It was understandable that SIS should have wanted to give greater than normal protection to the human intelligence source on this occasion. But a problem arose because it was kept from the relevant DIS analysts who had a wider perspective. It would have been more appropriate for senior managers in the DIS and SIS to have made arrangements for the intelligence to be shown to DIS experts rather than their making their own judgements on its significance. The fact that it was not shown to them resulted in a stronger assessment in the dossier in relation to Iraqi chemical weapons production than was justified by the available intelligence. It also deprived SIS of key expertise that would have helped them to assess the reliability of their new source. We have not been presented with any evidence that persuades us that there was an insuperable obstacle to allowing expert-level DIS access to the intelligence.
The Chief of SIS told us that, because he had been aware of the report on 10 September, he had mentioned it to the Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser (Sir David Manning) at a meeting on 10 September and followed this up by arranging for the report to be sent to Sir David. As it happened, the Chief of SIS had a meeting with the Prime Minister on 12 September to brief him on SIS operations in respect of Iraq. At this meeting, he briefed the Prime Minister on each of SIS’s main sources including the new source on trial. He told us that he had underlined to the Prime Minister the potential importance of the new source and what SIS understood his access to be; but also said that the case was developmental and that the source remained unproven. Nevertheless, it may be that, in the context of the intense interest at that moment in the status of Iraq’s prohibited weapons programmes, and in particular continuing work on the dossier, this concurrence of events caused more weight to be given to this unvalidated new source than would normally have been the case.
It has frequently been alleged that the real motivation behind the decision to go to war in Iraq was a desire to control Iraq’s oil supplies. This issue does not fall within our terms of reference and we did not take evidence specifically on it. We did, however, review JIC assessments on the security of oil supplies issued in the period 2000-2003, in which such a motivation did not feature. We also think it improbable that such an objective or motivation, if it existed, would not have been apparent in the large volume and wide range of policy and intelligence papers that we examined. We saw no evidence that a motive of the British Government for initiating military action was securing continuing access to oil supplies.