Our approach has been to start with the intelligence assessments of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and then to get from the intelligence agencies a full list of the underlying intelligence, both accepted and rejected, which was available to inform those assessments. We have then compared that intelligence with the JIC’s assessments and considered whether it appears to have been properly evaluated. In the other direction, we, like the Franks Committee, have obtained from Government departments those policy papers which their Permanent Secretaries have certified as containing all the material relevant to our Review, to allow us to establish the use which was made of the intelligence. Finally, where outcomes are known, we have compared the prior intelligence and the assessments made of it with those outcomes.
We have received 68 written submissions from members of the public and have taken oral evidence from 47 witnesses, some of whom gave evidence more than once. Except where witnesses asked for their identity to be protected, we list our witnesses at Annex A.
We have focussed on the intelligence available to the British Government and the use made of it by our Government. Although that inevitably has led us to areas of UK/US co- operation, we have deliberately not commented in this Report on the actions of the US intelligence agencies, ground that is being covered by the Presidential Commission.
We have been conscious of the Foreign Secretary’s statement that our report should be submitted to the Prime Minister in a form fit for publication. We have also been conscious of the overriding need not to prejudice continuing or future intelligence operations or to endanger sources and have shaped our report accordingly. We are confident that what is published here gives Parliament and the public a fair representation of our conclusions and views.
In furtherance of this, we have exceptionally included in our Report extensive quotations from assessments of the Joint Intelligence Committee. We have ensured that in all cases our quoting these will not have implications for national security. The Government has made clear that our action in doing so will not be accepted as a precedent for putting those assessments into the public domain in the future.
DEFINITIONS AND USAGE
The Intelligence and Security Committee started their report with definitions of the terminology they used. We repeat their definitions in our ‘Terminology and Glossary’ and have tried to follow them. But we believe that there are problems with the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and with the shorthand ‘chemical and biological weapons’ (CBW) and ‘chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear’ (CBRN) weapons.
There is a considerable and long-standing academic debate about the proper interpretation of the phrase ‘weapons of mass destruction’. We have some sympathy with the view that, whatever its origin, the phrase and its accompanying abbreviation is now