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radfringe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-30-03 07:02 AM
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How lethal weapons were made harmless
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Hutton inquiry - How lethal weapons were made harmless

Ten things we learned this week, including Blair's pivotal role in the naming of David Kelly

Richard Norton-Taylor, Ewen MacAskill, Nicholas Watt and Matt Wells
Saturday August 30, 2003
The Guardian

1: That Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" threat was less serious than we were led to believe
In an astonishing admission, John Scarlett, chairman of Whitehall's joint intelligence committee, undermined the government's case for war by saying the claim that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes referred to short-range armaments, not missiles. They thus did not pose a threat to western interests, and particularly British bases in Cyprus, as the government implied.

Mr Scarlett was asked by Lord Hutton to comment on David Kelly's apparent assumption that the 45-minute claim in the dossier was referring to warheads of longer-range missiles. Mr Scarlett replied: "It was not. related to munitions which we had interpreted to mean battlefield mortar shells or small calibre weaponry, quite different from missiles."

2 That there was an urgent search for stronger intelligence for dossier

Intelligence services issued, at a late stage, an alert to all its agencies to hunt in the bottom of the cupboard for any evidence they may have missed on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Realising the paucity of evidence of Iraq's WMD, an unnamed government official sent an email to the secret services saying Downing Street wanted the document "to be as strong as possible within the bounds of available intelligence".

The email was written on September 11, a fortnight before the dossier was published. The official, a member of Whitehall's joint intelligence committee, said: "This is therefore a last (!) call for any items of intelligence that agencies think can and should be included."

3: That the dossier did not impress the Labour chair of the intelligence committee

Ann Taylor, the former cabinet minister who chairs the security and intelligence committee expressed doubts in an email to Downing Street six days before the dossier was published: "Hardest question not answered. Why Saddam Hussein and why now?"

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