Magazine article Arms Control Today

Australian Intelligence Reviewed

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Australian Intelligence Reviewed

Article excerpt

A recent investigation into Australia's intelligence agencies asserts that Australia's intelligence organizations "failed to judge accurately the extent and nature" of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs before the 2003 war, but commends Australian analysts for exercising more skepticism than their British or American counterparts.

The Australian Inquiry, a committee charged with evaluating the effectiveness of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC), released its final report July 20, marking the third review in less than a month to analyze pre-war intelligence gathering and assessment. The Inquiry followed similar reviews conducted by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and the Butler Committee in the United Kingdom. According to the Australian report, the intelligence used to generate international support for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq "was thin, ambiguous, and incomplete."

However, the Inquiry, which was requested by Prime Minister John Howard and headed by former intelligence official Phillip Flood, praised the AIC for having applied "healthy skepticism" to individual pieces of intelligence. On the whole, AlC issued assessments that were "more cautious and seem closer to the facts as we know them" than assessments made by U.S. and British intelligence agencies, according to the Inquiry's final document, the Flood report.

Nonetheless, Kevin Rudd, a spokesperson for the opposition Labor Party, used the Flood report to criticize Howard for leading Australia to war in Iraq based on inadequate, second-hand intelligence from the United States and the United Kingdom. …

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