OUR TERMS OF REFERENCE
On 3 February 2004, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary announced in the House of Commons:
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has decided to establish a committee to review intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. This committee will be composed of Privy Counsellors. It will have the following terms of reference: to investigate the intelligence coverage available in respect of WMD programmes in countries of concern and on the global trade in WMD,taking into account wha t is now known about these programmes; as part of this work,to investigate the accu racy of intelligence on Iraqi WMD up to March 2003,and to examine any discrepancie s between the intelligence gathered,evaluated and used by the Government b efore the conflict,and between that intelligence and what has been discovered by the Iraq survey group since the end of the conflict; and to make recommendations to the Prime Minister for the future on the gathering,evaluation and use of intel ligence on WMD,in the light of the difficulties of operating in countries of concern.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has asked the committee to report before the summer recess. The committee will follow the precedent in terms of procedures of the Franks committee. It will have access to all intelligence reports and assessments and other relevant Government papers,and will be able to call witnesses to give oral evidence in private. The committee will work closely with the US inquiry and the Iraq survey group.
The committee will submit its final conclusions to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in a form for publication,along with any classified recommendati ons and material. The Government will,of course,co-operate fully with the commi ttee.
The Committee met for the first time on Thursday 5 February and four of us were sworn in as Members of the Privy Council on Wednesday 11 February. Mrs Taylor was already a Privy Counsellor.
In view of the very tight timetable for our Review, it was essential to make a rapid start. We are therefore especially grateful for the speed with which the Security and Intelligence Co- ordinator, Sir David Omand, supplied us with accommodation and an excellent team of support staff in the Cabinet Office. We are also grateful to the Intelligence and Security Committee and their staff for enabling us to use the Committee’s room in the Cabinet Office for our hearings, and for the forbearance and co-operation they extended to us.
Since 5 February, we have met 36 times. We have visited Washington, where we met the co-Chairs of the President’s Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governor Charles S. Robb and Judge