Former MI6 head testifies in UK Iraq War commission

Sir John Scarlett

Sir John Scarlett

Sir John Scarlett, who until recently headed MI6, Britain’s foremost external spy agency, chaired the country’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in the run-up to the Iraq War. He was therefore in charge of an influential government report, produced in September 2002, which argued that Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction constituted an immediate threat to Britain. As part of the official inquiry into Britain’s entry in the Iraq War, Sir John testified yesterday about the controversial report, known as ‘the dodgy dossier’, which has been criticized as a monumental intelligence failure that helped drag the country into an unpopular war. The former JIC chairman admitted that British intelligence services were aware before the War that Iraq had dismantled its long-range missiles and thus had no way of shooting its chemical munitions at distant targets, including Britain. But he argued that British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s argument, included in the report, that Iraq’s chemical weapons posed a threat to the UK that was “beyond doubt”, was simply a technical error (“it should have read chemical munitions, not weapons”), and denied the JIC came under political pressure to “firm up” the conclusions in the ‘dodgy dossier’. However, he did say that British intelligence agencies “began drawing up assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of Saddam Hussein’s regime a year before the invasion of Iraq”. Remarkably, nobody from the inquiry panel asked Sir John about the shocking allegation by opposition Tory parliamentarian Adam Holloway that MI6 got its bogus information, that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons at 45 minutes’ notice, from an Iraqi taxi driver (!), who said he heard Ba’athist military officials talking about it. Maybe they will ask him during the closed session testimony, which is scheduled for next week.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to Former MI6 head testifies in UK Iraq War commission

  1. wootwoot says:

    Thank you so much, there aren’t enough posts on this… or at least i cant find them. I am turning into such a blog nut, I just cant get enough and this is such an important topic… i’ll be sure to write something about your site

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