Australian Intelligence Expert Quits - He's Against the War
suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Tue Mar 11 19:17:35 MST 2003
Australian Broadcasting Corp - ABC News
Resignation shows Govt ignoring advice over Iraq: Crean
The Federal Opposition has accused Prime Minister John Howard of ignoring
his advisers in pushing Australia towards war.
Former Office of National Assessments (ONA) intelligence analyst Andrew
Wilkie quit his job yesterday, saying the Federal Government's policy on
Iraq is wrong.
Mr Wilkie thinks Iraq's military is weak, it does not pose a serious threat
to Australia, and a war with Iraq could result in a humanitarian disaster.
Opposition leader Simon Crean says Mr Wilkie has shattered the Prime
Minister's credibility on Iraq at a critical time.
"We are on the brink of war, a war that the Prime Minister is prepared to
commit us to when there is no basis for going to war and the Prime Minister
has to come clean in his press club address tomorrow," Mr Crean said.
"He has to justify why he's so committed to going down the US path and I
hope that what this does is send a wake-up call to him."
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has questioned Mr Wilkie's seniority and
suggested he did not have access to all available information on Iraq but
Mr Crean disputes that.
"Not senior? This is a person who has had involvement on terrorism
briefings - we know that from the reports," Mr Crean said.
"He's also a person that according to the same reports was going to be put
on the Iraq taskforce if Australia went to war. Now don't tell me that's
not senior, don't tell me that's not connected."
The Federal Government says there is no division in the intelligence
community about its policy on Iraq.
Mr Downer says he has not heard Mr Wilkie's concerns expressed in all his
dealings with the ONA.
"In Mr Wilkie's case he is, I'm not sure how senior to be honest, I'm not
sure he's terribly senior in the media, he will be increasingly senior over
the next few days as is the way, but in any case I may have met him - I
don't remember meeting him but I could be wrong there," Mr Downer said.
But former Defence Department head, Paul Barratt, has told the ABC TV's
Lateline program there are many former and current defence personnel who
hold similar views.
"There is a community of people who keep in touch with each other and I
detect very wide spread sceptism about this whole endeavour," Mr Barratt
One of Mr Wilkie's former colleagues, David Wright-Nevill who left his job
as an ONA analyst a year ago and now runs the global terrorism centre at
Monash University has told ABC TV's Lateline program there are many in the
field who share his views.
"Just speaking to former colleagues, former contacts both in ONA and other
elements of the intelligence community, but also in defence and foreign
affairs, there's wide spread concerns that similar to Andrew's about the
direction in which the Government is taking us," Mr Wright-Nevill said.
"But for obvious reasons, particularly those in the intelligence community,
can't speak out about it.
"They know that when they join the intelligence community and so they just
bide their time and hold their tongue."
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