together the different functions of running sources and controlling their reporting into one unified team, whose leader was responsible for the total output. The consequence of this was thought by the witness to be that the quality assurance function of the SIS ‘Requirements’ officer, responsible for checking the validity and quality of source reporting, became subjected to the operational imperative of the team leader to produce results. At the same time, we were told, ‘Requirements’ posts were increasingly staffed by more junior officers as experienced staff were put into improving the operational teeth of the Service. Their ability to challenge the validity of cases and their reporting was correspondingly reduced.
The second witness commented in a similar manner to the first on the impact of the organisational changes described above for the effectiveness of the quality assurance process carried out by ‘Requirements’ officers. The witness also said that staff effort overall, and the number of experienced case officers in particular, applied to both the geographical (Near and Middle East) and functional (counter-proliferation) areas covered by our Review, were too thin to support SIS’s responsibilities. Source validation, especially that on Iraq, had suffered as a consequence of both problems, with what were in the witness’s view sources with dubious motivation being over-graded for reliability.
The Chief of SIS commented to us that the aim of these changes had been to make: . . . people that run the operations responsible not just for operational activity but for delivery and to give them a much,much more clear cut responsibility for the requirement side . . . The primary reason for bringing together operational units into teams was to make delivery of intelligence (and part of the delivery is the ability to assess and evaluate it in terms of its accuracy),as important as operation al performance.
In terms of their application to sources of intelligence on Iraq, he added: I would say now we’re a victim of a lack of experience and a lack of sufficiently expert resources to apply to [one] case . . . had it been under more day to day scrutiny than it was at the time. And then,of course,there is pressure on the Service to pr oduce . . . and what you have to bear in mind in the period from about the middle of 2002 is that we were trying to ramp up our coverage of Iraq.
He added, however, that:
The Service has a very tough source evaluation process which was completely revised in the period late 1999 to 2001. It was a long exercise and we introduced new processes and systems. Now they,for resource reasons,obviously couldn’ t be immediately applied,because they are heavy duty,to every case but . . . it’ s something that we take incredibly seriously,where we have a highly develo ped process.
The Chief of SIS agreed that these tightened up procedures had obviously not been applied fully in one case. But he also pointed out that in other cases, including the two main sources described above whose reporting is still viewed as reliable, they had worked well.
On the level of seniority of officers staffing the ‘Requirements’ desks, the Chief of SIS commented that: