The ISC has observed8 that the 9 September assessment:
. . . did not highlight in the key judgements the uncertainties and gaps in the UK’s knowledge about the Iraqi biological and chemical weapons.
The same was true of the 21 August and 15 March assessments. In each paper, a description of the limitations of the intelligence underlying some aspects of those assessments was given in the body of each paper. Experienced readers would have seen these warnings in the original JIC assessments and taken them into account in reading them. But the public, through reading the dossier, would not have known of them. The dossier did include a first chapter on the role of intelligence, as an introduction for the lay reader. But, rather than illuminating the limitations of intelligence either in the case of Iraq or more generally9, the language in that Chapter may have had the opposite effect on readers. Readers may, for example, have read language in the dossier about the impossibility for security reasons of putting all the detail of the intelligence into the public domain as implying that there was fuller and firmer intelligence behind the judgements than was the case:our view, having reviewed all of the material , is that judgements in the dossier went to (although not beyond) the outer limits of the intelligence available. The Prime Minister’s description, in his statement to the House of Commons on the day of publication of the dossier, of the picture painted by the intelligence services in the dossier as “extensive,detailed and authoritative ” may have reinforced this impression.
We believe that it was a serious weakness that the JIC’s warnings on the limitations of the intelligence underlying some of its judgements were not made sufficiently clear in the dossier.
THE ACCURACY OF THE DOSSIER
In general, subject to the points below and others identified in Chapter 6, the statements in the dossier reflected fairly the judgements of past JIC assessments. In the tables in the paragraphs below, quotations from JIC assessments are set out in the left-hand column and from the dossier are set out in the right-hand column.
“Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction - Intelligence and Assessments”. Cm 5972. September 2003. See, for example, the section on this subject at Chapter 1 of this Report.