Strenuous efforts were made to ensure that no individual statements were made in the dossier which went beyond the judgements of the JIC. But, in translating material from JIC assessments into the dossier, warnings were lost about the limited intelligence base on which some aspects of these assessments were being made. The Government would have seen these warnings in the original JIC assessments and taken them into account in reading them. But the public, through reading the dossier, would not have known of them. The dossier did contain a chapter on the role of intelligence. But the language in the dossier may have left with readers the impression that there was fuller and firmer intelligence behind the judgements than was the case: our view, having reviewed all of the material, is that judgements in the dossier went to (although not beyond) the outer limits of the intelligence available. The Prime Minister’s description, in his statement to the House of Commons on the day of publication of the dossier, of the picture painted by the intelligence services in the dossier as “extensive,detailed and authoritative ” may have reinforced this impression.
We conclude that it was a serious weakness that the JIC’s warnings on the limitations of the intelligence underlying its judgements were not made sufficiently clear in the dossier.
We understand why the Government felt it had to meet the mounting public and Parliamentary demand for information. We also recognise that there is a real dilemma between giving the public an authoritative account of the intelligence picture and protecting the objectivity of the JIC from the pressures imposed by providing information for public debate. It is difficult to resolve these requirements. We conclude, with the benefit of hindsight, that making public that the JIC had authorship of the dossier was a mistaken judgement, though we do not criticise the JIC for taking responsibility for clearance of the intelligence content of the document. However, in the particular circumstances, the publication of such a document in the name and with the authority of the JIC had the result that more weight was placed on the intelligence than it could bear. The consequence also was to put the JIC and its Chairman into an area of public controversy and arrangements must be made for the future which avoid putting the JIC and its Chairman in a similar position.
We recognise that there will be a dilemma if intelligence-derived material is in future to be put into the public domain. If future documents are published solely in the name of the Government, it is inevitable that Ministers will be asked if the JIC has endorsed the intelligence assessments inside them. But we believe that there are other options that should be examined for the ownership of drafting, for gaining the JIC’s endorsement of the intelligence material and assessments that are quoted and for subsequent ‘branding’. One is for the government of the day to draft a document, to gain the JIC’s endorsement of the intelligence material inside it and then to publish it acknowledging that it draws on intelligence but without ascribing it to the JIC. Or the Government, if it