We return below to the Government’s reasons for publishing the dossier, and for drawing on intelligence material and the authority of the JIC in doing so, in response to growing Parliamentary and media debate about the imminence of war and questioning of the reasons for it.
It is, however, fair to say at the outset that the dossier attracted more attention after the war than it had done before it. When first published, it was regarded as cautious, and even dull. Some of the attention that it eventually received was the product of controversy over the Government’s further dossier of February 2003. Some of it arose over subsequent allegations that the intelligence in the September dossier had knowingly been embellished, and hence over the good faith of the Government. Lord Hutton dismissed those allegations. We should record that we, too, have seen no evidence that would support any such allegations.
The September dossier also subsequently attracted attention because of the fact that, contrary to the expectation reflected in it, military forces entering Iraq did not find significant stocks of chemical or biological weapons or evidence of recent production of such weapons. We therefore consider here the genesis of the document, the challenge of presenting intelligence judgements effectively to the general public and the extent to which intelligence on particular areas of Iraqi activity was accurately reflected in the dossier.
A number of specific elements in the dossier have subsequently attracted controversy. We examine the most prominent of these - the ‘45-minute’ claim, uranium procurement activity in Africa, procurement of aluminium tubes and mobile biological agent production facilities – in Chapter 6.
We consider the Government’s dossier against this background.
THE GOVERNMENT’S DOSSIER OF SEPTEMBER 2002
The Government’s dossier on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, published on 24 September 2002, had antecedents, including the information made public6 in October 2001 on Al Qaida’s responsibility for the attacks of 11 September. But it broke new ground in three ways:
The JIC had never previously produced a public document.
No Government case for any international action had previously been made to the British public through explicitly drawing on a JIC publication.
The authority of the British intelligence community, and of the JIC in particular, had never been used in such a public way. As the Prime Minister said in his Foreword to the dossier:
It is unprecedented for the Government to publish this kind of document.
“Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States,11 Sept ember 2001”.