary, was that we could contain the threat of Saddam Hussein by the policy of containment. Indeed, we did do so. The onus is on those who argued that containment should be abandoned and replaced with a policy of invasion and regime change to justify that, not on me.

Q29 Ms Stuart: I come back to that review on the use of intelligence. Is there a structural problem in the way we use and assess that intelligence, or is it just the conclusions we have drawn? I therefore come back to my opening point, that we could be accused of not having been Cartesian in the way we arrive at the conclusion.

Mr Cook: I think the charge is graver than we have lacked a proper philosophic method. We went to war. 5,000-7,0000 civilians were killed. Some British troops were killed. To go to war you need to have a real compelling justification for breaking that taboo which war should necessarily represent and to embark upon wholesale military action. It is not a matter of simply sitting around debating whether we had a Cartesian approach to intelligence reports. It is a question of whether you really did have compelling, convincing evidence posing, as the Prime Minister expressed it, a current and serious threat. It is plain from what we now know he did not pose a current and serious threat. It is therefore a grievous error of policy to have gone to war on the assumption he was...

Q33 Mr Hamilton: Can I ask you whether you recall how much of the intelligence that was used in the September dossier was there as a result of the intelligence sharing between the United Kingdom and other countries?

Mr Cook: I cannot speak at first hand because I was not involved in the process, but I would be astonished if it was not immense. The United States and the United Kingdom have a unique intelligence relationship which has probably never existed in any period of history, in which on our side we have full transparency and we strive to secure full transparency on their side. Therefore, it is often difficult when you look at intelligence assessments to spot which raw data was originally gathered by the United Kingdom and which was originally gathered by the United States. As a rough rule of thumb, and it is very rough, we tend to be rather better at gathering human intelligence; and, although we have an excellent GCHQ station, the Americans are even more formidable in technological ways of gathering intelligence. That said, neither of us really had much human intelligence inside Iraq. The Americans were drawing heavily on exiles who were inside America...

Q36 Mr Olner: Could I bring you back to Operation Desert Fox. I am still struggling to understand now in your mind that it was okay to do that operation, to bomb, and obviously thousands of civilians got killed in Operation Desert Fox. That was without a United Nations resolution and without international support, and it was right to do that but not the original Gulf War?

Mr Cook: I am not sure I would say "okay". With great reluctance and a heavy heart we undertook the military action because we had arrived at a situation in which the agreement entered into in February had been broken. That was, of course, an agreement with the Secretary General of the United Nations. Throughout all this process we had a solid degree of support within the United Nations for what we were doing. To remind you again, Operation Desert Fox was strictly a bombing campaign of a rather limited character. I would be sceptical whether thousands actually were killed on the ground, but it is very difficult to tell given the capacity of Saddam to produce figures of his own. We did not have direct access on the ground at the time. It was quite deliberately undertaken by us in the knowledge this would mean that the inspections regime would come to an end and would have to be replaced by a policy of containment. It was that policy of containment I think which was very successful. I have seen nothing to suggest it was right to replace that policy of containment with a major arms invasion of the territory of another state...

Mr Cook: I put in a fairly full paper to the Committee and would encourage it to address the range of those questions there. If I can just highlight one of those. I am deeply perplexed as to why we persist in denying access to the UNMOVIC inspectors. It seems to me if we want to establish any capability on the part of Saddam which the rest of the world can respect we do need to have the UN inspectors there to validate it. I can understand the Americans are probably not going to admit it because they have a long-standing hostility under the administration at the United Nations, but there is presumably no reason, and it is a perfectly fair question I would have thought to put to the Foreign Secretary, why we could not admit the UN inspectors to that sector of Iraq that we ourselves control...

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II. 'I presume that he saw it as an honourable deception'

Oral evidence Taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee, June 17, 2003, Excerpts. Witness: CLARE SHORT, a Member of the House, examined.

Q63 Chairman: ...You have been quite trenchant in your criticism since, I notice, for example, the conclusion of your article to the New Statesman on 9 June where you say in terms, "My conclusion is that our Prime Minister deceived us". Do you still labour under that sense of deception?

Clare Short: I am afraid I do very sadly and I think it is a series of half-truths, exaggerations and reassurances that were not the case to get us into conflict by the spring and I think that commitment had been made by the previous summer. I think nothing else explains the failure to allow Blix to complete his process and the way in which certainly I personally was deceived and I think the country was deceived about what the French decision was, the claim that the French said, "No second Resolution of any kind", when it is absolutely clear now that President Chirac said, "Blix must be given enough time to complete his inspection process, but if disarmament is not achieved through the Blix process, then the matter will have to come back to the Security Council", and then war would be inevitable.

Q64 Chairman: I am sure colleagues will take up some of those other points, but you mentioned that the decision had been made in the summer. That is the decision between the Prime Minister and the President on going to war?

Clare Short: Yes. The reason I say that is that three extremely senior people in the Whitehall system, whom I will not name, said that to me very clearly and specifically, that the target date was mid-February and later extended to March because of a difficulty with the Turks and so on and to give our Prime Minister a little more time, but at that time we were being assured, and I personally was being assured by the Prime Minister, that we were committed to a second Resolution.

Q65 Chairman: So you think that come what may, following that decision in the summer, war would inevitably have followed?

Clare Short: I think short of Saddam Hussein coming out with his hands up or going to Saudi Arabia or something, they were committed to war. The question is and everyone must ask themselves this question: why Blix achieved to get 64 ballistic missiles out of some, say, 70 dismantled? That was a considerable amount of disarmament and yet his process was truncated, so he was succeeding, yet he was not given the time he asked for and the question is why. Now, we were told that you have to threaten war in order to avoid war and I accepted that. That is how we got Resolution 1441. Therefore, you have to deploy some troops to threaten war and then we are told that the troops cannot sit in the desert because they have been deployed and we have to go to conflict, and the Blix process was truncated. Why were we all working to a target date which did not permit enough time for the Blix process to be completed? ...

Q66 Chairman: Well, I am not totally following you. Let's say, for example, after 1441, which gives "a final opportunity", without which there would have been serious consequences, if Saddam Hussein had recognised that this was indeed the final opportunity, the troops were massing at his frontier, if he had then published a dossier on 8 December which was followed and he had co-operated with Blix, do you think the coalition would still have gone to war?

Clare Short: When 1441 was passed, because of course that was a resolution that was put together in the normal way that takes place in New York with a long process of negotiation and amendment so you get buy-in and you build consensus and indeed get unanimity, we and others assured the Security Council, because there was some dispute and the French wanted to make sure that the matter would have to come back to the Security Council if there was to be an authorisation of military action, and verbal assurances were given that the matter would have to come back to the Security Council, and then Blix achieved considerable disarmament and made it clear himself that he needed more time. After all, it was not until November that it was passed and you have to get the weapons inspectors into Iraq and get them there with all their equipment, and there was the question of sharing intelligence. I was seeing our intelligence agencies at that time and they were saying that the scientists' records and laboratory equipment and so on were hidden and being hidden across the country and they knew where it was, and I was arguing with them, "Why don't we give the information to Blix then and facilitate Blix going to the houses where things are hidden?", so there was not very much time between 1441 being passed, Blix getting in, getting started and getting going. If you remember, he complained that he was not getting much help with intelligence information and that the UK was more helpful. Then he was making progress in achieving a destruction of ballistic missiles and he made it clear that he needed more time and then suddenly the Resolution or the draft saying that 1441 had not been fulfilled was tabled and the whole process was brought to an end. We were misled about the French position and everything was blamed on the French, but I happened to talk to Kofi Annan on the telephone around that time about the situation in the Congo and he said, "It is absolutely clear that the majority of the Security Council think that Blix needs more time". Now, this is a very serious matter and I understand how serious a matter it is, but I am afraid, I am very sorry that this is my conclusion...

Q70 Mr Hamilton: So you think that by September 9 war became inevitable and that was the date?

Clare Short: I think the Prime Minister had said to President Bush, "We will be with you", and he had not laid down the conditions that were needed to bring Britain's influence to bear to temper the position of the US and to try and keep the unity of the international community and the Security Council. I think he had committed us and he did not say, "We will be with you on a series of conditions", trying to operate through the UN and so on. Then I think that is why he lost weight on the rest, that he had given policies in Washington and there was a feeling in Britain, in the Cabinet, in Parliament, in the Party and the country that he gave the assurances on the second Resolution and the two were rather contradictory and it conflated over truncating the Blix process and then the big fig-leaf became, "Blame France" and misleading us about France's position to get through that crisis of contradictory policies.

Q71 Mr Hamilton: Finally, if I can just add this, what did you believe were the real reasons for the war in Iraq?

Clare Short: I think if you read, and I have since, some of the publications of the Republican, neo-conservatives, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and some of the others, they were writing from 1997 on, or that is the earliest material I have read, and there was some sensitivity about this, that there had been a failure to complete the first Gulf War and leave Saddam Hussein in Iraq and that action had to be taken. Now, I understand that, it was an evil regime and it was in defiance of the UN, but they were very committed to it. Then if you read the Bob Woodward book, Bush at War, I think it is called, that was written with full White House co-operation and it is about the run-up to Afghanistan, and you have got Rumsfeld arguing straight after September 11 that we have to go for Iraq and, as we all know, there was no link to al-Qaeda. Yes, it was an unresolved crisis, but they were not politically committed. In the Guardian book, you have got President Bush saying, and he is saying this in September 2002, "A year ago I was discussing with my officials the possibility of dealing with Saddam Hussein by tightened sanctions and more containment, but now everything has changed and it has to be war"...

Q73 Mr Chidgey: Well, if I can lead you on, and I think actually you have answered the question, but I will just ask it: do you feel the Government's policies on Iraq in the period leading up to the war were soundly based on good intelligence?

Clare Short: Well, let me just say a word about intelligence because most members of the Cabinet do not see the raw intelligence, the day-to-day bits that come through, the reports from individuals or telephone notes.

...Then I had a number of individual briefings from SIS which the Prime Minister authorised partly because I was so troubled by the whole process and he was trying to keep me inside the tent at that stage. The view that was taken by the person that briefed me after Blix started his inspection was that the scientists, their work and whatever they had was being hidden and the risks of use were less. That is my summary...

Q81 Mr Illsley: Just before, you said that the PM authorised you to see this intelligence, so was the Prime Minister or Ten Downing Street controlling exactly what members of the Cabinet could see or could be briefed on?

Clare Short: Earlier on, after September/October, I asked to see SIS, which I often did over Africa or different situations in the world, so I knew them quite well and I often asked to see them or whoever the expert was for a briefing on Iraq, and they came back and said, "No, Number Ten says no", and I made a fuss and it had to go to the Prime Minister individually and then I did see them. Then I saw them throughout, myself, when I asked, as well as seeing the material, but I think there are a lot of ministers who do not deal with intelligence material because they are in domestic departments or whatever and would not be in that relationship, and I presume they did not see it, and Defence and Overseas Policy, where normally the senior figures in the Cabinet come together, was not meeting, never met, never had any papers before it, so there was this one occasion when it was suggested by the Prime Minister at Cabinet that Cabinet members should be given a briefing by the Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee and that happened, so people went in twos and threes and had an hour or so and he gave his assessment of where things were.

Q82 Mr Illsley: In that sort of control of access by Number Ten, but of you in particular because you knew the system and the individuals, do you think that was coming from the Prime Minister himself or from his advisers?

Clare Short: Unquestionably coming from the Prime Minister himself and when I pressed Sir David Manning, he made it clear that he had to ask the Prime Minister to get me permission to see the security services over Iraq in the same way when I saw them normally over other situations in the world.

Q83 Sir John Stanley: Were you suggesting to the Committee a moment ago that there was some deliberate policy by the US and the UK Government not to co-operate fully with Mr Blix's inspectors?

Clare Short: I think that they wanted to make an effort through the UN for the sake of international public opinion and probably United States' public opinion, so they wanted 1441 and, therefore, wanted the return of weapons inspectors. Well, you can remember the dissident voices, and I think Vice President Cheney said publicly that he did not want weapons inspectors, so there were different views in the Administration and you will know that the US Administration does have different views always and it is usually quite a fractured system, and particularly so through the state departments and the Pentagon through the early stages of this crisis. Certainly President Bush and our Prime Minister wanted 1441, wanted the weapons inspectors back in, but then I think in the US they were worried about getting entangled in the weapons inspection process and it taking longer than they would have liked, maybe trapping them into that way forward, and there was some of this briefing against Blix which again was in the media and I see he is talked about publicly. So I think they wanted to try through the UN, but they did not want to get entangled in the UN and they wanted to be free to act, having tried the UN, when they wanted to act.

Q84 Sir John Stanley: So are you saying that there was a policy of only giving partial assistance to Mr Blix and thereby ensuring that perhaps weapons of mass destruction were not found as rapidly as might be the case, assuming they are still there, in order to keep the military option open?

Clare Short: Well, my understanding is, and I think Blix asked for more help publicly in one of his sessions at the Security Council, that the UK determined to give him more help and I think it is a matter of record him saying that the US were less helpful, but it is a fractured Administration. You cannot assume coherence in that decision like a conspiracy to make Blix fail. You have got different parts of the US Administration, some of them never wanting to go back to the Security Council and never wanting Blix in anyway, so this controlling the decision not to give him full help on the intelligence, I do not know...

Q89 Sir John Stanley: So you are suggesting that it was the use of the intelligence material by members of the Government and politicians which was responsible for the exaggeration?

Clare Short: That is my suggestion, yes.

Q90 Chairman: Was there any complaint at the time that you met the JIC and the DIS people that their raw material was going to be misused by the Government?

Clare Short: They never said that to me, but we discussed the desirability of the second Resolution, which they thought highly desirable. My understanding of their judgment was that this should not be left, but that we should try and keep the world together. I have read the media, as have you, and my own reading of the analysis is that when there were no WMD found, and now so much information you get through off-the-record briefings to the press, it started to be suggested that maybe the intelligence was defective and that made the intelligence community so angry that they started to brief about the way in which their material had been exaggerated politically. That is my reading of it...

Q92 Mr Hamilton: Do you recall how much of the information which was included in the September dossier came through shared intelligence arrangements with other countries? Were you ever told?

Clare Short: No. My understanding is that we share with the US, but I have been informed that our intelligence is better. I understand that we share with France and theirs is good and that was uninterrupted right through the crisis, funnily enough, or that is my understanding, or France shares with us.

Q93 Mr Hamilton: That is interesting. I do not think I have heard that before. Can I ask you whether it was an accurate reflection of Iraq's threat at the time or was it, how shall I put it, exaggerated?

Clare Short: I have not reread it, so now this is quite a long time, but my sense is that lots of it was accurate and the exaggeration and the suggestion of immediate threat and the suggestion, which is not in the dossier, but was made in press briefings and maybe in the House of the potential link to al-Qaeda, that is where the falsity lay. Of course when you see the picture of what happened, the exaggeration of immediacy means you cannot do things properly and action has to be urgent.

Q94 Mr Hamilton: So you think there was a deliberate attempt to emphasise certain aspects of the intelligence to make the threat more credible, real and immediate?

Clare Short: To make it more immediate, more imminent, requiring urgent action, yes...

Q110 Mr Maples: So what we are getting a picture of here is that the relevant Cabinet committee did not consider this in detail which is what one would have expected?

Clare Short: There was no paper or analysis of the risks, the dangers, the military options, the political and diplomatic options, the strategy for the UK, there was never that.

Q111 Mr Maples: But not just at that level, but full Cabinet level either?

Clare Short: No.

Q112 Mr Maples: And decisions were being taken by a very small group of people close to the Prime Minister, none of whom, apart from him, are elected?

Clare Short: Yes.

Q113 Mr Maples: So there were no ministers involved in that part of it?

Clare Short: That is right.

Q114 Chairman: Did you know about the role of the Foreign Secretary at this time?

Clare Short: Well, the Foreign Secretary would have a close relationship with the Prime Minister and the entourage, but I think the decisions were being made by the Prime Minister and the entourage and the Foreign Secretary was helpful. He went along with those decisions, but I think the decision-making was sucked out of the Foreign Office which I think is a great pity because there is enormous expertise about the Middle East in the Foreign Office and certainly the Foreign Office has the expertise to understand what is necessary to achieve the second Resolution.

Q115 Chairman: You are saying that the Foreign Secretary was helpful. Are you suggesting that he was ancillary and the decision was elsewhere?

Clare Short: I am suggesting that he was extremely loyal to the Prime Minister and his decisions.

Q124 Ms Stuart: ...Do you think that all of that confusion in the mind of the international community added to a process where the policy essentially was decided and governments were just looking for evidence to support it?

Clare Short: No, I do not think there was any confusion in the mind of the international community. I think there were two different strategies. I think that the willingness to use force and the determination of the US to do so helped to get us 1441. That was a difference and I personally think that we needed to resolve the Iraq crisis, so I am with those who say that it was a good to bring it to a head, but that got us to 1441 and unanimity was remarkable, including Syria. Of course Syria was pressed by a lot of Arab countries, and being there as a rotating member it was representing the Arab world, to co-operate because the Arab world was very keen for the thing to be resolved by the international community without all-out war if at all possible, and I think most members of the Security Council really hoped that inspection and Blix would work. I think the US wanted to go to war in the spring and the UK, I now think, had pre-committed to that timetable. I thought then that we were trying to use our friendship with the US to hold the international community together and see post-1441, which was a great achievement, if we could move forward with full international co-operation, and 64 ballistic missiles were destroyed. That is no small thing. This is the delivery mechanism for the chemical and biological weapons, so I think we were getting a lot of success and then it was truncated, and that is the tragedy. We never found out whether Blix could have been more successful, and we could have looked at a sanctions lift, we could have looked at indicting Saddam Hussein, and I thought that was the route Britain was on, but now I think Britain was never on that route and that was the difference. We have to remember with Jeremy Greenstock, who is a very, very, very fine diplomat, he receives telegrams giving him instructions and that is the process with the UN, so even a guy of his seniority all the time, over every country in Africa and so on, instructions are issued from London, so where he says that we could not get agreement because one country would not agree, he has got instructions. You know, he has been appointed today to be the UK representative in Baghdad. I wonder whether he has volunteered for his penance. He was going into retirement. He is taking over from John Sawers.

Q125 Ms Stuart: I think you repeatedly said that the Prime Minister deceived you, the Cabinet and Parliament - deceived you deliberately or deceived you on the basis of wrong information?

Clare Short: I believe that the Prime Minister must have concluded that it was honourable and desirable to back the US in going for military action in Iraq and that it was, therefore, honourable for him to persuade us through the various ruse and devices he used to get us there, so I presume that he saw it as an honourable deception...

Q129 Mr Pope: ...You appear to be concluding that the Prime Minister has misled us on at least two occasions, first, by exaggerating the threat posed by the weapons and, secondly, you were saying that he agreed with President Bush a timetable for war as early as 9 September of last year. First of all, can you confirm that those are the allegations because I think those are incredibly serious allegations to make against a minister? Secondly, you were telling us earlier on that you had access to pretty much all the bits of the intelligence data, so I was wondering if you could tell us how you tried to use that intelligence data to restrain what you must have seen at the time was the Prime Minister deceiving Parliament?

Clare Short: It is an incredibly serious thing to conclude that your Prime Minister has been misleading you and Parliament, so when the Prime Minister kept assuring me personally and saying to the House and Cabinet that he was going for a second Resolution, if you remember, he said quite often, "And I am sure we will get one unless one fickle country might veto", but I believed in that strategy and I believed in that role for the UK, so despite people saying to me that a date had been fixed, which very senior people did say, I still was going along with believing in the strategy. However, examining everything that happened and what happened to the Blix process and the views of all of the other countries involved and the people who work in the UN system, my conclusion is the sad conclusion that I have reached and it is even worse than that because I think that this way of making the decision led to the lack of proper preparation for afterwards and I think that a lot of the chaos, disorder and mess in Iraq flowed from not having made the decision properly and made the preparations properly. However, let me say because my former Department were getting clearer and clearer about Geneva Convention obligations and at first we were the only one with the military there, our military took very seriously and started ordering food and preparing for their Geneva Convention obligations and did a lot better in Basra than US troops did in Baghdad, but this unit, which was set up in the Pentagon to govern Iraq after the conflict, was not properly prepared for its duties, so I think this way of making the decision on top of the allegations about misleading us all are a large part of the explanation of the very bad situation in Iraq now and that is what I am saying.

Q130 Mr Pope: Could I briefly ask you about the intent here. I can see what you are saying, but it seems to me that there is a different way of looking at this, that the Prime Minister genuinely believed that Iraq posed a threat, that he desperately wanted the second Resolution not just in terms of the wider international community, but in terms of domestic politics, and he must have been devastated when he failed to secure a second Resolution and it made life much more difficult for him and actually he has acted honourably in all of this. If he has misled the House of Commons or the public, it was not his intention.

Clare Short: You have to ask if you reach that conclusion, and I agree that is a possible conclusion, why Blix could not have more time. The only thing we were told on that was that we could not leave the troops in the desert, but you can rotate troops and you can bring some home, so you can do that. A lot was at stake here, and the Prime Minister did try very hard after the failure of the first Resolution that they tabled at US/UK/Spain simply saying 1441 was not fulfilled and they could not get support for that and despite ministers going to Africa and so on and the US trying to press Chile and Mexico, they just could not get the majority for that, so the Prime Minister tried for this Chilean so-called compromise with the six points that would be required to be fulfilled if Blix was to be successful, including Saddam Hussein going on television, if you remember that discussion, but he was saying then, "I could get the US to give us a few more days", and it was still March, so this is the thing which drives me to my conclusion, that there had to be military action by March at the latest. Now, that, I think, closed down any prospect of a second Resolution and then we were misled about what France was saying. I do not like this conclusion, but I think the facts lead you here when you scrutinise it all and, as I say, I can only assume that the Prime Minister thought, "Saddam Hussein needs to be dealt with. This is an honourable thing to do and I've got to use my influence and my persuasive powers to get us there". There is a legal problem then...

III. 'A mistake was made within the drafting process'

Oral evidence Taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee, June 25, 2003, Excerpts. Witness: MR ALASTAIR CAMPBELL, Director of Communications and Strategy, 10 Downing Street, examined.

Q897 Chairman: ...First, some preliminary questions. Mr Campbell, looking back now, is there anything that you did which you regret?

Mr Campbell: In relation to the briefing paper that was issued in February 2003 I obviously regret the fact that a mistake was made within the drafting process whereby ----

Q898 Chairman: A mistake? ...

Mr Campbell: The mistake was as follows: in relation to the second paper, the paper that was issued in February 2003, the idea for that came from a group that I chair, continue to chair, and have chaired for some time now, called the Iraq Communications Group. That is comprised of people from the Foreign Office, from the MoD, from DFID, from the intelligence agencies, it is comprised of people from the unit that we can come on to discuss, the CIC. During January at one of those meetings the intelligence agencies gave information that had come to light, new information, which was releasable in the public domain, and they gave permission for that to be done, about the scale of the Iraqi apparatus that was working against the interests of the United Nations' weapons inspectors. In other words, the efforts that the Iraqis were making to prevent the weapons inspectors from doing their job. It was interesting. It was information, for example, about the fact that...

Q902 Chairman: What was the mistake?

Mr Campbell: This was discussed over a period of about three weeks at these weekly meetings that I chair. The mistake that was made was around about 20 January what had happened was this: I had asked the CIC to prepare a draft paper, at this stage we were not exactly clear about how we were going to deploy that paper, I can come on to how we did deploy it in the end, ----

Q903 Chairman: Colleagues will no doubt come in on that.

Mr Campbell: What happened was I commissioned the CIC to begin drafting a paper which would incorporate the intelligence material, some of the intelligence material that had been authorised for use in the public domain, and other information about this theme, the whole theme of Iraq being configured as a state and its state apparatus designed to conceal weapons of mass destruction from the United Nations' weapons inspectors. The CIC then asked around the system if you like, the Foreign Office, MoD, other Government departments that may have an interest in this area, for any papers that they had on this, information that they might have on this in their research departments. People talk about this 12 year old PhD thesis, it was not a 12 year old PhD thesis, ----

Q904 Chairman: What was the mistake?

Mr Campbell: I will come to the mistake but I think it is important that I explain the background because this is how the mistake happened. During that process the Foreign Office research department sent this journal from September 2002 by Dr al-Marashi, who you interviewed recently. That then went to the CIC. At that point within the CIC work from that paper was taken and absorbed into the draft that was being prepared within the CIC. That was the mistake, without attribution.

Q905 Chairman: So the mistake in the February document was to transpose that learned article without attribution?

Mr Campbell: It was to take parts of that article and put them into the draft that was being developed without attribution...

Mr Campbell: On the day that the mistake was revealed, first on Channel 4 and then on BBC Newsnight, and Dr al-Marashi went on to the media, the following day - this indicates how seriously we took it - I spoke to the security intelligence co-ordinator, I spoke to the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I spoke to the head of the Secret Intelligence Service, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee to explain that something had gone wrong. Equally, the other thing that we did was the Prime Minister's spokesman on behalf of the Prime Minister at a briefing that day acknowledged that mistakes had been made and we said that this should not have happened, and obviously subsequent to that we sought to establish what had happened...

Mr Campbell: I accept there is a palpable difference between somebody writing for a journal like the Middle East Review and somebody's material being used in a British Government paper. I should just emphasise on that, the criticism at the time was that we did not acknowledge him, not that we did. At the time of publication, with the exception of people within the CIC, nobody knew that that was where it came from.

Q915 Chairman: Do you accept that the effect of that 3 February dossier was to cast doubts on the credibility of the rather more important dossier of 24 September?

Mr Campbell: Only if Parliament and the public were to view them in exactly the same light. What I mean by that is that they were very, very different in their scale, in their breadth and in their intended impact.

Q916 Chairman: So it is less important as to whether one was well-founded?

Mr Campbell: No, I did not say that. The dossier in September 2002 was one of the most important pieces of work developed during the entire build-up to the conflict.

Q917 Chairman: And its impact could have been reduced by the rather slapdash negligent way of putting together the February document?

Mr Campbell: I do not accept that because I think the two have to be seen in isolation. The dossier of September 2002 was put together, as I say, over many months, it had the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee in the lead on every aspect of its production, and it was a serious, thorough piece of work setting out why it was so vital to tackle Saddam and WMD. The second paper was not.

Q918 Chairman: It was not a serious piece of work?

Mr Campbell: No, the second paper was not vital to the case of why we had to deal with Saddam and WMD.

Q919 Chairman: Do you accept it was a "complete Horlicks"?

Mr Campbell: I accept that a mistake was made and I accept that it was right that we apologised for that mistake, and I think I have identified where the mistake was made.

Q920 Chairman: Do you feel now that you regret publishing it in the first place?

Mr Campbell: I think the idea of a paper setting out, as it sought to do, the scale of Saddam Hussein's apparatus of concealment and intimidation against the UN was a good thing to do. It should not have happened in the way that it did. I have explained as best as I can, having gone over it, why that happened. The reality is that had it not happened like that it would have been a perfectly good thing to do, but it did happen like that...

Q922 Sir John Stanley: Mr Campbell, I have to say I found some of the answers you gave to the Chairman less than credible. First of all, I must put to you your suggestion that the issue of concealment was some sort of peripheral issue as far as Members of Parliament were concerned in deciding whether or not to support the Government is wholly unfounded. The issue of concealment was absolutely central. The issue was why could the weapons inspectors not find the weapons of mass destruction and was it worthwhile going on pursuing that particular avenue of search. The Government's justification for the war was that we could not rely on further time being given to the weapons inspectors because of the programme of concealment. I have to put it to you that the judgment you have gained that the issue of concealment was peripheral, I think was profoundly mistaken.

Mr Campbell: I did not say the issue of concealment was peripheral, I said that paper was not remotely as significant as the dossier in September 2002. The dossier in 2002 attracted, I think I am right in saying, more interest around the world. Number 10, the Foreign Office and the BBC websites virtually collapsed on the day. It had a massive print run. It was the product of months and months of detailed work with the intelligence agencies. It was a huge break with precedent. It was a very important document. The briefing paper in February was given to six journalists on a plane to America. The reason that it was subsequently put into the House was to inform MPs on it because the Prime Minister, as you may recall, was in America at the time and was returning to make a statement on his talks with President Bush. I am not saying the issue of concealment was not hugely important, I am saying that that briefing paper was not nearly as significant as the dossier.

Q923 Sir John Stanley: You have just touched on the second reason why I found your initial answer less than credible. You said that you were unaware, apparently, of this mistake, that you believed the so-called 'dodgy dossier', the one which in your memorandum you said you conceived, so it is your 'dodgy dossier', was a dossier which had the same intelligence veracity, the same level of intelligence approval as the original September document.

Mr Campbell: No, I did not say that.

Q924 Sir John Stanley: You said you assumed it was a document on all fours with the previous one. You said that in answer to the Chairman.

Mr Campbell: No. The procedures that the dossier of September 2002 went through were wholly different from those of February 2003, that is why as a result we have actually put in place new procedures about how intelligence material is handled in any documents put into the public domain.

Q925 Sir John Stanley: So you knew that the procedures that had been followed were wholly different from the ones that were followed for the September dossier?

Mr Campbell: Not until the mistake was exposed by the media.

Q926 Sir John Stanley: Mr Campbell, you are responsible as the Director of Government Communications not merely for what goes on inside Number 10 but also for the CIC unit inside the Foreign Office. You cannot seriously pretend to this Committee that you did not know the procedures that were being followed for the clearance or not of the second 'dodgy dossier'?

Mr Campbell: I am well aware of what the procedures were. I am simply saying to you that the procedures were different. On the dossier of September 2002 the lead person was the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, it was produced by the Joint Intelligence Committee; the dossier in February was not. The point I am making, and that I have made in the memorandum I have given to you, is a mistake was made within the CIC. I was not aware that had been done until Channel 4 and then Newsnight revealed that. I had never heard of Dr al-Marashi, nor had the other people who had commented on the paper. The changes that the Chairman referred to on the text were made by people thinking they were making changes to make more accurate a Government draft.

Q927 Sir John Stanley: So you are saying to the Committee now, which is confirming what the Committee's evidence is, that you were aware of the different procedures and when the document came to you for final putting to the Prime Minister, you were aware that it had not been through the normal intelligence clearance processes?

Mr Campbell: It had been through the procedures as they existed at that time. We put in place new procedures thereafter. The difference is that the Joint Intelligence Committee Chairman was responsible for the production of the WMD dossier in 2002, the second one I was responsible for as the Chairman of the group which commissioned it. The intelligence agency which provided intelligence for use in the public domain had authorised its use in the normal way as the procedures existed at that time. It was a result of the mistake in the way that it was made that subsequent to that we agreed new procedures so that anything with an intelligence input has to be cleared by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

Q928 Sir John Stanley: When you briefed the Prime Minister before he made his statement in the House on 3 February, did you tell the Prime Minister that the document which he as Prime Minister was placing in the Library of the House, the 'dodgy dossier' that day, had neither been seen in draft or in final form by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee?

Mr Campbell: There was no need for the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee to see it under the procedures as they were then.

Q929 Sir John Stanley: That is not the question I put to you, Mr Campbell.

Mr Campbell: The answer is no, because it did not arise.

Q930 Sir John Stanley: The answer is no.

Mr Campbell: The answer is no, because it did not arise. There was no need for the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee to see something which the issuing agency had already cleared for public use properly, according to the procedures as they were then, for public use in that document...

Q938 Sir John Stanley: As you know, Mr Campbell, the clear inadequacy of your briefing of the Prime Minister led the Prime Minister to - I am sure inadvertently - very seriously mislead the House of Commons on February 3. The Prime Minister said, and I will quote it in full: "We issued further intelligence over the weekend about the infrastructure of concealment. It is obviously difficult when we publish intelligence reports, but I hope that people have some sense of the integrity of our security services. They are not publishing this or giving us this information, making it up, it is the intelligence that they are receiving and we are passing it on to people".

Mr Campbell: That is wholly accurate.

Q939 Sir John Stanley: Every Member of the House of Commons who heard that would have been in no doubt that this second dossier was taken through the full JIC process, had JIC approval, had full JIC status. In fact, as we know, it was very largely simply culled off the Internet and the House of Commons a few weeks later took a decision on whether or not to go to war on this country and this particular document was an element in that decision. That was a very, very grave failure of briefing of the Prime Minister by yourself, I suggest, Mr Campbell. Do you acknowledge that to be the case now?

Mr Campbell: I think that is a very, very grave charge and I think it is one that I reject. If you look at the front cover of the document: "The report draws upon a number of sources, including intelligence material, and shows how the Iraqi regime is constructed to have and to keep WMD and is now engaged in a campaign of obstruction of the UN weapons inspectors". That is accurate. In relation to the processes with the intelligence agencies, the SIS - the lead agency on this - volunteered the information for public use. They were content for it to be used in this paper. The reason I keep coming back to the difference between the two things is the JIC process that you describe in relation to the first and the most substantial report, that was a JIC document, it was produced by the Joint Intelligence Committee; this was a briefing paper produced by the team that I chair. The Prime Minister put it into the House, he did not present it in the same way. If you recall with the first report, Parliament was recalled for the Prime Minister to make a statement and a debate to be held upon it. The procedures for that were different. The procedures that have now been put in place have been strengthened so that the procedures that applied to the WMD dossier of September 2002 now apply to all documents with an intelligence input. That was a change that I was instrumental in putting in place after this mistake in the CIC was exposed.

Q940 Sir John Stanley: Mr Campbell, do you not recognise that a hugely greater area of mistake resulted than simply the indefensible plagiarisation of material off the Internet? The hugely greater mistake that resulted in parliamentary and constitutional terms was your total failure to brief the Prime Minister correctly as to the process that had been used, the fact that none of this material had come through with the Joint Intelligence Committee Chairman's approval, and the House of Commons was left under the illusion, as indeed was the Prime Minister, that in terms of the authenticity and reliability of this information it came with the JIC seal of approval on it when that was not the case?

Mr Campbell: The Prime Minister did not say it was with the JIC seal of approval and as the Prime Minister made clear in the ---

Q941 Sir John Stanley:"... issued further intelligence over the weekend"; did any Member of Parliament think that did not mean something with JIC approval?

Mr Campbell: I think any Member of Parliament would recognise the difference between a document such as that one, with the detail that is in it and the kind of production that it is and the way that it was put out at the time, as I say, as part of a massive, global communications exercise, and this paper that was given to a few Sunday journalists travelling with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, as he made clear again in the House today, was content with the paper as it was. What he is not content with, and nor am I, is the fact that in its production a mistake was made. We have acknowledged that mistake, we have apologised for that mistake and we have put forward these new procedures to make sure it does not happen again, and I do not honestly see there is much more that we can do than that...

Q982 Richard Ottaway: Mr Campbell, the Prime Minister today and you this afternoon have said that every word of both the dossiers is true. As you are well aware, the September 02 document has nine main conclusions of the current position, one of which is that uranium had been sought in Africa and had no civil nuclear application in Iraq. Are you still saying that is true?

Mr Campbell: I am saying that is the intelligence that the JIC put forward. I am not an intelligence expert and my position on this is if something comes across my desk that is from John Scarlett and the JIC, if it is good enough for him, it is good enough for me.

Q983 Richard Ottaway: Given that the documents on which that claim was based have been passed to the International Atomic Energy Authority and found to be false, have the JIC notified you they had doubts about this?

Mr Campbell: I am aware of the issue. I am equally aware, and this is probably something best raised with the JIC than with myself, that the JIC say it does not necessarily negate the accuracy of the material they, the JIC, put forward.

Q984 Richard Ottaway: You are saying rather what the Foreign Secretary said yesterday and saying this is not my claim, we are just passing on intelligence here.

Mr Campbell: I am certainly not and the reason why I say if it is good enough for John Scarlett it is good enough for me is that I completely accept the integrity and professionalism of their process.

Q985 Richard Ottaway: As far as you are aware, he is still standing by that claim?

Mr Campbell: As far as I aware the claim he puts in this document, whilst I understand there is this issue to do with forgeries, my understanding (and again this is something that is not necessarily my expertise) is that that is not British intelligence material that is being talked about.

Q986 Richard Ottaway: The second main conclusion that is being queried is the 45-minute point, which you have dealt with quite extensively in your memorandum. The Foreign Secretary made a similar point yesterday about the 45 minutes. Are you saying the same today that this is what the intelligence people are telling you and it must be true?

Mr Campbell: When the first draft of the September 2002 dossier was presented to Number 10, I think I am right in saying that was the first time I had seen that and again, as I say, having seen the meticulousness and the care that the Chairman of the JIC and his colleagues were taking in the whole process, I really did not think it was my place, to be perfectly frank, to say, "Hold on a minute, what is this about?" What is completely and totally and 100 per cent untrue - and this is the BBC allegation, which is ostensibly I think why the Chairman called me on this - what is completely and totally untrue is that I in any way overrode that judgment, sought to exaggerate that intelligence, or sought to use it in any way that the intelligence agencies were not 100 per cent content with...

Q990 Richard Ottaway: Can I suggest it is Parliament that took the country into war.

Mr Campbell: The allegation against me is that we helped the Prime Minister persuade Parliament and the country to go into conflict on the basis of a lie. I think that is a pretty serious allegation. It has been denied by the Prime Minister, it has been denied by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, it has been denied by the Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator and it has been denied by the heads of the intelligence agencies involved, and yet the BBC continue to stand by that story.

Q991 Richard Ottaway: You believe that time will prove you right on that one?

Mr Campbell: I know that we are right in relation to that 45-minute point. It is completely and totally untrue, and I do not use this word ---

Q992 Richard Ottaway: I am talking about the substance.

Mr Campbell: It is actually a lie.

Q993 Richard Ottaway: You are being accused of being involved in its insertion in the document. I am quizzing you on its veracity.

Mr Campbell: I am saying in relation to that if it is good enough for the Joint Intelligence Committee, it is good enough for me. I am not qualified to question their judgement upon it but I have seen and been privy to the kind of processes and the meticulousness with which they approach that. When you have a situation when all of those people, from the Prime Minister down, the Foreign Secretary, the FCO Permanent Secretary, the heads of all the agencies deny a story and the BBC persist in saying it is true, persist in defending the correspondent whom you took evidence from last week, when I know and they know that it is not true, I think something has gone very wrong with the way that these issues are covered.

Q994 Richard Ottaway: One of you is wrong.

Mr Campbell: I know who is right and who is wrong. The BBC are wrong. We have apologised in relation to Dr al-Marashi and I think it is about time the BBC apologised to us in relation to the 45-minute point.

Q995 Richard Ottaway: I will leave that to the BBC, if you do not mind. Can I move on, in the preparation of the September 2002 document did the Government ever receive any information from the intelligence services that Iraq was not an immediate threat?

Mr Campbell: Sorry, can you just repeat that point?

Q996 Richard Ottaway: Did the Government ever receive any information from intelligence services that Iraq was not an immediate threat?

Mr Campbell: Not to my knowledge. I really do think that is a question for the intelligence agencies...

Q1007 Mr Pope: Thank you, Chairman. Mr Campbell, the charges against you really are of the gravest nature: that you exaggerated the evidence to persuade a reluctant Parliament to vote for a war which was not popular. We heard in evidence from Mr Gilligan of the BBC last week and he alleged that you transformed the original September dossier, and if I can just quote what he said in evidence, my "source's claim was that the dossier had been transformed in the week before it was published and I asked" - that is Gilligan - "'So how did this transformation happen?', and the answer was a single word, which was 'Campbell'". That is an incredibly damaging allegation. Could you comment on its veracity?

Mr Campbell: As I explained earlier, the story that I "sexed up" the dossier is untrue: the story that I "put pressure on the intelligence agencies" is untrue: the story that we somehow made more of the 45 minute command and control point than the intelligence agencies thought was suitable is untrue: and what is even more extraordinary about this whole episode is that, within an hour of the story first being broadcast, it was denied, emphatically: it then continued. We were in Kuwait at the time - the Prime Minister was about to get a helicopter to Basra - it was denied: the story kept being repeated: the following day the BBC returned to it and it was denied - by now we were in Poland and I remember being called out of a breakfast with the Prime Minister and the Polish Prime Minister because I had asked to speak to John Scarlett, the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, just to absolutely double/triple check that there was nothing in this idea that the intelligence agencies were somehow unhappy with the way that we behaved during the thing and that there was no truth at all that anybody at the political level put pressure on the 45 minute point and John said, "Absolutely. It is complete and total nonsense and you can say that with my authority". Then the Prime Minister had to come out of the breakfast with the Polish Prime Minister; he was about to do a press conference about the Polish EU referendum campaign and, of course, the British media are all asking about this lie, which is what it was.

Q1008 Mr Pope: On the 45 minutes, what you have refuted up until now is the allegation that you inserted the 45 minute claim into the dossier and I am trying to make a different point which is that there is an allegation not that you inserted it but you gave it undue prominence; that this was a background piece of information; it was based on a single piece of uncorroborated intelligence advice and yet it was given undue prominence. It is mentioned in the foreword by the Prime Minister and it is mentioned three other times throughout the document and it is a chilling allegation - that our troops in Cyprus or our troops perhaps if they went into Iraq could face a 45 minute threat of the deployment of a chemical attack?

Mr Campbell: Well, it is true that when the BBC representative came to the Committee last week he claimed that all he had ever alleged was that we had "given it undue prominence". I am afraid that is not true. What he said last week was not true. It was a complete backtrack on what he had broadcast and written about in the Mail on Sunday, The Spectator and elsewhere. Now the reason why I feel so strongly that we, the government, from the Prime Minister down deserve an apology about this story is it has been made absolutely clear not just by me - you can put me to one side and I am well aware of the fact that I am defined in a certain way by large parts of the media, but when you put in the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the Head of the Secret Intelligence Service, the Government Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator all saying emphatically "This story is not true" and the BBC defence correspondent on the basis of a single anonymous source continues to say that it is true, then I think something has gone very wrong with BBC journalism.

Q1009 Mr Pope: Are you saying that he lied not just to the Committee but on the radio? I have the transcript of the Today programme of 4 June. He said, "The reason why this story has run so as long" - and this is a direct quote - "is nobody has actually ever denied the central charge made by my source".

Mr Campbell: The denial was made within an hour of the lie being told on the radio. Now, I am not suggesting that he has not had somebody possibly say something to him but whatever he has been told is not true, and I think in relation to the briefing paper, when that mistake was discovered, we put our hands up and said "There is a mistake here" and we found out where it happened and we dealt with it, and I would compare and contrast with an organisation which has broadcast something - not just once but hundreds of times since - that is a lie.

Q1010 Mr Pope: And on the other charge that you pressurised the intelligence agencies to exaggerate the evidence, that is also a lie?

Mr Campbell: Totally untrue and what is more, again, the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the Head of SIS, the Intelligence and Security Co-ordinator have all authorised me to say with their full support that is not true...

Q1016 Mr Pope: Just finally, do you share the Foreign Secretary's assessment that the second dossier in hindsight was a mistake? In fact, a complete Horlicks?

Mr Campbell: I certainly accept it was a mistake. You and he both support Blackburn and maybe you drink Horlicks down there but I think down the road in the rather less effete Burnley they will probably say it is a storm in a teacup - or drink Bovril...

Mr Campbell: No. This is often described as a dossier that was used to "make the case for war". Now, it actually was not. It was a dossier that was produced to set out the reason why the British government were so concerned about the issue and the Joint Intelligence Committee put together its best assessment of that situation. What it did not do then was speculate as to how these might be used, the sort of damage that they might do, and I think if it had been that sort of document we would have fallen foul of the criticism that we were trying to exaggerate, alarm. If we were suddenly to say, "With this much of anthrax you could do this" - there were other pieces of communication around the system that were doing that kind of thing but this was not one of them.

Q1039 Mr Chidgey: But those assessments must have been made because you say the dossier is not making the case for what we were considering but we were clearly considering that as an option, so assessments must have been made of what the impact of the capability that it was claimed Iraq had or Saddam Hussein had on our troops or armed forces. That must all have been done.

Mr Campbell: Again, I cannot recall that there was a discussion about developing the document in the way that you are suggesting. It think it was always envisaged as this kind of document.

Q1040 Mr Chidgey: You are aware that in evidence yesterday the Foreign Secretary - I think his phrase was that the document did make "the best case"?

Mr Campbell: It made the best case, our best assessment of the state of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction --

Q1041 Mr Chidgey: Not the best case for going to war?

Mr Campbell: It is not that sort of document...

Q1091 Mr Maples: Could we move on to the dossier of the weapons of mass destruction because I want to put to you that we were told by two of our witnesses, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones who is a former Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and a former Australian intelligent agent, that this document did not read like a Joint Intelligence Committee assessment. The language was not like a Joint Intelligence Committee assessment, and there may be perfectly acceptable explanations for that but the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments tended to be full of qualifications and ambiguities, and "maybe this" and "perhaps that" and equivalents, whereas the document, at least in its executive summary, is much more certain. I do not know if you are aware of the document that was published in 1998 before Desert Fox, and again this is published over the name of Derek Fatchett, the minister at the Foreign Office at the time and is an intelligent assessment, and I want to quote to you two short lines from it: "The Iraqi chemical industry could produce mustard gas almost immediately and limited amounts of nerve gas within months" - "could" - "Saddam almost certainly retains some BW production equipment, stocks of agents and weapons". But in the summary to this document, admittedly four years later, we have, "Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes". The language is much more definite. What Dame Pauline Neville-Jones said to us is to have been able to go from one to the other there would have to be some new piece of intelligence which really substantiated in a much harder form the second statement, because it is not fundamentally different but certainly different in quality to the first, and I wonder if you saw such intelligence which justified the making of a much stronger claim?

Mr Campbell: I am not intimately acquainted with the Derek Fatchett paper but if you go back to the whole background to the WMD dossier of September 2002 I think the Prime Minister said publicly that one of the reasons why he wanted to do this was because there was continuing new intelligence that he was seeing that made him feel there was a growing threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme. Now, again, it is not for me to talk about the intelligence or the assessments that are made by the Joint Intelligence Committee but I can only assume that, if there was a change in position, it was as a result of new intelligence which, as the Prime Minister said, was crossing his desk the whole time.

Q1092 Mr Maples: But would you agree the language is different, it is more definite in this dossier? There is another point too, if you look at what is actually said in the dossier the Government published in September, it said, "The JIC concluded that Iraq had sufficient expertise, equipment and material to produce biological warfare agents within weeks using its legitimate bio-technology facilities", and that, "The JIC assessed that Iraq retained some chemical warfare agents, precursors, production equipment and weapons from before the Gulf War. These stocks would enable Iraq to produce significant quantities of mustard gas within weeks and of nerve agents within months." But in the summary that has become, "Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents." I suggest to you that the summary is a much stronger statement than actually what the main body of the document says. Can I give you another example before you respond to that. On the 45 minutes piece on page 19 of the dossier it says, and this it seems to me is a much lower degree of certainty remark, "Intelligence indicates ..." - not, "The JIC has concluded" -"... that the Iraqi military are able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes." The summary says, "Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes." I am putting to you that there are three respects in which the summary is, I would suggest, almost fundamentally different from what the body of the document suggests.

Mr Campbell: All I can say to you on that is that the executive summary - and this goes for the entire document - was the product of the pen of the Joint Intelligence Committee chairman. So if these are intelligence judgments that he is putting into the dossier, that is because they are the best assessment of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Again, I do not think it is for me to sit and do textual analysis on them. That document was the document which was presented to us. The changes we made in relation to it had nothing to do with the overriding intelligence assessments. I think the point you are trying to put to me is that the executive summary was harder than the body of the text. All I know is that the Joint Intelligence Committee chairman stands by every word of the document.

Q1093 Mr Maples: That may be, but it does not necessarily belie the point I am making. The Prime Minister in his introduction says, "The document published today is based, in large part, on the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee" ----

Mr Campbell: Yes, a lot of it, for example, is UNSCOM reports. There is reference to (inaudible) The JIC imprimatur is on this but it is not as if this issue just sort of started in September 2002.

Q1094 Mr Maples: We know how Government documents are prepared, somebody prepares a draft, it is circulated, points go in and I am perfectly prepared to accept what you say that the first draft came from the JIC and the final product was signed off by them, but I suggest that when you said, "I had several discussions with the chairman of the JIC on presentational issues and made drafting suggestions", you had some responsibility for the sort of things I was saying.

Mr Campbell: I can say that is not the case. As I pointed to in earlier exchanges, there were points that I raised, on some of them the Joint Intelligence Committee chairman would say, "That is absolutely fine, I have no trouble with that at all", on others he would say, "We cannot say that because it would not be our best assessment" or "In fact I think the way we have done it is better." It was that kind of discussion. It was, as presented as a first draft, a very good and thorough piece of work. So I do not accept the premise, I am afraid.

Q1095 Mr Maples: The problem with this is that when this document was produced everybody, even your political opponents like me, believed it because here is the Government publishing something which is the product of the Joint Intelligence Committee and we believed it. Then along comes the dodgy dossier and it turns out to be certainly not what it said but an amateurish, irresponsible and misleading piece of work, and it was presented by the Prime Minister to Parliament as the product of the intelligence services, and we all find out then what it was. Then we start to think, "Hang on, it casts this in doubt". That, I suggest, is the problem you have got. That incredibly amateurish, irresponsible, dodgy dossier is what has created your problem. I do not think people would give much time to the allegations that you and the people who work with you improved - to use a neutral word - this document if it had not been for the whole story of the dodgy dossier.

Mr Campbell: People can make whatever allegations they like, the serious allegation against me is that I abused intelligence, and that is a pretty serious allegation which we should take seriously and I hope I have made clear that with the authority of the intelligence community leadership I can say that is completely untrue. I made the point earlier that the second briefing paper got next to no coverage. It has had hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of words written about it since that one mistake within the CIC was made. As I said to you in my memorandum, I simply do not think that should be allowed to define the totality of a huge amount of communications which went on between the Prime Minister and the Government, Parliament and the public. I have given you one example, how many times have you heard on the television or the radio, "This report which was authored by four people working in my office". I have explained to you, that is simply not true. We have said to the media time and again it is not true, but they still run it...

Q1151 Sir John Stanley: Mr Campbell, you have made a very strong pitch on a personal basis for why you require an apology to yourself from the BBC.

Mr Campbell: It went beyond myself.

Q1152 Sir John Stanley: I would like to turn to another apology which I think is very seriously outstanding and on which you may wish to correct your evidence. If I heard you correctly you suggested the Government had made an apology to Mr al-Marashi. Mr al-Marashi's work was lifted off the internet without attribution, it was used in a highly political context to help make the Government's policy case for going to war against Iraq which was a matter which concerned him very greatly. His thesis or his article in the Middle East Review in certainly one crucial respect was substantially changed to suggest terrorist linkage between the Saddam Hussein intelligence agency and al-Qaeda which was not what he said in his Review article, and members of his family were endangered. I questioned him on the issue as to whether he had had an apology, "Has the Government made any expression of regret or apology to you for the plagiarisation of your thesis? Mr al-Marashi: I have never been contacted directly, either by phone call nor in writing, since February 2003 up to the present. Me: Do you think you might be owed an apology. Mr al-Marashi: I think the least they can do is owe me an apology." I do not believe he has received an apology, I think Mr Campbell you said earlier he had, I hope he will receive a personal apology from you.

Mr Campbell: As I say, I take responsibility for that paper. I have explained why the mistake was made. I am happy to send an apology to Dr al-Marashi on behalf of the entire communications team at No 10 and the CIC, I am happy to do that. As I said earlier, the moment this mistake was exposed by Channel 4 and subsequently by Dr al-Marashi himself on Newsnight, that next morning the Prime Minister's spokesman has never attempted to avoid it, hands up, it should not have happened, we are going to look at how it happened, we are going to put procedures in place and that has been done. I have no desire here at all to do anything other than deliver that apology and do that sincerely. If it would help to do that in writing to Dr al-Marashi, I am perfectly happy to do that.

Q1153 Sir John Stanley: I am sure he would appreciate that.

Mr Campbell: Fine. I noticed, when I read Dr al-Marashi's evidence, that one of the Committee members - I think it was Mr Pope - said he would be recommending that we did apologise, that the Committee would be seeking to recommend that we did apologise to Dr al-Marashi. I am happy to do that. If I can pray you in similar aid in relation to Mr Gilligan's story in the BBC, I would be very grateful.

Q1154 Sir John Stanley: Can I turn to what I think is a fundamental aspect of your evidence and your position. Do you recognise that the launching by you of the so-called dodgy dossier has done very, very serious damage to the wider perception of the veracity of the Government's case for prosecuting the war against Iraq?

Mr Campbell: I accept that is stated and I accept there may well be people who believe that. That is why I think it is important, as I have tried to do, to separate out the two documents, underline the significance of the first one, underline the responsibleness and thoroughness with which we in the intelligence agencies approached that, explain the difference in relation to the second one and its intended purposes and intended use. As I say again, we are involved in an awful lot of pieces of communication, as I have said several times, and when we make a mistake we hear about it for quite a long time. I actually do not think we have made that many mistakes. This was a mistake, this one we have acknowledged many, many times, it is one which the person responsible for making that mistake feels wretched about, and I know that because I work with the guy. Mistakes do get made. I just ask the Committee, as I have said in my note, to understand the wider context of the amount of communications work we are involved in in trying to deal on a really difficult complicated issue like this with different audiences around the world. We had strategies for the UK, for the Moslem community in the UK, for Europe, for Asia, for the United States, for the Middle East. I know people talk about, and John Maples has alluded to, the whole issue of this so-called explosion of special advisers in Downing Street, I have a pretty small team and, yes, I can call in some circumstances on resources across government, but in Downing Street I have a pretty small team. We do a lot of work and occasionally mistakes get made.

Q1155 Sir John Stanley: Can we continue on my particular line of questioning. It is a matter of concern to me that you still do not appreciate the fundamental issue which is ----

Mr Campbell: I do.

Q1156 Sir John Stanley: I am sorry, I do not believe you do, which is the relationship between the communications part of Government and intelligence. As you know, I was a ministerial recipient of intelligence for many years and there is one particular sentence I read in your memorandum which filled me with very considerable concern and it is the sentence which reads, in relation to the September 2002 dossier, "I had several discussions with the Chairman of the JIC on presentational issues arising from the dossier and, in common with other officials, made drafting suggestions as the document evolved." The most crucial aspect of the interface between intelligence and policy - and you, Mr Campbell, sit right down in the middle - is that intelligence helps to formulate policy and that policy never, never helps to formulate intelligence. The position which you have now made clear to the Committee, and I believe this is the first time this has come into the public domain, that you are in the business of making and drafting suggestions to the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, that in my judgment, unfair as this may be to you, is seriously going to compromise the integrity of such documents in the future, as indeed they have been compromised in the case of the two Iraq dossiers. You are a very, very skilled communicator, you are known universally as the Government's spin doctor, your business is to put the best possible presentation on the Government's policy, a perfectly bona fide role, everybody understands that, but I have to put it to you - and I do not put this to you in an offensive or personal way but in all seriousness because I share one thing in common with you, you said you were concerned to safeguard the integrity of the intelligence services and that is absolutely my position as well - as long as that policy in your paper is known, that you are in the business of making drafting suggestions to the chairman of the JIC, that Alastair Campbell's fingerprints are going to be on JIC source documents, I have to say I do not believe that is conducive to the integrity of the intelligence services.

Mr Campbell: I suspect that is because you may be not persuaded by my integrity in relation to the work that I do. That, if true, is obviously from my perspective regrettable. All I can say is that the memorandum that I submitted to you was seen by and cleared by the chairman of the JIC who had discussed it with the agencies. Like you, I think the intelligence agencies do an extraordinary job for the country, and the reason why I felt that the briefing paper mistake was so serious was because it did obviously lead to the controversy about which we are still talking. The reason why I moved so quickly to speak to the leadership of the intelligence community and to agree the new procedures now in place was because I do value that hugely. Provided the intelligence services and the leadership are satisfied with the role I play on behalf of the Prime Minister at his instruction, I think that is a perfectly proper thing to do.

Q1157 Sir John Stanley: My colleague, Mr Ottaway, yesterday asked the Foreign Secretary, "Do you think on balance it would be better not to have published it in the first place ...", referring to the dodgy dossier, and the Foreign Secretary replied, "Yes, given what happened --- Certainly it would have been better not to have published it in that form or if it was going to be published to have ensured that it went through the same rigorous procedures as the dossier that was published in September." Do you agree with the Foreign Secretary it would have been far better in hindsight for the Government if the second dossier, the dodgy dossier, had not been published?

Mr Campbell: Clearly.

Sir John Stanley: Thank you...

IV. 'It was authorised by the Prime Minister', Oral Evidence from Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, June 24

Witnesses: RT HON JACK STRAW, a Member of the House, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, SIR MICHAEL JAY KCMG, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and MR PETER RICKETTS CMG, Director General, Political, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, examined.


Q735 Sir John Stanley: Foreign Secretary, one of the central issues is whether the degree of immediacy of the threat from Saddam Hussein's regime that was conveyed to Parliament and to the wider public was justified on the basis of the intelligence information that was available to the Government. Central to this was the references in the September dossier to the 45 minute readiness of WMD to the Iraqi Armed Forces. As you know, Foreign Secretary, in the evidence the Committee has taken so far it has been alleged in Mr Andrew Gilligan's evidence, from the sources to which he referred, that the 45 minute element was a last minute insertion made for political presentations purposes and he associated that with the name of Alistair Campbell (who is before the Committee tomorrow). Would you like to respond to that allegation?

Mr Straw: It is completely untrue, it is totally untrue. I can go into more detail in the closed session, and will obviously be going into more detail before the Intelligence and Security Committee. Chairman, I wonder if I may be allowed to make this point in response to Sir John, so far as we can ascertain by word searches and so on, neither the Prime Minister nor I or anybody acting on our behalf has ever used the words "immediate or imminent" threat, never used those words, in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. What we talked about in the dossier was a current and serious threat, which is very different. The Prime Minister said on 24 September, the day this dossier was published in the House: ""I cannot say that this month or next, even this year or next, that Saddam will use his weapons". What we did say was that Saddam posed a serious threat to international peace and security. That is the exact wording from the Prime Minister's introduction to this document. Interestingly that judgment, not that there was an imminent or immediate threat but that there was a current and serious threat is also shared by the Security Council. Essentially what has been going on here is that some of our critics have tried to put into our mouths words and criteria we never, ever used. We did not use the phrase "immediate or imminent". Impending, soon to happen, as it were, about to happen today or tomorrow, we did not use that because plainly the evidence did not justify that. We did say there was a current and serious threat, and I stand by that judgment completely.

Q736 Sir John Stanley: Foreign Secretary, the Government did refer to the fact that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were available for deployment within 45 minutes of an order to use them and you made that statement yourself in your House speech of 21 February. The question I wish to put you is that the US Government showed no lack of readiness to pick up British intelligence information which they believed would be helpful to their particular case of justifying military intervention in Iraq. As you well know the British information in relation to uranium supplies to Iraq from Africa actually made it into President Bush's State of the Union address in January this year, even though it was subsequently found to be based on forged documentation. You have told the Committee - and all of the evidence we have suggests this is wholly correct - that at no time did the Americans ever touch with a barge pole the 45 minute statement being made by British ministers. That would seem to suggest that within the American intelligence and the political community they thought the intelligence basis for that statement was extremely unsound.

Mr Straw: Can I first of all say on the issue of the uranium yellow cake, the information that was subsequently found to be forged did not come from British sources. A number of people have suggested that it did, it simply did not come from British sources, nor was this information available at all to the British intelligence community at the time when this first document was put together. Of course the words were chosen carefully, we did not say that Iraq had obtained quantities of uranium, what we did say, this is page 6, is that Iraq had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it. As I hope to explain in the closed session on Friday, that information came from quite separate sources. Some background to that was that it is beyond peradventure that Iraq had at an earlier date imported 270 tonnes of yellow cake in the past, not at the time, that was not referring to that. So far as the 45 minutes is concerned I will check but I think that this intelligence was shared with the Americans.

Q737 Sir John Stanley: I did not question whether it was shared. It is striking that in the entire public statements of President Bush's Government there is not one single reference to that very, very important statement being made by the British Government?

Mr Straw: With great respect, I do not happen to regard the 45 minute statement having the significance which has been attached to it, neither does anybody else, indeed nobody round this table, if I say so with respect. It was scarcely mentioned in any of the very large number of debates that took place in the House, evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee, all of the times I was questioned on the radio and television, scarcely mentioned at all.

Q738 Sir John Stanley: It was highlighted in the foreword by the Prime Minister.

Mr Straw: Of course but so were many other things highlighted in the foreword. This is a perfectly legitimate avenue of enquiry for the Committee but it is quite important for people to appreciate the 45 minute claim that these weapons would be ready to deploy, some WMD would be ready to deploy - no reference to missiles, by the way, as some of your evidence-givers have suggested, none whatever - was part of the case. To suggest that was the burden of the case is frankly nonsense. This has only taken on a life of its own because of the subsequent claims that this particular section of the dossier was inserted in there not as a result of the properly acceptable procedures for intelligence but as a result, as Mr Gilligan claimed, that Alastair Campbell had put that in there apparently from nowhere. That is totally and completely untrue. I also wanted to say this, because it is very important to get this into perspective, the case for seeking the first resolution for the Security Council, which we eventually got on 8 November, then seeking to hold Saddam Hussein to the terms of that resolution and then when he palpably failed to do so, deciding to take military action stood regardless of whether this evidence of the 45 minutes was available or not. It is significant because if you look at all of the statements that were made in the House and elsewhere, certainly in the lead-up to the war, the 45 minute section was not mentioned. Why? Because there was other evidence, overwhelming evidence, open source evidence which was available which was subject to no dispute.

Q739 Sir John Stanley: Can I ask one final question in relation to the second dossier, the dodgy dossier? There are a number of questions I would like to put to Sir Michael perhaps this afternoon if other colleagues do not take them up. Foreign Secretary, when you came before the Committee on 4 March you were asked by Mr Mackinlay: "Who authorised the dodgy dossier in that parlance?" You replied: "On the issue of which ministers approved it it was approved by the Prime Minister". Just for the record, when you gave your response to the Committee in answer to our questions when you said: "No ministers were consulted in the preparation of the document", can you just confirm you meant no Foreign Office ministers were consulted in the preparation of the document?

Mr Straw: I was drawing a clear distinction between the Prime Minister and ministers. No minister in Government was consulted about the document, apart from the Prime Minister...

Mr Straw: I have made it clear from the moment I found out about this document, the procedure for putting it together was completely unsatisfactory. Let us put that aside. That is one issue. The second issue is notwithstanding the fact that the procedure was unsatisfactory did this second dossier say things which were not true. The answer to that is so far as the first and third sections were concerned is they said nothing that was untrue, it was both the first and the third sections, although they were not properly attributed, which were properly sourced and based in intelligence. The problem arose in respect of part two, which as everyone now knows was taken from a PhD thesis on the internet and there were some amendments made and this part was not properly attributed. It was not intelligence, it was about a description of the security apparatus of Saddam. A lot of the information even in the first dossier was taken from open sources, including things like UNSCOM and IAEA reports. The changes made should not have been made. If we pick up the key change that was made, where it says on page 9 of the dossier that the external activities of one of the security organisations includes "spying on Iraqi diplomats abroad", I think the original wording was "monitoring and supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes", the original wording was "opposition groups in hostile regimes". Those changes should not have been made but both statements happen nonetheless to be true. In respect of terrorist organisations, the most serious of changes being made, you do not need to go to the internet to know that the Iraqi regime at every level was actively right until the last supporting the Iranian-based but Iraqi-financed and supported terrorist organisation MEK, which everyone in this room voted to be banned as a terrorist organisation three years ago and was actively supporting rejectionist terrorist groups in Israel and the occupied territories, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, again which everyone in this room voted to ban as terrorist organisations...

Q753 Mr Chidgey: This is the foreword by the Prime Minister. I am really looking to know, do we know who actually drafted the executive summary from the body of the report and then the foreword because the language does seem to change?

Mr Straw: Is that the question?

Q754 Mr Chidgey: That is the question. Do you see my point?

Mr Straw: Yes. The Prime Minister signed the foreword...

Q767 Mr Olner: Foreign Secretary, how much importance do you think the Government should attach to having plans and things in place to ensure that the verification of any weapons of mass destruction finds are done completely away from and completely independently and completely transparently of the global community?

Mr Straw: If we are talking about physical evidence, It is obviously very important that any evidence that is found is subject to rigorous, independent examination. Of course we all recognise that. That said, I think the recent events show that the concern by the coalition is simply to arrive at the truth and nothing else and that is what we are seeking to do. It is as frustrating for us as it is for everybody else. There is a separate issue about the direct involvement of the IAEA and in particular UNMOVIC. As you will be aware, the terms of Resolution 1483, the latest Security Council Resolution on Iraq, said words to the effect that the Security Council would re-visit the role of UNMOVIC and the IAEA in Iraq, and again your two witnesses Dr Taylor and Dr Samore gave you quite good explanations as to why they thought the current environment was not an appropriate one for the civilian inspectors...

Q778 Mr Maples: Can I take you back for a couple of minutes to the so-called "dodgy dossier" and when that was first published on the internet. The names of the authors were given and I would like to take you through who they were and what their functions were. They were somebody called Alison Blackshaw, who is Alastair Campbell's PA; is that correct?

Mr Straw: I am sorry?

Q779 Mr Maples: There were four authors named in the file when the document was first put onto the internet. They were taken off pretty quickly afterwards but I want to take you through who they are and establish what their functions are. Alison Blackshaw was named as one. Is it correct that she is Alastair Campbell's PA?

Mr Straw: She is Alastair Campbell's PA, sure.

Q780 Mr Maples: Mutaza Khan was another. I understand he is the news editor of the Downing Street website and he works as part of the Strategic Communications Unit.

Mr Straw: I do not know him but I believe so.

Q781 Mr Maples: So he works essentially for Alastair Campbell as well?

Mr Straw: I think so.

Q782 Mr Maples: John Pratt, who I understand is a junior official in the Number 10 Strategic Communications Unit.

Mr Straw: If you say so, I do not know these people.

Q783 Mr Maples: He presumably works for Alastair Campbell as well. And a Foreign Office official you maybe can tell us about called Paul Hammill who at that time was working for the CIC which was at that time reporting directly to the Head of the Strategic Communications Unit as well, so all these four people were one way or another working for Alastair Campbell?

Mr Straw: One way or another, yes.

Q784 Mr Maples: Would it be fair to assume that Mr Campbell knew what they were doing?

Mr Straw: You will have to ask Mr Campbell that but he was supervising the operation of the CIC in his office.

Q785 Mr Maples: So he was supervising the production of this dodgy dossier?

Mr Straw: Mr Maples, there is a key problem about your question which is that as far as I know these four people were not involved in the production of the dossier.

Q786 Mr Maples: Then why were their names published with the original document as authors?

Sir Michael Jay: I do not know the answer as to why their names appeared on the website when the document was published. If I could just say a word about how the document was produced, Mr Maples. A group called the Iraq Communications Group, which is a group of senior officials which Mr Campbell chairs, commissioned a briefing paper for use with the media from the Communications Information Centre, the CIC, during the course of January. The CIC was charged with putting that document together and in order to do so sought information from different parts of the Whitehall machine, and that document was then put together by the CIC within the CIC.

Q787 Mr Maples: But you told us in answer to our questions that it reported to the Head of the Strategic Communications Unit, which is Mr Campbell, is it not?

Sir Michael Jay: The CIC reports to Mr Campbell...

Q817 Andrew Mackinlay: I want to ask you this: you said that the dodgy dossier was an acute embarrassment to the Government; it was also an acute embarrassment to those of us who supported the Government in the division lobbies, and would do so again tonight for other reasons. But it was an acute embarrassment and therefore we are legitimately angry. I thought we rather stopped Sir Michael's flow because he was opening out just what was the genesis of this document, who handled it and I really want to go back to that, either through you, Foreign Secretary or Sir Michael, directly. Who handled this, who were the authors, and did it go to the Prime Minister in his Red Box to be signed off? Did the Prime Minister see it?

Mr Straw: I think the short story, a perfectly obvious point and I will bring Sir Michael in on the particulars, is there are people who believe there is some kind of conspiracy behind this document which, as I say, was unsatisfactorily produced but, as I say, which is also very important, nothing in it of any seriousness is inaccurate but, yes, of course it is still an embarrassment.

Q818 Andrew Mackinlay: Of course, I understand.

Mr Straw: : There was no conspiracy behind it. It was not remotely in the Government's interest to produce a document with this provenance. To put it in the vernacular, it was a "complete Horlicks" in terms of the way it was produced.

Q819 Andrew Mackinlay: So how did it come to be produced?

Mr Straw: It should not have happened.

Q820 Andrew Mackinlay: How?

Mr Straw: It happened because it happened.

Andrew Mackinlay: I want to know who did it, why, who commissioned it and to whom did it go?

Q821 Chairman: A simple question.

Mr Straw: Mr Campbell commissioned it, I understand. The request went into the system and then it went back to him.

Q822 Andrew Mackinlay: Did it go to the Prime Minister? Do we know that?

Mr Straw: He will have to tell you. It was authorised by the Prime Minister. The other important thing to bear in mind about this, and in a sense this is the foundation of the error, is that it started its life as a briefing paper, as a background briefing paper, and, frankly, if what had happened to it was that in addition to parts one and three, whose provenance was clear, they said "Here, by the way, off the Internet is a PhD thesis from this fellow, we think it is correct but for a wider audience, here it is", end of story. At the time it got remarkably little coverage. It was touched on by the newspapers but, as far as I know, not covered at all by the broadcast media...

Q838 Richard Ottaway: I agree. You said earlier on that it was to the "sexed up" but you did admit that there were some changes made. Have you any idea why the changes were made?

Mr Straw: No, we have been trying to find out how and why these changes were made. As I say, the key change that was made, which was changing "opposition groups" to "terrorist organisations" and I think as a statement it was entirely justified for reasons I have explained because it is a matter of public knowledge that the Saddam regime was actively supporting MEK, this very unpleasant terrorist organisation targeting Iran, and Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, paying the families of suicide bombers and so on. However, it should not have been changed in that context, which of course led to the difficulties it has led to. A better way of doing it would have been to quote directly from the PhD thesis and then say, "Our judgment is they are not only supporting opposition groups they are also supporting terrorist organisations", but made it a clear where we were quoting and where we were using our own judgment...

Q845 Richard Ottaway: Do you still stand by the 45 minutes claim?

Mr Straw: It was not my claim. I stand by the integrity of the JIC. This is a really important point - really important. I stand by the integrity of the people on the Joint Intelligence Committee----

Q846 Richard Ottaway: Do you still believe the claim?

Mr Straw: ---- who made the assessment. I believe that they made the assessment properly. Let us be absolutely clear about this. This was not my claim in the sense that I simply got together a pile of documents and thought "That is a nice idea". This was intelligence which came into the agencies in the normal way and was then subject to assessment in the normal way and was made by the JIC. I accept the claim but did not make it...

Q848 Mr Illsley: In reference to the second dossier I think you said again a few moments ago that it was substantially correct. The Committee has received evidence from a Professor which goes through that document page by page and indicates that pages 6 to 16 are all taken from internet sources, and pages 2 to 5 relate to the claims made by Hans Blix to the UN Security Council, which are then contrasted with other claims with the suggestion that those claims are wrong. The numbers of soldiers in the document have been substantially increased. To give you one quote from it, the original article referred to forces being recruited from regions loyal to Saddam and comprise 10,000 to 15,000 "bullies and country bumpkins". In the document that was published by the Government this then became "10,000 to 15,000 bullies", so words have been omitted, words have been added. The whole context of some parts of this document have simply been mistakenly put in there. The changing of names of organisations like General Intelligence to Military Intelligence suggest in a Government document that an organisation was founded in 1992 apparently before it had been created. There are a whole series of inaccuracies which have been put to us by Professor Rangwala.

Mr Straw: I have already accepted that there are sections from the internet, particularly in respect of the PhD thesis, should not have been changed. We have been over this before. If there are basic points made in that document which are themselves inaccurate I have yet to hear them, and I will go through his particular evidence, but the basic points made in the document about the nature of the regime and its failure to comply with the weapons inspectors and security structures were accurate. That does not excuse a separate issue which was about the provenance of the document but nor should you produce the defects about providing provenance for the document as a reason for saying therefore the document was inaccurate...

Source: the UK Parliament website, http://www.parliament.uk.

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