Last days at Hutton phase 1
rhh1 at nildram.co.uk
Fri Sep 5 12:48:21 MDT 2003
Intelligence chief: Dossier exaggerated the case for war
Iraqi weapons capability 'was not accurately represented'; concerns over
both content and source of key 45-minute claim
By Kim Sengupta, Paul Waugh and Ben Russell
04 September 2003
Tony Blair's case for invading Iraq was in tatters last night after damning
public criticism by two senior intelligence officials of the way the
September weapons dossier was manipulated by government "spin merchants".
Brian Jones, who headed the intelligence department dedicated to
investigating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme, told the Hutton
inquiry there was deep disquiet among his colleagues about the way
significant evidence they had supplied for the dossier was altered. He said
evidence in the dossier was "over-egged", the language was too strong and
there were misgivings over the now-infamous claim that Iraq could launch
weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes.
The other official, identified to the Hutton inquiry as "Mr A" and described
as the country's foremost authority on chemical warfare, disclosed how a
claim in the dossier about chemical weapons was inserted despite protests
from him and other experts. He wrote in an e-mail to David Kelly, whose
apparent suicide is being examined at the inquiry, that the dossier would
become "tomorrow's chip wrappers''. Mr A told the inquiry: "The perception
was that the dossier had been round the houses several times in order to
find a form of words that would strengthen certain political objectives.''
Day 14 is Blair's worst yet as focus falls on evidence
By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor
04 September 2003
Just when the Government was thinking the Hutton inquiry might have a quiet
day, more witnesses, e-mails and memos materialised to grab the headlines
and continue Tony Blair's misery.
... The very title of [the dossier], Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, was
for the first time called into question. Dr Jones said although the phrase
applied to nuclear bombs, many biological and chemical weapons would
"struggle to fit in that category". He said many biological weapons were
designed to incapacitate rather than kill; they were lethal mainly in
enclosed spaces, such as in the nerve gas attack on the Tokyo underground in
1995. Chemical weapons were even more difficult because they would need to
be produced in large quantities to have any effect in battle, Dr Jones said.
Given that the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" came fully into the
public consciousness last autumn as a result of the dossier, his evidence
was startling. Mr Blair, Alastair Campbell and most ministers, frequently
used the term, and its WMD initials, as a shorthand for what they saw as an
unwieldy "nuclear, chemical and biological weapons". It also conjured up the
spectre of horrifying attacks launched by Saddam Hussein. Yet here was the
Government's most senior official dealing with such issues saying the term
was inaccurate. Asked whether he felt there was a difference between
missiles and artillery shells with chemical warheads, Dr Jones replied: "I
think I would struggle to describe either as a true weapon of mass
That spectre of mass destruction was even more frightening when backed by
the claim that the weapons could be deployed in 45 minutes. But Dr Jones
demolished that, pointing to concerns that it was uncorroborated,
second-hand and did not differentiate between chemical or biological
weapons. Worse, there was no evidence of production, no recent testing or
field trials to back it up.
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