THE GENESIS OF THE DOSSIER
The dossier had its origins early in 2002 in an analysis of the threat posed by Iraq and three other countries known to be pursuing nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile programmes. Work on this ‘Four Country’ analysis was dropped in the course of 2002 in favour of a document dedicated to Iraq alone for which a range of material had been produced. It was intended to inform public understanding of the case for stronger action (although not necessarily military action) to enforce Iraqi compliance with its obligations contained in United Nations Security Council resolutions over more than a decade. The timing of publication of the dossier was driven by concern within the Government over increasing media speculation in the UK (stimulated by media debate in the US) during the summer of 2002 that war was imminent, and growing questioning of the reasons for the UK going to war, which contributed to the decision to recall Parliament on 24 September to debate policy towards Iraq. The Prime Minister told us that: . . . in the course of July and August . . . I was increasingly getting messages saying . . . “are you about to go to war?” . . . I was thinking this is ridiculous . . . we’ve not decided on military action,we’ve not decided on what we’re going to do . . . and the purpose of the dossier was simply to say “this is why we think this is important . . . here is the intelligence that means that this is not a fanciful view on our part,there is a real issue here” . . . there was a tremendous clamour coming for it and I think a clamour to the extent that had we resisted it would have become completely impossible.
The dossier was commissioned by the Prime Minister on 3 September. The timescale for its production was accelerated so that it would be ready when Parliament was recalled on 24 September.
We have considered carefully whether the dossier was explicitly intended to make a case for war. We have seen no evidence that this was the Government’s purpose. The dossier was a broadly-based document which could support a range of policy options. The Foreign Secretary told us that: . . . there was a clear understanding by Government about the purpose of the document,which is that it was to meet the demand for intelligence-based in formation about Iraq and to make a case for the world to recognise the importance of the issue and hopefully to galvanise the international community into taking it seriously.
The Defence Secretary said in evidence to us: . . . if we were going to be able to make out a case for war against Iraq,we were going to have to publish the material. Of course we published the material if you recall in relation to Afghanistan for the same reason. . . . otherwise we would have just faced day in and day out a constant complaint that we had no basis,that w e had no proper reason.
When we asked Dr Hans Blix if he saw the dossier as making a case for war, he said: No it was not. I saw it as a case for inspection . . .