LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE
Many witnesses have told us that they expect that the nature of the security challenges faced by the UK in the 21st century, and public expectations of government openness, will increase the frequency of demands on government to put intelligence into the public domain when arguing the case for a particular course of action. On this view, the production of the dossier has set a precedent for openness that the public will wish to see repeated in future. We recognise this argument. We conclude that, if intelligence is to be used more widely by governments in public debate in future, those doing so must be careful to explain its uses and limitations. It will be essential, too, that clearer and more effective dividing lines between assessment and advocacy are established when doing so.
SEPTEMBER 2002 – MARCH 2003
THE SCOPE OF JIC ASSESSMENTS
There was a marked shift in the nature of JIC assessments after the production of the Government’s dossier. Before 24 September, they had focused on the status of Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes, and on Iraqi options for the use of its capabilities. After that date, the JIC and intelligence community turned their attention to intelligence reporting on and assessments of:
Links between the Iraqi regime, its chemical and biological weapons capabilities and terrorism (covered more fully at Chapter 6).
The likely nature of Iraq’s dealings with the United Nations, and in particular its handling of staff of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and of the IAEA undertaking inspection activities in Iraq.
Iraqi military preparations and options.
Intelligence was also collected and used to inform contingency planning for a possible military campaign, especially in the selection of targets that should be attacked.
Apart from an assessment of Iraq’s declaration of 7 December to the United Nations11 (covered further below), Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile capabilities were covered only tangentially in those assessments. We summarise these assessments below.
No new JIC assessment of the status of Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme was prepared during the period, notwithstanding the findings of the IAEA inspectors. On Iraq’s chemical weapons programme, the JIC noted in October that:
Security Council Resolution 1441 adopted on 8 November 2002 called for Iraq to provide “a currently accurate,full,and complete declaration of all aspects of its programme to develop chemical, biological,and nuclear weapons,ballistic missiles,and other delivery system s . . . ”.