As it's now August 2012 and there's still no sign of an official report ... this page is dedicated to a continuation of our back of a fag packet analysis of the Iraq Inquiry.  Our initial interpretation of the transcripts (entirely filmed in Xtranormal) can be found here.    Here's a quick resume of what we've covered so far in previous articles:

Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 1 Covers public evidence from Christopher Meyer, Jeremy Greenstock, Tim Dowse, Edward Chaplin, Sir David Manning, Sir William Patey, Vice Admiral Charles Style, General Sir John Reith, Alister Campbell, Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff and Geoff Hoon
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 2 Covers public evidence from Jonathan Powell, Lord Goldsmith, Margaret Beckett, John Hutton, Sir Kevin Tebbit, General the Lord Walker of Aldringham, Clare Short, Ann Clwyd, Gordon Brown and endless analysis of what Jaques Chirac meant without asking him.
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 3 Covers public evidence from Douglas Alexander, David Miliband, Cathy Adams,  Sir John Holmes, Sir Jonathan Cunliffe, Mark Etherington CBE and Lord Boateng.
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 4 Covers public evidence from Carne Ross, Lt Gen Sir James Dutton KCB CBE, Stephen White, Baroness Elizabeth Manningham-Buller, Sir Peter Spencer KCB, Lord Prescott, Tony Blair (again) and Jack Straw.  It also covers some ludicrous conspiracy theories.
Most of the first 4 pages are brief commentary with the transcripts re-edited in Xtranormal format (the videos are also on Youtube).  For the next article we tried a different approach with a mixture of commentary, transcripts and Xtranormal animation...
MI6 goes Pear Shaped Iraq Covers SIS private evidence from MI6 officers SIS1, SIS2, SIS3,SIS4, SIS5 and SIS6 and C (Sir Richard Dearlove).  The Iraq Inquiry have so far interviewed (as far as I can figure out) at least 12 members of MI6. SIS1, SIS2, SIS3,SIS4, SIS5 and SIS6 have all had their transcripts published in some form whereas statements have been made that SIS8, SIS9 and SIS11’s transcripts will never be published due to the fact that “The Committee has concluded, in line with its Protocols, that it would not be possible to redact and publish the transcript without rendering it unintelligible”. Which leaves open the question of what’s happened to SIS7, SIS10 and SIS12’s testimony and will we ever see a transcript because the inquiry has not made a statement that we wont…?
Reconstruction goes Pear Shaped in Iraq Covers the reconstruction effort after the invasion and the private evidence of Edward Chaplin CMG OBE, The Hon Dominic Asquith CMG and Christopher Prentice CMG, HM Ambassadors to Iraq (2004 – 2009 collectively) and DFID and FCO functionaries JOHN TUCKNOTT, JONNY BAXTER, RICHARD JONES, ROB TINLINE, KATHLEEN REID, LINDY CAMERON, SIMON COLLIS, JAMES TANSLEY and TIM FOY
Kurdistan Goes Pear Shaped With Emma Sky - Emma Sky was sent to the US controlled region of Kirkuk in Kurdistan by the USA who secured her services from the British Council.  She maintains she was acting as effectively as a private citizen (not an employee of the British Government) at the time which is why she has a page entirely to herself.

All's been fairly quiet with the Iraq Inquiry at the moment (August 2012) with the long awaited draft report remaining just that.... long awaited.  Indeed, with the exception of a few documents explaining that the report is to be delayed yet again by at least a year and a few FOI refusals ... it's all been as still as a human statue. 

So with the Inquiry seeming to have fulfilled its primary purpose of kicking the subject firmly into the long grass while putting in the public domain the mininum of information likely to leak there anyway to fill in the silence ... (no more new transcripts or documents are to be released until the report's publication) ... here's our analysis of the private interviews with the chairmen of the JIC and their acolytes.

I started this page a long time ago but I'm afraid it has taken a long time because
firstly, the issues are quite complex but,
secondly and more to the point...

Sir John Scarlett and Julian Miller

(heads of the JIC during the run up to the invasion - left)
and Sir William Erhman and Tim Dowse
(heads of of the JIC after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 -right)
are quite positively
the most boring and loquacious inteviewees

...we have yet come across in our ill-advised ambition to read all the public and private transcripts and try to extract some sense from them.  To be honest I simply gave up trying to make any sense of their testimony in the end ..........but below is the little sense I could make.

At the moment the Inquiry website states that "The Inquiry has advised the Prime Minister that it will be in a position to begin the process of writing to any individuals that may be criticised by the middle of 2013".  I think what that means is that the Salmon letters have not yet gone out and the report may in fact be delayed even longer than a year or a year and a half. 

This puts a realistic report publication date somewhere around early 2014 at the earliest. 

So with nothing allowed to be published any more and no more public hearings little is to be heard here's a little squeak to break the eerie press near silence, broken only by FOI request rejections, complaints by the Daily Mail at how much more scrutiny it is under from the Leveson Inquiry ...and attempts to citizens arrest Tony Blair at various international political and private functions.  No doubt many of these are inspired by the significant ...

...offered by the "Arrest Blair" website. 

Although the police dont offer bounties on fugitives in the UK ...promoting the activity of Bounty Hunting is not actually illegal here as it is in many jurisdictions.  So if you want to have a go ... I've just put a fiver in the pot ...putting the bounty payout for the next capture as I type at £2403.39.  The last bounty hunter was last seen at the Leveson Witchhunt Inquiry

Mr Blair seems keen to return to frontline politics in the UK - although Ed Miliband seems to find it hard to find the correct job for him.  His latest post is Olympic Legacy Adviser.  While Mr Blair no doubt did great things for the Labour movement ... well, Jeremy Thorpe did great things for the Liberal movement.  Both may be innocent.... but ... it's difficult to be in front line politics while investigations are ongoing and suspicion in the public mind?  However, never underestimate Mr Blair...

The only other Iraq related noise to be heard recently is the sound of the latest volume of Alastair Campbell's latest diaries thudding off the printing presses ... which he maintains that Tony Blair prevented Lord Goldsmith from giving his legal advice to full cabinet on the basis that they might think it was nonsense ...something he seems to have not mentioned at the Inquiry where witnesses are required to tell the truth ...but not necessarily the whole truth ... there not being an oath.  About which you can read more on the Iraq Inquiry Digest website...  Of course the oath isn't the only difference between the Chilcot Inquiry and the Leveson Inquiry.  As well as having evidence on oath the Leveson Inquiry takes place at the imposing Royal Courts of Justice (Court 73) ...

,,,a slightly more Romantic setting than the concrete blob that is the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where the Iraq Inquiry used to hang out when it wasn't in secret session.  The choice of venue is, of course, symbolic.  Sir John Chilcot is at pains to point out at every possible opportunity that "no one is on trial" at the Iraq Inquiry.  The Leveson Judge Led Inquiry takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice on the other hand to precisely indicate to the public that unlike the Iraq Inquiry it absolutely is a trial and criminal prosectuions are expected to result - either from admissions of guilt or alternatively perjury.  Also unlike the Iraq Inquiry which employs 5 loquacious interlocutors per witness ...

... the exact areas of responsibility of each I am unable to quite deduce...  The Leveson Inquiry employs one professional, effective and acerbic Queen's Council (Robert Jay) making the entire process far more adverserial, slick, less verbose and infinitely more entertaining... who seems to be backed up by every junior Barrister in Lincoln's Inn Fields... It's interesting to observe that while Legal Aid for mere mortals is cut year on year and the mantra that Jury trial is too complicated and expensive are reiterated at every turn with alarming alacrity there's always money to be found for a big old Judge Led Inquiry when the Government needs to keep Barristers off the dole.  Indeed, sometimes I think it'd be cheaper to get rid of Trials altogether and just have one huge Judge Led Inquiry.

Robert Ray QC with from left to right top to bottom :
David Barr, Carine Patry Hoskins, Lucinda Boon, Toby Fisher,
Josephine Norris, William Irwin & Heather Emmerson

On the other hand I suppose there's no point in putting on a show trial if you dont put on a show.

But then what do you expect when the Model for the Iraq Inquiry is the impotent Franks Report into why no one was responsible for forseeing the Falklands War...?

Anyway ... the last I heard from Mr Campbell was a via a Labour Party email asking me if I was free on the 11th of July …which was a bit of a shock until I realised he was selling tickets to Labour party members to have dinner with himself, Ed Miliband and Tony Blair for a mere £500 a go. How bad are things in the party kitty?  To be fair two tickets are on sale by raffle. However, I have to say I am not mad keen to meet Messers Campbell and Blair socially… so I will decline as the only way I could make such a dinner financially viable would be to citizens arrest Tony Blair for the bounty…. In a piece of hubris worthy of that favourite political crook Jeffrey Archer who infamously put on a stage play about his impending criminal conviction starring himself... Mr Campbell has also set himself upon the boards appearing at the Soho Theatre

The supporting cast includes former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office at the time of the Iraq War Chris Mullin who has recently written a play on the fall of the Blair and New Labour...

Anyway... this page isn't about any of that it's about the JIC and the actual evidence on which the UK went to war in 2003 ... a date that goes longer back in time the longer the time the Inquiry doesn't report in.  Leaving those of us still writing about the subject looking increasingly like a bunch of mad eccentrics obsessed with increasingly ancient history.  Procrastination works.

This page follows the activities of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).  The JIC's job is to sort out all the intelligence from Britain's various intelligence agencies ...and it was in charge of quality controlling the two dossiers ...the dodgy one and erm ... the other one ....let's not go through all that again. 

The JIC meets in the Cabinet Office.  The Cabinet Office is the engine room of government.  Filled with the cream of Britain's mandarins who are tasked with steering governments of all political hues through all kinds of crises - be it war, terrorism, coalition government or the tricky situation in 1949 when Professor Hatton-Jones discovered that a royal charter of Edward IV had given the area of Pimlico to the last Duke of Burgundy. 

Indeed if you email the Iraq Inquiry website you get a reply from Martin Mumford at the Cabinet Office - suggesting there's not much difference between it and the Inquiry and the JIC which would all seem to operate out the same building ...

Spot the Difference Competition

One of these doors leads to the Cabinet Office,
one to the Iraq Inquiry Secretariat
and one to the Joint Intelligence Committee.
If you can spot the difference
we will give you £5 of the late Ray Presto's own money.

According to the Cabinet Office website the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) was established by the Intelligence Services Act 1994 (after the Spycatcher fiasco made the continual denial of the existence of MI5 and MI6 more than just farcical) examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).  The Committee has developed its oversight remit, with the Government's agreement, to include examination of intelligence-related elements of the Cabinet Office including: the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC); the Assessments Staff; and the Intelligence, Security and Resilience Group (ISRG?). The Committee also takes evidence from the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), which assists the Committee in respect of work within the Committee's remit.  A bit like this:

Or maybe more like this... (I know this diagram is on another page too but it's too good not to use again)

Before the invasion of Iraq the JIC was overseen by Sir John Scarlett.  Sir John was a career spook who went straight to MI6 from Cambridge.  He was very active in the cold war as a top spy operating in Moscow and in Paris. 

In 1994 he was expelled from Moscow where he had risen to the level of Station Cheif.  He then became Director of Security and Public Affairs before being moved again in 2003 to the position of Chair of the JIC.  After the invasion he was rewarded for his loyalty by being appointed the new head of MI6 (or SIS when it wants to sound modern).

Julian Miller
Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office

He was interviewed in private with Julian Miller CB Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office who after the invasion was moved to the MOD and now works in the Cabinet Office again. To complicate matters Julian Miller seems to hold the poisoned challice of deciding which documents are excempt from the Freedom of Information Act under Section 27.  So the Inquiry is asking questions of the very man who is in charge of deciding what the public should and should not be allowed to read in the final report.  An interesting power relationship but such are the absurdities of the Cabinet Office investigating the Cabinet Office investigating the Cabinet Office.  It is little wonder that the Iraq Inquiry Report is taking so long.  It is caught in a recursive occlusion.

Spot the Difference Competition

One of these people was Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office in 2002-2003
and was in charge of helping decide what should and should not go in the various JIC dossiers.
The other is now
Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office in
charge of deciding what Cabinet Office JIC material is sensitive enough
to outweigh the public interest and be released from the Cabinet Office
while the Iraq Inquiry Report is being compiled in the Cabinet Office
which is, of course, independent of the Inquiry even though that is where the Secretariat
seems to be based...

If you can spot the difference
we will give you £5 of the late Ray Presto's own money.

So obviously nonsense were the JIC's assessments that soon after the war the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee made several criticisms in their report "Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction — Intelligence and Assessments":... available from Her Majesty's Stationary Office for the bargain price of £10.50.

 "As the 45 minutes claim was new to its readers, the context of the intelligence and any assessment needed to be explained.
The fact that it was assessed to refer to battlefield chemical and biological munitions and their movement on the battlefield, not to any other form of chemical or biological attack, should have been highlighted in the dossier.

The omission of the context and assessment allowed speculation as to its exact meaning.

This was unhelpful to an understanding of this issue.

Fortunately by this time Sir John Scarlett was already installed in his new job as head of MI6/SIS and hard to remove. 

His eventual replacement Sir John Sawers was previously the British Permanent Representative to the UN and most famous for his amusing Facebook photos. 

Exactly why MI6 took down these photos is beyond me as
Sir John Sawers picture is clearly displayed in the MI6/SIS website anway.   
So Anyway...

By the way if you cant see the inline videos properly you're probably using the 64 bit version of Windows Explorer 9.  Use a 32 bit version - you can download off the Microsoft website.  Or just use a browser that isn't entirely composed of old ActiveX controls and actually uses the HTML standards because its not built by egomaniacs.  You can also view all the animations here if that's easier or on this Youtube page.  As stated in the previous article this page is nonsense.  If you want a sensible analysis instead try the Iraq Inquiry Digest

THE CHAIRMAN: I'll open this private evidence session with a welcome and thanks to our two witnesses, Sir John Scarlett, who was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee from September 2001 until July 2004, and Mr Julian Miller who was chief of the assessment staff from September 2001 to November 2003.  I would like to remind our witnesses, and indeed the Committee, although this is a private evidence session, it is being transcribed. The transcript will be available for checking here in these offices pretty much at the end of the day. We would be grateful if the witnesses could, so far as is reasonably practicable, arrange to review the transcript and make any necessary corrections as soon as reasonably possible. We will also, of course, ask that you certify that the evidence you have given is truthful, fair and accurate.  You, I think, both are witnesses that are aware of the protocols applying to these private sessions. Can I just check that you are content with those as a basis?

Amusingly Sir John Scarlett answers for both of them...


THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. In that event, can I move straight to Sir Lawrence Freedman to open the questions.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Thanks very much.  In Sir John's public session we've been through all the contextual materials. So if you don't mind, I think we would just like to go straight into the more detailed stuff. 

So if we just perhaps start with the nuclear position in March 2001, but the assessment is dated -- there was heightened concern about possible nuclear related procurement and longer term plans to enrich uranium. Just go with us through these basic areas: category of intelligence; was it the UK; if not the UK, where from; reliability.

JULIAN MILLER: I think perhaps it's worth saying that the assessment in March built very much on the assessment from May the previous year. So in that --

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Sorry, I meant May 2001.

JULIAN MILLER: So if I'm looking at May 2001 for the view on the nuclear programme there, there was a limited intelligence base in terms of new intelligence. There was reporting that scientists had been recalled to the Iraqi programme in 1998, and there was evidence -- there were reports on procurement of tubes and magnets

Regular readers of the Pear Shaped Comedy Club website will recognise this Powerpoint Slide from the layout - it is another from Colin Powell's UN Security Council presentation of 2003 on why Iraq was very naughty and needed to be invaded. 

The aluminium tube shown above was one of several intercepted in Jordan in 2001 and were cited by the White House as proof that the Iraqis were building a nuclear weapon.  After the invasion the Iraq Survey Group determined that the best explanation for the tubes was that they were to be used to produced 81-mm rockets.  The suspected "sister WMD purpose of the tube" would have been as part of an 81-mm aluminum rotor centrifuge - like this ...

Warning - Uranium isotope separation and refinement is extremely hazardous.
Dont try this at home unless you want to end up in a Marie Curie home.

However, no centrifuge designs were recovered post invasion ...81 mm or otherwise.  That said it understandably raised some suspicions that Iraq had reportedly ordered more than 60,000 such tubes.  The CIA claimed the specifications were too precise to be for mortar tubing.  News of the tubes was leaked to the press prior to the invasion ... probably intentionally?  To confuse matters further the Financial Times ran an article claiming that the French had seized a similar consignment of tubes and tested their tolerance by spinning them to 98,000 revolutions per minute and concluded they were "too sophisticated to have alternative uses".  However, Colin Powell was reportedly denied permission to tell the UN about this and it only emerged into the run up to the war... while below Julian Miller claims that actually the tubes couldn't be used centrifuges.  Confused?  Well ... maybe Saddam had a high precision metal tube fetish... or was undertaking some peculiarly complex plumbing.

The reporting on the scientists having been recalled to the programme in 1998 was a [SIS] report. It was a UK human intelligence report, I think, [REDACTED] The reports on the procurement which were, I think, most significant at that point were on attempts to procure aluminium tubes [REDACTED] So in terms of the key inputs into the May paper, those were the ones which I think were particularly influential.  By the time of the March paper, there was some additional evidence on attempts to procure aluminium tubes, which I think was documentary in terms of indications of attempts to order and procure these tubes from different potential suppliers. [REDACTED].

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Perhaps if we could move forward into September.

JULIAN MILLER: Into September -- by September we weren't really looking at the nuclear picture particularly because we were looking at scenarios, the use of WMD, and the judgment of course was that there was no usable nuclear weapon. So the focus in the September programme was on how he might use chemical and biological, and there was a considerable body of new intelligence in forming those judgments.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So there was no new nuclear material there?

JULIAN MILLER: It wasn't played into the assessment. My recollection -- and I'm sorry it's only a recollection -- is that in the interim there was some additional [REDACTED] intelligence on procurement attempts.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: On the aluminium tubes issue, this was clearly a very large issue in terms of their meaning. How was the British position on this different from the Americans? Did our debate follow the American debate? How did it interact?

JULIAN MILLER: The initial reporting [REDACTED] was saying that attempts had been made to procure these tubes. They were a controlled material, controlled because of the potential use of aluminium in centrifuge production, and it looks as though the specification would be suitable for the production of centrifuges. [REDACTED].  In subsequent consideration there was recognition, I think by our own people [REDACTED] that the specification of the tubes or the materials suitable for centrifuges, the length and the machining finish wasn't ideal for centrifuges, but it could be used in production of multiple launch rocket systems. So there was a debate, an unresolved debate, as to what these controlled materials were being procured for.  The judgment was very much at a technical level. There was, I think, a view from IAEA, or URENCO on their behalf, which made some observations about the need for further work to be done if this material was to be given a centrifuge function, and that was clearly taken into account. [REDACTED]. By September 2002, my understanding would be that this was seen, certainly by us, and I think by other nations, as being indicative of a possible intent, but not conclusively suitable or procured for the purposes of centrifuge production. [REDACTED] but by the time we were preparing our views in September 2002, it was very much an in the balance judgment.

So if a conclusion was made as to whether these were centrifuge parts of not by the JIC it is helplfully REDACTED although confusingly Sir John Scarlett goes on to say

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: You mentioned 2003 before.

JULIAN MILLER: Yes, just for completion, to say that later on --

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So even after the war had begun, they were still holding strongly that this was --

JULIAN MILLER: Am I right? Am I getting my years confused?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: [REDACTED] By the time we went into 2003, the view that this was more likely to be for rocket manufacture, of course, grew stronger, but as of September 2002, and Julian was describing the state of the debate at that point, maybe different experts had different views.  As I said in my testimony back in December, my clear recollection at that time was that the possibility or more than possibility that this was for centrifuge production was a very serious one. It was. Of course, subsequently a different view was reached, but at the time, a very serious view was taken that this was likely to -- this was very possibly to be for centrifuge production because there were reasons why it wasn't the right specification for rocket manufacture as well. It wasn't a clear-cut situation. Is that fair enough?

JULIAN MILLER: Absolutely.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: In this particular case we had the evidence. So the question was the assessment of the evidence, rather than the evidence itself.

JULIAN MILLER: Yes. I think there was unequivocal evidence that they had been seeking to procure the aluminium tubes. It was an interpretation of their intent in that procurement which was in doubt.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We need to spend more time on the chemical and biological. Can we just deal with the missiles then, where the intelligence seems generally to have been more reliable. Is that fair?

JULIAN MILLER: I think the intelligence on missiles was fuller and, in retrospect, proved to be more reliable.  Going back to May 2001, there was reporting on missile production at one of the sites, [REDACTED].


JULIAN MILLER: [REDACTED]*1 There was a separate reporting, which was characterised as regular and reliable, about the Al Hussein force, the view that there were some longer range rockets retained, and there was [REDACTED]

*1 A note says "The witness’ answer indicated that the reporting was considered to be reliable".

I presume the Al Hussein force is a reference to Saddam's Al Hussein missiles.  These are a scud missile type dating back to the 1980s.  During the "Iran Iraq War" Iran had quite a few Scud missiles that were capable of hitting Iraqi towns and cities.  Iraq also had Scuds but they did not have the range to hit Terhan Iraqi engineers adapted their Scuds into a new missile called the Al Hussein which looks like this:

Although a relatively old fashioned weapon the Al-Hussein was "smart" enough to evade radar and do this to a US Barracks in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War in 1991

Due possibly to Saddam having launched 42 such missiles at Israel during the first Gulf War it was felt by the United Nations that he should no longer be allowed big missiles like these and he was restricted to missiles with a range no longer than 150 km under UN resolution 687.  At the end of the 1st Gulf war Iraq had claimed it had 61 Al-Hussein missiles left unfired and these were destroyed by UNSCOM in July 1991.  As he was not allowed to play with Al-Husseins any more Saddam decided to develop "short range" missiles instead...  Inventing the Ababil-100 and the Al-Samoud.  The Al-Samoud was also a scud...

...but this time smaller rather than larger than a regular scud in order to get round UN resolution 687's 150km limit.  On Feb 13 2003 the UN complained that two such scuds had a range of 180km - 30 km too far ...and Saddam agreed to destroy them.  During the 2003 invasion Saddam launched a couple at Kuwait which made it look a bit like this:

Scuds were originally manufactured by Soviet Union.  Most of those owned by Iraq at the time of the first Gulf War were Scud B's.  Only the Scud A had a range of <180km.  It must have taken quite an effort in reverse engineering to limit this to <150km.  Clearly the UN simply intended Saddam to have NO Scuds but he found a loophole...  both Scuds B and C could carry either a conventional high-explosive, a 5- to 80-kiloton nuclear, or a chemical (thickened VX) warheadScud missiles were one of the USSR's most successful exports.

NATO codename Scud-A Scud-B Scud-C Scud-D
U.S. DIA SS-1b SS-1c SS-1d SS-1e
Official designation R-11 R-17/R-300

Deployment Date 1957 1964 1965? 1989?
Length 10.7 m 11.25 m 11.25 m 12.29 m
Width 0.88 m 0.88 m 0.88 m 0.88 m
Launch weight 4,400 kg 5,900 kg 6,400 kg 6,500 kg
Range 180 km 300 km 550 km 300 km
Payload 950 kg 985 kg 600 kg 985 kg
Accuracy (CEP) 3000 m 450 m 700 m 50 m

THE CHAIRMAN: A couple of questions, if I may, apropos this. One is that it was the MOD who asked for this report in May 2001. I wonder what led them, in your understanding, to ask for it at that time.

JULIAN MILLER: I'm afraid, not having been engaged in that area, I don't know.

THE CHAIRMAN: The other was just a general question, which is some intelligence, and therefore reporting, on missiles is derived from imagery and so on because there is physical evidence. Does that, as it were, give a higher degree of reliability to the generality of intelligence coming in on the missile subject topic area?

JULIAN MILLER: It did in some cases. There was the particular issue of the test stand, where there was clear imagery evidence which indicated an object larger than necessary for the permitted range of missiles was being constructed. In other cases I think it was less influential. So the bulk of the reporting that we relied on on missiles was human intelligence.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: There was no particular evidence other than a report that the Al Hussein missiles had been retained?

JULIAN MILLER: There was a report from a year or two previously that they had been retained, and there was, I think, a rather longer standing view that their disposal hadn't been properly accounted for. So there was an underlying concern that missiles might have been retained or sufficient parts had been retained to reconstruct missiles.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Now if we go to chemical and biological areas.  Let's start with the chemical, again looking at questions, first, about the position from May 2001, about the extent to which they were working on chemical weapons still, and then the question of stocks as well.

JULIAN MILLER: Yes. The May 2001 report reached an overall view that there had been retention of chemical capacity. In terms of the underlying reporting, there was a new source at that time -- again, I think, a UK human source -- giving an account of weaponisation of the nerve agent VX in the mid to late 1990s.  There was another new source, with older reporting, about production in the earlier 1990s, but still, I think, after the First Gulf War, and then there was of course an aspect of the reporting which we received through liaison on mobile laboratories, which had been principally about biological, but also mentioned possible chemical production. The view at the time by the technical experts was that if there were mobile facilities of that sort, they were more likely to have a role in filling chemical munitions than the production of chemical agents.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Can we just look at the VX reports? How were these judged? Were they seen to be from people who might know, who would know? 

JULIAN MILLER: [REDACTED]*2 So they seemed to be reports to which we should pay serious attention, given the indications that they were from people who would have been in a position to know. But one of them, at least, was a new source. I think there was inevitably a question over whether that that was established sufficiently for us to be fully reliant on it.

*2 A note says "The witness outlined briefly the information that had been available to the Assessments staff about the access of the sources.".

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I think UNMOVIC did find some evidence on VX activity. Were these sources related to the evidence that UNMOVIC --

JULIAN MILLER: I'm afraid I don't know.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: No, they found traces of VX in warheads, as I recall, but I can't, I'm afraid, immediately date that. It would be late 1990s, I think.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So if we just move forward with chemical to March 2002 to September, there's more information coming through during the course of 2002.

JULIAN MILLER: There was a certain amount underlying the March paper, not very much new intelligence underlying the March paper, but one of the reports on ballistic missiles had carried at least the implication that the person reporting believed that there was filling of missile warheads with chemical agents.  [REDACTED] ...

Again, it wasn't particularly influential on the assessments, but it carried an implication that there was knowledge of these programmes proceeding. But for the March report, there wasn't a great deal of new concrete intelligence to build on the picture from the previous year.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: How much through all of this are you still essentially relying on the materials that had been gathered by the inspectors up to 1998 and unanswered questions left over from then?

JULIAN MILLER: I think that was still a very significant part of the overall assessment, that the view had been that there were significant unanswered questions about disposal of agents and precursors, which led people to be suspicious and concerned that there had been potential, and then there was the limited intelligence indications that added some weight to those concerns.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Could I just come in on that? The May 2001 paper had a slightly firmer judgment on continued retention of agents and weapons indeed, and that was further back. That was clearly -- it certainly was more reliant on previous discoveries and inspections and standing judgments, if you like, based on previous experience of their possession and use and interest in the capability.  But, of course, back in May quite a lot of attention had been paid to reconstruction of chemical production facilities, which had in the past been used for agent production. So that was quite an important feature which underpinned the judgment in May 2001, which was actually slightly stronger than the one that was in March 2002, on the particular issue of chemical agents.

JULIAN MILLER: As an example, the reconstruction of facilities is an example of where image intelligence did play a significant role because it was possible to see from that that plants which had been destroyed may have now been recreated, and in some cases recreated with apparently surprising levels of security attached to them.

THE CHAIRMAN: Albeit with a view of dual use.

JULIAN MILLER: Absolutely, and that caused a problem, of course.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just so I understand that, basically you have got the material left over from UNSCOM. You then have new imagery of production facilities, which may or may not be for chemical weapons. This is reflected in May, but as you move on into 2002, you are a bit less sure that this is what they are likely to be for, or may be being used for at that time.

JULIAN MILLER: Certainly the assessment was less firm in March 2002 than it had been in May 2001. The reasons for that are no longer completely clear, but my view is that it reflected the judgment of the particular group of experts who had been convened on each occasion to look at the evidence. They reached slightly different conclusions on the weight to attach to it.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So, in addition to that, there wasn't much else that was new. There were just bits and pieces of reports from individuals.

JULIAN MILLER: By and large, yes.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So it was largely working on inference from what wasn't known after 1998, [inaudible] after 1998, then anything desperately new as being --

JULIAN MILLER: And the one or two reports we have touched on, which appear to add some substance.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Then on the biological weapons --

JULIAN MILLER: Would it be just worth carrying forward a little on chemical?


JULIAN MILLER: Because after March, then there was some additional reporting which was influential.  There was an assessment in August which picked up a report from an established and reliable source which referred to the intention to use weapons. I think it didn't distinguish between chemical and biological. It implied both were intended to be used.  [REDACTED].

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I was going to come on to that in a moment, but as we're there --


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: That's fine. Let's just talk about that.

Julian Miller goes on to tell us that there was evidence from at least one source of a source that a senior Iraqi office believed there was a plan to use chemical and biological weapons against the Shias....

JULIAN MILLER: The fuller reporting then came in to influence the September report. That was from one established and reliable source, which was quoting senior Iraqi officers,  [REDACTED], about the use of CBW, and there was a report from another source, another one of the very well-established sources, [REDACTED] about the determination of the Iraqi regime to have CBW capable missiles, and the reliance on these weapons as being a contributor or an important part of the ability to project power in the region, to establish Iraq as a regional power.  There was another report about the use of CBW against the Shia population internally. Again it was from a reliable source.  So there was a body of reporting by September that was talking not about technical details of production, but about an understanding that these weapons were available, and that there was a clear place for them in Iraq's thinking about how to conduct itself and how to maintain its regional influence.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Can you tell us a bit more about the source and how reliable the source was supposed to be? Was this somebody who had given intelligence in the past and was reliable in that sense? Did that include would definitely know about these issues, or were they providing with hearsay that was taken seriously because of the person that was providing it?

...he then goes on to say that the JIC assessments staff didn't do sourcing of intelligence... they simply relied on categorisations given in the reports from SIS and other departments...

JULIAN MILLER: There were different sources. In the assessment staff we didn't seek to have expertise in the sourcing of the intelligence. So we relied on rather summary accounts of the sourcing given in the reports, which tended to characterise it as new or established, reliable or not yet proven, and we give some indication of whether the reporting was direct or indirect.  The reporting that we saw from [REDACTED] we did understand was reliable and established, and reflecting direct knowledge of what senior people in the regime were saying.  The other streams were reporting, I think, slightly further removed. The stream which reported [REDACTED]*3 (John, correct me) was coming through an intermediary.

*3 A note says "Reporting from this source was withdrawn by SIS in autumn 2004.".

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Was this the intelligence upon which the Prime Minister's claim in the foreword that the threat was growing and current, is that the basis for that assertion?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: If I can just, before I answer that directly, as Julian said, at the time the separation of the different streams of reporting wasn't always clear to assessment staff. But all the reports that he was referring to were established and reliable.


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: [REDACTED]. I think, with slight benefit of hindsight, I can now say that essentially we are talking about three different streams of reporting at that time which were coming through in a two-week period at the time the 9 September assessment was being prepared and discussed. In the case of [REDACTED]*4 ...

*4 A note says "Reporting from this source was withdrawn by SIS in autumn 2004"

....and of course that was the one which was the 45-minute report as well, and was an established and reliable reporting, but reporting from a line of subsources, but of course they were named subsources. That was that point.  On the question of the reporting that Julian referred to as coming from the codename source [REDACTED] this was established and reliable with direct access.  It said in the report that he was quoting what he knew from his colleagues, but this was a very well placed source and he was speaking with confidence, when one reads the report. So that was taken as an influential and authoritative view of what was being thought and said inside the regime, and indeed, looking back on it afterwards, and bearing in mind what the ISG found and all that stuff, it probably was what he was hearing, and this is not a source who has subsequently come into question in terms of his reliability.  So what we are getting, of course, is one of the best examples of the problem of picking up what was thought or misthought inside the senior levels of the regime. Then there was the third source we were talking about.  But of course, in addition, there was additional, the compartmented report which came on 11 September, which was not reflected in the 9 September assessment because the dates were slightly wrong. That was a new source with direct access.

THE CHAIRMAN: Sorry to interrupt, Sir John. It was not the date was wrong; it simply arrived after the closing date --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes. What I mean is that the dates didn't fit. It couldn't have been because we didn't know about it until 11 September. But of course I'm mentioning it because Sir Lawrence talked about what the Prime Minister said, and that report -- and then there was a subsequent report a little later in the month, but after he'd spoken in the House of Commons. But that report, he was aware of it. I think he said in his own testimony that he was aware of it, and he had received a briefing on it and, as he said, I think in his own testimony, Mr Blair, that was influential with him. I can't remember the exact words that he used in his testimony.  So in terms of what was in his mind when it comes to the word "growing", I think it's important to state that that was the reporting that he was seeing, and he was receiving a judgment from the JIC which said that production of agent is continuing and it's happening now.  So it is possible -- I'm just saying it's possible to conclude that if you are being told that the production is continuing, it's possible to conclude that therefore the issue is growing, if I can put it like that.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: It was accumulating?


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So this last source was again a British source, a UK source?


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And how did that look in retrospect, that particular source?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, that source was not substantiated and it was the first of the reporting to be withdrawn. It was withdrawn in late July 2003.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Where did that source come from?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, it was a source -- well, I think you have to ask SIS that question. It was presented to us in the terms that I have just described.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Thank you very much for that. So the reports about taxi drivers and so on picking this stuff up has no credibility?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, we can only speak for what we knew at the time. What we knew at the time was that that, for example, 45-minute point was ascribed to a named official [REDACTED]. So it was a named -- it was a subsource, but it was a named individual, and we had every reason to believe that he knew what he was talking about.

JULIAN MILLER: In terms of the assessment we wrote in September, there were six of these new reports from apparently solid sources which contributed to the judgment set out in that assessment.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: How many of those were subsequently withdrawn?

THE CHAIRMAN: We are going to come on to that, I think.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just finally on this, on the biological weapons.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: The mobile production laboratories. They were first introduced, I think, in May 2001. Again, can you tell us a bit more about the sourcing of this information and how it was viewed?

Yes, Regular readers of the Pear Shaped Comedy Club website will recognise this Powerpoint Slide from the layout - it is another from Colin Powell's UN Security Council presentation of 2003 on why Iraq was very naughty and needed to be invaded. 

JULIAN MILLER: The initial view in May was that, as I understood it, not having arrived myself until afterwards, was that the material had probably come to us through liaison channels, I think slightly indirectly. This was clearly reporting from liaison channels. It wasn't reporting which we had direct control, but it appeared to tie in with some understandings that the British experts had of previous interest in use of mobile facilities. So it wasn't seen as being inherently implausible.  By March there was some further view taken on this by the experts who were looking at the indications of the reporting, but I don't think that by March there was any very substantial change in the view that this was an interesting and plausible indication.  But there was also other reporting from a new source on a possible laboratory, and there had been previous reporting in May, also from a [SIS] source, of anthrax production in the early 1990s. So there was a slight accumulation of evidence, and that, taken together with the more thorough review of the reporting on the mobile laboratories, which I believe had continued to come in from the liaison source over that period, led to a slight strengthening in March of the judgment that BW production was likely to be continuing.


JULIAN MILLER: By August, as I have said, there was other reporting, if you like contextual reporting, on the intention to use and the importance attached to possession of biological as well as chemical. That also played a role in the assessments of August and September. But the view on the mobile reporting continued to be that this was quite a detailed stream of reporting by this stage, from a liaison source, judged to be plausible by the UK experts, and so indicative but not conclusive.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Was there a debate amongst the experts, or was it generally accepted?

JULIAN MILLER: There was discussion amongst the experts, I think, as to what the technical details of the reporting showed and whether there was any other interpretation to be put on it, but at this stage it was judged to be plausible and likely to be used for production of biological agent.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: If I can just come in on that, as I understand it, although this goes back before our time, the first reporting on the mobile laboratories had come through from liaison in early 2000. So the first assessment which reflected it, if only briefly, was, I think, April 2000. Then, if you like, its sort of influence on assessments built up, and between May 2001 and March 2002 there was a change, as Julian said. There was more reporting coming in from this debriefing.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Was this the same source all the way through?

Sir John Scarlett tries to explain his mobile lab source

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So just to conclude before I hand over to Sir John, you had a view about the way that the Iraqis would go about their biological weapons production, and that was reinforced by this other evidence coming through, first about the purchase of materials, both materials, and then this particular source that kept on producing more information.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, that was definitely their main basis for the judgment. I know we will get on to withdrawal later, but once that was withdrawn, as the Butler Report said, really the judgment about mobiles had no basis, and one has to say, was substantially not correct.

The Butler report on the total lack of WMD found after the war is remembered as much for the natty attire of the particpants as it's total lack of political credibility.  From left to right ....

Sir John Chilcot (previous SIS shop steward now heading this Inquiry)

Michael Mates (Conservative MP who sat on the committee despite Michael Howard saying that the Conservative Party would not be officially taking part as the terms of reference of the Inquiry were "unaccetably restrictive"

Ann Taylor, Labour MP who supported the invasion of Iraq and was actually involved in drafting the "dodgy dossier" (please consult the dossiergram if you can't remember which dossier was which), chair of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), and former chief whip of the Labour Party
Field Marshal The Lord Inge former Cheif of Defence Staff

The Lord Butler of Brockwell (ex Cabinet secretary)


THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Just before we get on to withdrawal and all of that, Roderic, do you want to ask a question?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: No, I'll wait.

THE CHAIRMAN: We are going to come on to the dossier and how all this impacted on it.  So may we turn to the post-conflict re-assessment and the withdrawal of intelligence which had been embodied in JIC's assessment up until March 2003. Can we just run through it fairly categorically?
  First of all, intelligence withdrawn after the conflict was intelligence to support current possession, it was thought. This was the accelerated production. Did that continue to stand after March 2003?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: March 2003? Well, the judgment on current possession was based on a number of things. Of course there was a standing judgment which was that very probably they possessed stocks and, depending on whether we are talking about May 2001 or March 2002, weapons. But it was not a firm judgment, and that was the change between March and September, because what September did was make a firm judgment about possession. 


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: And that change was based on the reporting from the established and reliable source from the subsources, including the intention of the use, and that was also where the 45-minute one was. It was based on -- and it was based on the established and reliable source who was quoting his knowledge, but was speaking in very definite terms about their continued possession.

THE CHAIRMAN: So it’s the interpretation or assessment that changes, rather than the underlying reliability of the source and the reporting from that source. Does that make sense?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: No, not really.

THE CHAIRMAN: That source was not, as it were, discredited after the event in terms of the reporting that came in before?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I should add, of course, because the timing is slightly complicated here, they are referring to the 9 September assessment. But of course the compartmented intelligence, which was influential, which came in on 11 September, did famously influence what was said in the dossier. Then a further report came in in late September, and then actually a composite version of that reporting was issued in early April 2003. So that was still considered to be sound reporting as of that date.


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: That was withdrawn, the compartmented reporting, in July.

THE CHAIRMAN: July 2003?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: 2003. Yes, 29 July. That was the first line of reporting to be withdrawn.  The one quoting the subsources on the intention to use was not actually withdrawn until 28 September 2004, but it had been known several months beforehand that that had a big question mark over it, and was referred to in those terms in the Butler Report.  I think the first I heard about that question mark was in about May 2004. Am I missing something out there?

THE CHAIRMAN: Let's go on --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Sorry. The mobiles also was relevant to a judgment about possession, and that was withdrawn on 29 September 2004.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Can you say something about the underlying reasoning which led to withdrawal? Was it discrediting of an agent? Was it simply the unreliability of the reporting in itself? Was it knowledge deriving from ISG findings or failure to find?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, it is, of course, directly a question for SIS, which I can't speak to from my subsequent capacity. But based on, for example, what was said in the Butler Review already, as was stated there, post-conflict debriefing of the [REDACTED] source on mobiles had revealed that there had been some misreporting, and if it had been clear that he was talking about the production of slurry and not the production of a dried agent, then there were obvious implications as regards storage and long-term use from that, and that's spelled out in the Butler Report. So already by that stage, on the public record, the line of reporting had been very seriously weakened, as Lord Butler said.

THE CHAIRMAN: There was also, although this is perhaps not for either of you, [REDACTED] so that he couldn’t be tested.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes. We were not aware of that.


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Of course here we are dealing with a period of time a year after the conflict. A lot of effort had been put into finding these sources and finding their subsources. If that exercise didn't produce a result, then obviously it called into question the sourcing. There had been an invasion. The ground was occupied. It was an unusual situation when it came to source verification.

THE CHAIRMAN: Just a couple of other specific issues before we come on to the processes involved. The 45 minutes that we all know about.


THE CHAIRMAN: From the standpoint of JIC and the assessment staff, you were getting reports in plain speaking language, rather than technically assessed reporting; is that fair? The meaning of 45 minutes; was it a matter for strategic, was it 45 minutes from established forward position depots made available to front line troops or what?

JULIAN MILLER: The reporting on that wasn't expressed, as I recall, in particularly technical language. It talked about an average of 20 minutes, and a range to 45 minutes for weapons to be deployed.


JULIAN MILLER: I'm sorry I don't have the precise wording in front of me, but it's familiar. So it was then considered by the technical experts in London, and of course was judged to be credible and consistent with the sort of approach that would be taken to the bringing forward of weapons for that use.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. I suppose a reasonable question with a lot of hindsight is that the Saddam regime had used in battlefield conditions CW weapons, and so there was probably quite a lot of knowledge about how long it took to get from A to B to C, the original place of manufacture to the holding place or a depot, into somewhere closer to a front line, and then to the actual delivery. Did any of this come out of the 45-minute reporting?

JULIAN MILLER: My recollection is that the DIS looked at the reporting and judged that it was the sort of timeframe that they would expect to see being planned by the Iraqi military for bringing weapons from a forward storage area to the point of use.


JULIAN MILLER: But, of course, that wasn't spelled out in the reporting.

THE CHAIRMAN: Precisely so.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: But that was recorded as the expert judgment at the time.


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: And of course, as has been discussed subsequently, it wasn't included either in the assessment or in the dossier because it hadn't actually been in the report.

JULIAN MILLER: And there was an exchange with the DIS which led to that conclusion.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. One is not talking, is one, about withdrawal in the 45-minute report? As it stood in its narrow context, it stood.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Except the --

THE CHAIRMAN: The difficulty all arises out of the reporting of it and the description.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: No, the reporting was withdrawn.


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Because they weren't able to substantiate the subsourcing.

THE CHAIRMAN: Right. Not because it was discredited, but it simply couldn't be substantiated?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes. Well, yes, because if they had had this weaponry, and of course they had extensively had it and used it in the past, which underpinned the standing judgment, expert judgment about CW capability from the Iraqis, then the report was entirely consistent with that judgment, which was why it was accepted, why it was given weight, and of course famously why it was included in a judgment in the dossier. It wasn't just the single report. It was the standing assessment of the Iraqi capability.
So in that sense the judgment was valid. It was just that (a) the reporting was withdrawn because the sourcing couldn't be substantiated, and of course if we had known that, then obviously it wouldn't have been referred to either in the assessment or the dossier; and secondly, we haven't found any. So --

THE CHAIRMAN: We may come yet again to the use of the dossier description, but let's stay with withdrawal for the moment.  The last one I want to raise as a specific case is the Niger uranium reporting. We have got two separate streams of reporting [REDACTED] on Niger, [REDACTED] . But there is then a separate stream coming into us; am I right? One is accepted as discredited.

JULIAN MILLER: In terms of --

THE CHAIRMAN: Ours is distinguished. I'm thinking back to the Butler Report.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, this is -- a slight caveat on this. I might be getting some of the details wrong here, but the lines of reporting were [Long REDACTED Section]*5


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: And there was a substantial amount of documentation which subsequently became subject to much discussion, and very complicated discussion, as to what was established to be forgeries and what was not established to be forgeries, which has not been progressed beyond more or less what I have just said. Some is and some wasn't. [Long REDACTED Section]

*5 In the section that has been redacted, the witness set out his understanding of the different sources: Signals intelligence concerning a visit made by an Iraqi official to Niger, and further intelligence in 2002 that came from two independent sources that suggested Iraq had expressed an interest in buying uranium from Niger. One of the sources was based on documentary evidence about contract negotiations. The witness explained that some of this material, including the signals intelligence, stood. The witness then went on to refer to the separate documentary material that others states had received from a journalistic source which had been discussed in the Butler report.

THE CHAIRMAN: That's fine. Thank you. I can't resist a reference to the fact that somebody described Niger as having only two exports.

The Two Sir Johns attempts a some funnies... at the expense of Niger

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I think 75 per cent of their exports were, at that point, uranium.

THE CHAIRMAN: And the rest were chickens.

Niger has two significant uranium mines providing 7.5% of world mining output from Africa's highest-grade uranium ores.

I cant remember the original source of this picture of the Areva Uranium mine in Niger as it seems to have fallen off the internet but there's some interesting background here.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: It's not got many exports. [REDACTED - probably because Jerry Sadowitz would complain of material theft were any more of this conversation to be included?].

THE CHAIRMAN: Let's come on to the validation process. Again, this has been in the purview of the Butler Committee, but it's worth just revisiting, I think.  First of all, the body of intelligence about Iraq's WMDs before the invasion. Were there well-founded doubts expressed about this body of intelligence pre-conflict by anyone?

JULIAN MILLER: No, I don't recall any doubts being expressed about the body of the intelligence reporting. Clearly some streams were very well-established and reliable. Others were less established. But the overall body of material was accepted, certainly in the JIC community, as being a sound basis for the conclusions that we reached.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. To put it plainly, there was no reason to report concerns to the Prime Minister about this whole body of intelligence pre-conflict because concerns were not, as it were, coming forward. He was entitled to accept what he was being given, what he was reading, what assessments --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Nobody was telling him, to my knowledge, that there was a contrary flow of reporting, there were contrary indications, there was contrary advice coming through. There was no contrary advice coming through, and there was no challenge of that kind taking place.  When I say "challenge", I mean authoritative people from within the system coming forward and saying no, this is fundamentally wrong. That was not happening within the intelligence community, to our knowledge.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Was that something that could happen on quite other issues, that there would be this questioning of intelligence?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, it certainly -- I mean, as far as I was aware, there was a culture of free speech. I don't remember trying to suppress anything on any issue during my time there. So if people had -- if anybody in a position to make a judgment or give a view had wanted to challenge this, or indeed anything else that was happening at that time, then I'm sure they would have done so.

JULIAN MILLER: Perhaps I could give an example, just from the assessment staff perspective. I can think of, I think, two cases where there were significant streams of reporting, not to do with Iraq in either case, but where the team on the assessment staff felt that the intelligence picture coming from these reports raised questions of consistency with other information, or even internal consistency, and where that reporting was challenged as a result of this, and in one case at least was withdrawn.  So there was certainly -- as John says, there was an atmosphere of free speech, but also, I hope, an atmosphere of intelligent reading of the material, and we didn't see it as our job to sort of second-guess the agencies on the reliability of their sources, but we did see it as our job to act intelligently, if the material coming through to us raised other questions.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: So it's significant that there was no challenge?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I think, given what happened, yes, it is significant. Of course, I know that clearly a great deal of subsequent debate about expert opinion on particular points, for example -- well, most particularly within DIS. They were on important but all the same points of detail. In terms of the overall thrust of the judgment about possession there was no challenge at the JIC level at that time at all, and indeed, nor subsequently in the months following, nor subsequently in the immediate few weeks after the conflict began.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEGMAN: Justfollowing this through though, because one of the issues that has been raised is the regular references to patchy intelligence and so on. Part of it is an awareness that though the community may have come to a shared view, possibly strongly held, it was still based on quite limited amounts of actual material, much of it still left over from the 1990s from the UNSCOM period.

JULIAN MILLER: As the assessment said, the intelligence was patchy. It was sporadic. It didn't flow through in great volumes routinely, particularly prior to the summer of 2002. But I think the sense of the community was that yes, we are not getting a full picture, but we are getting here a pretty consistent picture, even if it is a rather patchy one, sufficient to inform these judgments, but certainly as additional intelligence came through in the course of 2002, the sense was that that did then begin to provide a weightier basis for reaching the conclusions which were set out in September.

THE CHAIRMAN: I would like to try some counter factuals in a bit, in the light of hindsight from 2004 and 2003.  Just before we get to that though, looking at withdrawal of intelligence reporting, how is that done as a process, as a system? Is it the collection agency that is responsible?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes. Yes, it was wholly the collection agency. They would take their decision. I'm trying to recall how it happened. Of course, it did happen formally rather late in the day here, and it had been flagged up publicly in Lord Butler's review that it was likely to happen. So there was an awareness within the assessment and customer community that it was likely to happen, and obviously by that stage, mid-2004, in all the circumstances, there was a great deal of questioning of the reliability of the reporting. But the responsibility for the withdrawal was absolutely, and it could only be, with the collection agency.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. I think it's important to establish the doctrine that prevails here, and has prevailed, which is that it's not for the assessment staff or the JIC to try to reassess or rather revalidate intelligence that's being supplied. Is that --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Except, of course, clearly, if we had good reason to conclude there was something wrong with it, or it wasn't fitting in with other intelligence coming through, or indeed it wasn't being substantiated on the ground, then clearly an awful lot of other people would be asking questions, and that did eventually happen, although I don't think assessment staff especially led on the questioning.

JULIAN MILLER: The way you described the doctrine certainly accords with my understanding that we were recipients of the intelligence on the basis described and we gave weight to those descriptions, but we didn't try to get underneath the surface of what had led to a conclusion particularly about the reliability of any particular stream.


SIR RODERIC LYNE: Just while we are on this point, to be absolutely clear, how much in the JIC, therefore, did you know about the sources of the intelligence that were coming to you?

JULIAN MILLER: Generally, not a great deal. From time to time, when there were particular sources that the agencies attached great weight to, there was some briefing given on why they were attaching particular weight to a source. But it was all at a fairly high level of generality, and there was, for the bulk of the reporting, nothing more than the descriptors on the individual reports.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So the three or four sentences that one gets on a [SIS] report describing the source, saying whether it's deemed not reliable or established, is essentially what you knew?

JULIAN MILLER: And sometimes whether it is direct or indirect.

At this point Sir John Scarlett divulges that despite earning over £160,000 a year as head of the JIC he knew nothing about data sourcing nor how many lines of reporting their were?!?

Which of course wouldn't matter as much if the information was not being used to justify a war.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Obviously I have thought about this a lot subsequently, and in any case the key Butler recommendation which subsequently has had a lot of work done on it, but there was no -- at that time none of us in assessment staff, including me, knew the details of this sourcing. Nor were we clear how many lines of reporting there were, and I know that because just before the conflict I was asking those questions: how many lines of reporting are we actually talking about? So I know that --

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You referred earlier to three streams of reporting.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, three streams of reporting which were influential on the question of possession in early September 2002. But taken overall, I think as of mid-March 2003, looking at the sort of overall contribution from Humint reporting which was coming from SIS, I think we said five lines by that stage. But, I mean, that was a general statement which we were given by the agency. It wasn't something that reflected research and real knowledge on our part.  Now, in terms of the compartmented intelligence which came through in mid-September, 11 September and subsequently, 2002, we were told that this was important, potentially important reporting, but a new source, with a little bit more about the nature of the access and the access of the subsource, but a very limited amount, not really possible to make -- much of it.  Now, of course, one of the conclusions, correct conclusions of the Butler Review was that this was not an adequate system, and the assessors and the analysts needed to be in a better position to understand the nature of reporting flows, and therefore to question them when really important issues and assessment judgments were coming up. There has been a major change in that area subsequently.

Humint is an acronim for HUMan INTelligence.  For those of you who are not spies here's some basic training in handling human intelligence and interrogation techiques I picked up from wikipedia which I found work very well when trying to figure out exactly how a couple of Mirth Control acts mysteriously materialised in one's venue to preview their Fringe show to no one with no warning and no real explanation...

Cooperation level Cooperation code Knowledgeability level Knowledgeability code
Responds to direct questions 1 Very likely to have pertinent information A
Responds hesitantly 2 May have pertinent information B
Does not respond 3 Unlikely to have pertinent information C

...The questioning itself can be carried out in a friendly, persuasive manner, from a hard, merciless and threatening posture, or with an impersonal and neutral approach. In order to achieve the disconcerting effect of alternation among these attitudes it may be necessary to use as many as four different interrogators playing the following roles, although one interrogator may sometimes double in two of them:

the cold, unfeeling individual whose questions are shot out as from a machine-gun,
whose voice is hard and monotonous, who neither threatens nor shows compassion.

the bullying interrogator who uses threats, insults and sarcasm to break through the subject's guard
by making him lose his temper or by exhausting him. 

the ostensibly naive and credulous questioner, who seems to be taken in by the prisoner's story,
makes him feel smarter than the interrogator, gives him his rope
and builds up false confidence which may betray him.

the kind and friendly man, understanding and persuasive,
whose sympathetic approach is of decisive importance at the climactic phase of the interrogation.
He is most effectively used after a siege with the first and second types,
or after a troubled sleep following such a siege.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But at that time, as consumers of Humint from SIS, you basically had to rely on the assumption that the traditional rigorous process of internal validation of a report within SIS, before it is even put out as a [SIS report], was still robust and operative, and any further questions about that are ones we should direct to the person who would see it at the time, rather than to you. But from where you sat, you were confident that anything coming to you from SIS had already been through a robust process of internal validation.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes, exactly. At the end of the day, it had to be, and has to be now.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: It wasn't for you to question that.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, we didn't question it, and as far as we were concerned, just to be blunt about it, we were seeing a lot of established and reliable intelligence reporting coming through on this subject in this period of time.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: And was any of this coming from emigre sources?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Not to my knowledge.

JULIAN MILLER: No, I don't think so.[REDACTED]
THE CHAIRMAN: C gave evidence to the Butler Committee that they were extremely sceptical of --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes, that's right, and we were aware of that risk. Anything we had which came near it, we definitely didn't take any notice of. So that idea that we were reliant on emigre reporting is not true. Not that I think that anybody authoritatively ever said it, but it's out there.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: It's out there, so it's important to establish this clearly. Even if not reliant upon it, could these streams of emigre reporting [REDACTED] have had some influence on us, or do you think they were pretty well shut out by [REDACTED followed by REDACTED Answer]

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But they weren't creeping into the margins of your assessments?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: No. I don't know, you may have a good -- I'd like to go back on it, but this question of sporadic and patchy was raised. Do you want me to come back to it?

THE CHAIRMAN: I think I would rather leave that to the dossier in a few minutes. What I'm going to try and do is finish this round of questioning in five or so minutes, and then have a bit of a break and then come back to it.  What I would like to do is to try a couple of counter factuals.

We are in a position now where the intelligence withdrawn after the conflict has been withdrawn.
Then go back to September 2002.

What would it have been possible to say by way of judgments about Saddam having active programmes, based on such intelligence as has not been subsequently withdrawn?

I know it's counter factual, but it's --

JULIAN MILLER: It's a point which, of course, we have thought a little about. The position in May 2001 didn't, I think, draw on the withdrawn intelligence. So the view then, based on the historical context and some limited additional intelligence, would, I think, have rolled forward into 2002. There would have been some supplementary intelligence which had not been withdrawn, including from [REDACTED], which would have added to a view on continuing production and a view on existence of these weapons and intent to use them and reliance.  So by September I think we would have been in a position which was less firm than in the published assessment, the existing assessment, but which was somewhat firmer on possession and production than the position we had reached in 2001.

THE CHAIRMAN: Right. So it's a reasonable inference to say that there is relevant and still valid post UNSCOM, post 1998 reporting, which contributed to assessments in 2001?

JULIAN MILLER: Well, there's intelligence which hasn't been withdrawn, which if we --

THE CHAIRMAN: And which had come in after UNSCOM leaves in 1998?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Here I think we are talking about 2002.



SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I'm not completely sure Julian will agree with me on this, but disagree of course because it's free speech.  If all that reporting hadn't been in play, if there had been no mobile reporting taken seriously, if there had been nothing from, if I can call it that, the 45-minute source on intent to use, and of course that reporting continued to come through during the autumn -- there was further reporting in November, for example -- and if there hadn't been the compartmented source, there might have been a slight firming up of the March 2002 judgment on possession. But already the March 2002 judgment on certainly Iraq's pursuit of its nuclear programme -- of its WMD programme was already pretty strong actually. That would have only slightly firmed up, but it would definitely not have been as firm on either possession, and we wouldn't have talked about production in the way that we did.

JULIAN MILLER: Yes. I pretty much agree with that. I think that some of the [A well established REDACTED source]. reporting would have been influential still on both points, but --


*7 In the redacted section, the witness explained why the material in question had not been withdrawn and went on to explain that it was reflecting something that he viewed as actually quite important: what was believed in the source’s circle of high level contacts.

So put simply neither Sir John Scarlett nor Julian Miller can agree even between themselves if whether when you remove the intelligence that was later found to be nonsense from the JIC judgements there's anything substantial left. 

And if they could agree on anything about this it's been REDACTED.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So it's a question of access, not of the honesty of the source?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: It's more than access, because it's the nature of the regime and the kinds of things that people thought at the very top of the regime. In a normal regime it would have been regarded as well placed and authoritative.

THE CHAIRMAN: The real question for those doing the validation is: is this more than a report of a prevailing perception? Is it actually a report of a factual situation? It was actually the former.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes, [REDACTED]. So weight was placed on his reporting.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: If you withdraw the withdrawn material, you could still create a dossier.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes. Well, we would have done, because the decision on the dossier wasn't related to that report.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: It would still have been a dossier of substance.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes, but it would not have said some important things which it did say.

THE CHAIRMAN: I have just got one last thing on this, which is really a cross-check. This is very much for you, Sir John, as JIC chairman at the time.  Sir David Omand told us in evidence that intelligence was extremely hard to find in 2001, 2002, 2003:  "SIS overpromised and underdelivered because when it became clear that intelligence was hard to find, they really had to bust a gut to generate it."

Sir David Omand is currently a visiting professor at King's College London... like Professor Emma Sky ...and every other unemployed spy former top civil servant.  According to Sir David the addition of the 45 minutes claim was simply "a bit of local colour" and "with hindsight, one can see that adding a bit of local colour like that is asking for trouble".

That's what David said --


THE CHAIRMAN: -- from the standpoint of JIC.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes. Well, I have been clear about the weight that we placed on the lines of reporting that were coming through and how they appeared to us at the time.  I think what David was referring to there was the situation in January and February 2003, when UNMOVIC were not finding things, and so the reaction might have been: well, why is that? But the reaction was: well it's there. This just goes to show that UNMOVIC aren't much use and we will find it. I think that's what he was referring to.


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: And I understand why he says that.

THE CHAIRMAN: I would just like to ask one small set of questions about the declarations of the weapons programme, the inspection process between the return of the inspectors, and then we will break for tea.  So in the light of what by July 2004 we know, is it possible to reassess Saddam's December 2002 declaration? It was assessed at the time -- this might be 9,000 pages long, 11,000.

This is really quite important because it's about the degree of completeness, accuracy, therefore compliance with the provisions of SCR1441. The assessment at the time is one thing, but if we had reassessed the intelligence, say a year or a year and a half later, would we have made a different assessment of that declaration?

JULIAN MILLER: It's not an issue that I have thought about or looked into. I think my immediate reaction is that we would have to have reached a somewhat different conclusion because some of our concerns about Saddam's declaration were rooted in the intelligence view about the extent of his possession and continuing programme.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, because the material balance, or rather imbalance, was not being explained in the declaration.

In this load of waffle Sir John Scarlett and Julian Miller are explaining that although Iraq destroyed Al Hussein missiles and their chemical stockpiles because they didnt tell anyone about this they were still technically not conforming with Security Council resolution 1441.

JULIAN MILLER: Yes, and the declaration, I think, was deficient in other respects, in that it didn't address some of the particular concerns that had been raised about past declarations by the Iraqi authorities. So -- I'm sorry, this is a rather unstructured response, but I think there would still have been some serious reservations about it, but that they would have been less pronounced than they were at the time.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I think this needs careful answering, this question, because of the nature of the requirements which were placed on the Iraqi side in this particular declaration. Even allowing for what we now know, or don't know, there was a lot -- a detailed study of the declaration, which I'm afraid I'm not offering, I suspect would show that there were a whole series of deficiencies and ways in which one -- for example, it was subsequently established by the ISG that they had unilaterally destroyed their agent stockpile in 1991, they hadn't told anybody, and of course they didn't say anything about that in the declaration. Ditto they didn't say anything about the destruction of Al Hussein in 1992, which of course they should have done in the declaration.  There was a lot of concealment which was going on. They said nothing about the further design work on missiles and so on. So there would have been a whole series of points where the declaration would still have been found to be, as it were, not conforming with 1441. Now, of course how much weight would have then been placed on those conclusions would have been a political judgment, but in technical terms, I think you would find a lot of those boxes would have been ticked now, I suspect.

THE CHAIRMAN: We have got the inspectors in between November 2002 until they were withdrawn in mid-March, and they are both getting -- their work is the subject of intelligence reporting over that period.
Are there any doubts, deficiencies, or indeed achievements and successes, that one ought to draw attention to in that period? There have been, on the one hand, from UNMOVIC complaints from Blix that they were not getting enough intelligence reporting to help with the finds, et cetera, et cetera. On the other hand there doesn't seem to be an outstanding gap or failing.  I just wonder whether you would like to comment from the standpoint of JIC and the assessment staff. This was a major objective, wasn't it?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: At the time -- of course there's been a lot of discussion now, and not least with the Committee, as to, as it were, what impact was being made on policy makers, and also on intelligence assessment, by the failure to find things.  I can only say that at that time -- this is a very short period of time. Progress and events are measured in days and in a small number of weeks. Events move very fast. At the time the stated view was that they had found things, and that there were items in the intelligence --

THE CHAIRMAN: Agent cases.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: -- and documents(?) and so on, which were bearing out the intelligence, and I definitely said that at the time and believed it. So my own mindset, I quite clearly recall, up until early March at least, was that intelligence to a significant extent was being borne out by what was being found by UNMOVIC. My state of mind wasn't: oh gosh, UNMOVIC aren't finding things, therefore there's something big which is wrong.  Now, if we had continued and had had more time, and this hadn't all just come to an end in the middle of March, of course that would have changed. But it's important to remember that the discoveries were in late January and the conflict started in the middle of March.

To be fair to Sir John this rings true when we look back as SIS1's eidence

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So I don't want to spend a lot of time on the intelligence picture itself, but perhaps just to ask you whether you found the picture clearer by early 2003 than it had seemed to you earlier, when you looked back to it at that point. You felt more confident, rather than less, if you like?

SIS1: I think that the impact of some of the UNMOVIC inspections had increased our confidence that the stuff was there. We just needed the intelligence [redacted] to produce it. There were about three or four glimpses of what was there. As it turns out, the programme didn't exist. But when, for example, [redacted] said they went to this place, they missed the engines for these [Volga] missiles, which would be in breach of Security Council resolutions, if you go back there you will find them. They went back, they found them. One example. 

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. I was going to ask Mr Miller to comment.

JULIAN MILLER: Only to add -- and I think this has also been covered previously -- that there was a flow of intelligence to the inspectors which in some cases, as John has said, led to discoveries, and in cases where it didn't, it simply wasn't possible for us to reach a firm view on whether the deficiency was in the intelligence or in the ability to move fast enough in Iraq to uncover what was said to have been concealed.

THE CHAIRMAN: So it's not in any sense on all fours with withdrawing or discrediting lines of intelligence reporting over a period. You may or may not get a result in this very short-term high urgency reporting about there may be something worth finding at this particular grid reference. That's not the same kind of thing. So you wouldn't be talking about discrediting.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: At this stage, no. That was not the conclusion that we drew. I can't say that. Nothing happened at that time to make us say there was something wrong with this reporting. Some things happened which made us say there's something right with it.  Of course we should also mention the fact that the whole set of reports, and there's a lot of reporting about concealment activity at this time, and also detailed attempts to bamboozle the inspectors, some of which was detailed and convincing, and was believed, not just by the JIC and the assessment staff, but throughout the policy making community.


SIR RODERIC LYNE: From what you have just said, did you advise Ministers that because of the difficulty of actually reaching a really confident view through the inspection process, the intelligence-fed inspection process, that it would be advisable to have more time before really coming to judgments about the inspection?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I did not advise that. As far as I know, Julian didn't either. I think I probably would have known if he had. But we were very conscious -- certainly speaking for myself, I was very conscious of the military timetable factor here. I know that David Omand,

for example, referred to that, and that's completely correct. I knew that we were being bulldozed, if you like, by the military timetable which pointed very strongly to early or mid-March.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Were you being asked to give judgments or assessments -- and I don't know if this really fell within the scope of the JIC or not -- on the effectiveness of the inspection process and whether we should have confidence in it? You just commented on it, in a sense. But was that part of your duty, or did it fall to somebody else to advise on this?

JULIAN MILLER: I don't recall advising on that. I recall us having some interest in, if you like, the makeup of the inspectors and how their business was done. But I don't recall us having a role in advising on the overall outcome of the process or the timeframe that should be allowed.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I don't think there's any record of us having done it.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: An awful lot hung on our judgment and that of other governments about whether or not the inspectors were being completely hoodwinked or getting somewhere, or giving them more time would allow them to get somewhere. I'm just trying to work out who in the British Government -- it's not necessarily the JIC -- should be the people to form a view on that.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I have to say, I see that definitely as a policy issue, and I can't -- although, of course, in the circumstances maybe I might subsequently regret that I didn't say something, I can't honestly say I thought that at the time --

SIR RODERIC LYNE: No, I'm asking an open question.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think we can leave it there. It's not a JIC matter. Okay.  I think we ought to break for tea for ten minutes. If you would like to ... then we will come back to the dossier.

THE CHAIRMAN: Let's resume. I'll ask Sir Lawrence Freedman to open you some further questions.

Sir John Scarlett on patchy and sporadic dossiers

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Do you want to add anything to that?

JULIAN MILLER: Perhaps just to reinforce it. In my role in the assessment staff we put papers to the JIC. We would then get direction, sometimes to adjust them. The paper we put to the JIC at the beginning of September was one which reflected the view up until that point. We didn't pick up all the new intelligence that was just coming in. The discussion on 4 September at the JIC really was one that gelled with the very firm view amongst the community about both the possession and the readiness to use, on Saddam's part, these weapons.  We went away, in the light of that discussion, and wrote the paper which is the final assessment and expressed those views really quite specifically and as very firm judgments which did, I think, pin down the view of the JIC community at that point. It was the moment which sticks with me as being quite an important one in terms of the arrival of new intelligence, and the precipitation of a discussion in the JIC which led to a very firm expression of the judgments it had reached on both possession and intent.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We are now into the sort of dossier period. We have obviously discussed it with you before, Sir John, and now, since then, had evidence from, amongst others, Alistair Campbell and Sir David Omand, who added to our knowledge on the issue. 

A broad question first on the impact of the political context. You knew what was going on. Leaving aside the very particular questions of the direction of the dossier, how do you find it in terms of separating yourself from what has now been said by prime ministers and presidents about the material with which you are dealing daily? Is it difficult to keep the separation of intelligence and policy as a general matter in these times?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Was it difficult?


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I cannot recall worrying about this at the time in a deep way. Obviously I, we worried about it because we understood that it was necessary to ensure that the public assessment was consistent with what was being said in the classified assessments, and so that discipline was very strong within us, and in ways that have been discussed many times, we sought to protect ourselves against --

THE CHAIRMAN: Could I just interject? Because of our very strict protocols, this is not an issue that needs to be confined to a public hearing. So we may need to publish a transcript of this particular exchange if it continues.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: It was leading to the next -- carry on.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: So I do not recall worrying about it in a deep way or in the sense that it was something which I or we couldn't control. It was something to which we had to pay very close attention, both through the procedures and processes we followed, and by the way we reached our judgments. But I never felt that I was not in control of the process, and I have said that on quite a number of occasions.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I raised it because Sir David Omand had raised with us this question of a nervousness within the intelligence community about the use of their intelligence in a dossier of this sort. So was that your sense, that the intelligence professionals that you were dealing with were nervous about their material being used in this way?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I saw myself as an intelligence professional as well, and so --

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I'm talking about SIS and so on.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, the issue that I think David Omand was referring to was the worry that individual items of intelligence and sensitive reporting would get into the public domain. He was worried about that, and therefore there was an instinctive reaction on the part of intelligence professionals in particular that that risk might exist in a public process, and it was something which, for obvious reasons, I shared completely, and therefore we had processes in place to make sure that it didn't happen. That's how I interpreted his comments.

JULIAN MILLER: Could I reinforce that? It was certainly my interpretation of his comments, and it was the experience at the time that the agencies were understandably concerned that it would be easy for material to be put into the public domain by people not conversant with the details of their processes which might actually inadvertently damage their position. It had come up as an issue a little earlier than this, when we were putting into the public domain in 2001 the reasons for reaching a conclusion on UBL's involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

I recall at that point having discussions with colleagues in the intelligence agencies about much the same issue, and the concern that we needed to be very, very scrupulous about not saying anything which would call into -- or put any risk any of their source of intelligence. That flavour came through again when we came to talk about the dossier.  But overall, certainly from my contacts at that time with the agencies, I would say that there was a support for the process and a strong acceptance, a wide acceptance, that there was a good case for making public the basis of some of these important judgments that were informing Ministers.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: It was not -- I do not recall the drafting process as a contested process.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So when you have uranium from Niger, mobile biological weapons and 45 minutes, all of these things came up through the agencies and there was no controversy about, as intelligence, whether they should be included in the dossier?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: In terms of whether it was safe for source protection reasons?


JULIAN MILLER: No, there was no controversy over including them in the dossier for that or, as far as I recall, any other reason. But it was absolutely essential to retaining the confidence of the agencies that their people were intimately involved in the process of drafting and had every opportunity to review the language and make sure that we weren't, through ignorance or carelessness, letting anything slip which they would find damaging.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: What about material that had come from foreign liaison? Were there any issues there?

JULIAN MILLER: My recollection is that we relied on the agencies who had been the source of the liaison, to check back with their liaison partners where necessary, as to whether we could use it, and if so, in what terms.

Sir John Scarlett and Julain Miller now try to explain that either they didn't know or that they didn't think it was a big deal that the DIS clearly thought the assessments needed reassessment.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: What about concerns about particular assessments? You have already mentioned the DIS concerns about some of the language used in the final draft. How well aware were you of these concerns and how did you respond?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: In my case I wasn't aware of them at all, with one exception. I was aware that there had been questioning from within the DIS about the fact that they hadn't seen the compartmented report. So that was discussed between Julian and myself in whenever it was, about 17 September, and we agreed that it would be necessary, of course, for them to be shown the compartmented report, and as far as I was concerned, that happened. There was no further awareness on my part.

JULIAN MILLER: The only other area where I recall any sort of discussion with the DIS over this sort of point was where there were views expressed in the dossier as judgments. I think on one occasion someone in the DIS suggested that the language was stronger in the judgment than in the account of the intelligence, and our view was that it was a judgment. It was expressed as a judgment, reflected a broader appraisal of the position, and it was consistent with the JIC's views to express it in those terms. So there was some discussion, but I don't recall that as being a major issue.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Can I just ask you about a couple of issues that were raised with Alastair Campbell? One of these is the email note that came to you that said:

"Number 10 through the Chairman wants the document to be as strong as possible within the bounds of available intelligence".

Sir John Scarlett on Making the Dossier Strong as Possible

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Can I just ask you about a particular question, which is the nuclear timeline?


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Now, there's this question about what would happen if the Iraqis got hold of fissile material.  The first thing that I'm interested in is whether anybody thought there was a realistic chance of the Iraqis getting hold of fissile material, and if so, how.

JULIAN MILLER: This was a thought which had been in assessments for a while. There had been a distinction drawn between the position if sanctions remained in place, or if sanctions were lifted, or if Iraq somehow got other assistance, fissile material or external expertise or help.  The source of fissile material was never spelled out, but my recollection of the thinking at the time was that there was considerable concern about the availability of fissile material in the former Soviet Union, and concern that such material was not universally well protected there and was subject to the risk of diversion, either by criminal or other state means. So I think there was a -- there was no specific reason to think that Iraq was in the process of obtaining fissile material from the former Soviet Union, but there was a concern that such material was available and not fully safeguarded.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But there was no specific intelligence to suggest that Iraq was trying to get fissile material from this or other sources?

JULIAN MILLER: There was no such intelligence.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Can I just add there that the concern about the availability, especially from the former Soviet Union, of fissile material was a serious concern at that particular time, and again, of course, this is looking back many years.  As an example of an expression of that concern, in the autumn of 2001, which was a year or nine months before, in the early aftermath after 9/11, and this of course was in the context of worries about the issue generally and leaks to terrorists, [Long REDACTED Section] 

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So there was intelligence about potential supply?


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But not necessarily to Iraq?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Not specifically to Iraq.

There's now a very interesting section in which Julian Miller and Sir Lawrence Freedman discuss how long the DIS reckoned it would take Saddam to build a nuclear weapon given fissile material...

...And some discussion on whether Alastair Campbell has got involved in the analysis of this timespan.  An interesting part of this discussion is that the pretence that it takes a long time to build a nuclear weapon even once you have enough fissile material that politicians have been peddling for years seems now to be openly dropped.  The crucial question is how far had Saddam got in making centrifuges from his metal tubes... if that's what they were for?  A question to which no one knows the answer.

Julian Miller on Saddam Alastair Campbell and nuclear bomb

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: And IISS, of course, famously put it at nine months, which of course was in the public domain by this stage.

For those of you who aren't spies the IISS is the International Institute of Strategic Studies started by now 89 year old Sir Micheal Howard (the historian ...not the former leader of the Conservative Party).  Sir Micheal is famous as the founder of the Department of War Studies at Kings College London which is where a lot of people in this saga seem to hang out...

PEACE by PIECE: Sir Michael Howard, Military Historian, President-Emeritus of the International Institute of Strategic Studies from Madeline S. McEneney on Vimeo.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Yes. But your previous assessment had just said it would shorten. So it became much more specific at this stage.

JULIAN MILLER: It did, and we were very much in dialogue with the technical experts about what the best judgment was. I don't recall it being driven by a need to fit in with the American judgment, and indeed it didn't fit in with it. So it was a more refined assessment, but not one which was fundamentally different.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But it does seem to be one that was strengthened during the course of the different drafts of the dossier.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: It was in the dossier on the 16 September draft. So the one to two years was already in the 16 September draft, and then it was put in again in the 19 September draft and then the final one. So most of the drafts it was already in, and of course what was said in the March, I think it is, 2002 assessment was: this timescale would shorten. So five years. This timescale would shorten if fissile material was acquired from abroad.  I'm not quite sure what the theme of the assessment was, but a month before, in February 2002, the wording was "would be significantly shortened". So I have to say that I don't see it as significantly out of step with the wording which had already been used in the classified assessments, and there was no sense at the time, in my judgment, and this is what I said in September, that we were responding to an American push.  So if you say, Sir Lawrence, that something similar was said to what was said by President Bush, that was absolutely not what we were feeling at the time.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So just in your recollection, what was the main issue that Alastair Campbell was pressing you on in this period?

JULIAN MILLER: Well, my recollection is that it was a drafting point, and not one that I recall fully understanding at the time, but it was to do, I think, with the potential confusion in the way we had expressed the timelines initially, about the time needed when sanctions were in place as against time needed if sanctions were lifted, and then the confusing third element of access to external material or assistance.
I think it may be that it was possible to read an early draft as implying the timelines would be shorter with sanctions in place because there was a cross-reference to the external assistance. So my recollection is simply one of tidying up the language, but not one of changing the substance.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I have still not entirely understood what this issue was about, to be honest.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: That's really helpful. Just quickly, a couple more questions to wrap up on the dossier.  Again quoting David Omand, he suggested it was a big mistake to combine analysis with the making of a case by the Government. I'm interested in your views about how you would respond to that in terms of the lessons for the future as to how one should do this sort of thing.

JULIAN MILLER: Well, we saw the dossier as not the making of a case, as you know, but of putting into the public domain the judgments which had been reached on the available intelligence evidence and assessment.  The making of the case, I suppose, perhaps comes in the foreword and the juxtaposition of the foreword and the document. Clearly, with hindsight, one can see that there's a case for keeping the presentation of the evidence more distinctly separate from the exposition of the evidence.  At the time I don't recall being particularly struck by this, but at the time, of course, we were very firmly of the view that the evidence was strong and pretty conclusive on the key points which were being set out by the policy makers, as well as in the explanatory dossier.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: In general terms you asked me this question in December, and I think I said at the time that I couldn't honestly say that I was conscious or worried about this at the time, and that has to remain the position. Like Julian, I don't think anybody was -- this issue wasn't raised by David Omand, it wasn't raised by anybody, and nobody has claimed that they were raising it at the time.
Clearly, with hindsight, and in view of everything that has happened, it's a very good point.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I'm conscious of the time.

[Long REDACTED Section]

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Let me then move on to the post-conflict search for WMD. Just one question left over from the inspections period. I don't know if you were aware of the statement made by Hans Blix to the Prime Minister when they discussed the position before, I think, the 14 February presentation, when he gave a reasonably clear indication that he was questioning or starting to question how much was actually there.  Were you aware of that view that was starting to be held by Blix?

JULIAN MILLER: I'm afraid I'm not sure at this remove whether I was aware of that exchange or not. I think that I was aware that the inspectors were uncertain as to what there was for them to find.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: If I can just add two points there, my recollection of that time is that what I was more aware of from Hans Blix was that he wanted more time, and that that was the biggest theme that came through to me; and secondly, of course there was a lot of focus on that time on the issue of interviews with scientists. That was seen as a test point.


SIR JOHN SCARLETT: We flagged that up to whoever we were speaking to, that Blix was reluctant to insist on interviews, I mean, for a whole range of perfectly understandable reasons. But it did mean that there appeared to be a sort of lack of rigour in his follow-through, and that was an issue of concern.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Did that affect your sympathy with his request for more time?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I'm not sure. I remember at the time understanding why he was saying what he was saying, but then thinking the trouble is that this[*8] is obviously a key point, and I don't think I can take my thoughts further than that.

8 I.E. interviews with scientists.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Let's then move on to the inspections with the ISG. Just how much contact did you have with the process with the British and American representatives of the ISG? Is this something that you were involved in?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, a lot, is the answer. The actual day-to-day conduct of business with the ISG was conducted by something called the Executive Group, which was overseen by the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence. So it was, if you like, more on the DIS/MOD side, and that was where the direction of the British contribution to the ISG and personnel was directed from.  But the JIC sort of overall, I as Chairman as the JIC, and I, in particular, as chairman of the JIC sub-group on Iraq WMD which was set up at the beginning of June 2003, had that as part of our specific remit, that we needed to oversee the relationship with the ISG. So I was either in direct contact myself with David Kay, for the rest of 2003, and then Charles Duelfer into 2004, when they came to London, or through VTCs in Baghdad, or I went to visit the ISG in December 2003, when I was in Baghdad, or I was obviously hearing about them because I was receiving reports from DCDI, who either himself went to Baghdad or was conducting the contacts. So there was very regular contact.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And what was the expectation during the early months about what they were likely to find and when they would find it?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, by this stage, I think, speaking for myself, and probably most of my colleagues, one was not in the expectation business. There was a process in place. There was a very heavily resourced process in place, which had taken a bit of time to get going. The ISG didn't really get going until mid to late June, maybe a bit later. Then there was a question of them getting on with it in conditions which were clearly becoming more difficult, and waiting to see what would come through. So the important point, when one looks back at the documentation, one can see this ongoing process being monitored.

As a starting point, there was an assessment on 27 June 2003, which was called the "Emerging picture Iraq WMD". That sort of logged the picture at that moment, which was more or less when the ISG was seriously getting going.

There was one in the middle of July, 16 July, on prohibited missile designs, which looked at more detail of that particular issue. Then there wasn't a further formal JIC assessment until the end of the following year, 23 December 2004, when there was a formal review of JIC judgments in 2002, which took account of the ISG final report which had been issued in October 2004.

But in case anybody thinks that therefore the JIC wasn't looking at it at that time, it certainly was, but it was doing it through the process of reporting from, contact with, monitoring of, participation in, through British representatives, the work of the ISG on the ground. There were regular reports coming in and then being disseminated to Number 10 and to JIC members, and that is how the work of the ISG was tracked.  So the starting point was 27 June, and I can go through the key points, if you want, as to what that said.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I think it might be useful if we could see it. Whether we've got it --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes, I think you have.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I'm sure we have. So that we can do.  I'm just interested in the way that the discussions went, as presumably it became evident that things were not being found that might have been expected to be found.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Perhaps you could concentrate on that aspect of it.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, that was there and it was clearly stated. So in the end of June assessment it was just stated that no munitions of stocks or agent had been found for CW, [REDACTED]. That was set against the fact that even during the conflict there had been continuing intelligence about tactical deployment of CW. This was early on, after the end of the conflict, and it was still seen as very early days.  For BW it was slightly different at that point because it's important to say that in late April, early May, trailers were found in Iraq. For the first two or three months after that discovery, those trailers were taken seriously. I certainly took them seriously, and I think the community and the expert community took them seriously. And they were seriously considered to be relevant or possibly relevant to production of micro-organisms which would have been used with biological agent, although it was understood straight away that they weren't perfect for that. But initially no other explanation was found. It was only in mid-June that the alternative explanation of hydrogen production was brought up. They weren't regarded as optimal for that.  So in the BW context, it wasn't a case that nothing had been found, because it was thought that possibly something pretty serious had been found, and of course it played into a major line of reporting which was still being taken seriously at that time. I could go on.  So initially, when I look back at what was stated, it was said in bold terms, straight away, up front to customers what was not being found and what might be being found, and at that stage, emphasis was placed on it was too early to review judgments or change judgments because it was very early days in the search.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: When did that change? When did you start to think: actually we are probably not going to find, and we had better start thinking about how we are going to talk about that?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I can see from the documentation that in September we were still saying that nothing has been found, but it is too early to say that means that nothing will be found.  It's quite difficult to tell from the reporting notes going backwards and forwards at what point, if you like, the psychological mood changed, because clearly almost from the beginning when nothing was found, the possibility that nothing would be found was there. It was obviously within -- it would have been impossible not to have felt that.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: General Fry told us their shock and surprise, as it were, that they had sent off their troops to go to places where they expected to find stocks and there was nothing there.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes. Well, of course everybody felt that. So that surprise was so great in the initial stages that of course it made an impact. I think I would only say that I recall being very conscious of the point that just keeping one's eye on the detail, not making prejudgments one way or the other, just concentrating on trying to find out what actually had happened and the explanation for this surprise.  That sort of steady state, middle-of-the-road attempt to be as, if you like, balanced as possible, is evident from the notes and the other messages which were put forward at that time.  If I can just finish there, going quite a long way into the future, I think I'm right in saying, again from the documentation, that well into the future, in the spring of 2004, by that stage the work of the ISG had progressed a long way down the road, and by that stage it was becoming clearer that material wouldn't be found. But you may recall that even in the Butler Report there was a caveat put on that in the report, that we couldn't be absolutely certain that it wouldn't turn up.  Another reason maybe for some delay here was that the work of the ISG was not smooth. There was a lot of turbulence around the leadership of the ISG which confused the issue quite a lot, and we weren't sure until Charles Duelfer arrived how much reliance to place on the objectivity of what they were doing.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Because of David Kay's rather strong statements?

Former UN Cheif Weapons inspector David Kay said before the Invasion
"Iraq stands in clear violation of international orders to rid itself of these weapons."
He was then sent byt the US to look for WMD after the Invasion when he decided that

"I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and
a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them."

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, you know, he was a rollercoaster ride.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: This is my final question. How did you deal with this issue with the Prime Minister himself? You have mentioned that Number 10 would have been sent all these reports. But the question of the lack of evidence of WMDs was becoming an issue during the second half of 2003 into 2004. He was still making quite strong statements -- I'm not going to quote him, but I'm sure you are aware of him -- in December 2003/January 2004. How you would address this issue with him --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Of course it was a huge issue almost straight away, before the second half of 2003. The advice from the Cabinet Office and from the assessment staff and the JIC was straight down the middle. He was told what was being found and what was not being found, and he was given the best advice about the significance of what was being found and not being found. He was told what I have just said about reluctance to draw negative conclusions too early, but there was nothing in the advice that went from me or from the JIC, when I look back on it now, [to indicate] that anyone was raising expectations that weren't justified.

THE CHAIRMAN: Would that advice have included the fact that certain key intelligence was being withdrawn over that period, up until the end of 2004?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, there was the one line of reporting, the compartmented line in July 2003. But after that, it wasn't, and it didn't begin to be questioned in that sense until the summer of 2004.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I think that's it.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Lawrence. Usha?

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Thank you very much. I want to move on to the question of information on Iraq, and my first set of questions are for you, Julian, and then a couple of questions for you, Sir John.
I think a lot of time has been devoted to evaluating Saddam's options and possible reactions and to the possibility that he might be deposed. But that's not really what I want to cover. What I really want to ask is: were there other aspects of Iraq that you believe this intelligence could have illuminated? For example, things like the civilian infrastructure, the state of institutions?

JULIAN MILLER: I think at the time the intelligence that was coming to us gave some peripheral indications on other areas, but it wasn't really focused on those other areas, and I think that in retrospect, if we had wished to find out more through intelligence channels about those aspects, it might have been possible for us to ask the agencies to make an effort in that direction. I don't recall us doing so.

THE CHAIRMAN: You weren't, for example, being asked by the FCO?

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: That was my next question.

JULIAN MILLER: No. We were -- by and large, we were responding to questions from the policy departments, both Defence and the FCO, and the interest about Iraq was particularly, of course, about its weapons of mass destruction, but also there was interest in its other military capabilities. There was a concern at the time about the no fly zones and the ability of the Air Force to maintain those to operate safely, et cetera. So that was more the area of interest for the departments at the time.  There was -- and we reflected this in assessments -- some consideration of the internal politics of Iraq. We were aware that there was interest in the relationship between the Shia and the Kurds and the views that they might take, but particularly, I think, that was looking forward to the possibility that after Saddam there would be tensions between the communities. But there was very limited intelligence, as I recall, on those aspects.  There was reference in a certain amount of the reporting to views taken by members of the regime and the fact that there were indications that they were under pressure, and that there was concern for safety of families. Dissent was not welcomed in the Saddam regime.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So you were focusing on that side because that's where the information was being asked for, but you were not being asked for information about institutions and the state of the civilian infrastructure?

JULIAN MILLER: I don't recall a particular focus on that.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: If I could just add there, looking back at the assessments against that question, of course the emphasis was on Saddam's power structures, and it was on the Ba'ath Party, if you like. So the civilian institution which was flagged up in those assessments was the Ba'ath Party and the role that it played.  Of course, the implication of that, and actually a more explicit implication when it came to looking at the conditions in the south, was that in a regime like Saddam's, civilian institutions were suppressed, and the Ba'ath Party was overwhelmingly dominant, and it therefore had that effect, as normally happens in very autocratic regimes.  The second -- we were not asked to look at the particular question, and if we had been, I think almost certainly my response would be: that's not for us. Why should that be an intelligence issue? I wouldn't quite be able to understand how intelligence would help. I would see it as fundamentally something which in the first instance advice would need to come from the Foreign Office.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So that's what you told us when you told us, when you appeared before us, that that was not a natural intelligence target?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes, that's exactly what I meant, and I still think it. Of course, if we had been asked, we would have said can you identify or can we between us work out what would be particularly susceptible to an intelligence view or consideration? And I think it would have been quite narrow. I don't quite see how secret intelligence would have particularly helped.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: But in a regime that you say was rather oppressive, and there was a question of the aftermath, obviously you are getting to see what the political structure is going to be like, but wasn't there any interest in whet the state of the institutions was, what that would mean for the aftermath?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, perhaps there should have been, but I'm very hesitant to accept that that is a role for the JIC. There were plenty of other countries which were living or working in Iraq. There were the Russians, there were the French, there were all sorts of Europeans. The institutions of the British Government could have in many ways gone round and sought advice from allies and partners and other people. That would have been outside the intelligence-gathering process, which is an expensive and difficult process, and you tend to concentrate on things which are susceptible to intelligence work, and if you cannot do it some other way.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: But you did two assessments which addressed the reaction in southern Iraq and the one in northern Iraq. What lay behind those assessments?

JULIAN MILLER: They were trying, I think, to gauge the position at a time when conflict in Iraq was starting to look as though it was a serious possibility, to understand what preparations were being made, and to get a sense of what the position would be in the regions if there was conflict.  So they were focusing on the position of the communities. They were concerned about military consequentials, I think, more than anything else. So again, it wasn't, to revert to your earlier question, really looking at the civilian infrastructure or the nature of Iraqi civil life in those areas. It was looking more at what would happen if there was conflict and what the military dispositions might be. But intelligence was -- there was some intelligence in those areas.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Why wasn't central Iraq covered? You covered north and south, but why not central Iraq?

JULIAN MILLER: We did look at Baghdad, I think.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: We looked at Baghdad in terms of the protective and defensive measures which would be taken there. The reason why we looked at the south, of course, was because by that stage, in the middle of February -- I think that was 19 February, that assessment -- that was where we expected British forces to be in the lead, and I think it was in that assessment or one of those assessments that we actually say that we knew very little about the bureaucratic structures of the Iraqi regime, and indeed we knew very little about the political structures and leaderships and so on in the south, beyond making the judgment, which was a correct one, that these had been so suppressed over so many years that they were not really functioning properly, and that that would be a problem for incoming coalition forces, as indeed it was.

JULIAN MILLER: There was also an interest in trying to assess what might cause problems to the coalition forces, what the coalition forces might do wrong which would alienate the population. So there were assessments about the importance of observing religious sites and not being seen to trample over tribal structures.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So are you suggesting that the knowledge base was not as adequate as you would have liked?

JULIAN MILLER: I'm suggesting that there was limited intelligence or some intelligence, but these assessments were drawing on diplomatic knowledge as well as on intelligence.

THE CHAIRMAN: Sir John, you used the phrase "secret intelligence". We are talking here about something that may be all source, may it not, in which there may or may not be a substantial component of secret intelligence. Is that part of the problem?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I don't think so. I understand the point you are making, Chairman. But then on a subject like this, I would see the lead, if you like, information collection and analysis as lying outside the realms of the intelligence community.  If I may remind everybody, we had very limited resources. There were 28 people in the assessment staff covering the whole world and a lot of other issues, because other things hadn't stopped at the same time, and with the number of people we had deployed on all these very immediate issues, why we, rather than another large department, should have taken this on, I don't quite see.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So did that inhibit you from exploring other potential sources of knowledge or opinion, lack of resources?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well -- yes, of course I made the point about lack of resources -- it's a small resource -- which I have made before, when I gave testimony before. I reminded people of the limited resource that the assessment staff had, and actually continues to have. So it's important to keep its role in perspective.  But my deeper point is that this is not something in the first instance that I would see as a natural lead for the intelligence community per se. But clearly there was a lack of knowledge about conditions inside Iraq. That has been well-established by much of the testimony that you have been given in other sessions.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: I'm now moving on. I was really asking not just about the infrastructure, but about the political situation. Should you have explored other sources of knowledge or opinion? Did you exploit all the sources that you had?

JULIAN MILLER: Well, the process we operated in the assessment staff was one which worked with the current intelligence groups, bringing together people from across the Whitehall community. So they brought in the owners of the secret intelligence, but they also brought in diplomatic and policy experts with other knowledge, who would themselves have been able to draw on other sources of information and analysis: the Foreign Office with its research analysts, for example, other policy makers who have contacts with the external academic community, and people with that broader background would have an opportunity, through the CIG process, to engage in producing the sort of all source appreciation that has been mentioned.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: My other question, Sir John, is that after the invasion, [REDACTED] Were you satisfied with the way intelligence efforts in Iraq were being co-ordinated after the invasion?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, this, of course, was a very complex and again fast-moving situation once the invasion had taken place, and forces and intelligence capabilities and so on suddenly appeared on the ground. So it was a dramatic change, and there was a dramatic change in the nature of the information coming through, and of course the situation itself was continually evolving, more or less before our eyes.
So I think the question of whether we were satisfied or not satisfied is perhaps not quite right, because we took it for granted that it was very difficult, and it was very difficult to keep up and try and get ahead of the game.  But my recollection, borne out as far as I can now bear it out by studying the documents, is that information began coming in very quickly from the obvious sources once we were on the ground. That was particularly true, of course, for the south, where the British were in the lead. And that our view of the co-ordination that was taking place between British forces and elements on the ground in Basra, and indeed in Baghdad, and then back in London, departments and agencies in London, was that that was working quite well. [Long REDACTED section].

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Was it a reason for your visit? Did you go to look at this?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I wanted to go anyway, and there were lots of things to do, but it was a main focus of the visit, the intelligence architecture in Baghdad in particular.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What steps were taken to improve the situation?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, as I recall it at the time, the focus was on the creation of a much more co-ordinated joint fusion cell for analysis. That was recognised as being a necessary requirement, [REDACTED]. It was happening against a backdrop of very rapid events on the ground.

[Long REDACTED section]

I think what I said at the time was that I wasn't promising a dramatic change or improvement, but the problem was being recognised and efforts were being made to address it, and that was a continuing story, really, in Iraq over many months, and indeed years to come.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Did you draw any lessons from that, in terms of something that could have been done better?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: No, I just thought it was a very difficult situation, and we just had to do our very best to get on top of it.

THE CHAIRMAN: I would like to turn to Sir Martin Gilbert now. I know he wants to ask some questions about the insurgencies, but, Martin, you had a question, I think, in your mind about the dossier. You might like to take that up first.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Yes, perhaps I could.  In your Joint Intelligence Committee meeting on 4 September you discussed the JIC assessment of 9 September. In the course of that the point is made, which you as chairman accept and say it should be an integral part of the 9 September paper:  "We need to make clearer where the major gaps in the UK's knowledge and understanding of Iraq's capabilities remained."
I wondered if this was then something that you felt could be an integral part of the published dossier?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, certainly that was one of the points that was discussed on 4 September, and of course that happened in the assessment on the 9th. The reference was made at the beginning to the limited nature of intelligence, although it then went on to make a series of firm judgments, which goes back to the point I was making earlier on.  We both might want to comment on this because, of course, there's been a lot of debate around it.  I would make two points, and then I'm sure Julian would want to come in. One is that the reason why -- well, first of all, there was no sort of discussion or conscious decision made to leave out references to limited intelligence. There was no deliberate intention to do that.  The reason it happened may be because of the way the dossier was structured, and the fact that it began with an executive summary, which was explicitly a collection of judgments, as opposed to a sort of listing of intelligence.  The place where it could have happened would have been in the introduction, where we were talking about the nature of intelligence, and various witnesses and other people involved have said that in retrospect they wish it had been stated there.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: The phrase "major gaps" is rather strong.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, we always made it clear that we didn't know what the scale of the stocks were, and where exactly they were, which is what we were referring to when we talked about gaps.  But I do repeat, Sir Martin, that the view -- and it's clear from the minutes as well -- the view was that the judgments and confidence in the judgments was high, in spite of the areas where we didn't have knowledge. So it was gaps in detailed knowledge, rather than in confidence about basic judgments.

JULIAN MILLER: Yes. I think I haven't really very much to add. The intelligence was not all encompassing by any means. What we tried to do in the assessment and in the dossier was to describe the intelligence as directly as we could, and then set out clearly and distinctly the judgments which had been reached.  The discussion on 4 September did lead the JIC to a very firm set of judgments, firmer than expressed previously, and that was reflected in the 9 September version of the assessment, and it was also reflected in the published material. We felt it was right that the firmness of the judgments that had been expressed in the classified assessment should be echoed in the published --

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: So the gaps in no way impacted on the judgment?

JULIAN MILLER: No, exactly.

Sir John Scarlett on the Shia and al Zarqawi


THE CHAIRMAN: I was in these closing minutes going to ask some questions about Iran, but I think we can leave that to a future evidence session from C in the 2004/2005/2006 period. So I'll turn straight to Sir Roderic Lyne for a final round of questions.

Sir John Scarlett on dossier forward

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But it was the foreword to your dossier and you saw it in draft. Did you ask for any amendments to the Prime Minister's text when you saw it in draft, such as taking out "beyond doubt"?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: No, I didn't, and I didn't react to that phrase at all, and of course, as has been said by others, nor did anybody else.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Thanks. I just wanted to be clear about that.  On the briefing of Ministers, we have heard from several Ministers that they received private intelligence briefings.  Sorry, I should in parenthesis say that the last exchange we have just had about the dossier may well fall into the category of public rather than private, because we weren't discussing use of intelligence. We will have to look at that, I think.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, we will.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Now, this is clearly an intelligence area, my final set of questions.

A number of Ministers from mid-2002 up to the start of hostilities were offered private intelligence briefings.

Can you remember which Ministers were offered intelligence briefings by you or the JIC, and whether any Ministers declined to receive such briefings?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I can remember -- it's clearly recorded who was briefed and when from February 2002. There's a list. I think actually the list is mainly published in the ISC report. I think there was a list of Ministers.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Was it a long list or a short list? For the record, do you want to just run through it?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I'll run through it quickly here. 2003 -- well, Ministers.

10 February, John Reid.

11 February, the Attorney General (Peter Goldsmith), which Julian did, and I think he, the Attorney General, referred to it in his testimony. 

12 February, there was a group, Charles Clarke, Tessa Jowell, Lord Grocott. Lord Irvine, who accepted the invitation, didn't appear.

Clare Short, Lord Williams. That was Ministers.  On the

13th, Margaret Beckett, Peter Hain, Patricia Hewitt, Helen Liddell, Paul Murphy, Andrew Smith. They all came together.  Then on the

14th, Hilary Armstrong, Paul Boateng, who accepted but wasn't there. Then on the

19 February, David Blunkett as Home Secretary had an individual briefing. On the

20th, Robin Cook as leader of the House had an individual briefing. On the

24th, Baroness Symons. Yes, that was it. 

There were also briefings to opposition leaders, Iain Duncan Smith and Charles Kennedy, and to the chairmen of the defence and foreign affairs committees.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I'm probably listening too quickly. Was Clare Short on the list?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Yes, she was. She was in a group on 12 February.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did anybody ever seek briefing from you and you were told not to give them an intelligence briefing?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: No. I'm just -- not that I can recall.

Sir John Scarlett on Robin Cook and JIC briefings

JULIAN MILLER: Just on the September case, my recollection of the discussion of 4 September is that the base document that was in front of the JIC was a draft. It wasn't a full JIC assessment, and it was full of the sort of caveated language because that was the sort of document it was.  In the discussion, the point was made by one of the JIC members that at this stage we should, as a committee, be very clear on what we were telling Ministers, and there was a view expressed in terms that, despite the caveats in the document prepared by the assessment staff, the view was that Saddam did possess the weapons and would be ready to use them, and that was the view that was shared around the JIC table, and which the JIC specifically wanted set out in those unambiguous terms as the advice that Ministers should read from their intelligence committee.  So you are absolutely right to distinguish between the body of the paper and the judgments, but it is a distinction which was made consciously and with deliberation.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Okay. The key point that John has made is that there is now more caveating on the front page to reduce the risk that judgments get too hard in people's minds.

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: But that flows from the Butler recommendation.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Yes. That was my question. I thought it might very well have done and I didn't know the answer, and you have given it to me. So thank you very much.  Just a couple more questions, if I may, because we are up against the clock.  Were you aware as JIC chairman that Ministers were receiving intelligence briefings from people other than yourself within the British Government?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I was aware that there were briefings being given to the Chancellor, but I didn't know the detail, how many, when or where*9. I became aware subsequently that there were -- well, there was one meeting at least where there was an intelligence discussion in Number 10 which I hadn't been present at, and I hadn't known about in advance, or actually on that particular day I was in the United States.

*9 In checking the transcript, the witness added as amplification: or what they were about, Iraq or other subjects.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: An intelligence discussion in Number 10; you mean with the Prime Minister?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: With the Prime Minister.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: And a wider group? You would normally have been at any such discussion, but you were away on this occasion?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, I'm not sure about that actually, but I didn't know that it would actually happen.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Were you aware that Clare Short, as she subsequently said in her book indeed, was receiving briefings from time to time from your predecessor as C at SIS?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: I don't think I was aware of that.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Well, she has told the world that, so we all know.  Okay. I'll leave out the last two --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: If I can just qualify that slightly, so I'm sure I've got the detail correct, I do recall Clare Short referring to the fact that she knew about the intelligence and was familiar with this subject, but I don't remember being very clear as to why that was.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Okay. Let's call it a day.

THE CHAIRMAN: I'm afraid we have overrun a bit, but thank you.  On Iran, we would like to come back to that in a future session to the C at the time, but we might want to look backwards into the JIC chair on that topic.  Can I thank you both very much, and remind that the transcript will be available here in 35 Great Smith Street as soon as reasonably practicable, not to take an overnight stay to do that. With that --

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Can I just ask on that, we have to come in and look at it here, do we?

THE CHAIRMAN: It has to be done here, I'm afraid, when practicable.  Thank you very much indeed.

After the invasion of Iraq JIC chairman Sir John Scarlett was moved to SIS(MI6) and his job as head of the JIC was taken over by Sir William Ehrman .... avuncular looking Gentleman who is now our Ambassador to China with more than a passing resemblance to the late Nigel Hawthorne's Sir Humphrey Appleby.  Hardly surprising as the JIC would seem to operate out the Cabinet Office (as does the Iraq Inquiry?).  Educated at Eton and Cambridge, Mr Ehrman is a China expert and a Mandarin speaker.  Yes, that's right, a mandarin who actually speaks Mandarin.  Actually there are quite a lot of them.  Indeed James Bond ...

...once claimed to have a first in Oriental Languages from Cambridge in You Only Live Twice ...although I believe that to have been a lie of sorts as it has been noticed that this did not seem to be of much use in any of Pierce Brosnan's outings ...although it could be that a 1st in Oriental Languages from Cambridge just doesn't actually cover that many dialects.

Sir William Ehrman had the job of implementing the recomendations of the Butler Report.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We are going to spend most of the time talking about your time with JIC and the Assessment Staff, but because you were both involved in the FCO with counter WMD proliferation, I would like to start with perhaps a couple of questions on that.  It really relates to what was going on with Iraq and the other countries. When we met in public we talked about Libya, Iran, and North Korea and the priority that that they had.  I would just be interested to have your view on how this affected actual collection priorities in the 2002/2003 period.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Perhaps I could start off on that. I think, first of all, it might be worth referring to a section of the strategy, the counter proliferation strategy, which dealt with priorities. It read as follows: "In country programme terms, our top CP priorities are: Iraq - because its WMD may be the exception to the rule that such programmes are usually driven by defensive needs
and, more importantly, are the most likely to be deployed against UK forces and those of our allies."  Then in the other top priorities, and they were not themselves listed in order of priority, but the other top priorities were the Libyan nuclear programme; the Iranian nuclear and missile programmes [REDACTED] the North Korean nuclear and missile programmes.  In terms of --


SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: August 2002. In terms of --

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Did that represent a change from where you were before or was that a supported and established policy?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: It represented a change from 2001, when we started that paper. We gave an early version of it to the Americans. The final version was a UK eyes only paper, approved by the Prime Minister in August 2002. 
[Large REDACTED section]

Sir Lawrence Freedman then asks a redacted question to which Sir William Ehrman gives a redacted reply to which Tim Dowse adds the following.  The start of his speech is REDACTED.

TIM DOWSE: Perhaps if I could just add a bit to this, until I think it was 2000, anything to do with WMD proliferation was in the top rank of priorities for intelligence collection, no matter what the country, what the programme.  We had a look at the way we did set our intelligence priorities at that time. I'm familiar with this because I was at that time in the Treasury as head of defence and intelligence spending and foreign affairs spending. We came at it from the point of view that the agencies were really quite stretched. We needed to reduce the number of very top priority collection targets. In a way this was bringing the formal priorities into line with what was actually happening. But we decided that we should, instead of having this blanket approach of everything to do with proliferation is top priority, we should distinguish between countries and between programmes.
[REDACTED]. We approached it very much more from the point of view of what‟s going to threaten us.  So the WMD intelligence priorities were rejigged across the board, but Iraq always stayed in the top rank.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: More specifically, to answer your question about where Iraq was ranked in 2002/2003 in the JIC requirements and priorities, it was generally a priority 1, with priority 1 requirements for regime stability -- so the political side of things -- armed and paramilitary forces, Iraq's intentions towards the no fly zones and the Kurds and the Shia, Iraq's attitude to compliance with Security Council resolutions and political, military, economic and commercial relations with other Arab states, Iran and Turkey.  But there was a separate WMD annex as well, and Iraq was listed as category 1 for nuclear weapons in almost all contexts, the political programme status, the vulnerabilities. Operational context, only priority 2, and the role of supplier only as priority 3.  For biological weapons, it was 1 throughout. For chemical weapons, it was 1 throughout, except as a supplier, where it was 2, and for delivery systems, it was 1 throughout, except for role as a supplier, where it was category 2.

Here's a table of that

JIC Iraq WMD Annex Table General WMD
Biological Weapons Chemical Weapons Delivery Systems 
Political Program Status 1 1 1 1
Vulnerabilities 1 1 1 1
Operational  2 1 1 1
Supplier 3 1 2 2

1 = Top Priority
2 = Not Quite Top Priority
3 = Not Quite Quite Top Priority
4 = Not Quite Quite Top Priority but Still Worrying
5 = Still Worrying but not as Worrying as
Not Quite Quite Top Priority but Still Worrying

6 = Let's put that one on the Back Burner
7* = Nobody gives a Toss

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Category 2 means it was less?

TIM DOWSE: Lower priority.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Lower, because we had less of a worry about it as a supplier compared to, say, North Korea in some of the programmes, AQ Khan --

Abdul Qadeer Khan pictured above with some of his dangerous toys was a senior nuclear weapons expert who sold Pakistan's nuclear secrets to "axis of evil" countries.  This made MI6 and the CIA quite cross and after pressure was brought to bear on the Pakistan government they put an end to his activities in early 2004.  The Government of Pakistan reported that Khan had signed a confession indicating that he had provided Iran, Libya, and North Korea with designs and centrifuge technology to aid in nuclear weapons programs, and said that the government had not been complicit in the proliferation activities.  See MI6 goes Pear Shaped in Iraq.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Although part of the debate on the issues about the Iraq threat was the potential that it could be a supplier, including to terrorist groups. I know the assessment that we reached on that, but does that prioritisation indicate you were very confident on --

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: No, it doesn't mean we were very confident, which is why that was priority 2, which itself was a high priority. From 2003, there were seven bands of priorities. So it was still a very high priority.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: It would be helpful if you could just perhaps explain the priority system then.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Yes. Perhaps I could just explain how the R&P are put together.


SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: In the spring of each year, the JIC issues strategic guidance, which sets the overall framework for a lot of working groups to go away and look at the individual priorities. Following that, the working groups get to work, and there are a great many of them. Their work comes together in the summer, in a JIC sub-group that looks at the requirements and priorities every year. Then it comes to the full JIC at the beginning of the autumn.  After the JIC has approved it, it goes to a committee called -- I don't know if it still exists. It was then called PSIS, Permanent Secretaries committee, and after that it went to CSI, the Committee on Security and Intelligence of the Cabinet. When that committee approved it, by late autumn, it was then definitive.

It takes our mandarins a whole year to figure out who the biggest threats to the UK are and doing this takes so long that no sooner have they done it than they have to start all over again. 

TIM DOWSE: The committee structures have changed in the last couple of years, but essentially it's the same.  The other thing that has changed: we modified the system in, I think, 2007, to try and make it a little less labour-intensive. But the approach has always been to try and ensure that the things we have at the top priority really are the top priority, because it's a feature of these requirements systems that you tend to get priority creep. Everything moves up. Nothing ever moves down, and the agencies were always complaining that it wasn't very useful to them in deciding how to allocate their resources. If you get to the point where everything is a top priority, nothing is.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: To give you an example, in 2004, jumping ahead to when I was in the JIC, the threat to British forces [REDACTED] was priority 1. It was one of only five that were priority 1.  WMD, because by then we had had the ISG report, that dropped to category 4, because by then we had had most of the answers. So it was a residual role for intelligence.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And there are four categories?*

*Witness‟s note: in 2004 there were in fact 7 categories.  Number 7 is
Nobody gives a Toss.

THE CHAIRMAN: It's not a risk assessment. It's a priority for collection.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Would this priority apply to all agencies, or would you be saying to a particular agency, as far as you are concerned, we would like you to --

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: It applied to the SIS, to the Security -- well, some of them to the Security Service, to GCHQ. DIS took it also, but they had their own separate priorities which were given them by the MOD.  How those were then implemented was a matter of discussion between the agencies, and the individual agencies had to decide on the actual resources they put into each of those priorities.

TIM DOWSE: It's worth just making the point, and it's a point we sometimes had to make to ministers, that the intelligence collection priorities are not a direct translation of the policy importance of a particular issue or country, because they are governed by the added value provided by secret intelligence. So if we have a very large quantity of open source or diplomatic reporting from an open society, we don't usually need very much intelligence. So that could be quite a low priority country for intelligence collection, but nevertheless it still might be important for policy terms. Iraq, of course, fitted into the high priority for all reasons.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just on this DIS role, you have DIS setting its own priorities. In general, in this area, did they --

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Not all of its own priorities. I mean, a lot of the intelligence that they were required to collect was tactical intelligence that the military were requiring in military operations. That did not come before the JIC.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I can understand that, but would they have been putting the same effort proportionately then at the strategic level into the areas that the others would have been putting?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: I would have said yes, and they did a huge amount, particularly on the technical side, where they were considerable experts.

TIM DOWSE: The very top priorities tended to be Iraq, Iran, for WMD, but also other particular reasons; in more recent years, Afghanistan, obviously; terrorism, particularly Al Qaeda, which would be less of a DIS collection priority, more for the other agencies.

THE CHAIRMAN: Just on a side point, DIS have, certainly in the past, described themselves as an all source, including open source, analytical capability, whereas the secret intelligence services would rather narrow their focus, wouldn't they?


TIM DOWSE: We wouldn't look to GCHQ or SIS to tell us things with an open source. It would be a misuse of their --

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: During my year in the JIC, DIS decided to come much more into line with others -- previously they used to rather emphasise, „we are given our marching orders by the Ministry of Defence‟, but during my year in the JIC, the then CDI said that he would be also guided by all of the JIC programmes.

So in a nutshell after the JIC had cocked up / cooked up the dodgy dossiers it was decided that a good idea to prevent this happening again would be to make the DIS (the department who's minions most fequently criticised ithe dodgy dossiers) more subserviant to the JIC

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So it would have been possible then in 2002/2003 that there would have been different emphases?  It's just relevant because of the dossier debates and so on, there were issues from DIS more than it seems from other agencies.

THE CHAIRMAN: Just unpacking Lawrence's question one more level, DIS distinguishing at that time between their military directed efforts, mainly on a tactical level, but within that part of their effort was devoted to, as it were, strategic targets. They would also balance the degree of priority they would give to the broad JIC strategic target selection to what they could do, by reason of their scientific, engineering and other expertise.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Yes, that's correct. But they were particularly strong on all the scientific and technical side of it.

TIM DOWSE: And of course they had been, through the Rockingham Cell, had been supporting the UN inspectors since the early 1990s..........

According to wikipedia "Operation Rockingham was the codeword for UK involvement in inspections in Iraq following the war over Kuwait in 1990-91. Early in 1991 the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) was established to oversee the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Use of the codeword was referred to in the annual British defence policy white paper "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1991" (published in July that year as Command Paper 1559-I) where at page 28 it states "The United Kingdom is playing a full part in the work of the Special Commission; our involvement is known as Operation ROCKINGHAM." The activities carried out by the UK as part of Rockingham were detailed in the following white paper (published in July 1992 as Command Paper 1981)".  As explained in MI6 goes Pear Shaped in Iraq it all went a bit like this... this is covered in more detail in
MI6 goes Pear Shaped Iraq

Or if you cant be bothered to read all that here's a diagram.

According to Scott Ritter the unit amassed evidence selectively, with government backing, for political goals: 
"Operation Rockingham cherry-picked intelligence. It received hard data, but had a preordained outcome in mind. It only put forward a small percentage of the facts when most were ambiguous or noted no WMD... It became part of an effort to maintain a public mindset that Iraq was not in compliance with the inspections. They had to sustain the allegation that Iraq had WMD [when] Unscom was showing the opposite."

This is denied by John Morrison of the DIS....

........Personally, I think that is one of the difficulties we had when it came to the assessment of Iraqi WMD, that there was really nobody in Whitehall, I think, who would have thought of questioning the views of the Rockingham Cell. So if they were content with an assessment, we probably didn't challenge as much as we should have.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Interesting. Can I just ask one other question relating to this early period?
I think I'm right, when Tony Blair gave evidence, that he sort of indicated that Iraq had been picked upon, because it could be picked upon, because it was in violation of UN resolutions and so on, in the hope that this would have an exemplary effect on the others, on Iran and so on.  Do you recall this being part of any assessments you were making or any policies you were developing at the time?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Certainly that was a policy issue. It wasn't an assessment issue. It certainly was in breach of a great many more Security Council resolutions than any other country.  We did actually look at, had it had a salutary effect on Iran, afterwards on Libya, and we thought that there was some evidence that it had affected the Libyans in some way, but it wasn't the only reason why Libya acted as it did.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: That's interesting. That was my next question. When did you do this?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: We did this after we brought down the Libyan programme. There were other reasons why the Libyans also took their decision. [REDACTED]

They also -- one of the most interesting reasons that we assessed subsequently was again related to 9/11, when, if you will recall, Saudi Arabia fell very much out of US favour. Some of the people who flew the planes came from there, et cetera.
[REDACTED]. So there were a number of reasons why he acted, but we felt that Iraq was probably one factor.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Was this done as a JIC paper?


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I'm not sure if we have got it, but I'm sure it would be very interesting for us to see it.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: If anything, it would have been in an FCO paper, I imagine.

TIM DOWSE: I must say I don't recall a specific paper.


TIM DOWSE: Certainly there is a -- I was thinking there was a note here that I wrote in the end of March 2003, just after the beginning of the conflict. It was an internal Foreign Office discussion of the long-term consequences, which does pick up a little bit on what are the consequences for future counter proliferation.  I think you referred to Tony Blair's comments. I think from my perspective, from rather further down the pecking order, it was rather the other way round, that once it became clear that Iraq was going to be an issue, whether there was actually going to be a conflict, or however it was going to be resolved, we certainly did start to think, well, how can we exploit what we confidently thought was going to be the discovery of Iraq's WMD programmes to, if you like, raise international consciousness and awareness of the problem of proliferation.

We put quite a lot of effort in, within the Foreign Office, to saying how can we take this forward in the United Nations and elsewhere, with an information campaign, to show the rest of the world, many of whom we felt didn't really appreciate the threat from WMD.
How can we use this to demonstrate this is something you have to care about?
Now, of course, as it worked out, because we didn't find the WMD, we couldn't take that forward, although, perhaps quite surprisingly, we did get a significant Security Council resolution in 2004 which set up a Security Council proliferation committee.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I won't pursue it now, but I think it would be interesting, if these papers do exist, if we could identify them, because it is something which obviously is part of the arguments around the war.  Can I move on to the reassessment of the pre-conflict intelligence on Iraqi WMD after the war?
Now, we know the story. Some parts of this intelligence were withdrawn in July 2003, others in September.  But, Sir William, it might be useful if you started, perhaps, by just summarising for us the situation when you took up post in August 2004, what the position was looking like then and how you thought it should be dealt with.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Yes. Well, at that point the ISG was close to reaching a conclusion. They did so at the end of September/beginning of October of that year.  My job, as soon as I was in the JIC, was to report to Nigel Sheinwald in Number 10, ....

....and to the private secretaries of the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary and other senior officials, what conclusions Duelfer was coming to.  He didn't totally complete his report at that stage. He did some residual work through into the beginning of the next year, but I think when it was published, in the autumn of 2004, that was taken as the definitive report.

So my job was to report on that, and then I decided that the JIC should do a reassessment of the 2002 conclusions that we had reached, and we did that in December of that year. That was then -- the main conclusions of that were then included in the ISC's annual report of 2004/2005, published in April 2005.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So that was the process. Substantively how did you view the situation?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Well, in terms of assessment, I think it's summed up in the conclusions of the December paper, which I think stood up really reasonably well since then. I don't think there has been anything major which has changed the views of that assessment since those times.  I think you have got a copy of the papers, so I won't go through all of the conclusions, but one thing I would highlight, which we were quite careful to do. We didn't say there were no CW or BW. We said this assessment of 2002 has not been substantiated. It was close to saying there were none. Maybe it was saying there were none.

In a herculean piece of optomism Sir William Ehrman adds...

But Duelfer himself had made clear that he didn't say that his report was necessarily the definitive last word on the subject. So it could be that subsequently something was found. I don't think it has been.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So you don't think, writing it now, you might be a little bit more definite on that matter?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: You probably could be, as time passes, yes. But it was pretty definite at the time.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I have obviously read the assessment, and it goes through very methodically the different capabilities and goes through what's there and what isn't, what's been substantiated and what hasn't.  Was there somewhere else perhaps a more critical analysis of the JIC process, or are you content to have left that to Butler?



SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: We were doing a huge amount. Not something you mentioned you wanted to go over today, but it was all covered in the report we did, which went to Parliament and was published, on implementing the conclusions of the Butler Report. So the processes in the agencies were changed very substantially. That was all reported to Parliament.

TIM DOWSE: We definitely felt that the process had been reviewed in considerable depth by Butler, and therefore -- and by the time that we were publishing this JIC assessment in December, we were really quite deep into the process of Butler implementation, with a specific group working on that. There were a number of work strands in train by that time, for example looking at source descriptions, the agencies, where SIS in particular were looking at the way -- how could they improve the validation of their sources. We were looking at -- I think by this time we might have introduced the assessment base box on the front page of every JIC paper.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Yes, in October 2004.

TIM DOWSE: So I think we didn't see the need to, if you like, do another Butler. We were pretty heavily occupied in implementing that.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: There hadn't been a similar sort of assessment done earlier by JIC; this was the first review?

TIM DOWSE: It was.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: There were two done in the summer of 2003. That was before the ISG had really got down to work. So there was one, if I recall, on missiles and missile design, and there were one other in the immediate aftermath of the war which said that many of those that we were coming across said there had not been any chemical and biological weapons.  But then the ISG got to work, and I think our view was that we should let it do its work and not try to second-guess what it was doing while it was in the process of its work.

TIM DOWSE: That was very much our view, that the ISG was putting really a very large amount of resource into going into the evidence, and they were on the spot in Iraq. We couldn't compete with that, and it would be silly to compete with that. We were actually part of it. So it made every sense to wait until the ISG had finally reported, before we did our own evaluation of what they had found and compared it -- 

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Would that have been a normal thing for JIC to do, to do a backward-looking evaluation, or was it because of the particularities of this case that you thought it was essential?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: It wasn't that normal, maybe. I mean, we did another one also on -- reviewed our intelligence conclusions on Al Qaeda, and links or non-links with Saddam Hussein's regime. So it wasn't that unusual.  I do remember the person who is now the Cabinet Secretary saying that he thought it was really rather unusual and rather refreshing, and that the Treasury hadn't done something similar after Black Wednesday.

TIM DOWSE: Although it was unusual then, it has become not quite standard practice, but much more common since, because we did, partly as a result of the Butler Review, establish a challenge team, and there were a series of papers over the next few years, none of them relevant to Iraq,
[REDACTED] where we reviewed our judgements. We conducted a very major review, [REDACTED] on the Iranian nuclear programme in, I think, 2006. That was, for fairly obvious reasons, because of the Iraqi experience. We wanted to look at it, take a completely fresh look, and say: is this really for a military purpose?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just a final question from me. Obviously when you put out the judgement in the first place in 2002, this had been given a public forum. Was there any consideration given to doing a published version of this assessment?

TIM DOWSE: Well, we discussed with the ISC, because they said -- we told them, first of all, that we were doing it, and they said they would like to make reference to that in their report, and as I recall --


TIM DOWSE: Yes, of this. As I recall, we did do a little sucking of teeth at that because it's very unusual to put essentially the unvarnished judgments from a JIC paper in the public domain. Even with the Butler Report there was a degree of editorial work. But we did in the end agree the ISC should publish it.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: The Chairman of the ISC asked me if she could use this publicly, and I went to the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister and I sought their permission for that, and they gave it.


THE CHAIRMAN: Thanks. Inevitably, perhaps, we would like to spend a few moments on the Butler Report and what followed, although much of it is, as you have just pointed out, in the public domain and not particularly difficult to expose.  Sir William, you took over as Chairman of the JIC shortly after Butler, and there are two or three things it might be just worth putting on the record.  One that I know the Butler Committee were very seized of was the burden of work lying on the Assessment Staff, not least with this double source of tasking, from the military on the one hand and from JIC on the other, and the calls on it particularly both for open source analysis and for very specialised scientific and engineering technical matters, and it simply wasn't big enough. That was part, I think, of the post Butler Review. I wonder, in your time, what happened.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Well, we expanded the Assessment Staff considerably. I'll ask Tim, because he was in charge of that work, to say a word on it in a minute.  He's already mentioned -- I don't know if you call them red teams, but essentially they were red teams, to challenge particularly important judgments in sensitive areas.

We felt that there needed to be more research assistant capacity, as well as those who came in for a few years.  We looked also at how to co-ordinate around Whitehall, using all the resources in all ministries, so that not everything had to be done every time by the Assessment Staff, although usually they would vet anything before it came to the JIC.  Tim may remember the numbers of how the Assessment Staff was expanded, but it was considerably expanded in the year, and we also introduced a new post of director of analysis.

TIM DOWSE: Professional.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Professional Head of Analysis, who was to look at the whole profession and how the training was done.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: At what point in the process did the red teams do their critique, their stuff?

Tim Dowse then goes on to explain that having hired a new "red team" known as the challenge team to pick holes in the JIC's papers only to discover after 2 years that actually they couldn't find that many as "
we were marking our own work".

TIM DOWSE: Perhaps I can answer that.  We established a specific challenge team. We called it the challenge team. It took a little time to recruit the staff because these were additional people that we were taking on.  Initially what we did, I actually gave them a work programme of subjects that had been either controversial, when the JIC had addressed them initially, or were a very high priority subject, of which there might be quite important policy decisions resting on the JIC's conclusions, the Iran nuclear programme being one of them. I gave the challenge team essentially a work programme of about ten, I think, subjects that I wanted them to cover in their first year. It took rather longer, I think, about 18 months altogether, and other topics cropped up in that time.  In addition, they were encouraged to look at the JIC drafts as they came through the system and to offer comments. So that was an ongoing task.  Now, actually after, I think, about two years, really when they had finished the work programme I gave them when they were first established, we became a little uncomfortable that essentially we were marking our own work.  
They were still sitting inside the Assessment Staff, commenting on the validity or otherwise or quality of Assessment Staff and JIC work. So after that we moved them, and gave them to the Professional Head of Intelligence Analysis ....

We know from the CIA website that "A professional head of intelligence analysis (PHIA), working within the Cabinet Office’s Intelligence and Security Secretariat, was subsequently appointed to promote the idea of greater professionalism in analysis and to help generate this sense of profession, albeit a virtual one. One of her* early initiatives was to commission us at King’s College London to develop a course for experienced analysts."  They even included the following Jepg to explain what a PHIA does...


*It may be entirely unrelated but Emma Sky is a Visiting Professor at the War Studies Department, King's College London.  Kings College London is very much the place to go if you want to get in with the secret service.  By following this link you can read a review of Keith Jeffery's "official" history of MI6 "So much has now leaked to the press that we'd better employ someone to tell our side of the story"  written by Dr Michael S Goodman - also a senior lecturer at the Department of War Studies in King’s College London.  Not that I'm insinuating that everyone who's ever gone into
Kings College London may be a spy.  I'm pretty sure Eugene Cheese isn't.  That's one person.

.... who, though still within the overall Joint Intelligence Organisation, was separate from the Assessment Staff. So they were more of an external check on our work.  The PHIA now comes to the JIC and actually offers comments at the JIC on the papers. So you do have that element of, if you like, external check.

THE CHAIRMAN: There was a hidden, not paradox, but conundrum within the Butler recommendations, on the one hand to give more professional standing, permanence, career development for assessment analysts; but on the other hand to maintain a degree of challenge, as you have just been describing. The two are in tension, aren't they, essentially to be managed as best you can?

TIM DOWSE: Somewhat. Perhaps I had better say a bit about the expansion as well. In percentage terms, it was quite considerable, although in actual numbers I think we went from about 25 to about 35. So the Assessment Staff, even after the expansion, was not enormous.  Now, I didn't worry too much about that because the model that we use in this country for intelligence assessment has always been a dispersed model. We couldn't hope in the Cabinet Office to duplicate the sort of expertise you have in the rather large numbers of staff in the DIS, or the expertise that sits in the Foreign Office research analysts, or indeed the expertise that is in the agencies. The purpose of the Assessment Staff has always been to, if you like, be the intelligent customers for what the experts will say.  So we look to recruit people who can think, who can get on top of a subject in a broad sense sufficiently to be able to ask the difficult questions, and people who can communicate, both orally and particularly in writing, to be able to put complex issues in a concise and coherent and comprehensible way to a minister who may only have a few minutes to get their thinking --

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: One of the conclusions, I think, of the Butler Report which I always felt was absolutely right was that we shouldn't go the way of, say, [REDACTED] where you could get a great deal of groupthink, and we always had, of course, the JIC who would then meet to look at whatever product was put before it, coming from all round Whitehall. It was not the top of the Assessment Staff just looking at it.

THE CHAIRMAN: How important in that particular context -- sorry, it's a postscript question, I suppose. Over the medium term, though not the short term, the medium to long term, the range of priorities, the subjects tasked and so on, will change quite materially. If you have a permanent group of assessment analysts, their expertise will become out of date or less relevant.

TIM DOWSE: Yes, but you do have a certain degree of rollover. People would come into the Assessment Staff for two to three years. Happily quite often they asked to extend because they rather enjoyed the work, and I was usually quite happy to extend people.  But we were able to adjust the, if you like, balance of the staff, depending on the pressures. So in the period that we are looking at, for most of that period, working on Iraq, I had a senior deputy for most of the period, a military officer, and then I think about four analysts or researchers, which was our single largest team. But by the end of the period, by the time I moved on from the Assessment Staff in the middle of 2009, we were down to a deputy and one desk officer working on Iraq, as this was well after, by that time, the UK withdrawal.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You mentioned the FCO's research analysts. Is that still a powerful body of expertise?

TIM DOWSE: It certainly is from our point of view. I think when you're looking at analytical resource, I would say that the concern that I consistently had has been not that the Assessment Staff should be bigger, but that we needed a more substantial base of analytical resource, expertise, across Whitehall as a whole.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: In the Foreign Office, as well as the political research analysts, there's also a specialist group called the Arms Control and Disarmament Research Unit, who were, and still are, very valuable.

TIM DOWSE: But there are only two of them.

THE CHAIRMAN: I've just got two other questions. Although we are sort of starting with the Butler analysis, it's important really for the future whether there are new things or different things we ought to do.  One is the -- I think it must be an age-old problem, of how far you can reach outside the closed Government vetted community for particular sources of expertise. I believe that's commonly been done, and has had to be done in the field of the nuclear business, for example.  Is there an issue there for more broad political intelligence, of a commercial kind perhaps?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: When I was chairman of the JIC, I told all of the Assessment Staff to go out every lunchtime, to Chatham House or wherever, to talk to the experts, to get to know them, because it was very important that we had outside expertise. 

Chatham House... former home of William Pitt the Elder...

... is now a thinktank (top non-US thinktank according to Foreign Policy Magazine ...which is the Foreign policy equivalent of winning the best small Comedy Venue in London Award)

It used to be called The Royal Institute of International Affairs and the British Institute of International Affairs until the name was changed on the grounds that it sounded too close to being another branch of the government ... because it is.

It is most famous for completely failing to foresee the Lybian Embassy siege of 1984 despite being only two doors down and that being one of its express functions ... and for the so called Chatham House rules whereby people may discuss after a meeting the broad themes of the discussion at it so long as they do not attribute any actual quotes .....unless you're Jewish and talking to Ken Livingstone .
.in which case he can just go and get stuffed...

At the risk of coming over all Martin Besserman here's a random picture of me and Ken discussing the problems of the middle east and comedy promotion at one of Crispin Flintoff's fundraising gigs for the Labour Party.  Anyway ...

I also discussed with the Americans. A question that they in their analytical community were feeling quite strongly was whether, as a government, we were exploiting open source information adequately, and indeed we discussed whether an open source search engine should be established. So we were encouraging that.

Trying to figure out military strategy while keeping specifics a secret has always been a problem.

TIM DOWSE: I very much agree with that. One of the things, when we were going through this process of implementing the Butler Report, one of the things we looked at was the possibility of setting up a sort of JIC advisory panel of academics, scientists. In the end that didn't find favour, but I still slightly hanker for something on those lines.

THE CHAIRMAN: That enables me to deal with a loose tendril from the Butler Report, which was its distinguished Chairman's advocacy of a distinguished scientist, not the Government's chief scientific adviser, but who would be available on a part-time basis to the Cabinet Office, and after some diligent searching I have found the name is Dr Frank Panton, the model that had in mind. I don't believe that that seed fell on fertile ground.

Nuclear expert Dr Frank Paton (to the right of Lord Owen) at a Conference held by the
Lord Mountbatton Centre for big bombs and missiles
Dr Frank Paton also works down King's College London. 
It's the place to go if you want to learn how to blow mofos away ...

Frank Panton, a scientist, had been in Government service between 1953-83.
His posts included: Technical Adviser to the UK Delegation to the Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Tests, Geneva, 1959-61;
Defence Attaché, British Embassy, Washington DC, 1963-67;
Assistant Chief Scientific Adviser (Nuclear), Ministry of Defence (MoD), 1969-75;
Director, Propellants, Explosives and Rocket Motor Establishment (Waltham Abbey and Westcott) 1976-79;
Director, Royal Army Research and Development Establishment, Fort Halstead, 1980-4.
Post-retirement, Consultant to the Cabinet Secretary on Nuclear matters 1985-97;
Consultant to MoD, as Independent Member of Nuclear Weapon and Nuclear Propulsion Safety Committees, 1984-99.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: No, although we often had the Government chief scientist coming to the JIC.

That would be Sir David King...

...who for some reason the Inquiry didn't fancy interviewing

"The Iraq war was just the first of this century's 'resource wars', in which powerful countries use force to secure valuable commodities", according to the UK government's former chief scientific adviser. Sir David King predicts that with population growth, natural resources dwindling, and seas rising due to climate change, the squeeze on the planet will lead to more conflict. 'Future historians might look back on our particular recent past and see the Iraq war as the first of the conflicts of this kind - the first of the resource wars,' he told an audience of 400 in London as he delivered the British Humanist Association's Darwin Day lecture. Implicitly rejecting the US and British governments' claim they went to war to remove Saddam Hussein and search for weapons of mass destruction, he said the US had in reality been very concerned about energy security and supply, because of its reliance on foreign oil from unstable states.

Slightly ironically for someone so heavily involved in the Iraq War Sir David is also head of a campaign to introduce a "Hippocratic Oath for Scientists".

TIM DOWSE: Either the chief scientist or the MOD chief scientific adviser. That was the way we, if you like, took on board the Butler concept that when there was a paper, not by any means just to do with WMD -- I think we had them when we occasionally wrote about climate change -- we would invite scientific expertise to attend.

THE CHAIRMAN: And am I right that its essential purpose was seen not so much as the individual's take on a scientific issue, but rather the communication with the broader scientific community?


TIM DOWSE: Butler did, I think, also recommend -- actually I think maybe it was the Butler implementation group recommended that we should have a scientist in the Assessment Staff, which I found slightly odd because it's a rather old-fashioned view of science. But I did in the end employ a microbiologist, who came to us from DEFRA, and actually proved very good at analysing missile programmes. So it may be there is some translation between the specialisms.

THE CHAIRMAN: On a different tack, my last point of enquiry, or nearly last, is the issue of validation of intelligence.  Now, at the level of the Assessment Staff, that's really something to be done by the agencies. But we have had some evidence before this Inquiry that in some cases, notably with human intelligence collected in very difficult environments, there's not much you can do about validation, certainly in the short run. Either you believe it or you don't. You assess it as credible or not.  Do you want to comment on that at all? I had some sympathy with that view, I must say.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Maybe I can make two comments. They are at a rather higher level than validating a specific piece of intelligence, but I think one of the bits of Butler implementation was that we got better, I think, source descriptions. So that those who were reading the intelligence -- in the past it had all been a bit of a mystery where this intelligence came from. So we got much fuller source descriptions which we asked all the agencies to use. They didn't always use exactly the same descriptors, but they all produced their list of descriptions, which was helpful, I think, to readers.  The second was that in October 2004 we introduced into the JIC reports the intelligence base box, which told readers how strong or weak we thought the intelligence was, which I think was a helpful addition.

Sort of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted...?

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Was the footnote-ing of the sources part of that October 2004 change?

TIM DOWSE: We started doing that before, before the invasion of Iraq. I think that started in about 2002 actually.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Yes. But again, it didn't go into validation. It just gave the reference to the report.

TIM DOWSE: It was, frankly, something we wished -- when we came to the Butler Review, we wished we had started doing it much earlier because it would have made life much easier to discover the basis for certain statements in the papers.  Perhaps I would also add that in one way you are right, it is difficult. But it is important -- it's one of the things that I used to emphasise to members of the Assessment Staff going to Current Intelligence Group discussions -- that if they were using a piece of intelligence from one or other of the agencies and putting a lot of weight on it, it was their job to test the collectors, to put, if you like, their money where their mouths were and to assure us that they were confident of the reliability of the source. Now and again, one would get some quite surprising piece of reporting, and it was quite important to test that.  I do know also, and it's something that you really need to ask the SIS in particular about, they put a lot of additional effort into their own source validation, into checking the reliability of their agents. They have various ways of doing that, and they're better placed to talk about it.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Really just trying to squeeze the Butler lemon dry, it made a number of observations. You have dealt with one of the central ones, I think, about attaching clearly in JIC assessments the limitations and caveats and whatever.  Have we got as much out of the lessons of the pre-Iraq intelligence business as we need to get now? Is that one done?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: I would say, as a matter of philosophy, nothing is ever done. But --

THE CHAIRMAN: But nothing strikes you as significantly unattended to at this stage?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Well, up to when I left the JIC in 2005, I think we added one or two more things in Butler implementation which had not been brought out fully in Butler. But beyond that, I think we'd done a fairly thorough job at the time.

THE CHAIRMAN: Over the much longer span --

TIM DOWSE: Well, I left last year, and I still occasionally attend JIC meetings and am quite closely involved with the process.  The straight answer to your question is I think we have learned the lessons. I think we have to keep learning them. The real task now is to ensure that these things, as people move on, as generations move on, that we don't forget the Butler lessons.  One of the things we do do -- again, I think, this did come directly from Butler -- there was the conclusion that the readership of JIC papers didn't always understand what they were getting, and that essay that the Butler Report included about the uses and -- I'm not quoting -- the nature and use of intelligence, we took that and paraphrased it slightly, and turned it into a document that we now give to all new readers of JIC papers. Indeed, I was handing them to new Foreign Office ministers just within the last couple of weeks.

THE CHAIRMAN: Something the Butler Committee did ask about, and has come up in some of our public evidence in a very general way, is the extent to which new ministers are inherently able to read, understand, professional intelligence material, without indoctrination.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: I have been asked that at a number of these inquiries.  In my case, when I was in the Foreign Office, I think Jack Straw had been reading intelligence for a very long time, did read everything very thoroughly. He used to pretty much carry the key bits of the JIC reports around with him, when he was allowed to. But I think that booklet that Tim mentioned is extremely important. I didn't know that, that it had been handed out to new ministers. But I do think it's very important because I don't think ministers, new ministers, necessarily do know how to read intelligence and intelligence assessments.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: When you were looking back at your performance on Iran, did you see the benefits of post-Butler methods?

TIM DOWSE: Yes, I think we did. Iran was one of them, and we certainly applied quite a lot of the experience we gained from Butler to the review there.  The other cases that we looked at as well, a lot of it simply involved coming at this issue with a fresh set of eyes, a new angle, and checking through the sources.  It was slightly worrying -- reassuring in one way, worrying in another -- that in pretty well every case where we set the challenge team a task to say, "Have we got this right?", they came back and said, "We have been through it and yes, we think you did". That was actually one of the reasons I thought we probably ought to move them outside the formal JIC process.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Would that have made a difference?

TIM DOWSE: We will see. But it's important that we do it.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think we will move on, and regard the war as having happened, at least the opening stage. Rod, over to you.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I would just like to take a fairly quick look at the process of assessing the deteriorating security situation in Iraq between mid-2004 and mid 2005, at a time when Sir William was at the JIC and you were both there. There are three particular papers -- I don't want to go through them all point by point -- that the JIC produced, starting on 30 September 2004, and they came back, 27 October 2004, with a paper on the insurgency, and again the state of the insurgency in Iraq on 14 July 2005. I think the reason why I don't want to go through these papers in detail is because, looking at them six years later, they read pretty well, I would say.  In approaching these subjects, and let's start with the September paper, was that something that the JIC, do you recall, decided to do off its own initiative, or were you actually being tasked with taking a look at this?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: I decided to do that. We did it in a rather unusual way in that we didn't have the normal CIG process for that. I got together all the partners, and we had essentially a brainstorming session, and I think it says so at the beginning of the paper, "Discussion led by the JIC Chairman".  You are quite polite about those papers, but I would actually refer to a minute that we wrote, a JIC minute, in February 2005, which said:  "We have a strategic perception of the insurgency, but lack the information to support an operational counter insurgency campaign plan."  Our intelligence -- I would distinguish our intelligence and our broad analysis of the insurgency. Some of that broad analysis has stood up or did stand up quite well. The intelligence was always extremely limited, especially on the Sunni Arab areas. We had slightly better on Shia insurgencies, and we knew a little bit more, as we may come to later, about what the Iranians were up to. But certainly to start with, our intelligence was, I would say, not very good on the insurgency, [REDACTED.  A footnote says : "The witness outlined in some detail the ways in which the UK had sought to improve its intelligence, including through closer working with the US".  The next couple of pages are fully redacted except for :]
What else did we do to try to improve matters? [REDACTED] We offered training at the more lower levels, operational level, to the Ministry of Defence. We had advisers helping the police as well. [REDACTED]  So gradually the situation improved, but I would go back to that note we wrote in February 2005. We brought out those five groups in the September paper, and I think broadly we were right and it stuck. Who made up the insurgency, and broadly we identified numbers, et cetera.  But our intelligence was limited. It was also extremely limited on Zarqawi during my time, early time, and we had really very little on him. That started to change in May 2005, [REDACTED] But that, again, was a slow process.  So our intelligence on the insurgency was actually not as good as our intelligence on, say, Iranian, Syrian activities and intentions, on the political manoeuvrings in Iraq, and it was a slow process in trying to improve that.

It is perhaps a bit odd that there was little intelligence on Al Zarqawi
as he was one of the major reasons cited to the UN by Colin Powell as to why it might be a good idea to go to war in Iraq as early as 2003?

TIM DOWSE: Can I add a couple of things? William is right in the period that he said. I do think things improved on the Sunni insurgency in later years, and in particular on the Zarqawi / Al Qaeda front.  [REDACTED]

Tim says a few things that are
[REDACTED] Followed by another page of Redaction.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just one question on making sense of it all. One of the issues with these groups was there were links with criminal gangs and so on, and of course that also relates to the general problem of law and order in the area.  Did you get into those areas which were not political, strictly speaking, but could have quite a bit of an impact on who was doing that?

TIM DOWSE: In a sense. I recall we made the point several times when we made specific assessments of the situation in the south east, in Basra, that Basra was a very lawless place. Even if you took the politics out of it, the levels of criminality were high, kidnappings, intimidation. But did we get below that level of general statement? No, I don't think we did. The DIS may have had a better picture. They may have had a better picture in theatre, but we were doing strategic assessments.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: It's just one element of interpretation as to whether a group which may claim to be fighting for a noble cause was actually fighting for something a bit less --

TIM DOWSE: Absolutely, or may be fighting for both.

Quick back of the fag packed Sunni vs Shir diagram

...Kurdistan Goes Pear Shaped With Emma Sky and 
Reconstruction goes Pear Shaped in Iraq cover the various sectarian conflicts as seen on the ground in a bit more detail.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: And even the Sunni areas, when we did our five groups, one of the large groups were opportunists.

TIM DOWSE: We did spend a lot of time -- almost, I wondered at the time, too much -- trying to impose some order on the insurgency in 2004, and the five groups, which was essentially, I think, a DIS construct that we tested out and thought it was -- it does stand up pretty well, but I did wonder at the time, are we trying to put order on something, a level of order that doesn't really exist?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: One of the things they had in the States was a political difficulty from actually talking about it as an insurgency.

TIM DOWSE: We never had that problem.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: You were able to call a spade a spade?

TIM DOWSE: No problem.

One thing I think we did get right, right from the beginning
[REDACTED] and that was that the Ba'athists -- particularly they eventually called themselves the New Regional Command, sitting in Syria -- were marginal to the whole event. [REDACTED].  For quite a long period the Americans, particularly the US military intelligence, tended to regard the Sunni insurgency as being Ba'athists.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Former Regime Elements.

TIM DOWSE: Former Regime Elements. We used that terminology for a while, but I think by the end of 2005 we were calling them Sunni Arab Nationalists, which I think was a more accurate phrase. Some of them were former regime elements, but the driving element wasn't to bring the Ba'athists back.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: One more question on this. How did this relate to the American debate, your regular contacts with opposite numbers?
[REDACTED] How did they view your analyses?

[Long REDACTED section]

SIR RODERIC LYNE: To get back to the sort of way that we did pitch together, what about were the British military? Were you getting from them what you could reasonably have expected?

TIM DOWSE: Yes. I mean, it was filtered through PJHQ and then through the DIS. I felt at times that we could have got a bit more. There are two things that I felt we were unsighted on, one of which was down to the military. We weren't really well sighted on the work of outreach to the Sunni Arabs. This is after William's time, but I think we were slow to pick up on the significance of the „Sunni Awakening‟ movement. The year where things began to go right -- that is 2007 -- in my end of year review of JIC performance, one of my comments there was I thought we were slow to pick up on things and the fact that things were beginning to go right.

THE CHAIRMAN: We had quite a lot to do with the Sunni outreach concept, but we were thin on the ground of course.

TIM DOWSE: Yes, and we had -- I mean, a British general was very heavily engaged in that work, and we had very little visibility of that.


TIM DOWSE: It improved towards the end of 2007 because one of my staff in the Assessment Staff went on secondment to the MNF outreach unit, and we started getting better information.  But otherwise the people in my team that were dealing with Iraq were in touch with British military people, contacts of theirs in Baghdad and in Basra. So we had a certain degree of backchannel, but the main input was via the DIS.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You've talked about our relatively better knowledge of the Shia insurgency
[REDACTED] .Could we have had more from Baghdad and around Baghdad, [Long REDACTED section]

TIM DOWSE: We were of course, in the political assessments, drawing on all sources. There was a lot of diplomatic reporting from Baghdad. Our embassy and ambassadors, successive ambassadors, were very active, and that was very helpful.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: That would be a normal part of your procedure anyway.

TIM DOWSE: Absolutely, yes.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: When in the 30 September paper on the Sunni Arab opposition the JIC concluded -- one of its main conclusions at the beginning -- that a minority, but numbered in many thousands, of Sunni Arabs are involved in armed insurgency, was that based on hard intelligence or was it a statement, a bit of a guesstimate, if you like, derived from a variety of sources?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: I remember at the time people asked us to put a figure on it and we refused to because we couldn't. We just didn't have the information to put a figure on it. It was a judgment based on some of the insurgency that the MNF were having to deal with.

TIM DOWSE: It was a bit more than a guesstimate. The DIS, and [REDACTED] had done some work to say here are the number of attacks that are taking place, and they assigned a possibly arbitrary number, the number of insurgents who would need to be involved in any one of these attacks, with differences between complex attacks and simple attacks. The result was not a -- we can't claim it was a particularly scientific basis, but it was a bit more than a guesstimate, but not very much more. I think it was right.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Over the course of 12 months your judgments firmed up and they became more and more pessimistic. Those later events turned out you weren't overstating the situation. If anything, you were slightly understating it. How was this received by your customers?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Well, I think we did an assessment of what impact our assessments had on policy formation over the course of the year, and in my JIC Chairman's report I wrote that, I think, 20 per cent of our assessments directly affected policy formation.  I think this paper and another summary that I did for DOP(I) in May 2005 did have an effect on policy, in particular our assessment of the speed at which the Iraqi security forces were developing. And we became more pessimistic over the course of the year, as the insurgency developed. The ISF did well in some limited numbers, even in Fallujah, back in November 2004. But our assessment of when they could manage the insurgency unaided was constantly slipping backwards, and I think those assessments did play into policy. Obviously people were not delighted to receive these assessments since they were bad news, but they had an effect on the policy that was then developed.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You were messengers bringing bad news to people who were under extreme stress, taking decisions. Was it difficult to get them to accept your message? Was there a lot of push back?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: I remember in May, in DOP(I), being challenged by the Defence Secretary on what I had written. But I defended it, and went on defending it for a month or so. I think eventually, if not very happily, MOD did accept it, but he asked me a lot of questions and questioned a lot of the detail. But I think eventually it was accepted. I think the Prime Minister accepted it quite readily at the time.

This is interesting as on the 6th of May 2005 (the day after the general election) previous Defence Secretary Geoff "I was in Kiev" Hoon had been demoted to Leader of the House to be replaced by optomistic John Reid who spent less than a year in the post.  In which he remained remarkably upbeat and committed 3,300 troops to Helmand province, Afghanistan in January 2006 with the rather surreal and optomistic claim that by the time they left "not a shot would be fired".

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So would you conclude from that that the process worked and was sufficiently robust, or did it very much depend on the ability and the personality of the JIC Chair to stand up to pressure from people who really didn't want you to report the way you were reporting?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: I think there was a process that was put in hand which was helpful in that I used to attend the ad hoc ministerial group which went up to May 2005, I think, chaired by the Prime Minister first. The Foreign Secretary sometimes took meetings. Then after the 2005 election, DOP(I), Defence and Overseas Policy (Iraq), was formed. The Prime Minister chaired that, and the process that was established was that at the beginning of every meeting, we didn't contribute to the policy argument, but I was always asked, always by the Prime Minister, to start with, you present the intelligence. And that was very helpful, that procedure, because the meeting then went forward on the basis of that, and people could challenge me. But that's the job of a JIC Chairman, to defend the assessments.

TIM DOWSE: You are right that we did get progressively more and more pessimistic. I think 2006 was really the low point where we began to say, well -- we actually began to question one of our fundamental assumptions, which was that Iraqis were Iraqis first and Shia and Sunni second, and the scale of the sectarian violence got so high that we did begin to put about the words „civil war‟.

Tim Dowse goes on to explain the gulf between what the JIC tried to report about post war reconstruction and what Number 10 wanted to actually happen.  They got the hump quite a bit when the JIC said that it would take several years from the December 2005 election and a real "government" being formed.

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Can I also mention a procedural change that happened during my time as JIC Chairman? We have also mentioned that the intelligence base box was brought into assessments. There was another change, which is that policy implications were abolished in July 2005.  I was actually in a minority of one in wanting to retain them, but the rest of the JIC were very clear that, partly, I think, as a sort of Butler separation of assessment and policy work, we should get rid of these.  I thought they had been quite useful because for busy readers, who were reading the overall conclusions, they flagged -- they never said what policy should be, but they flagged some of the questions for policy makers. But the rest of the committee didn't agree with me and felt that that was too much going into policy. So it was done away with, and some Permanent Secretaries said, well, they often quite liked reading the policy indications. But the Committee as a whole didn't like them.  I think the chiefs of the agencies were uncomfortable with them, and some others from policy departments said you should leave that to us after you have done your assessment. So we got rid of those.

TIM DOWSE: I have to say, I was one of those who did want to get rid of them for two reasons. First of all, frequently the policy departments who were supposed to be providing them said, "We haven't got time, we can't think of any, the Assessment Staff should produce the policy implications", and I thought that was not something the Assessment Staff should be doing. And secondly, I thought that sometimes the Committee seemed to spend more time discussing the policy implications than discussing the assessment. So that was my perspective.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: One final small procedural question from me. You say that the September paper was one you yourself decided to write. A lot of your papers were commissioned by the FCO, and then in the July paper it says it was commissioned by MOD secretariat. Is there significance in that?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: No. I think the JIC very much -- it was quite unusual for -- maybe it was unique for the JIC Chairman to say, "We will do this piece because I think there's a need for it". Very much the rule was we operated according to our customers' needs. So when our customers felt that they needed a piece on a particular subject, they would come forward and ask for it because a big policy discussion might be coming up and they needed the assessment on which to base it.

TIM DOWSE: Most of our papers were jointly sponsored by FCO and MOD, although we did try to discuss the forward JIC work programme on Iraq at a senior officials group that was run out of the Cabinet Office.
When OD secretariat commissioned a paper, that generally meant that there was an important policy decision coming up and they wanted to have a JIC assessment to ensure that the ministerial discussion was based on an objective description of the situation, not coloured from one or other department's policy views.

THE CHAIRMAN: When in your time, Sir William, the JIC Chairman at DOP(I) was facing challenge from ministries, was the assessments base box ever used as a weapon against the judgment or the assessment the JIC Chairman was bringing to the meeting?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: I certainly remember being questioned about particular statements in assessments and having to show the minister, usually outside the meeting, what it was based upon.

THE CHAIRMAN: Right. But you wouldn't face a challenge that said, "Well, you say this is actually patchy and thin, so how can you be so certain?", that sort of question?

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: Those judgments were agreed by the JIC as a whole. So if I was challenged I could always say, "Well, your man agreed to go along with that".


TIM DOWSE: We did have -- I recall one occasion, a very unusual one, which is why I recall it, again one of these assessments of the Iraqi security forces' progress, where [a US official] [REDACTED] said he thought this was rather an odd situation, that you had one branch of Government criticising the performance of another branch of Government. Which actually I rather thought was the purpose of the JIC in some ways. I should rephrase that: not the purpose, but one of the values of the JIC.  At that time, I think one of his comments was how much do these people know. But that was pretty well the only occasion.



THE CHAIRMAN: I think we might take a break here for a few minutes. Let's come back in eight minutes' time or thereabouts, and then we can get on to the Iraqi politics of 2004.

THE CHAIRMAN: If we may restart, I'll turn to Baroness Prashar. I think you want to ask questions about Iraqi politics.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Yes. Moving on to the information on Iraqi politics in the period 2004/2005, what tasking did JIC receive in this period on the political situation in Iraq?

TIM DOWSE: Well, we were asked to produce papers on the political situation in the same way that we were asked to produce papers on the security situation.  In a way, of course, it's an artificial distinction. I was always very conscious -- I touched on this a couple of times, I think, in my annual reviews – that an improvement in the security situation was a condition precedent for political progress. On the other hand, political progress would have an influence on improving the security situation. So it was quite difficult to distinguish them.  But in practice the demand from customers was much greater for papers on security than it was on politics, partly, I think, because intelligence added more, inevitably, when we were looking at force protection issues, including the protection of people in Baghdad. And when security was such a dominant issue and became steadily more so, right through 2005/2006 into 2007, I think it's inevitable in the end that the demand for both intelligence reporting and intelligence assessment was going to be greater on security than it was on politics.  I did a quick review before coming here, and I'm quite struck that after going and doing myself a little summary of each JIC paper we wrote in this period on anything to do with Iraq, I have six pages of summary on security issues and two on politics. That was the balance. It wasn't from choice, and we would touch on political issues in the security papers and vice versa, but I think it was really where the customer interest lay.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So you were not asked about the underlying political dynamics, how the policy had been received, the implications of military policy. You -- were not asked.

TIM DOWSE: Not on anything like that, no. Where we were -- what we were being asked about was what is the state of play between the various Iraqi political factions. It tended often to be questions based around an event, such as the constitutional referendum, the January 2006 election -- sorry, the January 2005 election, the December 2005 election, how long will it take to form a new Government, who will come out on top? Quite difficult things to assess, actually; in some ways more difficult than the security situation because a lot of the time you are dealing not with essentially facts, like the numbers of attacks or locations of IED networks, but essentially a political scene that Iraqis themselves didn't understand very well.

IED is an acronyn for improvised explosive device or "home made bombs" like the above ... ususally used for attacking military convoys etc by insurgents...

SIR WILLIAM EHRMAN: And although the numbers were considerably less than for security, by my count there were nine JIC assessments in 2004/2005 on particularly the election, election prospects, the constitution, as Tim has mentioned, but also on issues like outreach, which of course were bound up with the security but were very important political activities that could help security.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So you were responding just to what had been asked. You didn't ask these questions at your own initiative; you were just responding?

TIM DOWSE: The way it worked was when it was decided we should write a paper on Iraqi politics, we would then go to the sponsors, most normally the FCO, but sometimes the MOD as well, and say give us some focus for this paper. We are trying to produce something that is policy relevant. What are the big issues that you would like us to give you a view on, a judgment on, that will help you take forward your own decision-making? So the exam questions, as we call them, would be drawn up in that sort of way.  We found from time to time that the policy departments needed a little prompting to produce the questions, and it was an iterative process. Clearly my Iraq team would have views themselves on what they thought would be useful because they were plugged into the policy discussions as well. So it would be a certain amount of give and take, but essentially we were given a set of exam questions for each paper.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Did Number 10 ever have an exam question for you to pursue?

TIM DOWSE: Number 10 I don't think in this period ever sponsored a paper as such. The OD secretariat, on the other hand, would give us questions, and that was quite common. Actually, now and again, if the departmental sponsors didn't want to ask a question, the OD secretariat were quite useful in stepping in and giving the question that others might not want us to ask. So that happened.
Now and again, re-reading some of the papers, I see things that we put in that, as I recall, we essentially asked a question that perhaps hadn't been asked explicitly, but that we felt needed to be asked or answered.

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[REDACTED]  I think we perhaps were quite influenced by the Foreign Office views at this stage. By 16 February 2005 we were saying that his chances were slim. So I think, you know, eventually we, perhaps a bit late in the day, did recognise that there was a change. [REDACTED]

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Sir William, you said earlier that you