Friday, September 05, 2003

From the testimony of Dr. Brian Francis Gill Jones to the Hutton Inquiry (here, sections 106 and 107; DIS refers to the Defence Intelligence Staff, which was working on the dossier; my emphasis):

"Q. You make the comment about the involvement of the spin merchants of this administration. Who were you referring to?

A. Well, it is really a general comment from the working level within the DIS about perceived interference and really that -

Q. Sorry to interrupt. What was the perception?

A. The perception was that the dossier had been round the houses several times in order to try to find a form of words which would strengthen certain political objectives."

and (section 128; my emphasis):

"The impression I had was that on about 19th September, as it may have been the 20th September, as it were, the shutters were coming down on this particular paper, that the discussion and the argument had been concluded. And it was the impression that I had, at that time, that our reservations about the dossier were not going to be reflected in the final version."

What Dr. Jones is referring to is that the Joint Intelligence Committee had stopped taking input from the Defence Intelligence Staff at a point which Dr. Jones thought was premature (sections 123 to 128). Dr. Jones wrote a memo to his director about this, which said, in part (sections 128 and 129):

". . . has been involved in the generation of the Iraq dossier which, in the last two weeks has involved a number of iterations which have incorporated new intelligence. It is my understanding that some of the intelligence has not been made available to my branch. Because of this they have had to express their reservations on several aspects of the dossier. Most of these have been resolved. However, a number remain in the document at reference and it is important that I note for you at this stage the remaining areas where we are unable to confirm the statements made on the basis of the information available to my branch."

and:

"Although we have no problem with a judgment based on intelligence that Saddam attaches great importance to possessing WMD we have not seen the intelligence that 'shows' this to be the case. Nor have we seen intelligence that 'shows' he does not regard them only as a weapon of last resort, although our judgment is that it would be sensible to assume he might use them in a number of other scenarios. The intelligence we have seen indicates rather than 'shows'. . ."

and, referring to the 45 minute claim:

"We have a number of questions in our minds relating to the intelligence on the military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, particularly about the times mentioned and the failure to differentiate between the two types of weapon."

and:

"We have not seen intelligence which we believe 'shows' that Iraq has continued to produce CW agent in 1998-2002, although our judgment is that it has probably done so. Whilst we are even more convinced that Iraq has continued to produce biological weapons agent (on the basis of mobile production intelligence) we would not go so far as to say we 'know' this to be the case."

Getting to the crux (section 137 and 139; my emphasis added):

" Was there a perception, right or wrong, amongst DIS personnel that spin merchants were involved with the dossier?

A. Well, 'spin merchants' is rather emotive. I think there was an impression, right or wrong, and I do not know, I did not allow that to concern me as this process - I think there was an impression that there was an influence from outside the intelligence community.

Q. And were people in the intelligence community happy with that?

A. No, I do not think - well, I cannot comment on the broader intelligence community. I think the people who had been involved on my staff and possibly others - I mean, one cannot make a general statement about this. But certainly those people that were working directly with me were concerned and unhappy; in the way I think I described earlier in my evidence, in the way that people can be unhappy. But I think there was a realisation that this was a different process; and I think, at the end of the day, what they were very keen to do is have any assessment reflect as accurately as possible the product of their work."

Earlier, Dr. Jones had noted that his chemical warfare expert was particularly concerned about the fact that his inputs weren't finding their way into the dossier. Lord Hutton asked about the expert's concerns, and Dr. Jones responded (here at sections 76 and 77; my emphasis):

" . . . they were really about a tendency in certain areas, from his point of view, to shall we say over-egg certain assessments in relation particularly to the production of CW agents and weapons since 1998. Indeed, I mean, I guess that goes all the way back to the end of the Gulf conflict. And he was concerned that he could not point to any solid evidence of such production. He did not dismiss that it may have happened, and there was certain evidence that suggested that it could have happened, but he did not have good evidence that it had happened.


LORD HUTTON: Yes. Could you just perhaps, and please say if you are not able to do this, but when you say that he was concerned about language and he was concerned that certain assessments were over-egged, can you give examples of that as regards the use of language? If you cannot, please do not speculate. I do not want you in any way just to speculate.

A. I think - I think it is the difference between saying, for example - making a judgment that the production of CW agent had taken place as opposed to that judgment being that it had probably taken place or even possibly taken place.

LORD HUTTON: Yes.

A. It was that degree of certainty in the judgments that were being made. I hope that helps."

What Dr. Jones is politely saying is that direct political involvement in the drafting of the dossier led to parts of the dossier being 'over-egged', meaning that statements that had varying degrees of certainty had all the uncertainty removed and were presented as outright facts. In the final analysis, this was done by simply failing to take the comments of the intelligence experts into account (aside from the details of the dossier, the experts had big problems calling many biological and chemical weapons 'weapons of mass destruction' due to problems with their delivery and effectiveness outside of enclosed spaces, problems which bring into question the essential purpose of the dossier; see here, sections 64 to 66). This process of removing the nuances of certainty from the dossier was particularly obvious with respect to the 45-minute claim. There is really no substantive difference between what Dr. Jones told the Hutton Inquiry and what Dr. Kelly told the BBC. Blair and his operatives manipulated the creation of the dossier for their political goals.

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