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chemical and ballistic missile programmes. We have looked in particular at the degree of analytical rigour applied across the range of assessments we have read, especially to see whether there developed within the intelligence community over a decade of analysis and assessment ‘Group Think’ or a ‘prevailing wisdom’. That has led us to look at whether sufficient challenge was applied to analysis and assessment, and whether readers of JIC assessments and the JIC itself were sufficiently alerted to the existence of dissenting or alternative views.

  • 448.

    In doing so, we decided to study JIC assessments and the intelligence reports that underlay them as far back as 1990, to seek to establish in particular:

    • a.

      Whether there were any issues surrounding the operation of the intelligence assessment process over more than a decade which might have affected JIC assessments in the period prior to the second Gulf war.

    • b.

      Whether assessments made about the scale of Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes at the time of the first Gulf war and during the early- and mid-1990s had an impact which was still reflected in JIC assessments made in 2002 and 2003.

The treatment of intelligence material


In general, we found that the original intelligence material was correctly reported in JIC assessments. An exception was the ’45 minute’ report. But this sort of example was rare in the several hundred JIC assessments we read on Iraq. In general, we also found that the reliability of the original intelligence reports was fairly represented by the use of accompanying qualifications. We should record in particular that we have found no evidence of deliberate distortion or of culpable negligence.

The effect of departmental policy agendas


We examined JIC assessments to see whether there was evidence that the judgements inside them were systematically distorted by non-intelligence factors, in particular the influence of the policy positions of departments. We found no evidence of JIC assessments and the judgements inside them being pulled in any particular direction to meet the policy concerns of senior officials on the JIC.

Access to technical and other expertise


We conclude in general that the intelligence community made good use of the technical expertise available to the Government, for example in the DIS or from the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory:Porton Down, both through consultation and secon dments. An example of the strength of this network of expertise came in the assurances we were given that technical experts both in the DIS and elsewhere were consulted on the question of

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