rhh1 at nildram.co.uk
Wed Feb 25 18:23:54 MST 2004
The number of former security staff who have popped up to say we've been
lied to (ok, I know all Marxmail readers know we've been lied to) surprises
Blair's claim is simply incredible
A former senior intelligence officer challenges Lord Hutton's account
Thursday February 12, 2004
Imagine you are a retired and very proud guards officer watching trooping
the colour. How embarrassed and puzzled you would feel if things started to
go wrong. Small things, initially, that others not brought up in the system
might not notice. The columns of scarlet-clad troops slightly out of sync
with the marching music. Some of the orders being given by men in suits
rather than by the sergeant majors on parade. I used to work for the defence
intelligence staff (DIS) and the Cabinet Office assessments staff - who
draft the papers for the joint intelligence committee (JIC) and intelligence
reports for No 10 - and that's how I felt during the Hutton inquiry, and how
I feel now.
I left the assessments staff just six months before the dreaded dossier was
published. From what came out at the Hutton inquiry I could hardly recognise
the organisation I had so recently worked for. Meetings with no minutes, an
intelligence analytical group on a highly specialised subject which included
unqualified officials in Downing Street but excluded the DIS's lifetime
experts (like Dr Brian Jones), vague and unexplained bits of intelligence
appearing in the dossier as gospel (notably the 45-minute claim), sloppy use
of language, that weird "last call" for intelligence like Henry II raving
about Thomas a' Becket - with "who will furnish me with the intelligence I
need" substituted for "who will rid me of that turbulent priest".
I looked forward to Lord Hutton making some serious suggestions about how to
keep the intelligence process free of political manipulation and analysts
free from the preparation of propaganda dossiers. I thought he might help
explain, too, why the intelligence community had been taken by surprise by
the aftermath of victory in Iraq.
When the report came I was puzzled at first - serious people seemed to be
taking it so seriously. And then everyone started to laugh. Some of the
passages - particularly "the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that
the desire of the prime minister ... may have subconsciously influenced ...
members of the JIC ... consistent with the intelligence available to the
JIC" are masterpieces of comic writing.
... Lieutenant Colonel Crispin Black worked for defence intelligence from
1994-96 and was on the intelligence assessment staff from 1999-2002
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