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http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1113-01.htm

Published on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 by the Washington Post

A Call to Arms By an Enemy of War Against Iraq

by Courtland Milloy

Scott Ritter, a military man turned anti-war advocate who has been denounced
by hawks as unpatriotic for his views. He was invited to speak by a campus
organization, and his appearance drew a wide range of students from dozens
of countries.

Ritter contended that it was ridiculous for an uninformed Congress to give
President Bush sole power to wage war: "It's like going to a doctor who says
you have a brain tumor and that he needs to chop off your head so he can dig
it out. You say, 'Wait, that's kind of extreme. May I see the X-rays?' And
the doctor says, 'Don't worry about X-rays. Just trust me on this.' "

The students laughed, but Ritter cut them off, saying: "Don't blame Congress
or Bush. You are the government. They just represent you. What they are
doing is happening in your name."

Drawing on his experience as an intelligence officer during the Persian Gulf
War and on his seven years as a U.N weapons inspector in Iraq, Ritter
painted a disturbing picture of what has been happening in that country
since the Gulf War and the imposition of economic sanctions.

He talked about babies drinking water contaminated by sewage because
purification plants have been bombed. Mothers carry them to doctors and are
told that nothing can be done. Medicines have gone bad because refrigerators
don't work; bombs have knocked out electric power plants as well.

"Keep this in the back of your head: About 3,000 Iraqi children are starving
to death each month -- outside the view of American heartstrings," Ritter
said. "Suppose every month 3,000 Iraqi children were lined up and we
threatened to shoot them if Saddam Hussein didn't do what we wanted. Suppose
we gave orders for the Marines to shoot them. Well, nothing would happen
because Marines don't shoot kids. But that doesn't mean America doesn't kill
children. We just starve them to death.

"But we're only talking about dead brown people," Ritter added
sarcastically. "Don't let that little fact get in the way. If 250,000 white
babies were going to starve to death, this sanctions policy wouldn't last
long at all. But somehow a child's death doesn't hurt brown mothers as much
as it hurts white mothers."

Ritter made the case that America is hellbent on war with Iraq no matter
what U.N. arms inspectors find if readmitted to that country. Why? We want
to control Mideast oil.

"We see the world as one big grocery store," he said. When the United States
needs another country's natural resource, he said, we will make friends with
oppressive regimes to get it, steal it or take it by force.

Ritter said we obtain copper "by propping up African dictators who send
their people into copper mines where they die by the thousands just so our
lives can be made more comfortable."

Instead of hunting down terrorists with Predator drones, only to see them
replaced by more terrorists, better to ask why and how people become
terrorists in the first place, Ritter said.

"The anti-American sentiment is out there, and it's not because people are
jealous of us," he said. "People don't like us because we're a bunch of
obnoxious, ignorant bullies."

He closed by asking the students whether they really wanted such oppressive,
undemocratic practices carried out in their names.

"Hell no!" came the response.

"Then it's not too late to send a message that this is not a war that we
will stand for," he said, bringing many students to their feet in applause.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company


 
 
 
 
 
Letters

The role of Operation Rockingham

Saturday November 29, 2003
The Guardian


John Morrison's comments (Letters, November 22) on Michael Meacher's article (The very secret service, November 20) leaves much to be desired. While factually correct in the few substantive points made about Operation Rockingham, the letter is disingenuous about the role and impact it played concerning the shaping of British intelligence reports on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the UN efforts to disarm them.

Given that British intelligence about the status of Iraq's WMD has been shown to be fundamentally flawed, the genesis of this failure should be addressed. Operation Rockingham's role in this is not small.

Morrison speaks of the "independent" nature of the intelligence work conducted by Operation Rockingham. The reality is that it institutionalised a process of "cherry-picking" intelligence produced by the UN inspections in Iraq that skewed UK intelligence about Iraqi WMD towards a preordained outcome that was more in line with British government policy than it was reflective of ground truth.

Many examples can be offered to counter Morrison's assertions that Operation Rockingham was little more than a "tiny intelligence cell", the sole purpose of which was to provide intelligence leads to the UN inspectors. Far from being the "shining example of the effective use of intelligence in support of the international community", Operation Rockingham was, in fact, more reflective of an institutional predisposition towards the politicised massaging of intelligence data that resulted in the massive failure of intelligence that we all have tragically witnessed regarding Iraq and WMD.

The role played by Operation Rockingham in this failure should be fully investigated by an independent committee of parliament. I stand fully prepared to support such an investigation in any way possible, including the provision of evidence under oath. I hope that Morrison would be as well.
Scott Ritter
Former UN weapons inspector


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-944831,00.html

Revealed: how MI6 sold the Iraq war

Nicholas Rufford

December 28 2003 Sunday Times

THE Secret Intelligence Service has run an operation to gain public support for sanctions and the use of military force in Iraq. The government yesterday confirmed that MI6 had organised Operation Mass Appeal, a campaign to plant stories in the media about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

The revelation will create embarrassing questions for Tony Blair in the run-up to the publication of the report by Lord Hutton into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, the government weapons expert.

A senior official admitted that MI6 had been at the heart of a campaign launched in the late 1990s to spread information about Saddam's development of nerve agents and other weapons, but denied that it had planted misinformation. “There were things about Saddam's regime and his weapons that the public needed to know,” said the official.

The admission followed claims by Scott Ritter, who led 14 inspection missions in Iraq, that MI6 had recruited him in 1997 to help with the propaganda effort. He described meetings where the senior officer and at least two other MI6 staff had discussed ways to manipulate intelligence material.

“The aim was to convince the public that Iraq was a far greater threat than it actually was,” Ritter said last week.

He said there was evidence that MI6 continued to use similar propaganda tactics up to the invasion of Iraq earlier this year. “Stories ran in the media about secret underground facilities in Iraq and ongoing programmes (to produce weapons of mass destruction),” said Ritter. “They were sourced to western intelligence and all of them were garbage.”

Kelly, himself a former United Nations weapons inspector and colleague of Ritter, might also have been used by MI6 to pass information to the media. “Kelly was a known and government-approved conduit with the media,” said Ritter.

Hutton's report is expected to deliver a verdict next month on whether intelligence was misused in order to promote the case for going to war. Hutton heard evidence that Kelly was authorised by the Foreign Office to speak to journalists on Iraq. Kelly was in close touch with the “Rockingham cell”, a group of weapons experts that received MI6 intelligence.

Blair justified his backing for sanctions and for the invasion of Iraq on the grounds that intelligence reports showed Saddam was working to acquire chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The use of MI6 as a “back channel” for promoting the government's policies on Iraq was never discovered during the Hutton inquiry and is likely to cause considerable disquiet among MPs.

A key figure in Operation Mass Appeal was Sir Derek Plumbly, then director of the Middle East department at the Foreign Office and now Britain's ambassador to Egypt. Plumbly worked closely with MI6 to help to promote Britain's Middle East policy.

The campaign was judged to be having a successful effect on public opinion. MI6 passed on intelligence that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction and rebuilding its arsenal.

Poland, India and South Africa were initially chosen as targets for the campaign because they were non-aligned UN countries not supporting the British and US position on sanctions. At the time, in 1997, Poland was also a member of the UN security council.

Ritter was a willing accomplice to the alleged propaganda effort when first approached by MI6's station chief in New York. He obtained approval to co-operate from Richard Butler, then executive chairman of the UN Special Commission on Iraq Disarmament.

Ritter met MI6 to discuss Operation Mass Appeal at a lunch in London in June 1998 at which two men and a woman from MI6 were present. The Sunday Times is prevented by the Official Secrets Act from publishing their names.

Ritter had previously met the MI6 officer at Vauxhall Cross, the service's London headquarters. He asked Ritter for information on Iraq that could be planted in newspapers in India, Poland and South Africa from where it would “feed back” to Britain and America.

Ritter opposed the Iraq war but this is the first time that he has named members of British intelligence as being involved in a propaganda campaign. He said he had decided to “name names” because he was frustrated at “an official cover-up” and the “misuse of intelligence”.

“What MI6 was determined to do by the selective use of intelligence was to give the impression that Saddam still had WMDs or was making them and thereby legitimise sanctions and military action against Iraq,” he said.

Recent reports suggest America has all but abandoned hopes of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group, has resigned earlier than expected, frustrated that his resources have been diverted to tracking down insurgents.

 



http://www.sundayherald.com/39656

2: The heart of the matter ... did iraq have WMD?

There's plenty of evidence that Saddam had ditched WMD, but little to show how the Blair government came to a contrary conclusion.

By Investigations Editor Neil Mackay

TONY Blair and Alastair Campbell are clinging desperately to their story that Iraq had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but they are members of an ever dwindling club.

In America, WMD claims are unravelling fast. David Kay, the head of the Iraq Survey Group picked by the CIA to find banned weapons in post-war Iraq, has come out and said “we were all wrong”.

Then Condoleezza Rice, President George W Bush's national security adviser, said last week: “I think that what we have is evidence that there are differences between what we knew going in and what we found on the ground.”

Secretary of state Colin Powell has also said that Iraq may not have had WMD. His former chief weapons expert, Greg Thielman, has accused Bush and Blair of failing to give an accurate picture of intelligence on Saddam's WMD. The “political leadership” in both countries distorted the Iraqi threat and the claim that Saddam could deploy WMD in 45 minutes was exaggerated, he added. Thielman also said Iraq was not a threat. And Rolf Ekeus, former head of Unscom, the UN special commission in Iraq, blamed the heads of UK and US intelligence agencies for “trying to play up to their political masters”.

Then there's US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He said in a report to the Senate armed services committee: “The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit of WMD. We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light - through the prism of our experience on 9/11.”

Two former chief UN weapons inspectors, Hans Blix and Scott Ritter, have also questioned claims that Iraq had WMD. Ritter further claims Britain “sexed-up” intelligence to make it look as if Saddam was armed and dangerous. Before taking up his new position, Charles Duelfer, the former UN weapons inspector appointed by the CIA to replace Kay, said he did not believe banned weapons would be found.

A recent report by the British American Security Information Council pours cold water on the WMD claims and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the threat from Iraq's WMD was “systematically misrepresented”.

The Iraqi scientists who built Saddam's WMD in the 1980s have also weighed in to the fray, saying Blair lied to the British people over Iraq's capabilities. Dr Emad Shamsaldi said Blair should resign, adding: “We had no WMD when Britain and America invaded. I should know because I spent much of the 1980s involved in Iraq's nuclear programme.” Shamsaldi also said UN inspectors accepted there was no WMD and that David Kelly contacted his department last year saying he was unhappy with what Bush and Blair were saying.

On Friday, Bush himself said he wants to know “the facts” about why WMD hadn't been found. Bush, the commander-in-chief of the US armed forces, has unsparingly told the world for the last year that Saddam was armed to the teeth with WMD, but now he seems vague on what the threat actually was.

All of which makes Blair's insistence that WMD exist look a little desperate.

Last week, intelligence chiefs told the Sunday Herald, ahead of the Hutton report, that they would not be blamed for intelligence failures. They said they had been politicised and pressurised into cherry-picking intelligence to justify the war. There has also been CIA dissent. David Albright, an ex-colleague of Kay, said claims about Iraqi weapons were questioned by many intelligence experts.

The UK intelligence community is getting its side of the story in early because if it comes to pass that there was no threat - no justification for the war - the politicians will have to blame the quality of the intelligence they received. Blair has already said that his belief that Iraq had WMD which posed a threat was based on intelligence reports. What the spies are saying is that they were sceptical about WMD claims; were under government pressure to provide intelligence that Iraq had WMD; that damning intelligence was selectively chosen; intelligence that might have worked against the build-up to war was sidelined, and that intelligence had become politicised under Labour.

Among the evidence that Hutton either ignored or decided was not relevant was an e-mail sent from Danny Pruce, a Downing Street press officer, to his boss Alastair Campbell, which said: “Much of the evidence is largely circumstantial so we need to convince our readers that the cumulation of these facts demonstrate an intent on Saddam's part.” Phil Basset, a senior special adviser to the PM, said the document was “intelligence-lite” adding: “We've got to find a way to get over this by having better intelligence material.” Downing Street, it seemed, was also pressurising John Scarlett, the former MI6 officer who chaired the joint intelligence committee (JIC), which was supposed to have sole ownership of the dossier detailing the case for war. Spies were told: “Number 10 ... wants the document to be as strong as possible within the limits of the available intelligence.”

Campbell, who chaired intelligence meetings, asked Scarlett's team to stren-gthen nine passages in the dossier. Scarlett, who Campbell called a “mate”, wrote back saying: “We have been able to amend the text in most cases as you proposed.”

Jonathan Powell, Blair's chief of staff, asked the JIC to toughen up a passage which read: “Saddam is prepared to use chemical and biological weapons if he believes his regime is under threat.” It became: “Saddam is willing to use chemical and biological weapons.”

Sir Rodric Braithwaite, who preceded Scarlett as head of the JIC, has warned that intelligence officers “have to avoid getting into the magic circle” which surrounds the PM. He thinks the JIC, under Scarlett, became an unwitting political tool to rally a sceptical public. “It's not (the JIC's) job to fiddle with documents in order to make them more presentable,” he said. “If they start doing that, then instead of analysis, which is their job, they get involved in presentation, and presentation means not falsifying the facts but presenting them in an order which is designed to produce a particular impression on the audience. It is ceasing to be objective, it's becoming an advocate.”

One example of the corrosion of objectivity is Operation Rockingham, a covert “dirty tricks” unit exposed by the Sunday Herald last summer. It was designed to produce misleading intelligence that Saddam had WMD. This would give the UK a justifiable excuse for war.

It was established by the MoD's Defence Intelligence Service in 1991 to “cherry-pick” intelligence proving an active WMD programme and to ignore or quash intelligence which showed that Saddam, compliant with UN demands, had destroyed or wound down stockpiles. David Kelly was also a key figure in Operation Rockingham, whose staff wrote reports for the UN Security Council and were, therefore, able to influence decisions on Iraqi sanctions. Ritter hinted that Kelly may have helped overstate the threat from Iraq, saying: “Kelly became Rockingham's go-to person for translating the data that came out of Unscom into concise reporting. Kelly had a vested interest in protecting his image, which centred around his exposure of an Iraqi bio-weapons programme that had to continue to exist for him to hold centre stage.” Another example of skewed objectivity was MI6's Operation Mass Appeal which saw spies plant stories about Iraqi WMD. Most have since been described as “garbage”.

Air Marshall Sir John Walker, the former chief of defence intelligence, said it was clear that claims about Saddam's WMD capabilities were “wrong”, and he also scorned the idea that intelligence chiefs were not influenced by Number 10.

There is now mounting pressure in Britain and America for wide-ranging inquiries into the alleged exaggerations that took the allies to war. Labour, LibDem and Tory politicians want an independent inquiry. Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram called on Blair to explain why he still believed the WMD intelligence and pressed for a full inquiry into the lead up to the Iraq war. He said: “It seems Tony Blair is the only person still certain that weapons of mass destruction will definitely be found. He must explain why he is the odd man out and produce evidence as to why.”

Robin Cook took another swipe at Blair saying the PM should admit the intelligence he presented to parliament on Iraq was “wildly wrong”. Cook, who resigned as former foreign secretary over the war, added: “Now that even the White House has admitted they may have got it wrong, it's embarrassing to watch our government still trying to deny reality. The game is up.”

Ex-foreign office and defence minister Doug Henderson has also urged the government to “clarify its position”, asking: “Does Britain now accept, as the US government now seems to believe, that WMD will not be found?” LibDem leader Charles Kennedy and Tory leader Michael Howard also backed an inquiry. Blair's spokesman brushed aside the calls saying: “The PM has said that he did believe the intelligence was right and he did believe there would be an explanation ... The (ISG) is still pursuing its work and we should wait for that.”

In the US, government loyalists have poured scorn on the reasons for war. One senior Republican said: “They've made a pretty huge mess of it. They wove this giant story, based on intelligence assessments that, in hindsight, were wrong.” The White House, however, fears any inquiry would spin out of control in an election year. It could also spin wildly out of control in the UK as well. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court at The Hague are to consider a request by an international body of lawyers to investigate Blair for alleged war crimes. Former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle has asked the Commons library for a briefing on whether impeachment was still part of the UK constitution, and was assured that it was. Senior Tories have also let it be known that they would favour the impeachment of the Prime Minister.

The unravelling could begin sooner than we think. Blair is to be put on the spot by the Commons liaison committee on Tuesday. Labour committee member Donald Anderson said Blair would be asked whether he is the “last person to believe the intelligence assessment”. Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI6, will soon be summoned before the intelligence and security committee to give more evidence on why he believed the WMD intelligence.

The dilemma for the government is that it is now trapped by the Hutton report. Hutton found against the BBC and heads rolled; if it is eventually dragged out of the government that there were no WMD, or that the intelligence services were encouraged to exaggerate the threat, or that lies were told, then the blood-letting at the Beeb could look like a playground punch-up in comparison to the savage harvest that would unfold in Whitehall.

WHAT THEY SAID THEN ... AND NOW

George W Bush - January 29, 2003

“Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction. For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement. He pursued chemical, biological and nuclear weapons even while inspectors were in his country.”

George W Bush - January 30, 2004

“I want the American people to know that I too want to know the facts. I want to be able to compare what the Iraq Survey Group has found with what we thought prior to going into Iraq.”

Condoleeza Rice - January 23, 2003

“Instead of a commitment to disarm, Iraq has a high-level political commitment to maintain and conceal its weapons, led by Saddam Hussein and his son Qusay, who controls the Special Security Organisation, which runs Iraq's concealment activities.”

Condoleeza Rice - January 29, 2004

“What we have is evidence that there are differences between what we knew going in and what we found on the ground.”


January 25 2004

 

http://www.sundayherald.com/39487

Iraq's WMD: The big lie?

The justification for War
With the resignation of David Kay from the Iraq Survey Group, the pressure could not be greater on Blair to explain where he got the idea that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

By Neil Mackay

You'd be forgiven for thinking that David Kay was personally out to get Tony Blair. On Wednesday, when the Hutton report is published, the question everyone will want to know is did Blair and his Cabinet lie about the threat of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (WMD)?

The answer according to Kay, who resigned last week as head of the Iraq Survey Group, which had the job of finding WMD, is that there aren't any, and none have been manufactured since 1991. For Blair, his statement was the equivalent of slashing a boxer's achilles tendons minutes before he gets into the ring for the fight of his life.

What Kay has concluded after nine futile months seems to tally with the overall gist of Andrew Gilligan's broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme when he reported that the government had "sexed up" the case for war. So the key question now is: was Blair given unreliable and over-egged information by the intelligence services, or rather did he have the intelligence services "sex-up" or selectively cherry-pick information to suit his case for war?

In answer to this question, the Sunday Herald has heard from dozens of senior members of the intelligence community who passed their views on to us through a highly-respected go-between involved with British intelligence.

The views include those from:

l The Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), which helped supply intelligence for Blair's disputed September 2002 WMD dossier;

l The Joint Intelligence Organisation, which includes John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – the body which liaises between the intelligence services and the government and which was supposed to have sole control of the drafting of the dossier – and the JIC's support staff;

l And MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, the main agency responsible for gathering the intelligence which went into the dossier.

The Sunday Herald has been told that the reason the intelligence community wants to speak out now is to get their defence in first before the expected attack from politicians.

They know that Lord Hutton will apportion blame to the Ministry of Defence, Number 10, Blair's former spin-doctor-in-chief Alastair Campbell, the BBC, its reporter Andrew Gilligan and even Dr David Kelly. And when that happens, the politicians, keen to save their jobs and reputations, will try to blame the intelligence community for giving them duff information.

This is not a mea culpa from the intelligence community, instead it is a warning that they are not prepared to be the whipping boy for the failure to prove the case for war, the death of David Kelly and the quagmire that the government is now in over the lack of WMD in Iraq.

The key points the intelligence community now wants placing on the record are:

Firstly, there was a problem with Iraq, particularly over the interpretation of the WMD issue. Many said they had been openly sceptical about the presence of WMD in Iraq for years. There was a systematic failure, they believe, in the way intelligence was interpreted. This was because they were under pressure to provide the government with what it wanted, namely that Iraq possessed WMD and that it posed a clear and present danger.

Secondly, they say intelligence was "cherry-picked" about Iraq: that damning intelligence against Iraq was selectively chosen, whilst intelligence assessments, which might have worked against the build-up to war, were sidelined. The government was looking for anything that would cast Iraq in a negative light.

Thirdly, they claim that a political agenda had crept into the work of the intelligence community and they found themselves in the position of taking orders from politicians. When asked if direct lies were told to the British public, the answer was that the intelligence they supplied was one- sided and produced on demand to politicians.

Fourthly, the intelligence community got into the habit of making worst-case scenarios and these were used to make factual claims by politicians. The intelligence community accepts that intelligence was used for political ends. But they also understand that intelligence is not supposed to help politicians justify their actions as that distorts the nature of what intelligence work is about.

While they believe they are not in the firing line over Hutton, they also realise that they are going to have to think long and hard about the future of British intelligence. They stressed that they accepted that there would be changes in the way British intelligence operates, adding that they wanted changes in order to maintain their integrity.

The intelligence officers seemed justified in getting their first strike in when, on Friday night, Donald Anderson, a Labour loyalist and chair of the foreign affairs committee, attacked British intelligence in the wake of the resignation of David Kay. Anderson admitted that it looked "increasingly forlorn" that any WMD stockpiles would be found . When asked, however, if he thought this was a failure by politicians or by the intelligence services, he said: "I think more likely the latter. Remember that both the President and the Prime Minister relied on the intelligence that was available. And indeed the world community appeared to accept this because in the UN Security Council resolution 1441 on November 8 it was accepted that Saddam Hussein was a danger to world peace, he was ordered effectively to co-operate, he did not co-operate and it seems now rather puzzling that if it be the case, as it is likely, that there was no such weapons available, that he did not put his hands up immediately. This does raise very important questions about the quality of that intelligence."

Does it raise a question about the intelligence service or does it actually raise questions about the politicians who were forcing the intelligence services to jump through hoops and spin the facts on matters of national and international security? What the large group of intelligence officers who passed their feelings to the Sunday Herald say is not entirely new. It is potentially crippling for Blair given the timing of their comments, but the concept that politicians were ordering that intelligence be twisted for political ends regarding Iraq has been aired before.

In fact, in June last year the Sunday Herald revealed that Britain ran a covert "dirty tricks"operation designed specifically to produce misleading intelligence that Saddam had WMD in order to give the UK an excuse to wage war on Iraq.

Scott Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector and US military intelligence officer, said that Operation Rockingham was established by the Defence Intelligence Staff – a part of the intelligence service involved in the compilation of the September 2002 dossier on Iraqi WMD – within the Ministry of Defence in 1991. It was set up to "cherry-pick" intelligence proving an active Iraqi WMD programme and to ignore and quash intelligence which indicated that Saddam's stockpiles had been destroyed or wound down.

When Kay resigned on Friday, he left with this parting shot: "I don't think they (WMD) existed. What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last Gulf War and I don't think there was a large-scale production programme in the 1990s."

The day before, US Vice-President Dick Cheney was still claiming that Saddam had been a legitimate threat. "We know … that prior to our going in that [Saddam] had spent time and effort acquiring mobile biological weapons labs," Cheney said, reiterating a long-discredited claim that military trailers found in Iraq were mobile bio-weapons labs. In fact, the labs were, according to British weapons experts who examined them, used for producing hydrogen to fill artillery balloons.

The man appointed by the CIA to replace Kay, Charles Duelfer, a former UN weapons inspector, said earlier this month that he did not believe banned weapons would ever be found. Still the British and US administrations are sticking to their claims. White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said: "We remain confident that the Iraq Survey Group will uncover the truth about Saddam's regime, the regime's weapons of mass destruction."

A spokesman for Tony Blair said: "It is important people are patient and we let the Iraq Survey Group do its work. There is still more work to be done and we await the findings of that. But our position is unchanged."

Few are buying these claims. John Rockefeller, the senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said: "It increasingly appears that our intelligence was wrong about Iraq's weapons, and the administration compounded that mistake by exaggerating the nuclear threat and Iraq's ties to al-Qaeda. As a result, the United States is paying a very heavy price."

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram says Kay's resignation and comments "raise very serious questions about the Prime Minister and why he told us what he did last year and after the war about WMD. It is important if we are to be able to rely … on the word of the prime minister in relation to intelligence, that we now find out what the basis of his comments were, and we need a public inquiry to do that." The LibDem foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell added: "It is pretty extraordinary that first Hans Blix … David Kay and now David Kay's successor have all effectively said the same thing. There needs to be an inquiry to consider whether we went to war on a flawed prospectus."

So, just as Hutton is about to announce the findings of his investigation, there is a rising clamour for yet another inquiry – this time not dealing with the death of just one whistle-blowing government scientist, but rather with the deaths of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children and hundreds of American and British troops.

FOUR QUESTIONS

FOR HUTTON

must answer

1Did the government ‘sex up' the September 24 dossier justifying war against Saddam Hussein?

We know the document was changed by John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, at the suggestion of Blair's spin-meister Alastair Campbell and other aides. Campbell suggested 15 changes, including one to a passage claiming Iraq "may be able" to deploy WMD within 45 minutes, which he described as "weak". Scarlett changed it to "are able to".

2 Did the BBC Today reporter Andrew Gilligan exaggerate comments made by Kelly and was the BBC wrong in standing by them?

It is not clear whether Kelly specifically blamed Campbell for inserting the 45-minute claim, as Gilligan claimed. It is known that BBC executives had reservations about Gilligan's use of language and that the board of governors defended the report without knowing of those reservations. However, it is also clear that most of the claims in Gilligan's report have been shown to be true.

3 Was David Kelly given adequate protection by his superiors after he told them he had talked to Gilligan?

Richard Hatfield, MoD personnel director, said he had given "outstanding support" to Kelly. Kelly himself told journalist Nick Rufford that he had been "put through the wringer" by Hatfield and other MoD officials. It's clear that while Kelly had been warned that the media were likely to name him as Gilligan's source, he was not told that a decision had been taken to confirm his name to any journalist who put it to the MoD.

4 Who was responsible for the strategy of confirming Kelly as Gilligan's source?

Campbell and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon wanted his name out. Sir Kevin Tebbit, the MoD's most senior civil servant, told the inquiry the PM approved the strategy . Blair had earlier denied authorising Kelly's naming but later said he took ‘‘full responsibility'' for the government's decisions.

25 January 2004