A handful of other sources, and liaison reporting, comprised the remaining quarter of the human intelligence base reporting on Iraqi nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes in 2002. Very few of their reports were judged by the JIC to be material to the judgements reached in its assessments, although some were seen as providing some additional confidence to reporting from the sources described above, including a single report received from a reliable and established source quoting a new sub-source on the mobile biological agent production facilities.
In addition to seeking to validate after the war the sources described above, SIS told us that they had planned to interview scientists associated with Iraqi chemical and biological weapons programmes but that this operation had had to be suspended because of practical and legal difficulties in Iraq. We understand those constraints.
SIS VALIDATION PROCEDURES
We commend SIS for the thoroughness with which they have sought to validate their sources after the war and for the frankness they have shown in sharing with us on a continuing basis the results of their investigations. Nevertheless, the fact that reporting from one of their important pre-war sources has been withdrawn, and that from two other main sources is open to doubt, led us to question the standard procedures adopted by SIS to ensure that their sources are valid and that their reporting is subjected to quality control, and to ask whether these procedures were followed in the case of Iraq.
Two witnesses made contributions on this process. The first said that, in areas relevant to our Review, SIS’s organisational structure changed in the mid-1990s in a way that unintentionally undermined the effectiveness of the quality assurance process. Before the re-organisation, the ‘Requirements’ function, which was responsible for quality assurance in respect of agents’ reporting, was independent of the ‘Production’ function responsible for producing reports. There was also a separation between UK-based case officers and their ‘Production’ team. According to this witness, in order to make overall staff savings and, within the staff that remained, to free resources for operational work, SIS brought
Reporting from a sub-source to a second main SIS source that was important to JIC assessments on Iraqi possession of chemical and biological weapons must be open to serious doubt.
Reports from a third SIS main source have been withdrawn as unreliable.
Reports from two further main SIS sources continue to be regarded as reliable, although it is notable that their reports were less worrying than the rest about Iraqi chemical and biological weapons capabilities.
Reports received from the liaison service on Iraqi production of biological agent were seriously flawed, so that the grounds for JIC assessments drawing on those reports that Iraq had recently-produced stocks of biological agent no longer exist.