Members of the JIC from whom we took evidence consistently told us that they did not see the dossier as making a case for anything. The Chairman of the JIC (Mr John Scarlett) said to Lord Hutton’s Inquiry:
As far as I was concerned,this was an objective which was a very worthwhile objective if quite a difficult one; and it was to put into the public domain and to share, as far as it could be done safely,the intelligence assessment on this issue which was being provided to the Prime Minister and the Government. It was no more or less than that. And in no sense,in my mind,or in the mind of the JIC,was it a document designed to make a case for anything.
We conclude that the dossier was not intended to make the case for a particular course of action in relation to Iraq. It was intended by the Government to promote domestic and international understanding of, and gain support for, the general direction in which Government policy had been moving since the early months of 2002, away from containment to a more proactive approach to enforcing Iraqi disarmament.
PRESENTING INTELLIGENCE TO THE PUBLIC
Once a decision had been taken to publish such a document, and to draw on intelligence in doing so, the question of authorship arose. The Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator (Sir David Omand) and the Chairman of the JIC took the view that the JIC should be responsible for the production of the dossier, to ensure that its content properly reflected the judgements of the intelligence community and did not prejudice national security. This was agreed at the outset. From then on, the dossier was in the ownership of the JIC generally and of its Chairman in particular, drawing on the members of the Assessments Staff and the wider intelligence community who had drafted the classified JIC assessments on this subject.
Many witnesses, both Ministers and officials, put it to us that there was no real alternative to the JIC taking on this role. In the view of these witnesses, a Government document that claimed to be underpinned by intelligence would have been met with immediate scepticism unless it was evident that the JIC had endorsed its content.
Against this, it may be said that the information published by the Government on Al Qaida’s responsibility for the attacks of 11 September 2001 was put out without any public reference to the JIC. There was no conspicuous pressure on that occasion for the JIC to make its own view public. However, nor was there on that issue as much controversy and scepticism about the grounds for the Government’s policy.
The advantage to the Government of associating the JIC’s name with the dossier was the badge of objectivity that it brought with it and the credibility which this would give to the document. We have noted that Mr Alastair Campbell said in his minute to the Chairman of the JIC on 9 September, following a meeting to discuss the drafting of the dossier:
The first point is that this must be,and be seen to be,the work of you and your t eam, and that its credibility depends fundamentally on that.
As the Prime Minister noted in his statement in the House of Commons on 24 September: