Not One Expert Belived Claims in Dossier,says Mod Arms Chief

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLES REISS

A VICIOUS feud within the intelligence community was thrust into the open today after an expert claimed that none of Britain's defence analysts agreed with the September 2002 dossier on Iraq's weapons.

The accusation came from Dr Brian Jones, until last year the leading expert at the Ministry of Defence on weapons of mass destruction. Dr Jones, who fiercely criticised the dossier in evidence to the Hutton Inquiry, today broadened his attack, declaring that there was a "unified view" among all the experts in his field that reports of Iraq's chemical or biological

warfare capability should be

better 400% "carefully caveated". Writing in The Independent, Dr Jones says that his view was overruled not by the politicians but by his ultimate boss, John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

The timing for Tony Blair could hardly have been worse. The Prime Minister had been hoping, in a Commons debate this afternoon, to draw a line under the Hutton investigation, stressing that it had cleared the Government of the charge of sexing up of the weapons dossier. But Dr Jones made clear he will continue to challenge the document and the way it was drawn up.

In a side swipe at the JIC, Dr Jones says that its members are mostly "extremely busy officials" with "quite limited experience of analysing intelligence".

His attack came as one of the most senior figures in the Bush administration admitted that he might not have backed the war had he known that Saddam Hussein's weapons arsenal did not exist.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, asked whether he would have backed war had he been told there were no weapons stockpiles, replied: "I don't know, I don't know.

Because it was the stockpile that presented the final little piece that made it more of a real and present danger and threat to the region and to the world.

"The absence of a stockpile changes the political calculus. It changes the answer you get ... the fact of the matter is that we went into this with the understanding that there was a stockpile, and there were weapons."

Mr Powell later stressed his loyalty to Mr Bush, declaring: "The bottom line is this - the president made the right decision. …

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.