Many of the manifestations of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons programmes can have innocuous, or at least non-proscribed, explanations – the ‘dual-use’ problem. Nuclear developments can be for peaceful purposes. Technologies for the production of chemical and biological agents seldom diverge from those employed in normal civilian chemical or bio-chemical industries. And, in the case of missile development, some procurement and development activities may be permissible.
Thus, the recipients of intelligence have normally to make decisions on the basis of the balance of probabilities. That requires, first, the most effective deployment of all possible sources and, secondly, the most objective assessment possible, as unaffected as may be by motives and pressures which may distort judgement.
In the UK, central intelligence assessment is the responsibility of the Assessments Staff. This comprises some 30 senior and middle-ranking officials on secondment from other departments, within the Cabinet Office, together with secretarial and administrative support.
1.6 THE JOINT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE
The agencies and the DIS are brought together with important policy departments in the JIC10. The JIC was established in 1936 as a sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence. During the Second World War, it comprised the heads of the agencies and the three Services’ Directors of Intelligence, under the chairmanship of a senior member of the Foreign Office and was joined by other relevant departments such as the Ministry of Economic Warfare, responsible for the Special Operations Executive.
The JIC has evolved since 1945. It became part of the Cabinet Office rather than of the Chiefs of Staff organisation in 1957. To the original membership of the JIC (intelligence producers, with users from MOD and the FCO) were added the Intelligence Co-ordinator when that post was established in 1968, the Treasury (1968), the Department of Trade and Industry (1997) and the Home Office (2000). Other departments attend when papers of relevance to them are taken. Representatives of the Australian, Canadian and United States intelligence communities also attend as appropriate. In 1993, the post of Chairman of the JIC and that of the Head of the Cabinet Office’s Defence and Overseas Secretariat11 were combined, the two posts remaining so until 1999. From 1992 to 2002, the chairmanship was combined with the post of Intelligence Co-ordinator. A new post of Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator was created in 2002, taking on the responsibilities of the previous Intelligence Co-ordinator together with wider responsibilities in the field of counter-terrorism and crisis management. The holder became a member of the JIC.
For a fuller description see National Intelligence Machinery, HMSO 2001, which puts the JIC into context within the structures of Parliamentary and Cabinet government. From 1984 to the end of 1993 the Chairman of the JIC was also the Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Adviser. This title was revived in September 2001 and assumed by the Head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat.