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Registered: 02/26/01
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The damning evidence
    #2895619 - 07/16/04 01:58 AM (13 years, 6 months ago)

The Damning Evidence

Revealed: Government witnesses knew September dossier was unsafe - but did not tell Hutton
By Kim Sengupta and Andrew Grice
16 July 2004

Crucial doubts about Iraq's ability to produce chemical weapons were withheld from two inquiries which examined the Government's case for war.

Lord Hutton's investigation into the death of David Kelly and Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, which monitors the intelligence services, were not told that information which helped Tony Blair claim that Saddam Hussein posed a "serious and current" threat had already been discredited and withdrawn by MI6.

The disclosure put new pressure on John Scarlett, the former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), who is being urged to resign from his new post as head of MI6 following the criticism of the pre-war intelligence in the Butler report published on Wednesday.

Three out of five key sources for the most sensational claims in the Government's September 2002 dossier on Iraqi weapons proved to be so untrustworthy that MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service) officially withdrew their contributions. According to paragraph 405 of the Butler report, "in July 2003 ... SIS withdrew the two reports [about ongoing production of chemical weapons] because the sourcing chain had by then been discredited". The Hutton inquiry began taking evidence in August 2003.

The withdrawals fatally undermine the case for war and would undoubtedly have had a significant bearing on the Hutton report. But they were not revealed to Lord Hutton by any of the government witnesses, who included Mr Blair, Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Scarlett, and Sir Richard Dearlove, the outgoing head of MI6. All stood by the claims in the dossier, although it is not clear how many were aware that the intelligence had been withdrawn.

Dr Brian Jones, a leading expert on chemical and biological weapons at the Defence Intelligence Staff who was not allowed to see the new intelligence, said last night: "This is very significant. Either the Prime Minister knew, when he gave his evidence to the Hutton inquiry, that the information from this source had been withdrawn in July 2003, in which case the question must be asked why didn't he mention it? Or, he was not told. In that case, surely, he must ask why he wasn't told, and whose decision was it not to tell him."

Michael Ancram, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said: "This is yet another example of Blair's statements not matching the reality of the intelligence. This is yet another unanswered question the Prime Minister should come clean about ... This is yet another body blow to the Prime Minister's waning credibility."


Don't worry, B. Caapi

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