Thursday, March 24, 2005


"The government didn’t withhold it in the public interest, it withheld it in the government’s interest": Sir Menzies Campbell

Channel 4's revelation last night was that Mrs Elizabeth Wilmshurst's memo to Michael Wood contained the following paragraph - subsequently censored "in the public interest" - but, luckily for the public interest, obtained by Channel 4.

What seems to be emerging inexorably is that Lord Peter Goldsmith did indeed change his stance on the legal position of war with Iraq when he was leant on to do so. How else can it be explained that his lengthy legal opinion arguing that, without a second resolution, a case for war against Iraq would be "seriously open to legal challenge" suddenly got transmogrified six days later to confident reassurance to the wavering Cabinet that a case for war would unquestinably be legal? See also goldsmith pages

The government's efforts to place the blame for the use of flawed intelligence on the intelligence services themselves, has also been intensified in the past 24 hours with the spectacle of Jack Straw responding to the criticims of the Butler Inquiry. "The government has tightened controls on the processing of secret intelligence.." And another government assumption that the electorate are blind, dumb, deaf and, frankly, complete suckers. It was not the Intelligence Services themselves who manipulated some strands of suspect hearsay into a case for war.

On January 25 2004 the
Sunday Herald's
headline was:
Spy chiefs warn PM: don't blame us for war They were premature by a little over a year , it seems.

In the article, the UK's intelligence chiefs "launched a pre-emptive strike against Tony Blair", believing that it was the Hutton Report, about to be published, that would result in "an attempt by the Prime Minister and his senior Cabinet colleagues to blame the intelligence services for the shoddy information which was used by the government to convince the British people and parliament that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were a threat to the UK."

The senior members of the intelligence community included those from:

The Defence Intelligence Staff, which helped supply intelligence for Blair's disputed September 2002 WMD dossier; the Joint Intelligence Organisation, which includes John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC); and MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, the main agency responsible for gathering the intelligence which went into the dossier.

The key points made at the time were:

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