Blair’s office altered Iraq dossier

British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office authorised a “substantial rewrite” of the government’s dossier which claimed Iraq under Saddam Hussein posed a global threat.

    Mounting evidence reveals Campbell tailored the report

    This was revealed in a parliament inquiry into the apparent suicide of weapons expert David Kelly on Monday, amid allegations based on the weapons scientist’s evidence that the Blair administration exaggerated the case for war against Iraq.

    The dossier contained no proof of any threat from Baghdad, according to an email from Blair’s chief-of-staff Jonathan Powell to John Scarlett, the chairman of the joint intelligence committee.

    “It shows he (Hussein) has the means but it does not demonstrate he has the motive to attack his neighbours, let alone the west,” wrote Powell in the email one week before the dossier was published on 24 September 2002, six months ahead of the US-British war against Iraq.

    “The dossier is good and convincing for those who are prepared to be convinced,” Powell wrote.

    “The document does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam,” said the email dated 17 September.

    A separate email from Blair’s director of communications Alastair Campbell to Powell, dated on 5 September, revealed the dossier was rewritten. Campbell is accused by a BBC journalist of beefing up Downing Street’s Iraq dossier, aimed at justifying the case for war.

    The BBC alleged in June that Campbell, set to testify before the parliamentary probe on Tuesday, was responsible for inserting a sensational claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons into the report a week before its publication.

    Tailoring reports

    "Structure as per TB's discussion."

    Alastair Campbell, referring to Tony Blair, on the Iraq dossier

    Documents released to the inquiry on Monday showed that the dossier should be altered “as per TB’s discussion” -an apparent reference to Tony Blair.

    It said: “Re dossier, substantial rewrite with JS and Julian M in charge, which JS will take to US next Friday and be in shape Monday thereafter.

    “Agreement that there has to be real intelligence material in their presentation.”

    JS apparently referred to John Scarlett while Julian Miller was the cabinet office’s chief-of-the assessment-staff.

    US referred to United States.

    Now in its second week, the inquiry into Kelly’s death has turned the focus on the role of Blair’s office with the career’s of several officials, including Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon hanging in the balance.

    The government has faced criticism for identifying Kelly, a top expert on biological weapons, with concern that failing to protect the scientist from the media and political storm may have contributed to his death.

    Blair was implicated when it emerged he had personally ordered Kelly’s defence ministry bosses to grill him for a second time over contacts with the BBC.


    SOURCE: Agencies


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