A great deal of information about the genesis and production of the September 2002 “dossier” on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction has been put into the public domain through previous inquiries, freedom of information requests and leaks but there remains significant evidence that has not been published.
Published drafts of the dossier
March 2002 drafts of the dossier
In June 2011, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the Cabinet Office released three previously undisclosed drafts of the dossier, from March 2002. Two of these were versions of the initial paper, which covered the “WMD programmes of concern” of four countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea. One was the first ever draft of the Iraq only dossier, albeit a document that only covered WMD.
The draft of the dossier produced by the CIC in June 2002
In July 2010 the Foreign Office released a previously unpublished draft of the September 2002 dossier on “Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The draft is the earliest draft dossier ever produced. It is virtually identical to the draft given to the Hutton Inquiry dated 20 June 2002 which was said to have been drawn up in the Cabinet Office. But this draft is described in a covering note as having been “produced by CIC”. The CIC, or Coalition Information Centre, was a unit based in the Foreign Office but reporting to Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Director of Communications. Read more
The draft of the dossier by Foreign Office press secretary John Williams
In February 2008, the Foreign Office was forced to release an early draft of the September 2002 dossier (pdf file) that had not been seen – or was ignored – by previous inquiries. The draft was written by John Williams, the then press secretary to Jack Straw at the Foreign Office, sometime between 7 and 9 September 2002. Read more
Drafts published by the Hutton Inquiry
Other Published evidence
Attempts to draft a dossier from February 2002
The Foreign Office and Cabinet Office have released a number of documents relating to early attempts to draft a dossier, from February 2002 onwards. As stated above, this was initially a dossier covering four countries with “WMD Programmes of Concern”: Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea.
In September 2010 it was revealed that in March 2002 Tim Dowse, the head of the Foreign Office non proliferation department, had written to a special adviser to Jack Straw to complain that a paper given to the Parliamentary Labour Party had contradicted the official line that sanctions currently prevented Iraq obtaining a nuclear weapon. Nevertheless Dowse said that the current draft of the dossier would have to be reviewed so that it did not contradict the false claim.
In June 2011 the Cabinet Office released a pdf file of 26 documents relating to the early drafts of the dossier, from February to September 2002. These included the March drafts above and a memo from JIC chairman John Scarlett suggesting that limiting the paper to cover only Iraq “would have the benefit of obscuring the fact that in terms of WMD, Iraq is not that exceptional”.
Evidence of co-ordination with US claims
The papers discussed above, from February and March 2002, show that the Bush administration was consulted on early drafts of the dossier.
An unredacted version of an email published by the Hutton Inquiry appears to refer to JIC chairman John Scarlett’s visit to the US on 12 September 2002 to discuss the dossier with US political and intelligence officials.
Comments on the dossier (below) disclosed in 2009 show the extent to which the dossier’s drafters compared its claims with those in a forthcoming CIA “dossier”.
The Cabinet Office has also disclosed that on 13 September 2002 the dossier’s drafters were sent “covering a copy of a Bush speech to compare with UK dossier claims” and that the speech was the one given by Bush to the UN General Assembly on 12 September. The UK dossier’s estimate of how quickly Iraq could develop a nuclear weapon was subsequently shortened, in line with a claim in the Bush speech.
Read a paper on transatlantic co-ordination published by the National Security Archive at the George Washington University.
MoD disclosure of DIS comments on the dossier
In April 2011 the Ministry of Defence made a significant new disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act of comments on the dossier from the Defence Intelligence Staff in August and September 2002. This disclosure has been divided into pdf files covering four discrete time periods for the purpose of viewing on this site:
Cabinet Office disclosures of comments on the dossier
In March 2009 the Cabinet Office was forced to publish a number of documents commenting on the 10 September 2002 draft of the dossier.
A document that lists a number of suppressed documents 10 – 16 September has also been published (see below).
In April 2011, the Cabinet Office made a further disclosure, covering documents commenting on the 16 and 19 September 2002 drafts of the dossier.
In November 2011 the Digest published an email dated 19 September 2002 from Sir David Omand to Sir John Scarlett with suggested changes to Tony Blair’s foreword to the dossier, as drafted by Alastair Campbell. These included a successful request that Blair’s claim that it was “established beyond doubt” that Iraq had WMD should be attributed to “the assessed intelligence” rather than “JIC reports to me”.
Comparison between JIC statements and successive drafts of the dossier
Because various drafts of the dossier were disclosed from the Hutton Inquiry and the Butler Review disclosed the content of Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) assessments from 2002, it is possible to compare the JIC’s assessment of various issues with the account of the same issue in successive drafts of the dossier. See the comparison (pdf file)
Other evidence to the Hutton Inquiry
The Hutton Inquiry website (now part of the National Archives) includes a great deal of documentary evidence, including evidence supplied to the Inquiry by the Cabinet Office and the testimony of witnesses to the Inquiry
If you have any of these documents, please let us know.
The notes of a meeting at Downing Street on 21 March 2002 at which it was decided to shelve plans for a dossier on Iraq
A letter Peter Ricketts to Jack Straw on 22 March 2002 records that Straw had “decided to postpone publication of the unclassified document.” Ricketts referred to a meeting he had held on the document the day before.
The notes of a meeting on 23 April 2002 between Alastair Campbell, John Scarlett and other officials
According to Campbell’s published diary, the meeting was held to discuss “what we needed to do communciations-wise to set the scene for Iraq, e.g. a WMD paper and other papers about Saddam”.
Joint Intelligence Committee Minutes from 4, 11 and 18 September 2002
Between Tony Blair’s announcement on 3 September 2002 that the dossier would be published and the publication of the document on 24 September, the JIC met three times. The minutes of these meetings should provide evidence as to the extent to which the Committee took responsibility for the dossier. Read more
Three further documents showing the involvement of the Foreign Office Coalition Information Centre in the dossier
The Coalition Information Centre (CIC, also known as the Communications and Information Centre) was a propaganda unit set up within the Foreign Office to promote UK involvement in US-led wars. The Foreign Office once admitted that it has four documents showing the CIC’s involvement in the drafting of the dossier, but refused to release them under FOI. It later released the June 2002 draft dossier produced by CIC, which leaves three further documents.
The “two document version” of the pre-September dossier
John Williams’ first draft of the dossier (pdf file) bears the heading “JIC two document version 24 July 2002”, while documents supplied to the Hutton Inquiry are labelled “one document version”. The Cabinet Office told Hutton that this was because Williams was “working from an electronic file sent to him by the CIC.”
Suppressed comments on the 10 September draft dossier
Other documents that the government has been allowed to withhold under FOI include:
Seven emails from or to the Defence Intelligence Staff dated 11 September 2002
An email dated 13 September 2002, covering a copy of a speech by George Bush, “to compare with UK dossier claims”
An email to or from the Defence Intelligence staff dated 16 September 2002
In addition, it is known that on 12 September Scarlett met US intelligence and State Department officials to discuss the dossier. There should be a note of this meeting.
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