Magazine article Arms Control Today

"Serious Flaws" Found in British Dossier

Magazine article Arms Control Today

"Serious Flaws" Found in British Dossier

Article excerpt

The British intelligence on Iraq's weapons capabilities used to justify the March 2003 invasion contained "serious flaws," according to a committee charged with reviewing the assessments.

The committee, appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, released a July 14 report that details findings from its five-month investigation into the accuracy of British intelligence on prohibited Iraqi weapons programs prior to March 2003; any discrepancies between that intelligence and information gathered after the conflict; and, more generally, British intelligence coverage of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) trade in countries of concern.

Chaired by Lord Robin Butler, a former Blair cabinet member, the committee analyzed assessments made by the executive branch's Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). Those assessments formed the backbone of a September 2002 dossier that publicly underlined the British government's case for "stronger action" against Iraq.

In its conclusions, the committee faulted "over-reliance" on questionable human intelligence sources, arguing that the secret Intelligence Service (SIS) failed to appropriately scrutinize and validate reports from human intelligence sources. The committee also criticized British officials for not clarifying the limitations and caveats of intelligence included in the dossier.

In one of the more politically charged conclusions, the committee criticized the claim included in the 2002 dossier that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so. …

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