Live Blog – 8 December 2009

Tuesday 8 December


(There were three evidence sessions today, scheduled for 10:00 – 13:00, 14:00 – 15:30 and 15.30 – 17.00.)

Topic: Post Invasion Iraq: The planning and the reality after the invasion

Sir Suma Chakrabarti, Permanent Secretary, Department for International Development, 2002-2007

Dominick Chilcott, Head of Iraq Planning Unit, Foreign Office, 2003

Topic: Intelligence

Sir John Scarlett, Chairman Joint Intelligence Committee 2001-2004

(Who was the only witness whose session we blogged today)

Topic: The Military Invasion

Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge, National Component Commander Operation Telic, Nov 2002 – May 2003

Lt Gen Robin Brims, General Officer Commanding 1 (UK) Armoured Division, UK Land Component Commander Operation Telic, Nov 2002 – May 2003
.

This afternoon’s hearing, as it happened


(Claims by Adam Holloway MP about the source of the 45 minutes claim are making an impact in the media. His report is here. Once again information comes into the public domain via the media rather than the Inquiry.)

John Scarlett’s testimony

15.40 That’s it. My impression there is that the committee did reasonably well there. Scarlett gave a smooth performance and could account for everything, except the points that looked bad for himself or Tony Blair when his memory suddenly failed him!

Here’s what Alastair Campbell told the Hutton Inquiry about the dossier foreword (re 15.31):

“John Scarlett’s point about ownership was he had to own the whole document.”

http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/transcripts/hearing-trans12.htm

Also “Indeed, the Joint Intelligence Committee had written Tony Blair’s foreword to the dossier, he said.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3018034.stm

15.39 Prashar asks for explanation of assessments staff being asked to firm up judgements on 4 September 2002. Scarlett explains that JIC thought that new intelligence was thought to be important. Also asked assessments staff to include this intel in dossier.

15.38 Asks when Blunt assessments were presented to PM? March 2003. Made point that it could not be taken for granted that post Saddam administration would automatically have popular support.

15.37 Freedman asks about interpretation of implications of intelligence and whether foreword should not have been included to put the policy case? Maybe, yes, but I cannot say that my mind was focused on that issue or that risk.

15.36 What about differences US/UK on nuclear. Our view was that if fissile material was obtained it would make it easier to develop nuclear weapons.

15.35 Re aluminium tubes and Cheney. Was there any other occasion where material was included to keep it in line with US public presentation? Scarlett goes back to aluminium tubes. Was an issue. I regarded it as an important issue. It was known that US had strong view. US national intelligence estimate had quite strong, intelligence estimate. General view in US was important. Intention was to be careful. Not influenced by US. Question dodged there!

15.31 Finally Chilcot asks Scarlett to comment on Blair’s comment that intelligence has established beyond doubt that Iraq has wmd. 1) I and other JIC members saw the foreword in draft form. I saw the foreword as separate. Foreword was overtly a statement signed by PM. Although I did make one or two small changes, eg to who received intel assessments. I didn’t see it as something that I could (should) change. Don’t remember thinking at the time but remember thinking it was the PMs words.

15.30 Should it have been made clearer that the 45 minutes claim referred to munitions? Agrees that Butler found that this should have happened. No conscious intention to mislead. Are you aware of Brian Jones’ concerns. No.

15.29 when was it decided to take it out of the freezer. 3 Sept Blair announced publication. 4 Sept ODS circulated existing drafts. Lyne: were you as the JIC chairman responsible for whole package? Scarlett says he was responsible for assessments staff part early on. Other bits being done at foreign office. Then decision was that overarching document re history of wmd, current wmd, history UN inspections and human rights. The work of wmd, historical and current was responsibility of assessments staff. Nothing produced without JIC authority. Also overall responsibility would come to me as JIC chairman, under authority of JIC. That was the position as of 9 Sept.

15.20 Ten minutes left, moving onto dossier. Lyne: when and why was the decision made to draw up a document for publication? Origins go back to Feb 02. At that time papers drawn up re PM’s visit to Bush in April. One paper commissioned by by Overseas Defence Secretariat was four country paper on wmd. Mid March it was decided to do a paper on Iraq only “increasing policy attention on Iraq”. 21 March I submitted a document to Manning which we thought could be put in public domain. don’t know why it wasn’t used. assume it was policy decision that the time wasn’t right. kept under review. Three strands of paper. Existed at beginning Sept 02.

The Telegraph reports that: “Officials at the Department for International Development were inhibited in post-war planning for Iraq because of concerns about the legitimacy of military action, the official inquiry into the conflict has been told.”

15.25 Did you come under pressure to firm up dossier. Desmond Bowen paper released under FOI. Two questions. Answer to both is no. new intelligence led to firming up in early September. Instructions of JIC to interdepartmental drafting group was to reflect recent intelligence in dossier. It did this explicitly. Also to ensure that it was consistent with documents. Now I have read Desmond Bowen’s minute. Clearly I must have seen it. I have no memory. Marked as a document to drafting group. No action taken. Chief of drafting group has no memory of seeing it. Advisory. Lyne: that was advice from a peer and not under pressure from higher up food chain? He wasn’t a peer.

15.19 Chilcot wonders who would be brave enough to tell Saddam he didn’t have wmd.

15.15 Chilcot: Tim Cross said getting into Baghdad after invasion, state of breakdown was a shock. Scarlett says it was hard to get a picture. It was clear from assessments that there would be resistance but short-lived. Goes back to paradox re Saddam’s state of mind. When one reads ISG plus Duelfer’s book, elements of Saddam’s thinking did come through: intent and awareness of importance of wmd.

15.14 Chilcot asks about confidence levels. Iraq hard target. Saddam playing two card trick game. Wanted to get out of sanctions and wanted to make it look as if he had magic weapons. Good question. Iraq survey group looked at this paradox. Thought top priority was to get out of sanctions but that he would go back to wmd once achieved. Wanted to project power and intimidation in region, especially re Iran. Scarlett: did JIC understand intensity of that paradox? No, I can’t quote anywhere that that paradox was discussed. That is now something that we now understand better.

15.09 Were these reports seen by PM etc? Assume so. Was there any reaction to these reports? No not new info. Did JIC change its assessments? No judgement of 19 March judged that Iraq would have access to CW. Reports didn’t say they didn’t have it, said they were concealing it. Not a game changing moment?

15.07What intel arrived in days leading up to conflict and how and when was this reported to ministers? Claims that no contradictory intelligence was received. Re March 2003, needs to be seen in context of policy and dispersal. JIC drew attention to this. Update of 10 March noted intel report issued on 7 March. was essentially saying that Iraq had no missiles that could reach Israel or carry BW. Had been disassembled to avoid detection. All along it had been reported that they had been concealed. DIS advised that depending on method, might be possible to reassemble 1-2 days. SIS said reference to BW might also refer to CW. On 19 March it was noted that CW remained disassembled. Saddam had not yet ordered reassembly. Reports assessed in the context of dispersal and concealment. Not seen as indication that CW/BW might not exist. Might be indication that they were difficult to find. Also earlier judgement that Iraq might not have warheads capable of dispersal of BW. Reports went directly to PM’s office.

15.01 Lyne asks if it is fair to say that there is better photo of static picture and of moving picture. Yes, not that things are ever static.

14.56 March 2002 Saw progress on missiles. Stronger assessment of biological. Reflected perceived better understanding of mobile facilities. Drew attention to prospect of dispersal. If inspectors are going back, how do your conceal it? Perhaps dismantle… There was intel that there were attempts at concealment.

14.56 August and early Sept 02 there was further work. that was when new intel was coming in that had significant impact on judgements. Became firmer. 9 Sept 02 assessment had assessments on options but also capability. Re-affirmed earlier judgements but change was on current possession. Referred to recent intel on production of agent. Development of mobile facilities. Also Saddam’s intent. (quotes from paper, much of which is published in Butler). Noted that did not know about plans for use, size of stocks etc. Discussed in detail on 4 September. Noted that this needed to be brought to attention of ministers. Assessments staff were instructed to firm up judgements on possession. Also note that new intel may come in, which it did, mid Sept. That assessment stayed in place as confirmed view of JIC in months that followed. Didn’t change. Not challenged.

14.53 To what extent was intel on Iraq’s wmd static or evolving? Scarlett says he can’t say too much about this. Too good a question!!! Starting point was JIC assessment May 2001. Not possible to make nuclear weapon while sanctions remained in place. (but heightened concern re procurement) thought to have some stocks of chemical weapons and agents. Clear evidence of continuing biological warfare capability. intel re mobile, concern re quick production. Missiles seen as important. Background was Iraq’s proven ability to weaponise CW. May 2001 intel described as patchy, except for missiles?

14.48 How much use was made of non-intelligence sources? That was certainly taken into account. Does that include tapping into academic expertise, people who were able to visit Iraq? Yes, in theory, cannot give example. Opposition side of it had to be and was handled with care. Awareness of fragility of country was very high. Treated opposition/exile sources with care.

14.47 Lyne: was it as difficult to get intel on political, military society as about wmd? If we had put more effort in, would we be able to get more? I wouldn’t say so. We did have intel on those issues. Iraq Survey Group shows that some of those insights were not far off reality. Structure of regime leads to uncertainty.

14.44 How exceptionally difficult was Iraq? It was difficult. All totalitarian states are difficult to get access to. Strong security agencies. Climate of intimidation and fear. Shortage of contextual information. Also in 1990s we were reliant on UN inspectors. When they left, this source went.

Also there were a large number of high priority targets re Iraq. Dual use is also a problem re wmd.

14.40 Is it an advantage to have experienced ministers at times of crisis? Experience is always an advantage but is not enough. What if there are unexperienced ministers? Gets more tricky.

14.39 Is that as good a system as one could devise? Not able to give a view on whether there should be formal training for PMs. Is not in UK and has never been a system of daily intel briefing.

14.38 Do ministers pick up nuances, caveats etc? yes, if properly presented and if properly advised.

14.37 Chilcot refers to Butler review introductory chapter on nature of intelligence. It’s quite complicated. Are ministers expected to pick it up as they go along? No formal induction process. One of jobs of JIC chairman to check it was understood, properly presented and interpreted!!!! But not only channel. Ministers get intelligence reports.

14.34 Lyne asks if the JIC should have looked more at post-war Iraq. Scarlett does not agree, even with hindsight. JIC assessments in early 2003 looked at impact in north and south of Iraq.

14.35 How well placed was JIC to look at Iraq? Only as well placed as intelligence base, which was limited.

14.33 Agrees with Ricketts that what changed was readiness of US to change its posture on Iraq after 9/11.

14.31 More papers on wider issues than on wmd. Slightly simplistic as there was overlap. Papers on Iraq also included wmd. Internal situation in Iraq was not main dynamic.

14.29 What aspects of Iraq was JIC reporting on? Early on it was about wmd but as it became clear that a crisis was developing a programme of work developed which sought to answer certain broad questions. Subjects: regime cohesion; what kind of diplomatic and military options does Saddam have; impact of internal cohesion; attitudes of other states in region; impact of developing crisis on threat from international terrorism.

14.27 Scarlett admits “discrepancy” over priority of Iraq for JIC pre-2002. Good question, fudged answer.

14.25 Lyne asks roughly how often DOP discussed Iraq between Sept 01 and March 03? Scarlett cannot remember. Was a meeting in July 2002!! Agrees not particularly frequent. Lyne knows he is spinning here!

14.23 Is it right that analysis is sometimes given too little importance in the process? No system is perfect. Relationship between different elements is quite a subtle one. System in UK has worked by issue of report by collection agency. Possibility for agency to make comment on report, eg. context. Will be issued to wide range of customers, eg analysts, eg Defence Intelligence Staff. Feed into current intelligence groups. Assessments job. Good question – waffled answer!

14.23 What is the interaction when policy starts getting formed by intelligence? What if intelligence becomes skewed? Yes, there is a mechanism to deal with this.

14.21 Another mechanism through which JIC passes its views to ministers is through papers to foreign policy advisers, e.g. David Manning.

14.20 Are we getting somewhere? Chilcot asks about interface with ministers. Scarlett says chairman has authority to represent views of JIC. Has interface with senior ministers/PM within channels that exist. Are there face to face meetings/discussions? The main channels through which presentations are made is through meetings of Defence and Overseas Policy committee (DOP). Says it did meet to discuss Iraq, amongst others. Meetings would begin with presentation of latest intel by JIC chairman. Also, in moments of crisis there is the equivalent of “war cabinet”. Met every day from start of “conflict” March 2003.

14.13 Chilcot asks if it is right that Iraq moved up the priority list very quickly around 2002. Yes but, need to be flexible re short-term priorities. I don’t recognise the point about Iraq being no 20. In our view it was a top priority…

14.15 How far does the JIC tasking feed into resourcing of intelligence agencies? Of course this has an impact. But a recognition that you can’t be too rigid.

14.12 Two features of assessments. 1) seek to achieve agreed view – no history of dissenting views recorded. 2) drafting people have access to all available intelligence. In terms of tasking, takes place against backdrop of requirements and priorities.

Every paper tries to ask a set of questions put by a sponsoring department. JIC can be self-tasking.

14.10 Scarlett gives an overview of the role of the JIC. Brings together those responsible for collection, assessment and policy implications of intelligence. Senior officials from various departments. I was responsible for the presentation of intelligence assessment to government. Assessments staff including chief who was a full member of the JIC. Main output/product was JIC assessments long-term short-term depending on tasking. Drafted by assessments staff, circulated, brought back to current intelligence group then discussed at JIC. Always discussed, nothing on the nod, sometimes sent back.

Assessments all source (open and secret). Distributed by Cabinet Offices to major departments. Assessments not only product. In times of crisis and conflict “heavy use of intelligence updates”, sometimes on a daily basis. Do updates carry full authority of JIC? Not discussed at JIC – on authority of assessments staff “in consultation with JIC”.

14.03 Chilcot says the objective of the session is the intelligence assessment available up to the invasion. Previous inquiries have been over this ground but we need to look at other issues as well. There will be limits on the detail we can cover in this public session.

There is a reference to Adam Holloway’s report. May be relevant but not a matter for this session. If there is further evidence we may have further public sessions. Witnesses are giving their recollections. We are checking against the paperwork.
.

Archived Comments


By andrewsimon

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 11:40am

“One agent did come up with something – the “45 minutes” or something about missiles allegedly discussed in a high level Iraqi political meeting. But the provenance of this information was never questioned in detail until after the Iraq invasion, when it became apparent that something was wrong. In the end it turned out that the information was not credible, it had originated from an émigré taxi driver on the Iraqi-Jordanian border, who had remembered an overheard a conversation in the back of his cab a full two years earlier. Indeed, in the intelligence analyst’s footnote to the report, it was flagged up that part of the report probably describing some missiles that the Iraqi Government allegedly possessed was demonstrably untrue. They verifiably did not exist. The footnote said it in black and white ink. Despite this glaring factual inaccuracy, which under normal circumstances would have caused the reliability of the intelligence to be seriously questioned, the report was treated as reliable and went on to become one of the central planks of the dodgy dossier.”

This is new to me. I wonder where he got it from.

By Solomon Hughes

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 11:54am

I guess the indication is that Holloway got this from the mouth of a horse somewhere , in the words of the Daily Mail “Mr Holloway, a former Grenadier Guardsman, has close links to intelligence officials”

On another topic re: war preparation, it might be worth looking at the PowerPoint slides General Tommy Franks prepared for George Bush and Dick Cheney on war planning. They were released to the (US) National Security Archive, following their Freedom of Information requests.

As early as 2001 Franks has different versions of a possible “coalition of the willing”. Every version includes British ground troops. By August 2002 the American war plans actually name specific British regiments. A “full force disposition” lists all the troops to be involved in the upcoming invasion. The detailed map includes, alongside many American army divisions and ‘planes, a role for “UK SOF Forces” – meaning “special operations forces” based in Diyarkabir, Turkey ; “SAS Task GRP (UK)” and “5 RAF Harrier Squadron” based in Al Jafra, Jordan, “1x RAF Tornado Squadron” and “ 5 x RAF C130 Squadron” based at All Al Salem, Kuwait. Only one other non-American force is listed on Franks war map – the Australian SAS Task group, who are also based in Jordan

You can see them here

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB214/index.htm

The slides also show that the war planners spoke very differently in private about the war. The photocopy of the slide released by the Americans is not good, but you can recognize it as a map of Iraq. While Bush and Blair spoke about the war in terms of democracy and liberation, the arrows on this map tell a different story: The arrows shooting across the country read “Exploit” and “Suppress”. Large labels read “Seize N[orthern] oil” and “Seize S[outhern] oil”. So there you have war plan Iraq: “Seize”, “Exploit” and “Gain control”.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB214/Tab%20J.pdf

By Iain Paton

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 12:43pm

To be honest, “exploit” and “suppress” are standard military terms and nothing sinister should be read into them (other than the fact of possible fact of military action in the first place!).

“Exploit” refers to exploitation of armoured breakthroughs by follow-up elements, the standard approach to a ground invasion. Same for gaining control/seizing of ground, road network, bridges etc.

Other points are good though.

By Tony Simpson

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 2:44pm

At the Prime Minister’s meeting of 23 July ‘02, John Scarlett opened the discussion with an account of intelligence and the latest Joint Intelligence Committee assessment, according to the leaked minute. He made no mention of weapons of mass destruction. Will the Inquiry ask him about the contents of what has become known as the Downing Street Memo? It’s the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

By John Bone

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 3:13pm

The Telegraph article hints at a number of serious issues when a country like the UK is actually going to start a war. It is quite likely that the military will be unwilling to tell humanitarian and reconstruction agencies what they plan to do in case such intelligence gets too widely spread. And humanitarian and reconstruction people are going to have serious doubts about being involved in the planning of an attack on another country, especially if they already have experience of conflicts and know how much damage they cause to societies. If you’re actually working in a humanitarian society you are supposed to be neutral: it is difficult to claim to be neutral if you are from the country that started the war. This is probably why Short wanted the UN to run the reconstruction programme: Blair said that he would get Bush to agree to this but didn’t.

By Solomon Hughes

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 4:35pm

I was struck by this bit

“Chilcot wonders who would be brave enough to tell Saddam he didn’t have wmd”

Every now and then some story pops up in the press claiming that, in the 2000’s, Iraq did not have WMD , but Saddam thought they did, or that Iraq was bluffing by pretending they had WMD even though they did not. These stories strike me as not right – Saddam’s son-in-law, General Kamal, who ran the WMD programmes, told weapons inspectors in detail about how Iraq had dismantled the WMD programmes, in 1995 when he defected. the idea he would not have told Saddam the same in 1994 seems odd. Nothing much changed between 1994 and 2003 on the WMD front – if you read Gen Kamal’s interview, it is quite detailed, even about the small breaches that existed on WMD (ie retaining some sample equipment) . The US-UK idea that Iraq was back in the WMD game was based on the supposition – not much more – that after Kamal went, the programmes were resumed. As to Iraq “bluffing” on WMD, this sits oddly with years worth of Iraqi ministers saying publicly they did not have any. But is Chilcot taken with this -as far as I can see unsubstantiated – argument ,that Iraq had no WMD but Saddam thought they had ?

By John Bone

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 6:28pm

You will note that no date is mentioned when these accusations are made that our intelligence services got it wrong because of Saddam’s bluffing. Iraq bluffed a bit in the early 1990s but from about 1995 always maintained that it had got rid of its WMD. By not mentioning a date, our intelligence services are hoping that we will think that what happened in the early 1990s was still happening in 2002.

By Stan Rosenthal

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 6:31pm

Solomon, I don’t think you were listening to the evidence properly. Scarlett referred to the post-war ISG interview with Saddam in which he admitted he was playing a double game, denying he had WMD while trying to give the impression that he still had them (for deterrent purposes, as he explained). Blair and Bush can hardly be blamed for picking up on the impression he was deliberately trying to give.

By andrewsimon

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 6:49pm

Solomon –

That bit caught my ear too – it’s as if Chilcot himself believes that maybe there was some WMD left in Iraq all along.

The second thing that stuck out was when (at about 15:14) Chilcot started expounding on the ‘two card trick game’. As Chris put it, Saddam: “Wanted to get out of sanctions and wanted to make it look as if he had magic weapons. Good question.”

This is the second time Chilcot has alluded to this, but there isn’t much evidence to support this idea. As I’ve written about elsewhere here, this was about an internal June 2000 speech made by Saddam which his interrogator (George Piro) questioned him about after his capture. 60 minutes made much of this, seeing it as proof that Saddam had coveted the weapons.

The record shows that during the course of these interviews and casual conversations that George Piro actually brought up the following on 13 May 2004:

(Reference: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB279/23.pdf )

Hussein was reminded of a speech he gave in June 2000, where he stated he would not disarm until the region was disarmed; and his own words could be taken as an admission that Iraq possessed WMD. Hussein claimed his intention was for the region to be fully disarmed. Hussein was advised his speech did not project that message. He requested a copy of his speech and said he would then provide clarification. Hussein was informed the Coalition had gathered information indicating that Iraq was either maintaining or re-developing its WMD capability. Hussein denied this. He was then asked if others within his county would do this without his knowledge. Hussein said no, and claimed on several occasions he held meetings with all of his ministers and asked them specifically if Iraq had WMD that he was unaware of. All of his ministers stated no, as they cited they knew Hussein’s position on WMD matters clearly. Hussein claimed his position was that Iraq did not have WMD.

By andrewsimon

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 6:57pm

Stan –

So which post-war ISG interview with Saddam are you referring to then?

(cough)Your distortion of what he said…(/cough)

By Stan Rosenthal

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 8:08pm

Andrew-

Er, (cough, cough) what was said in the interview appeared in the final report of the Iraq Survey Group, September 2004. Here’s the relevant extract

“Saddam continued to see the utility of WMD. He explained that he purposely gave an ambiguous impression about possession as a deterrent to Iran. He gave explicit direction to maintain the intellectual capabilities. As UN sanctions eroded there was a concomitant expansion of activities that could support full WMD reactivation. He directed that ballistic missile work continue that would support long-range missile development. Virtually no senior Iraqi believed that Saddam had forsaken WMD forever. Evidence suggests that, as resources became available and the constraints of sanctions decayed, there was a direct expansion of activity that would have the effect of supporting future WMD reconstitution”

The scource material is at http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/hdocs/iraq/dciwmd93004rpt-1.pdf

By Lee Roberts

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 8:28pm

We invaded Iraq because they maintained intellectual capabilities ?

By Stan Rosenthal

Submitted on 2009/12/08 at 11:38pm

No Lee, we went to war because Saddam preferred being ambiguous about his possession of WMD to coming clean about them as he was required to do under the UN resolutions. In these circumstances it was perfectly reasonable for the coalition governments to assume the worst and act on that assumption.

By andrewsimon

Submitted on 2009/12/09 at 10:21am

Stan –

Fair enough, you have the CIA saying this here, but it’s not in the actual FBI transcripts of Saddam’s one-on-one testimony. If there were other discussions apart from these they are not admitted to or have been classified. On the other hand, the CIA had a mandate to lay the ground for Saddam’s downfall. I’m not sure if I fully believe that he actually said every word that they say he did. All I know is this is exactly what they would want him to say. Hey – maybe even they said it this way so later on the Brits could turn around and say “Yeah. That’s the way it was”. You know what I mean – like a damage limitation exercise?

By Solomon Hughes

Submitted on 2009/12/09 at 4:15pm

Thanks Stan, I had read the records of the Piro interviews with Saddam , but I had not seen the way they were treated in the final report of the Iraq Survey Group. However, I can’t see how the Iraq Survey Group matches the actual records of the Piro inteviews.

FBI agent Pinto’s actual record of a casual conversation with Saddam reads: “Even though Hussein claimed Iraq did not have WMD, the threat from Iran was a major factor as to why he did not allow the return of the UN inspectors.

“Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq.”

So in 1998 Saddam resisted the UN weapons inspectors because he did not want to look weak in front of Iran, with whom he had fought a vicious eight-year war.

This is not the same as pretending to have WMD. Saddam did not want to look like he could be pushed around by the UN lest his neighbours scent weakness, but his government repeatedly – and accurately – denied having WMD.

Saddam then relented in 2002. Pinto records Saddam saying that he had “let the UN inspectors back into Iraq to counter allegations by the British government.

“Hussein stated this was a very difficult decision to make, but the British government had prepared a report containing inaccurate intelligence.

“It was this inaccurate intelligence on which the United States was making its decisions.”

By Solomon Hughes

Submitted on 2009/12/09 at 4:16pm

Some of Saddam’s ways of creating “ambiguity” about the possession of WMD were pretty subtle

“Iraq has been rid of weapons of mass destruction since spring 1992,” said Iraqi information minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf in March 2003.

In November 2002 Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri wrote to the UN: “Iraq has not developed weapons of mass destruction whether nuclear, chemical or biological, as claimed by evil people.”

Sabri told the BBC in April 2002: “There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There are no means of producing them.”

Al-Jazeera asked Iraqi trade minister Muhammad Mahdi Saleh about US claims that Iraq was building chemical and biological weapons factories in Fallujah in January 2001.

He said: “This is like an April fool joke, although it is not yet April. This is a lie. This is not true and there are no such projects. Iraq does not produce this kind of material.”

Iraqi vice-president Taha Yasin Ramadan told Al-Jazeera in 1998: “Iraq has confirmed that it has no weapons of mass destruction” and “I reiterate today that this issue, Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, was finished with the end of 1991 and the beginning of 1992.”

In 1988 Saddam’s deputy Tariq Aziz said Iraq “possesses no weapons of mass destruction, no major components, nor was it seeking to produce proscribed weapons.” .

By Solomon Hughes

Submitted on 2009/12/09 at 4:32pm

Apologies for Calling the FBI’s George Piro “Pinto” a couple of times, and also for repeating some of the points made by Andrew Simon above. And excuse me for going on a bit

What is interesting is that Gen Kamal’s 1995 interview with the weapons inspectors (After Kamal, who ran the WMD programmes , defected ) was accurate not just about the destruction of WMD but also about the retention of some “intellectual capacity”. Obviously “intellectual capacity “ is not a reasonable cause for war, but the fact that Kamal was willing to admit some breaches shows the honesty of his report. This of course also means that in 1995 the US and UK knew there was no WMD. Kamal said

“All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons – biological, chemical, missiles, nuclear were destroyed.” He also said “not a single missile left but they had blueprints and molds for production. All missiles were destroyed” and also, talking about two SCUD launchers they retained “these two launchers are with the Special Guards. They are hidden in the same location where computer disks with information on nuclear programmes are. If you find one you will find the other.”

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