Documents showing intelligence chiefs were urged to make a key dossier on the Iraqi threat as “firm” as possible have led to new calls for a war inquiry.
Intelligence head Sir John Scarlett was pressed in an e-mail to make analysis of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction as “authoritative” as he could.
Details of this e-mail were released under a freedom of information request.
The Conservatives said the evidence was “damaging”, while the Lib Dems said it showed the UK was “duped” into the war.
Critics of the war say the dossier, published in late 2002 as US pressure on Iraq was growing, was “sexed up” to press the case for military action against Saddam Hussein…
As head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Sir John Scarlett – now head of M16 – was responsible for putting together the document – which the then prime minister Tony Blair used as part of his case for action against Iraq.
In an e-mail to Mr Scarlett on 11 September, Desmond Bowen – the then head of the Cabinet Office’s defence secretariat – referred to a draft version of the dossier. The e-mail was also sent to Alastair Campbell, No 10′s Head of Communications, No 10 Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell and the prime minister’s chief foreign policy adviser David Manning.
“In looking at the WMD sections, you clearly want to be as firm and authoritative as you can be,” Mr Bowen wrote. “You will need to judge the extent to which you need to hedge your judgements with, for example, ‘it is almost certain’ and similar caveats.
“I appreciate that this can increase the authenticity of the document in terms of it being a proper assessment but that needs to be weighed against the use that will be made by the opponents of action who will add up the number of judgements on which we do not have absolute clarity.”
- BBC News