Taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday 19 June 2003
Donald Anderson, in the Chair
Witness: MR ANDREW WILKIE, Former Senior Intelligence Adviser to the Australian Prime Minister, examined.
Q570 Chairman: Mr Wilkie, may I welcome you on behalf of the Committee to assist us in our inquiry on the decision to go to war in Iraq. You were a defence analyst with the Australian Office of National Assessments, ONA. You resigned on 11 March of this year in protest at the Australian Government's support for military action against Iraq. Is that correct?
Mr Wilkie: That is correct, Chairman.
Q571 Chairman: It is only fair to say that we have had a letter from your former employers, the ONA, giving some background and I think it proper that you be allowed to comment on that letter. First, can you help the Committee on the ONA. Is it equivalent to our Cabinet Office assessment staff, is it equivalent to the SIS? What is the broad equivalent in the UK system?
Mr Wilkie: Chairman, I do not know that you have an exact equivalent. The Office of National Assessments is our senior intelligence agency. It is a completely independent agency, although it is closely associated with our Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is the gateway for all intelligence and assessments through to our Prime Minister and the senior ministers, the members of our National Security Committee at Cabinet.
Q572 Chairman: That is helpful. Let me then put to you, so you can give your own observations, various parts of the ONA letter. We are first told, and I suspect your answer to this is likely to be very clear: "Mr Wilkie's views on intelligence about Iraq and its WMD programmes do not reflect the views of the Office of National Assessments". That must be true.
Mr Wilkie: Yes, that is true, that my views are quite at odds with the views of the Office of National Assessments and, in fact, the views of most of the government, I suspect.
Q573 Chairman: They then go on to say: "His recent work in ONA as a senior analyst principally concerned illegal immigration and related transnational issues". Is that correct?
Mr Wilkie: No. I have heard such assertions previously and, in fact, on the day I resigned on 11 March the Office of National Assessments released a statement to that effect. I believe that what I perceive as the government's attempts to sideline me in this issue are inaccurate. If I could just outline ----
Q574 Chairman: But is it true that your work prior to your resignation was principally concerned with illegal immigration?
Mr Wilkie: No, that is not true. It is true that my work included illegal immigration.
Q575 Chairman: Prior to your resignation on 11 March, according to this information from your former employers, you produced only one written report about Iraq, an assessment in December of last year of the possible humanitarian consequences of military intervention. Is that true?
Mr Wilkie: That is correct.
Q576 Chairman: Thank you. They go on to say that you were one of several analysts who, as the Iraq crisis intensified, were asked, and offered, to be available to provide additional analyst capacity on Iraq when needed. Is that true?
Mr Wilkie: That is correct.
Q577 Chairman: On your return from two weeks' overseas travel, 11-27 February, researching immigration and transnational issues, you were rostered to be part of analyst teams in ONA's watch office on Iraq. Is that fair?
Mr Wilkie: That is correct, Chairman.
Q578 Chairman: Was the object of your overseas travel immigration and transnational issues?
Mr Wilkie: That is correct.
Q579 Chairman: They go on to say that you resigned before contributing to any assessment as part of an analyst team. Is that fair?
Mr Wilkie: That is correct.
Q580 Chairman: Thank you. Like other ONA analysts you had access to a range of current and stored intelligence reporting on Iraq, but on Iraq's WMD programmes access within ONA to some important relevant material was restricted, "those with access to that material did not include all those on the watch office roster and did not include Mr Wilkie".
Mr Wilkie: It is correct that a very small amount of intelligence was not included in my compartment, if you are familiar with that term, but the rest was.
Q581 Chairman: So the purport of this is that in the one report you produced in December you were mainly concerned about the matters, until your travel leave, and then from 27 February until your resignation on 11 March you had access to much information but not to the most sensitive.
Mr Wilkie: Not that very small amount of some of the most sensitive.
Q582 Chairman: But you did not have access to the most sensitive?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Chairman: Thank you. I think that probably covers the background of it. Mr Maples?
Mr Maples: Perhaps we could ask Mr Wilkie to state his own credentials for the Committee.
Q583 Chairman: What are your credentials in respect of Iraq?
Mr Wilkie: I would appreciate the opportunity just to say something in addition to that letter from my former employer.
Q584 Chairman: Yes. It is only fair that you be allowed to say that. I understand that you have a written statement which might take ten minutes. That is not the practice of the Committee, as was the case with the former Foreign Secretary, for example, but that statement could be added to the documentation in the Committee's ultimate report. If there are just one or two matters from that, that you would like to highlight, as long as it is brief we are prepared to hear that.
Mr Wilkie: In fact, I will put the statement to the side. I would just draw on a couple of points from the first page or so in response to that letter from the Office of National Assessments.
Q585 Chairman: Go ahead.
Mr Wilkie: Most of what it includes is accurate. However, it does not include a number of things which, when considered, give quite a different impression for the Committee about what my association with the Iraq issue was. For a start, because of my military background - I was 21 years in the army finishing as a lieutenant colonel of infantry - I was expected in ONA to be familiar with any issue that was likely to result in a war. For that reason, even though I was working as a transnational analyst, I covered Kosovo and I covered Afghanistan.
Q586 Chairman: What was your military role in those conflicts?
Mr Wilkie: I was employed as a military strategic analyst effectively in the strategic analysis branch, not the transnational issues branch. Hence, it was in that role that I was on standby to work on Iraq. I have also worked specifically on weapons of mass destruction, which I think is a very important point that has been omitted from that letter. Specifically, in 1998 I prepared the ONA assessment for government on WMD in terrorism and I attended the Quadripartite Working Group on WMD held in the UK at Cheltenham, at GCHQ. More recently, I represented ONA at the Annual Australian Intelligence Agency's WMD Working Group held at the Australian Secret Intelligence Service's training facility. Finally, in my role as the senior transnational issues analyst I had access to virtually all of the Iraq database because my work involving global terrorism and people movements was very related to Iraq. I would not wish that single report I wrote to be under-estimated. That was the benchmark report for the Australian Government on the potential humanitarian implications of a war in Iraq, which required me to explore in some detail Saddam's regime and what his capabilities were, including his weapons of mass destruction capability. It was not just talking about refugee flows, it was talking about how the war might be fought and, hence, what the humanitarian consequences might be as it played out.
Q587 Mr Pope: Mr Wilkie, you said in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that: "The fictions about Iraq's weapons programmes could be a best selling fairytale". In the British Government's assessment, which I am sure you are very familiar with, the British Government came to the conclusion that: "Iraq has a usable chemical and biological weapons capability in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 687, continues to attach great importance to the possession of WMD, has ballistic missiles, has the capacity to deliver chemical, biological agents". How is it that all of the United Kingdom's intelligence services working together have come to that conclusion and you have come to a completely different one?
Mr Wilkie: Mr Pope, I found, and I still find, the British Government's September dossier fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons. Specifically, the way it has attempted to fill the intelligence gaps on Iraq with a number of what I would call finely tuned assumptions that seem to match the British Government's pre-determined commitment to support a war. In particular, the dossier makes something of that range of WMD-related materials that were unaccounted for at the end of the UNMOVIC process. Just talking specifically about that for the moment, if I could, I think over-playing the unaccounted for weapons was quite misleading because, for a start, there is still a question mark over exactly what was unaccounted for. I do not think UNMOVIC ever tried to say "there are exactly X tonnes of precursor" or whatever, all they were trying to say was "We cannot account for it". When you consider that not even the Iraqis know what they have produced, the Iraqis do not know what they used in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, they could not quantify what they had destroyed out of the UNMOVIC process, I think there is a great question mark over exactly what was there. Even if there was something left of that unaccounted for material, I would dispute the assertion in the dossier that much of that even exists to this day. I am sure you will appreciate that the ability to produce very pure chemical and biological agents and the ability to stabilise it are critical elements of having this stuff survive for any period of time and the Iraqis had a terrible track record of trying to produce pure agents. I do not believe that the assertion in that dossier is accurate or is substantiated by hard evidence, that is a better way to put it. The assertion that the Iraqis had perfected the art of stabilisation of chemical and biological agents I think is an unsubstantiated assertion. That is the first intelligence gap, what could not be accounted for. I think the other important intelligence gap is what mischief the Iraqis might have got up to in the period between the inspectors leaving and that four years before the new lot of inspectors arrived. Much is made in that dossier of the rebuilding of facilities that had been associated with the WMD programme. Much has been made of new facilities that had been built. I do not think it presents any sort of credible argument or produces any sort of hard evidence that these facilities actually went the next step and started producing chemical and biological agents.
Q588 Mr Pope: It is a public document, so it is not going to be possible to put in it the raw intelligence data. Can I just quote one line because I think this is an interesting point. It says: "Intelligence has become available from reliable sources which complements and adds to previous intelligence and confirms the Joint Intelligence Committee assessment that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons". That is on page 18 of the report. The allegations here are of the utmost gravity. I just want to know what your view is. Is it your view - I do not want to put words into your mouth - that the British Parliament was lied to by the Government to persuade a reluctant Parliament to vote for a war, or is it that the intelligence assessments that the Joint Intelligence Committee made were themselves inaccurate? Both of those are really serious charges.
Mr Wilkie: You have touched on a number of important points there and I will probably lurch straight to your final point about what do I think happened. I am not saying that Iraq did not have a WMD programme. There is so much evidence that has been accumulated over so long that I do not think there is any doubt that Iraq had some sort of WMD programme. The day I resigned on 11 March, I went on the public record and said a lot of things, including the fact that I judged Iraq's WMD programme to be disjointed and contained. The issue here is how big was the programme, what did the intelligence agencies think the scale of it was, what did they tell government and what was government saying publicly. I think there are a number of parallels between the way it was handled in the UK and the way it was handled in Australia. In both countries the intelligence agencies quite rightly judged that Iraq had a WMD programme. I think they generally provided a reasonably measured assessment of what the scale of that programme was. They may have over-estimated it to a point, and I suppose the fact that nothing has been found so far does suggest that they did over-estimate it to a point. In fact, when I said it was disjointed and contained maybe even I over-estimated, and I thought I was being the minimalist. I think the problem was the way that the British and Australian Governments took those reasonably measured assessments and exaggerated them for their own purposes. Words used, such as "massive programme, imminent threat", I do not believe were words ever offered to governments by their intelligence agencies.
Q589 Mr Pope: What then is the motive of these governments? When they first said on 18 March they would commit our troops into war, and American troops entered as well and Australian forces, and some of those troops did not come back, I voted for it on the basis that Iraq had a weapons of mass destruction programme which was a credible threat to the region and to my own country and it needed disarming by force. Clearly you do not share that assessment. I cannot imagine any country, let alone the United States, Australia and the UK, would enter into a war lightly. What do you think their motive was?
Mr Wilkie: This really does go to the heart of it, I suppose. I have taken a fairly hard line position on this and I feel this very strongly. I felt it strongly enough that three months ago I walked out of a job I loved, I have been ostracised by people, including some of my friends, and three months later I am unemployed and here in London trying to explain myself. It has been very difficult for me. There has been no good side to this for me. I believe that in Washington, London and Canberra, the governments exaggerated the WMD threat to mask their real reasons for going to war. These are views that are based on the sort of assessments I read and the raw intelligence I read and so on, I did not make these up. I believe that the US was most interested in going to war in Iraq for a range of strategic reasons, such as rearranging the Middle East and moving the centre of gravity from the country with the most amount of oil to the country with the second most amount, trying to safeguard their global ascendancy, stamping their authority on the Middle East to try and gain access to strategic oil reserves. I think there was a range of US domestic reasons. The Republicans had done so well in the US mid-term elections on the back of dealing with the Iraq issue. Let us not forget that the history here is since the 1991 Gulf War they have developed in America a very strong underlying anti-Iraq sentiment, the government was pushed into a corner and sooner or later had to deal with. I think in Australia, the government was motivated more by supporting the US at any cost, more so interested in that than in WMD. I am not suggesting for a moment that WMD is an issue. WMD was an important consideration in all three capitals. All I am saying is it was not the only consideration, it was not the most important consideration, and the resort of all three governments to use WMD and links with terrorism as the two main pillars of this war was misleading. Remember that in the UK and in Australia, intelligence agencies were not just providing intelligence assessments on Iraq, they were also providing the three governments with assessments on Washington. It is no secret that we inform our governments about each other to help our decision making. There was no secret in Parliament House in Canberra, and I do not believe there was any secret here in London, about what the broad range of drivers were behind the US desire to go to war. When you superimpose that understanding of what Washington was wanting to do over my other claim of exaggerating the WMD issue, frankly I think it looks a little mischievous.
Q590 Sir John Stanley: Mr Wilkie, in your interview on the Today programme in this country on 4 June you said: "I am satisfied that governments have exaggerated Iraq's WMD capability. Governments in all three capitals have exaggerated Iraq's links with al-Qaeda. The governments in all three capitals have exaggerated both the general risk of WMD terrorism as well as the specific risks of Iraq passing WMD to al-Qaeda. The governments have exaggerated what their intelligence communities have offered them". Do you have a copy with you of the September assessment?
Mr Wilkie: The dossier? No, Sir John.
Q591 Sir John Stanley: But you are obviously very, very familiar with it indeed.
Mr Wilkie: Yes, I am.
Q592 Sir John Stanley: If wonder if we can have a copy in front of you. Obviously we cannot go through this page by page inviting you to substantiate your accusation of exaggeration, although if you wish to do that on a paragraph by paragraph basis I am sure the Committee would be interested to receive your memorandum. Just taking the Executive Summary, the Executive Summary, as far as I can see having just reread it very quickly, does not make any reference to the phrase that you used, "massive programme". It talks about a "current threat" and I know the words "imminent threat" have been used by some British politicians, but I am not sure that the phrase "imminent phrase" actually appears in this document. Certainly I do not see any reference to "massive programme". Just taking the couple of pages of the Executive Summary, could you tell us what is the wording there that you feel is unjustified against your information as to what intelligence was available?
Mr Wilkie: Okay. Before I look specifically at the Executive Summary, Sir John, I just want to remind us all that there was an awful lot more to the three governments trying to justify this war than just this dossier. In fact, I think the most emotive statements were probably oral statements in our Parliaments and so on, people standing up and saying what they said. One of my concerns with this is this has been marketed effectively as the product of the Joint Intelligence Committee. When I read this, and I have seen a number of JIC papers - in fact JIC papers often come to ONA in draft for comment by us to help in the process of developing the JIC, I think it is a good process - it is very, very different from the sort of measured position that would be put forward by the JIC or any other intelligence body. The JIC is made up of the heads of a number of agencies, so by design it is seeking to achieve a compromise amongst a number of organisations. JIC papers, as you are probably, are full of terms like "could" or "uncorroborated evidence", "suggests" or "probably". Contentious issues are either dropped or they are heavily qualified, there is a certain style to it, whereas this is almost like a business development professional has been involved or a marketing professional because all of those qualifications are dropped out. This goes to the heart of my claims about exaggeration.
Q593 Sir John Stanley: Could I ask you to go back to my question, if you would be kind. This is a very important document for the Committee. You made this accusation of exaggeration and this is the base written document of the British Government, this was the one and only document which was an authentic document and stated to be derived from JIC sources, unlike the "dodgy dossier". From the Executive Summary, what wording in this do you consider is an unjustifiable exaggeration against the intelligence that you knew?
Mr Wilkie: I will ask for a moment just to read and think, if you do not mind. I am sure you will appreciate that this is a very quick look.
Q594 Sir John Stanley: I assume before making the claims you have made you studied the document minutely. I hope so.
Mr Wilkie: The front end of it is loaded with historic information. That is a little misleading to say, and it is not just in this document but elsewhere and, in fact, my own Prime Minister used the term, "Iraq has form. It has fired ballistic missiles at countries, it has used chemical weapons on Iran and on the Kurds" and so on. That front end is referring to an Iraq of pre-1991, an Iraq that was virtually a different country from the Iraq we were facing in March 2003, a country with a genuine national WMD programme and that was acting terribly belligerently. It leads you along a little when you start like that. I know you have to start with history, I do not have a problem with you starting with the history, but it does tend to lead you along a little, just like in this document in a number of places all of the boxes and so on that talk about, "This is how you make a bomb, this is what bombs can do" and there is a photo in here of the gassed Kurds and so on. It is leading people to a certain conclusion. In paragraph four ----
Q595 Chairman: Of the Executive Summary?
Mr Wilkie: Of the Executive Summary. There is reference there to the intelligence that obviously cannot be revealed in the document, and obviously it cannot be revealed in the document. This is one area in which I think the coalition case against Iraq has been flawed in that there has been a reliance on what I have described in the Australian media as "garbage-grade" human intelligence from Iraqis opposed to the regime desperate to encourage intervention in Iraq. I saw at ONA human intelligence being used and attention being paid to it when on other issues it would have been discarded as uncorroborated, as questionable and so on. The reason this is relevant to your question, Sir John, is here is a simple statement saying, "We have got all of this intelligence".
Q596 Sir John Stanley: Are you claiming that the British Government in this context was using garbage-grade human intelligence as well as the Australian Government?
Mr Wilkie: No. All I am saying, Sir John, is that in Washington, in London and in Canberra, the intelligence agencies encountered an awful lot of this garbage-grade human intelligence, which in some cases was clearly garbage and produced by people who were trying to encourage an intervention in Iraq. When you have got intelligence agencies under pressure to come up with a smoking gun, there is a temptation to pay more attention to this than you perhaps should. It has been well reported in the media how Mr Rumsfeld set up his own intelligence body in the Pentagon who were perhaps paying too much attention to this. I think some of the garbage-grade human intelligence contaminated the assessments in London and Canberra. I am not at all critical of the intelligence agencies, I think they did a pretty good job on this subject in the face of some political pressure, they did a pretty good job of sifting through this and coming up with reasonably measured intelligence assessments on Iraq. My problem is that those assessments were always a step short of the comments being made by the political leadership in London and in Canberra, there was a gap between the two. If I could go on to paragraph six, the first dot, the statement there that Iraq "continued to produce chemical and biological agents". That links through later in the paper to a number of references, as I said earlier, to the rebuilding of a number of chemical and biological facilities and some new ones. I do not believe there is a case presented in there that these places were actually producing anything. In fact, there is a lot of the word "could", "it could produce that, it could produce this". When I cross-reference that point I have just made with the Fallujah II castor oil and fennel plant, not far from Baghdad, the weapons inspectors in late 2002 - there is a lot in here talking about Fallujah II - not long after this was published said that the Fallujah II plant was not functioning. There is another reference in here to - I cannot recall off the top of my head - a serum laboratory. There is media reporting that the day this dossier was reported journalists went to that laboratory, were shown around it by the Iraqi Government and, again, it was not functioning; they described the fridge as being empty. I think we are being asked to take a leap of faith from that statement, "they are producing it". There is a gap between that and the claims that some of these facilities have been rebuilt. Even in your document you make the point, quite rightly, that all of these plants that are built are all dual use facilities. For example, at Fallujah II it was castor oil for brake fluid, serum laboratories try and develop things for agriculture and so on. While I am picking flaws in this document, I think the way it has treated dual use facilities is one of the flaws. It is no good to say that this country has a range of dual use facilities. I could get in a cab and within a few miles of this building I could probably find dozens of dual use facilities. I could find hospitals with laboratories, I could find industrial plants that can make chemicals, within not many miles of here I could find stockpiles of chlorine, the critical ingredient of some chemical agents. Just as there is a disconnect in this document between "these facilities have been built" and the claim that they are making weapons, there is also a gap between "there is a range of dual use facilities and material in Iraq" and "it is being used to make weapons".
Q597 Sir John Stanley: I think also when you jump into your cab you might be saying to yourself, "At least in this country, as in my own country, we do not have a government which goes around using WMD against its own people" and that is rather different from a country like Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
Mr Wilkie: Sir John, of course you are quite right. This is probably the point I want to emphasise, a very important point: I am not pro-Saddam obviously. Saddam is an evil man, he had to be dealt with. My concern is that we were too quick to go to war before all of the other options had been exhausted. We spent years trying to get Hans Blix back into Iraq and no sooner had he got there than we were trying to get him out. We were left with a feeling that ----
Q598 Andrew Mackinlay: We wanted him in unconditionally.
Mr Wilkie: Sorry?
Q599 Sir John Stanley: Just continue briefly on the Executive Summary.
Mr Wilkie: I will come back to the 45 minutes issue.
Q600 Sir John Stanley: You are going to refer to the 45 minutes?
Mr Wilkie: I will refer to that last, if you do not mind, Sir John. On the second page, the first dot, these pesky mobile laboratories. There is a great debate over whether these trailers are or are not mobile laboratories and whether it is one, two or three. I do not care whether it is ten or 20 trailers, the point is we are talking about things, we are talking about finds that are so small in scale and are so far short of this serious and imminent threat. I think what we have found so far is much closer to my claim that it was a disjointed and contained WMD programme and not the sort of big national programme that was sold to us as the justification for the war. Below the line on that page, they are talking about the uranium from Nigeria. I know there has been some speculation about this but my understanding from having worked in the intelligence community is that the fact that the CIA disputed the uranium from Niger, that was known in the CIA early in 2002 and was shared with allied intelligence agencies through the normal intelligence sharing processes. As far as I am concerned the fact that that uranium claim was false would have been known by the British intelligence services months before this document went to press. Similarly, talking about the other materials here, I think it is probably referring to the thousands of aluminium tubes. The International Atomic Energy Agency had doubts about the purpose of those tubes from 2001, had doubts shared with the intelligence agencies, certainly in Australia at ONA and I would assume confidently also within your own intelligence agencies. That was a concern over a year before this document was published. There are serious deficiencies just in the Executive Summary. So I do not speak all day on this, if I could jump to the 45 minutes. I do not believe that there is any solid intelligence to back up that claim. I do not know what report that was based on, I am not claiming to have seen it. If there is a piece of raw intelligence, a piece of human intelligence I assume, saying 45 minutes, I would suggest that it is some of this garbage-grade intelligence. Can I suggest that we take a step back for a moment. We are getting into the detail and there are looks of disagreement around the board. The bottom line here is that in Australia, and I understand in the UK, people were sold the need for war on the basis of Iraq's WMD programme and on the basis of the likelihood of them passing WMD to terrorism. What has been found is so short of that claim, and what is likely to be found now is unlikely to be this large national programme.
Q601 Mr Chidgey: Just sweeping up what is left on the dossier, I take it that you do not believe that the dossier is a balanced assessment of Iraq's capabilities?
Mr Wilkie: No.
Q602 Mr Chidgey: You would not have endorsed the view that on chemical weapons Iraq has a usable weapons capability which has included recent production of chemical agents, as in the dossier?
Mr Wilkie: I do not believe there is enough evidence to know for sure that Iraq had been manufacturing chemical and biological weapons recently.
Q603 Mr Chidgey: So presumably you would not agree with the statement that: "Iraq can deliver chemical agents using an extensive range of artillery shells, free fall bombs, sprayers and ballistic missiles"?
Mr Wilkie: The issue here is one of degree, not of absolutes. I am saying they had a programme, I am saying they may well have some weapons, I am saying they may well find something. My chief concern was the way that what I judged to be a limited threat was exaggerated by the governments in three capitals. I think there are some elements in here which are just unbelievable. For example, the L-29 aircraft and the talk in here about that being used as a platform for spraying chemical and biological agents, that just does not make sense to me. To convert a plane like that for that purpose is a very difficult and expensive project, why not just put them in a cheap ballistic missile if they are going to deliver them that way?
Q604 Mr Chidgey: Can I just come on to that because I wanted to ask you specifically, and again I am quoting from the dossier, one of the claims in it is: "Iraq's military forces are able to use chemical and biological weapons", it is weapons we are talking about, "with command control and logistical arrangements in place. The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do so." You would not agree with that? I am asking the question particularly bearing in mind your military experience, I want you to think in that context, of what it takes to be able to give the order, have the weapons system ready in a battlefield scenario. It does not actually say anything here about launching missiles to Cyprus, for example.
Mr Wilkie: One thing that strikes me about that 45 minutes claim is for that to be accurate Iraq would have needed to have had everything weaponised.
Q605 Mr Chidgey: Everything? It is a capability, it does not say throughout the whole country, or whatever.
Mr Wilkie: Knowing how the military works in any country, particularly in a country like this, if they are going to have rounds in the air, or rockets in the air, in 45 minutes then I believe the actual WMD warhead, if I can call it that, already needed to be weaponised.
Q606 Mr Chidgey: I understand what you mean.
Mr Wilkie: Basically you liquid fuel a rocket, talk about it, press the button and your 45 minutes are up.
Q607 Mr Chidgey: What about rocket launchers, that is not liquid fuel as far as I know? I am not a military man.
Mr Wilkie: My only point here, and I am probably not articulating this particularly well, is for a country to have the capability to use WMD within 45 minutes then its WMD already has to be weaponised.
Q608 Mr Chidgey: The shells have to be filled?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q609 Mr Chidgey: And the shelves actually too.
Mr Wilkie: You are talking about the shells virtually sitting next to the 155 artillery pieces or whatever.
Q610 Mr Chidgey: So what is the significance of that in this analysis?
Mr Wilkie: What is the significance of it?
Q611 Mr Chidgey: Are you saying that you would have known that they were filled, or what?
Mr Wilkie: I think there is a huge gap between the claim saying that a factory has been rebuilt which could manufacture an agent and the claim that a country has weaponised and deployed its weapons of mass destruction. I do not believe there was enough hard evidence to paint a picture of Iraq having a developed capability out there.
Q612 Mr Chidgey: But this dossier is based on intelligence assessments, it was not invented.
Mr Wilkie: No. I am quite sure that the people who produced a lot of this in its first form did a great job, they came up with what their judgment was. I suppose one of the reasons why I am of interest to a committee like this is my judgment is at odds with the stated judgments of so many in the intelligence agencies, one of which I used to work for. How did I come up with a judgment so different? I cannot explain that, it was my approach to the issue. I think I was much more critical, particularly of the human intelligence, and, in fact, that might have had something to do with the fact that I did do work on people smuggling to Australia, an issue which is characterised by appalling human intelligence. Maybe because of the work that I had been involved in I had a slightly different approach and I was much more critical compared to some of the agencies.
Q613 Mr Chidgey: Can I pick that point up. Obviously we have taken evidence from a number of people already this week and a lot of that has hinged on how intelligence assessments are processed. I would just like your views, if I may. My understanding from the evidence we have taken is the raw intelligence can be very broad brush and some of it can be very contradictory. Do you take the view that working on that basis, the assessment, the analysis, that is produced from the intelligence might result in several different options of what the intelligence might mean? The classic case, of course, is dual use, or should we say multi use, chemical processing. One of the options is it is producing liquid soap or whatever, or it might be producing lavatory cleanser, or whatever, but it could also do this. You have to go a step beyond that surely to be able to analyse what the most likely use of that facility is. Do you see what I am getting at?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q614 Mr Chidgey: You cannot rely just on the fact that there is a pharmaceutical or chemical plant, or whatever, which has a range of uses, you have to go further and have more intelligence to tell us what it is most likely being used for or most likely to be used for. This is where the options come in. Could you give me some idea how you would address that as an intelligence analyst and what sort of reporting procedure you would then ----
Mr Wilkie: It is pretty simple really, is it not? At the end of the day you build a picture of someone's intention and their capability and you build that picture trying to get as much intelligence and as much different sources of intelligence from different sources, technical means and human means.
Q615 Mr Chidgey: Fine, that is great. You take a different view in your analysis, your assessment, from most of the intelligence community. Is that because your analysis of the evidence comes up with a different conclusion or because you do not believe that sufficient intelligence was there to come to the conclusion that was reached?
Mr Wilkie: I think the latter was an important issue in me making the judgment I did. I did not think there was enough intelligence to justify some of the claims, and I have mentioned some of them in this dossier. I suppose ultimately I had interpreted things differently from some of my peers. I might point out that on the issue of Iraq, I think in the intelligence agencies there has been a range of views for a long time. A strength of the British system is the JIC where ultimately a compromise has to be reached to go to government, and ONA is sort of like that in that it is the single gateway.
Q616 Mr Chidgey: Does that not suggest that the British system which has resulted in the various dossiers is quite a robust system and, therefore, more trustworthy?
Mr Wilkie: I do not know that the British system is better than the Australian system.
Q617 Mr Chidgey: I did not make that comparison.
Mr Wilkie: I think they are both pretty good systems. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. These systems came up with an assessment on Iraq that we should expect a certain WMD programme on a certain scale and it is not there. We can talk about a whole lot of stuff but at the end of the day it is not there, it has not been found. Is this a good document in retrospect? No, in retrospect it is a lousy document because this document led us to expect that the troops would go into Iraq and encounter and uncover a huge WMD programme.
Q618 Mr Chidgey: Is your argument, therefore, that this document is not representative of the intelligence assessments that were used to produce this document?
Mr Wilkie: I see where you are coming from. I think this document is a step beyond what I would expect the JIC to produce. I know that is a big claim and I base that on the work I have seen of the UK JIC. It is too unambiguous. It paints too confident a picture of Iraq's WMD programme.
Q619 Mr Chidgey: Have you ever seen an intelligence assessment, say a JIC document in this case, resembling anything like this in your career?
Mr Wilkie: No.
Q620 Mr Chidgey: You have never seen anything as positive and as upfront?
Mr Wilkie: No, and I would not expect to because, as I was saying earlier, by design the JIC is seeking to achieve a compromise from all of these agencies and all of these peoples and it tends to produce things very cautiously.
Q621 Mr Chidgey: So it is unique in your experience?
Mr Wilkie: Yes. I have never seen such an unambiguous strong case put out that is labelled as an intelligence document.
Mr Chidgey: Or drawn from intelligence sources. Thank you.
Q622 Andrew Mackinlay: I genuinely do not understand one thing you are saying. To summarise: the charge here is that the government on one individual matter may have interfered, and there is also the so-called "dodgy dossier", but nobody has suggested here in the United Kingdom that the security and intelligence services have been politically pliable. There is a complaint allegedly by members of the security and intelligence services that, in fact, what they fed out might have been exaggerated but nobody has suggested that the security and intelligence services have been pliable. I listened very carefully to what you said and the inference that I got was that both the Australian security and intelligence services and the United Kingdom security and intelligence services had been pliable. By that I mean that you are comprehensively dismissing that document. I think that has been your thrust. Nobody has suggested in the United Kingdom that that September document is flawed or is a piece of propaganda. There are allegations about the validity and veracity of that 45 minutes thing, whether or not it should have been in, whether there was a corroborative source and so on. We have got to deal with the "dodgy dossier", and I understand that in five minutes nearly everyone fell about laughing. It is a matter for my political cousins in the House of Representatives in Canberra, but are you really suggesting that the security and intelligence services of our respective countries could be lent upon to produce that because I think that is incredible and nobody else has suggested that?
Mr Wilkie: Do not put words in my mouth.
Q623 Andrew Mackinlay: No, I would not want to do that.
Mr Wilkie: What I am saying is that the finished product, what I have got in my hands, does not have the feel of a carefully crafted, measured intelligence document. It feels as though it has been - I think the term I used was - "sexed up".
Mr Maples: It has been used here.
Q624 Mr Chidgey: Developed.
Mr Wilkie: It has got a polish on it. It is very subtle. It has got a polish which makes the situation less ambiguous than it was.
Q625 Andrew Mackinlay: That is an incredible claim, Mr Wilkie, because nobody else, not even the people who criticised the Government's stewardship of this, not even people making serious allegations against the Government as regards what they put in the public domain, is suggesting that the document you have before you is anything other than a product of the security and intelligence services through the system, save the inclusion of one particular aspect, namely the 45 minutes thing, which is something that we are looking at thoroughly and I would understand you might have a view on that. You are coming up with a suggestion and you have used terms like "feel" but you say you cannot find a word for it, and indeed you cannot because there is not a scintilla of evidence you can produce to this Committee this afternoon to rubbish that document save in those particular matters which I have referred to, the 45 minutes and so on. It is a matter for the folk back in Canberra but you seem to be including your folk back home in this. What is your evidence to suggest that security and intelligence services have acquiesced by their silence in a comprehensive and wholesale doctoring of evidence by two governments? It is just too fantastic for words.
Mr Wilkie: Mr Mackinlay, you are putting some words in to my mouth.
Q626 Andrew Mackinlay: Am I?
Mr Wilkie: Chairman, if I could just respond.
Q627 Chairman: Answer that and then I want to move on, please.
Mr Wilkie: I am not accusing the British intelligence and security services, or anything, I am accusing the British Government, along with the US and Australian Governments, of exaggerating the Iraq WMD threat and the associated terrorism threat. I have no concerns about ----
Q628 Andrew Mackinlay: What is your evidence of that exaggeration?
Mr Wilkie: What is my evidence?
Q629 Andrew Mackinlay: Yes.
Mr Wilkie: The evidence is that what has been found in Iraq is nowhere near what is described in this book, that is my evidence. I think that is the clearest evidence anyone could produce to this Committee.
Q630 Andrew Mackinlay: You and I do not know what has or has not been found in Iraq yet, do we?
Mr Wilkie: What I do know is that whatever has been found in Iraq so far is short. You are asking me to present the evidence and that is the easiest challenge anyone can throw at me. The evidence is that we were promised a war on the basis of this big WMD threat but it has not been found and whatever is likely to be found now is going to be miles short of what the war was sold to us on.
Andrew Mackinlay: You do not know that, do you? We are going round in circles.
Q631 Mr Olner: Just on the back of what Andrew was saying, the whole substance of your argument, Mr Wilkie, is that your colleagues did not agree with your scenario, you took your bat away, you would not play, and you are now saying because they have not found any you were right. What about if they do find it all next week?
Mr Wilkie: We were promised - I do not know if the word "massacre" was used in this document, I do not think it was - we were told orally and sold the war on the basis of a massive programme presenting an imminent threat.
Q632 Mr Olner: But you forget the history that he has used these weapons on Iran, he has used these weapons on his own people in the marshlands and what have you. We still control a no-fly zone, our planes still get shot at by Saddam. I have to say that even if he had enough weapons just to fill this room, I think he would gladly use them against the West.
Mr Wilkie: But we were not sold the war on the basis of enough weapons to fill this room. In all three capitals we were sold the war on the basis of a massive programme. There is a book here listing ----
Andrew Mackinlay: Non-compliance with inspectors, unimpeded access for inspectors were the two material factors. Let me bounce this off you ----
Chairman: Mr Mackinlay, we really must keep some discipline on this. To pick up on what Mr Mackinlay says, the basis of 1441 was non-compliance. I would like to get Mr Olner, then Mr Illsley and then back to Mr Maples.
Q633 Mr Olner: I really want to ask Mr Wilkie, can we as politicians, can the general public in Australia, America and Great Britain, trust our intelligence agencies again?
Mr Wilkie: Mr Olner, we have got to be very careful here not to shift the blame to the intelligence agencies.
Q634 Mr Olner: I am not shifting the blame, you are putting the blame there.
Mr Wilkie: I am not blaming the intelligence agencies.
Q635 Mr Olner: I assume the data that the Australian Government saw and the American Government saw was derived in the first instance from the intelligence agencies?
Mr Wilkie: You are quite correct, but my concern is the way reasonably sensible and measured assessments were exaggerated.
Q636 Mr Olner: Did you make that point to anybody in your department before you left? When you first became aware of this, did you say anything to anybody?
Mr Wilkie: That is a fair question. No.
Q637 Mr Olner: Why?
Mr Wilkie: That is a fair question and I welcome the opportunity to answer that. I did not voice my concerns in the Office of National Assessments. The reason was that just as I started to realise that my judgment about Iraq was so at odds with ONA's corporate line, if I can call it that, at the same time I came to understand I had to put up or shut up or do something about it, and I decided to do the latter, to do something about it.
Q638 Mr Olner: How much support did you get from amongst your colleagues? Did you get any support whatsoever or were you the sole, lone voice?
Mr Wilkie: I need to be careful how I answer that because the moment I say there are a few people in ONA who agree with me fully there will be a witch hunt around ONA trying to find out who these people are. I will answer that by saying the feelings through the Australian intelligence agencies reflects the feelings in the Australian community, which are everything from strong support for the war through to very, very strong opposition. I still have a number of very close friends in ONA who have been very supportive of me personally and both parties are sensible enough to know to keep the work stuff separate.
Q639 Chairman: That was not the question. The question was whether you were the lone voice in voicing this opposition or whether a number of your colleagues were saying that they agreed with you, not whether they sympathised with you personally.
Mr Wilkie: I was the only one who did what I did, obviously. ONA is a good organisation and people are allowed to speak their minds and on issues like this people do disagree all the time, but they tend to operate below a threshold.
Q640 Chairman: Again, that is not the question. You were asked did anyone else suggest that information had been misused by governments?
Mr Wilkie: No-one has voiced that in ONA.
Q641 Mr Illsley: Mine is a very narrow question. You mentioned a few minutes ago that the allegation that uranium was being purchased from Africa was known to the Australian intelligence services back as far as 2001, did you not?
Mr Wilkie: No. There has been some media reporting on this that has been reasonably accurate. The CIA had sent someone to Nigeria in early 2002 who had gone back and reported that they had concerns about the claims. My understanding is that information was shared through the normal intelligence sharing arrangements between the countries, so it was known in ONA and would have been known, I assume, in your own intelligence services. The 2001 reference was to the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency had some concerns about the claims of that vast quantity of piping since late 2001.
Q642 Mr Illsley: We have heard a lot of evidence about the claim of 45 minutes, which I do not want to go back into, but could it be that this document has been compiled from pieces of intelligence which are quite old? I draw attention to the 45 minutes claim because we have heard conflicting evidence that perhaps weapons were deployed in the first Gulf War in 1991 and it occurs to me that perhaps this document has drawn on pieces of intelligence which are quite old. Would that be possible?
Mr Wilkie: It is possible. I am speculating now. It may be claims like the 45 minutes were as much a reference to Iraqi army war fighting doctrine as reality. If people ask me what the proof is, if that was an accurate comment then I would have expected coalition forces to have found weaponised chem bio agents.
Q643 Mr Maples: One of the things you said very early on was that this document does not read like a JIC assessment, it reads more like a marketing document or a political document, which in a sense it is because it was published by the Government but, we are told, based on the JIC assessments. What is quite interesting is that before the Desert Fox operation at the end of 1998 the Government, the Foreign Office, also published an assessment which was much shorter, a three page assessment, of Iraq's then weapons capability and what struck me was that the tone between the two documents was very different. I would just like to read you the passages on chemical and biological weapons and I would ask you how they strike you. "Iraq would be capable of regenerating a chemical warfare capability within months. Some CW agents and munitions remain hidden. The Iraqi chemical industry could produce mustard gas almost immediately and limited amounts of a nerve agent within months. This and some weaponisation could be done covertly." On BW: "Saddam almost certainly retains some BW production equipment, stocks of agents and weapons. In any case, Iraq has the expertise and equipment to regenerate an offensive BW capability in weeks". Whereas this document says: "Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents". They are separated by four years but I wonder whether the tone of the 1998 document that I have read to you sounds more like a JIC assessment than the 2002 document? It sounds more qualified to me.
Mr Wilkie: I would agree, there is a different tone to it, yes.
Q644 Mr Maples: You think that to talk about "could" and "has the capability to have some ingredients or store some weapons he made before" is perhaps a more realistic assessment?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q645 Mr Maples: You said you saw some of the raw intelligence that went into Australia's assessment of this, which was presumably very similar to the intelligence that went into this. Are any of your misgivings about this document, and presumably whatever the Australians used, based on what you saw as evidence? You said you think this document goes beyond the intelligence evidence. Is that based simply on the fact that it does not sound like a JIC document to you, or is it based on having seen some of the raw intelligence yourself and therefore believing that this document goes beyond that?
Mr Wilkie: I did see some raw intelligence which led me to create that term "garbage-grade". It just looked like nonsense being said by someone trying to win favour with someone or trying to encourage a US intervention. In regard to the post-1998 material in here, what strikes me is just how much reference there is to facilities and so on, they keep saying they are being rebuilt but do not present any intelligence or any case to take it from "it has been rebuilt and is probably producing castor oil" to "it is producing agents and those agents have been weaponised at this site and they are being moved to these areas and so on".
Q646 Mr Maples: The key phrase in the Executive Summary, it seems to me, is: "As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents". That goes considerably beyond the 1998 statement. What I am trying to get from you is did you see the intelligence of what collectively we think has happened between 1998 and 2002 and in what sense does it either justify or not justify the statement that "Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents"?
Mr Wilkie: I do not believe that there was adequate hard intelligence to justify the claim.
Q647 Mr Maples: This is intelligence that you saw?
Mr Wilkie: Yes. Sorry, the turn of phrase was?
Q648 Mr Maples:"...continued to produce chemical and biological agents".
Mr Wilkie: I do not believe there was enough evidence to prove that they were producing chemical and biological weapons.
Q649 Mr Maples: When you say you do not believe, the evidence that you saw would not justify that?
Mr Wilkie: What I saw did not convince me that was the case. What is my evidence? The fact that I am not concocting this just now, I said this on 11 March when I resigned, I went public then with my judgment about how I thought WMD was being overplayed. The other important bit of evidence was - I was waving this around earlier - if that was accurate I think we would have found something by now.
Q650 Mr Maples: What I want to understand is whether your judgment that this goes beyond what was justified by the intelligence is based on having seen the intelligence or simply that the tone of this is rather different?
Mr Wilkie: No, no, I am sorry. It is an informed judgment based on me having seen intelligence and I now judge that that statement was overstating it. Can I just say something in fairness to the intelligence. I am sure you all know this but intelligence is not an exact science, there is a certain amount of black magic and black art and at some point someone has got to sit down and say, "I have read all this and I judge this". I am not necessarily criticising the intelligence official who said, "I judge that", I am saying I judge something different.
Q651 Mr Maples: But your assessment, your judgment of this document and your actions were based not on a feeling that this does not sound right but were based on having seen hard intelligence information which you believed did not justify the political conclusions that were being reached?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q652 Mr Maples: I do not want to put words into your mouth, correct me if I am wrong, but it was on the basis of that that you resigned your job and your career.
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q653 Mr Maples: You have given up your career because you believed that the raw intelligence that was available did not justify the political conclusions that were being based on it?
Mr Wilkie: I am happy for you to put those words in my mouth because that is what I would say. My decision to resign was based on my judgments that were informed by my access to hard intelligence and assessments provided by ONA and ourselves.
Q654 Chairman: I think the Committee would sympathise with anyone who resigns on a point of principle like yourself, but you concede that you did not see all the evidence?
Mr Wilkie: No, I did not see all the evidence. I do not think anyone has seen all of it, the database is huge.
Q655 Chairman: You concede that you were effectively a lone voice in the intelligence establishment in Australia?
Mr Wilkie: As far as I am aware, yes.
Q656 Chairman: Your judgment differed from that of your superiors?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q657 Chairman: Perhaps I could refer you to the dossier, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, which you have in front of you. If you would look at the Executive Summary, paragraph six was the key judgment: "As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents". You dispute that?
Mr Wilkie: I dispute that.
Q658 Chairman: If you would turn over the page, you see under seven: "These judgments reflect the views of the Joint Intelligence Committee". So you also differ in your judgment not only from your own Australian intelligence community but from the British intelligence community?
Mr Wilkie: Absolutely.
Mr Maples: I would just say it does say "reflect", it does not say "are the views of the JIC".
Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr Wilkie.
Witness: MR IBRAHIM AL-MARASHI, Research Associate, Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), Monterey Institute of International Studies, examined.
Q659 Chairman: Mr Al-Marashi, may I welcome you on behalf of the Committee to this inquiry into the decision to go to war in Iraq. Your background as I see is this. You are a Research Associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Your research focuses on the diffusion of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missile technologies in the Middle East, particularly Iraq and Iran. You received an MA in Political Science at the Arab Studies Center at Georgetown in 1997. You have also attended the University of California Los Angeles, and have worked for the Harvard University Center on a project classifying captured Iraqi state documents. You also have been a researcher on Iran-Iraq affairs at the US State Department, Congressional Research Service and National Defense University. You are now a DPhil student at St Antony's College, Oxford. Your work as I understand it was drawn upon largely for the second dossier without your authorisation.
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q660 Sir John Stanley: Mr al-Marashi, I would like to ask you a number of questions in relation to how, without, we understand, your consent, you came to make such a very substantial contribution to the so-called "dodgy dossier" entitled Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation. We do not have the transcript of the evidence session that we took yesterday from Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, though it may be here in the room a little later on, so you will forgive me if I have to do this from memory but it was a point on which I was able to have a word with Dame Pauline Neville-Jones afterwards. Referring to the sources for the "dodgy dossier" and your own contribution, she made a comment which will be in the transcript that it transpired that the source was much better known to the British Government than was originally thought and understood. Can I ask you: in the period prior to the publication of your thesis did you receive any approaches from any of the staff at Number 10?
Mr al-Marashi: No, I was never contacted.
Q661 Sir John Stanley: Which people in the British Government did you know?
Mr al-Marashi: I have never known anyone in the British Government.
Q662 Sir John Stanley: Do you know how they knew you so well, because clearly they had come to recognise that you were a source of considerable expertise in this area?
Mr al-Marashi: The only way I can infer they got hold of this article was that not only is it published in the Middle East Review of International Affairs but there is also an on-line version. If one were to do an internet search of Iraqi intelligence agencies on any of the web browsers my article is the first to come up. Basically, it was one of the first articles ever written compiling all the open source information on Iraq's intelligence agencies, so on any kind of internet service this would be the first article that would come up. I had reason to believe that the internet version of this article was consulted for the dossier released in February 2003 because grammatical mistakes made on the internet version ended up in this February 2003 document so, because of the mistakes I made that showed up on the internet version, they ended up in the document, Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation.
Q663 Sir John Stanley: Can I just ask you, because it appears in a paper which we have received from Dr Glen Ragwala, who presumably you do know, -----
Mr al-Marashi: Yes.
Q664 Sir John Stanley: ----- and probably consulted you before he submitted this memorandum for the Committee: in his paper to us he names four officials in Number 10 who were basically the authors of this document. Can I just ask you for the record whether you know them and whether they had made any approaches to you at any point: Paul Hamill, Foreign Office official, John Pratt, a junior official from the Prime Minister's Strategic Communications Unit, Alison Blackshaw, Alastair Campbell's personal assistant, and Mutaza(?) Khan, News Editor of the 10 Downing Street website?
Mr al-Marashi: No, I have never met or spoken to any of the four people you mention.
Q665 Sir John Stanley: The subject of your thesis was basically the structure of the Iraqi Security Service in the very early 1990s. Did it come as something of a shock to you that you found so much of your thesis being drawn upon in a document which purported to give the current organisational structure of the Iraqi Security Service, even though your own thesis was related to the period ten years previously?
Mr al-Marashi: The ultimate aim of this project, the article that I wrote, was to accompany a thesis dealing with the 1991 Gulf War. Not only that, but I am a historian by training. I use historical methodology. The article I wrote for the MERIA journal was supposed to be a history of Iraq's Intelligence Services. It was supposed to give an overview but basically the bulk of the material came from the 1991 Gulf War. I tried to make it as up to date as possible but not for the purpose of serving as a policy brief for something that would influence the decision to go to war, as this document did. I was quite shocked to see it end up in this dossier. That was not my intent, to have it support such an argument to provide evidence necessary to go to war.
Q666 Sir John Stanley: As has been widely reported, the Government has chosen to make an apology to the heads of the intelligence agencies for producing a document which purported to have some degree of authority from themselves when that was not the case, and has provided an assurance that that will not happen again in the future. Has the Government made any expression of regret or apology to you for the plagiarisation of your thesis?
Mr al-Marashi: I have never been contacted directly, either by phone call nor in writing, since February 2003 up to the present.
Q667 Sir John Stanley: Do you think you might be owed an apology?
Mr al-Marashi: I think the least they could do is owe me an apology.
Q668 Chairman: Can we now apologise for them?
Mr al-Marashi: The time is quite past but I would have to say that the biggest fear I had out of this whole story breaking out was that I am an Iraqi myself and when I wrote this article I did not think it would get much of a circulation, maybe 5,000 people at the most, people in the Middle East academic community. What the events have done to me around February and March was that basically they connected me to the British case for going to war and, having relatives in Iraq with my last name connected to me in the UK would have been disastrous for them. I have already lost two relatives to the Saddam regime. Any connection now between me and the UK Government and the case for going to war would have had a disastrous effect on my family back home. That was my biggest regret out of this entire affair. Given the personal stress I have gone through, I think the least they could have done was offer me an apology.
Q669 Sir John Stanley: Were there any reprisals made against any of the members of your family in the period between the publication of the "dodgy dossier" and the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime?
Mr al-Marashi: I have not been able to establish contact with my family. I cannot say 100 per cent. In fact, I was intending to go back to find out the fate of my family, but I cannot say I am 100 per cent sure if there were reprisals. Given the fact that my family was politically suspect in the past, it is likely that they could have been suspect or there could have been reprisals. There is always that possibility.
Q670 Sir John Stanley: When you say you sadly have lost two members of your family to the Saddam Hussein regime, are you saying to this Committee that they were imprisoned or are you saying they were murdered by the Saddam Hussein regime?
Mr al-Marashi: They were taken after the 1991 revolt in the south of Iraq. We found out about their fate through an Amnesty International report. They had disappeared and it was only after an Amnesty International report was released that we saw their pictures and the report that we knew that they were imprisoned and their fate is unknown, so that is all I can say, that their fate is unknown.
Q671 Sir John Stanley: Again, just for the record, because various suggestions have been made that there were those in the business who were seeking to plant information in the British Government's way and indeed in other Governments' way that might have been helpful to make the case for war against Iraq, can the Committee assume that you were a wholly unwitting and unwilling participant in this particular publicity exercise by the British Government?
Mr al-Marashi: Yes, you can assume I was completely unaware of the events and that I was never contacted by any government body.
Q672 Chairman: But you have actually worked for the US State Department?
Mr al-Marashi: I worked as an intern in 1996.
Q673 Chairman: And you have also worked at Monterey which is very closely linked to the intelligence community in the US.
Mr al-Marashi: No. The Monterey Institute is adamant in using only open source material. They keep distance from any intelligence agencies but the whole foundation of this organisation was to provide information to inform the public debate by using open source material. They strictly keep away from any kind of formal allegiances to any intelligence organisations and they do not use any intelligence information in any of the literature that the centre produces.
Q674 Chairman: You are a historian by training?
Mr al-Marashi: Yes.
Q675 Chairman: But did the article - correct me if I am wrong on this - appear in 2002?
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q676 Chairman: Was that broadly correct in terms of the structure of the intelligence community in Iraq at the point of publication?
Mr al-Marashi: It was as accurate as I could possibly make it as of September 2002 using open source materials.
Q677 Chairman: So it was updated beyond 1991 to 2002?
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Mr Pope: I must say the details of this as it unfolds become more and more extraordinary. We have been told that the four junior officials in Number 10 were responsible for downloading this off the internet and then copying and pasting it. You said at the beginning that if you had tapped into a search engine yours was the top piece of research that came up, so they did not even look very far. It must have been a busy day in the office and they just took the first one.
Mr Illsley: We are not casting any aspersions on the quality of your work.
Q678 Mr Pope: No. It is just the detail that I was taken with. How did you find out that this had happened to your work and how did you feel when you discovered it?
Mr al-Marashi: I found out through an e-mail by Glen Ragwala from Cambridge. He asked me if I had collaborated with this dossier. I said I was not even aware of this dossier. In fact, he was the one who sent me the text of the dossier I have here, so it was not until he had sent it that I was made aware of this document. I was made aware of the similarities. I did not take any action beyond that. I just compared the documents, knew there was a plagiarism, but I just left it at that. Given the fact that I had relatives back in Iraq I do not want to bring attention to this. The story developed a life of its own in the UK and so by Thursday, I believe it was February 7, I saw the story break on the internet and then it took off from there.
Q679 Mr Pope: Your work was altered as well. It was not just that they downloaded it; they used it without your permission, they did not attribute it to you. All these things are bad enough, goodness knows, but they also altered some aspects of it, did they not?
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q680 Mr Pope: Do you know whether those alterations were accurate or not?
Mr al-Marashi: I will show you, if I look at the key wording. No; the alterations were not accurate and those alterations changed the meaning of the intent of my piece. The key sentence in the section where we are talking about the Iraqi Intelligence Services - and when I say "we", that is --- they took the information on the Iraqi Intelligence Services from my article and included it in the dossier. Key wording such as -----
Q681 Chairman: Do you have a page number?
Mr al-Marashi: My text is not numbered.
Q682 Sir John Stanley: Starting at page 8?
Mr al-Marashi: It says, "The Directorate of General Intelligence" and then there are these bullet points, "Its internal activities include ... Its external activities include ..."
Q683 Sir John Stanley: Yes.
Mr al-Marashi: Again, from the first bullet from "Its internal activities include ...", "spying" - I used the term "monitoring". I guess there is a thin line between those two words but I tried to use more neutral language. The key modification made was in the second section, "Its external activities include ..." - "supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes", where I believe I used, "aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes". There is a big difference between "opposition groups" and "terrorist organisations". I was always one to believe that the link between Iraqi intelligence and terrorist organisations may have been quite active in the past but links between Iraq's security apparatus and terrorist organisations - there has not been evidence that there has been strong co-operation in the last decade, nor has there been strong evidence of Iraqi co-operation with al-Qaeda. By changing it to this word you are kind of distorting the intent, that is, "supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes" makes one infer that they could be supporting, let us say, groups like al-Qaeda. That is one key example of modifying the text. There are other examples where they not only plagiarised but they put it in the wrong place. If you look at the section "Military Security Service", -----
Q684 Chairman: The page number?
Mr al-Marashi: It is towards the end. My draft is not numbered.
Q685 Chairman: Page 14, I am told.
Mr al-Marashi: Where it says, "Military Security Service", this section is wrong. The Military Security Service described here is actually the Iraqi General Security Service, so not only did they plagiarise large chunks of this but also the content of the report is wrong, at least in this section. They got this section completely inaccurate.
Q686 Chairman: It is actually incompetent. The other one was a distortion. This is just an incompetent transference.
Mr al-Marashi: Yes.
Q687 Mr Pope: Just to recap, they pinched your work off the internet, they took it without asking you, they used it without your permission and they altered some sections of it to change the emphasis and in other areas they incompetently got it completely wrong.
Mr al-Marashi: Yes.
Q688 Chairman: Is that a fair summary?
Mr al-Marashi: That is fair.
Mr Pope: I must say, I do think that maybe one of the recommendations we will make at the end of all this is that you get that apology.
Q689 Mr Illsley: Just to clarify the timescale of this, you did bring it up to date from 1991 to the present time, so it is a historical overview basically?
Mr al-Marashi: Basically, yes. The emergence of the Iraqi security apparatus from the creation of the Iraqi state in the 1920s to the present.
Q690 Mr Illsley: And you had no contact at all with anybody from the British Government?
Mr al-Marashi: No.
Q691 Mr Illsley: Are you considering making a complaint or raising the issue or in your present circumstances with regard to your family are you just wanting the matter to go away?
Mr al-Marashi: It really depends on my trip to Iraq and finding out if my family did suffer any reprisals.
Q692 Mr Illsley: Are you likely to be in any danger when you return to Iraq?
Mr al-Marashi: To be honest, not now with the regime pretty much eliminated. I would not say I would be in danger by going back, but I have to admit that, even though I was in California during the time when this story broke, even my own personal security I did feel was at risk. During the years of the Iran/Iraq War and the 1991 Gulf War Iraqi intelligence had contacted my family on numerous occasions asking for our family to provide contributions to the war effort. Basically, they were conducting illegal activities, raising funds, so we knew that the Iraq Intelligence Services knew of our family and their location and our address in California at the time of the Iran/Iraq War, if not the 1991 Gulf War. The fact that they had our address on file and that my name had come up in the press again, even my own family in California feared for our personal safety. That was when the Iraq security apparatus was intact. Given that it has been for the most part dismantled I feel a bit more secure.
Q693 Mr Illsley: So not only was this an exercise in incompetence; it was so reckless as to have put lives in danger?
Mr al-Marashi: I would say that is fair to say.
Q694 Mr Maples: I just want to come back to the alterations. Dr Ragwala has been in touch with us, as you know, in a note, and he mentions another one too, which was where you had said in your report "monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq" and in the British dossier that became "spying on foreign embassies in Iraq". Is that a third example?
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q695 Mr Maples: The main one that you mentioned, where the British Government says "supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes", and your original, I believe, was "aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes" - those strike me as two very fundamentally different things. Maybe the Iraq Government was doing that as well, but what you were saying was that it was aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes?
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q696 Mr Maples: Nowhere in your document did you suggest that the Iraqi Government was helping terrorists, or did you?
Mr al-Marashi: No, because I could not really find open source evidence to provide that information. For example, the Iraqi Government was helping a rival wing of the Ba'ath Party in Syria. That rival wing of the Ba'ath Party in Syria is not a terrorist organisation; it is an opposition group to the regime of Hafez al-Assad, so by that definition the Iraqi intelligence was aiding an opposition group in a hostile regime. That was the intent I had. Any links between terrorist organisations - I just could not find evidence to include them in this article and for that reason I refrained from stating it like that.
Q697 Mr Maples: That is not just altering the sense of what you said. It is saying something completely different.
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q698 Mr Maples: Which, of course, suited the British Government's case extremely well, to try and paint Iraq as even worse than it really was.
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q699 Mr Maples: You have obviously studied in the course of what you are doing a lot of government documents; you have worked inside the State Department; you have worked in a very respected think-tank; you are doing a DPhil at Oxford, presumably in some aspect of international relations, and you must see a lot of government papers. Have you ever seen anything like what we have come to affectionately know as the "dodgy dossier" before?
Mr al-Marashi: No, I cannot say that in my past history of working with government organisations, think-tanks, etc, I have seen something so hastily put together that was not checked for even grammatical mistakes, never mind factual mistakes. This kind of document is unprecedented in my experience.
Q700 Mr Maples: When this was presented in the introduction it says, "This reports draw on a number of sources, including intelligence material". I do not actually have the quote with me, but when the Prime Minister introduced the document in Parliament he actually said something slightly stronger than that, but again, what we were led to believe was that this was based on intelligence material. Having read it, how much of it do you think is based on your article and there were two other articles, were there not, a Mr Boyne and a -----
Mr al-Marashi: Ken Gause, that is correct.
Q701 Mr Maples: Among the three of you how much of this document do the three of you account for?
Mr al-Marashi: I highlighted the similarities between my article and this dossier here. I found 19 paragraphs that were taken directly from my article. A section such as the Presidential Secretariat here was taken directly from Ken Gause's article, virtually unchanged. If I could estimate I would say that 90 per cent of this intelligence dossier was taken from the three articles, by myself published in MERIA and the two articles in Jane's Intelligence Review, virtually unchanged.
Q702 Mr Maples: We have been told by the British Foreign Secretary that no minister saw this document before it was published. We do not know whether that includes the Prime Minister or not, though he is a minister, but does that surprise you, that no minister would see a document like this before it was published?
Mr al-Marashi: It would surprise me because I think a minister would have the experience to see some kind of inconsistency in the document or something a bit suspicious about it, so it does surprise me that a document that was eventually handed over to US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, that he would present to the UN --- you would think that at least one minister would have seen this document.
Q703 Mr Olner: You are an expert on Iraq and perhaps, if anything, what you ought to be really annoyed about is that it has suddenly been christened the "dodgy dossier" because it could well be that your document was very accurate and was a very good document and that is why it was used. On the broader aspects of Iraq, do you have any opinions at all on the quality of the intelligence of the US and British intelligence agencies on Iraq?
Mr al-Marashi: The quality, no, because I have never had access to British or US intelligence on Iraq.
Q704 Mr Olner: So you have got no views at all on that?
Mr al-Marashi: No. All my research is done through open source materials. The advantage I had was that I had these captured Iraqi intelligence documents to examine but those are also open to the public domain, so I cannot really assess or evaluate US or British intelligence on Iraq for that matter.
Q705 Mr Olner: How do you think the US gathers its intelligence on Iraq?
Mr al-Marashi: Probably through a variety of sources, where there are signal intercepts. The reason I could say that signal intercepts were used for gathering intelligence is that, looking at the Iraqi intelligence documents, I know they were constantly aware of the Americans' eavesdropping equipment, so they were quite aware, the Iraqi side, that the US had the capability of eavesdropping on their communications, as well as informers, people within the Iraqi Government, as well as probably from the Iraqi opposition groups, based on those three sources, as far as I know.
Q706 Mr Olner: Was there any linkage at any time between UNMOVIC and intelligence-gathering and what-have-you?
Mr al-Marashi: Between UNMOVIC and intelligence gathering? I am not in a position to say.
Q707 Mr Olner: There is no way you can speculate on it?
Mr al-Marashi: It is highly doubtful that UNMOVIC had any connections with intelligence as far as I know, given the past repercussions of the alleged US connection between the intelligence community and UNSCOM in the past. Given the fact that that had such repercussions, I would be sceptical at least that the were collaborating, that is, US intelligence and UNMOVIC, this time around, as far as I know.
Q708 Mr Pope: As an American of Iraqi origin, do you think, leaving aside the dossier that included your work, that the British and American Governments made a convincing case for the war?
Mr al-Marashi: I think the emphasis was in the wrong place. I think without a doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein should have been removed, if not eliminated, in 1991. My regret was this over-emphasis on trying to implicate the Iraqi Government with the stocking of a weapons of mass destruction arsenal that could threaten the security of Europe, for example, as was argued in the September 2002 document. It was exaggerated and the repercussions of that in my opinion are that now US and UK forces are in Iraq, they are scouring for any traces of weapons of mass destruction when in my opinion they should be scouring Iraq for any evidence of mass graves. I think the emphasis is in the wrong place. The UK and the US are trying to find any members of the former Ba'ath regime and make deals with them if they can provide weapons of mass destruction when in fact many of them were criminals linked to the emergence of these mass graves, that they led to brutal human rights conditions in my native country. I think this whole emphasis, sowing this war as a war against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, was a bit misleading, and the fact that we have, I think, now forgotten the brutal nature of this regime and the fact that the mass graves that are showing up are not getting as much attention or are not causing outrage are because in this sense 10 Downing Street has pretty much put itself in the corner by arguing the case for war solely on the basis of weapons of mass destruction.
Q709 Mr Pope: Which, of course, is one of the differences between the US Government's position and the British Government's. We almost entirely based our case on WMD. One of the aims of the Americans and the British forces occupying Iraq at the moment is to de-Ba'athify the party. One of the things that we all noticed about Iraq was how the Ba'ath Party had seemingly infiltrated almost every aspect of Iraqi life. It was all-pervasive.
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct.
Q710 Mr Pope: Is that a realistic goal? I think we would all think it is a sensible thing to want to do but how realistic is it?
Mr al-Marashi: It is extremely realistic. The Ba'ath was prevalent in all areas of society. In fact, there is an Arabic word for the Ba'thification of society, ta'Ba'ath(?). It is a process of infiltrating the Ba'ath into political parties, any kind of formal political organisation, any kind of educational organisation, any kind of sports organisation. It was standard government policy. They had a specific word for it. The process of extricating the Ba'ath from Iraqi society is going to be quite a difficult one and the problem is that any kind of professional in Iraq, whether he was a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, had to be affiliated to the Ba'ath Party; if not a member, a sympathiser. There are different ranks. You can be a member or a sympathiser to get ahead in Iraqi society. It was all-prevalent and infiltrated every layer of society in Iraq.
Mr Pope: That is very helpful. Thank you.
Q711 Andrew Mackinlay: I had two or three questions here which you have largely covered, but one thing which does occur to me is this. You are not suggesting that he did not have weapons of mass destruction; you just think there was over-emphasis to some extent probably in terms of volume? Why do you think Saddam did not give unimpeded access, because his regime might have survived, it might have been sufficient, certainly here in the United Kingdom and perhaps even in the United States administration, to at least spin it out longer? Why did he not concede more towards the end? It has always struck me as very strange.
Mr al-Marashi: In my opinion Saddam perhaps did not believe this, that they could have found evidence of him maintaining some kind of infrastructure for reconstituting his weapons of mass destruction in the future, what they call a breakout capability. The fact that perhaps UNMOVIC might have been coming close to finding out at least the infrastructure, that is our evidence, with the state of the paper evidence, or scientists, for that matter, who could have provided the key to uncovering these weapons of mass destruction, Saddam could have realised this and tried to prevent this. The fact of the matter though is that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had never been used outside of Iraqi borders. There may have been a few cases of these weapons of mass destruction reaching outside Iraq's borders, but for the most part Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a threat to Iraq's people. They were a threat to the Kurds, they were a threat to the Shi'a of Iraq, they were used against the Iranians once they crossed over their border. Definitely Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which were a threat to the Iraqi people and to the region. Whether they were a threat to the security of Europe or to the world is another issue. In my opinion I still do not think that Saddam fully 100 per cent disarmed, given the billions of dollars that he invested in this programme. My opinion was that he destroyed his arsenal, destroyed any concrete evidence that he had the actual physical weapons, but there were clues that he was pursuing these weapons after the 1991 resolutions. Just in the last couple of years there was the case of an Indian company called NEC providing chemical precursors to Iraq. This was within the last year, so he had the substances. He was in pursuit of the substances. There was the discovery by UNMOVIC of 12 artillery shells that could deliver chemical weapons. They did not have the actual warheads filled but the fact of the matter is that they could have delivered the weapons if Saddam decided to do so. As well as keeping the necessary scientists, he had the manpower - or I should say the womanpower; most of Iraq's biological and chemical weapons experts were women - and there were clues that he was keeping at least some kind of residual chemical weapons capability or biological weapons capability. The key is, was it a threat as, let us say, the September 2002 dossier tried to depict? I would say no. I would say it was an exaggeration.
Q712 Mr Illsley: As far as you are aware, you were not known to British intelligence at all, were you?
Mr al-Marashi: As far as I was aware, no.
Q713 Mr Illsley: So your piece could not have been sought out by these people directly? They would not have known to go to your document?
Mr al-Marashi: No.
Q714 Mr Illsley: And yours was the first document listed on that particular site? If I went to the internet now your document would still be listed as the first one?
Mr al-Marashi: Yes.
Q715 Mr Illsley: Alongside how many other similar documents on a trawl of the internet?
Mr al-Marashi: How many similar documents to this? Having scanned the literature on Iraq's intelligence agencies exhaustively, if there is anything on Iraq's intelligence agencies that is in print I would know about it. I would say three documents in total deal with this breakdown of the structure of Iraq's security apparatus. There are three documents out there - Sean Boyne's, which is a two-piece article produced in Jane's Intelligence Review, Ken Gause's and my article. I would say that three articles in the press, and they are widely available, are devoted to Iraq's intelligence services.
Q716 Mr Olner: In answer to Mr Mackinlay, when we were talking about weapons of mass destruction, you did say that you felt that Saddam and his regime were still manufacturing or had still got stockpiled small amounts perhaps. Is not one threat the fact that yes, he has got them, even if he only has a small amount, and another of the threats was that he would willingly give them to terrorist organisations to use against the West or whatever?
Mr al-Marashi: No, I do not think that is a valid argument. Saddam would not even give them to his own military, never mind to a terrorist organisation. The control of these weapons were only trusted to the Special Security Organisation, which is not even a military unit; it is a political security intelligence organisation. It was only this organisation that could have deployed chemical weapons. The regular military could not, or did not have the authority to, deploy them. The command and control of these weapons was very tightly controlled. Based on his past precedent of using these weapons, I highly doubt that he would have given these weapons to an agency that he would have no control over. If he did not even trust his own military it is highly doubtful that he would give it to an organisation where he would have no control over it and that he would suffer the repercussions if the link was found. The argument that Iraq would have given these munitions to terrorist organisations I think is very hard to prove.
Q717 Mr Olner: Given your greater knowledge than ours on the Iraqi regime, and what you have just described about this dictator megalomania and what-have-you, do the Iraqi people now believe that he has gone and gone for good?
Mr al-Marashi: No. I could say as a fact that the Iraqi people still will not fully believe that he has disappeared unless they see his body. He had an all-pervasive presence in Iraq but he would rarely make a public appearance. He would rarely appear in public. What has changed? They still have not found any conclusive proof that he is dead, so the Iraqi people are still convinced that nothing has changed since this war began.
Q718 Sir John Stanley: Apart from very visible things like missiles, most of the case for suggesting that Saddam Hussein had a major WMD programme rests on the figures reported to UNSCOM in terms of the unaccounted-for stocks of chemical precursors and so on. Do you have any reason to doubt those figures, which are the base line figures, the 1998 figures, or do you think they were hugely exaggerated? If you work from the basis that those UNSCOM figures, going back to the regime's declarations, were basically correct, do you believe there was a massive destruction programme? That in itself is quite reasonably detectable in some cases, certainly where CW is concerned, or do you think that there has been some incredibly successful, massive, hiding away operation? How do you account for the disparity between the scale of the programme in these unaccounted-for figures and here we are at the end of the war, access to all the scientists, etc, and we have come up with pretty well zilch?
Mr al-Marashi: It could be a combination of both, that a good part of the actual programme, stockpiles and so forth, could have been destroyed. Large scale destruction can be detected but basically not everything can be detected. Not all destruction can be detected. Concealing these weapons was something that the Saddam regime was very good at. They had 12 years of practice at doing so. They used any kind of facility in Iraq to conceal these weapons, any kind of civilian facility, the place that an inspector would be least likely to look a weapon could be hidden or any kind of precursor or necessary infrastructure or necessary machinery could be hidden in, let us say, a civilian facility. He had done that in the past. It could be a combination of destroying a good part of the arsenal or material and hiding the rest, but the fact of the matter is that he could have used any facility anywhere within the boundaries of Iraq to hide these weapons.
Q719 Sir John Stanley: But if you take the UNSCOM figures as broadly correct, if you take the assumption, which seems to be a reasonable one, that Saddam Hussein was not conspicuous about voluntarily going around destroying weapons of mass destruction, if he had a big destruction programme, surely he would have produced evidence of that when asked for when the pressure really came on and he was facing an invasion? What you are saying points to a very successful large scale concealment programme which sooner or later ought to be uncovered.
Mr al-Marashi: That is correct. There is a formal technical term for this process. It is called the concealment apparatus. It was believed that the head of the Presidential Secretariat of Saddam Hussein, the person who was just captured yesterday, was in charge of that. I really wait to see in the next week or so what kind of information he will provide but literally for the first time since this war began the US forces have captured somebody who could really provide evidence on whether or not these weapons were actually hidden and to what extent. Whether he is going to be induced to co-operate and so on remains to be seen but, as I say, since this war began the first person who has been captured who has had a hand in concealing these weapons is in US custody and the evidence he provides will be the final key to providing evidence to the extent of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programme.
Q720 Chairman: On that concealment apparatus, I have heard, for example, that there are several hundred miles of underground tunnels, that there are possibly tunnels under lakes and so on, that Iraq has had 12 years of practice in concealment with a number of experts from outside, including Serbian experts. Can you tell us a little more about that process of concealment?
Mr al-Marashi: It is not only underground tunnels but there were bunkers that Serbian --- this was during the time of the former Yugoslavia that provided aid on these kinds of underground facilities, so there is a vast infrastructure of underground facilities in Iraq, and it has not, as far as I know, been publicly released how much of that underground structure has been uncovered or inspected. Those would be very likely places where such weapons could be hidden.
Q721 Chairman: Finally, I would like to build on a question which Sir John asked. You have researched extensively in the captured archives. Is it fair to say that the Iraqi regime was extremely meticulous in its bookkeeping?
Mr al-Marashi: Any incident, no matter how minuscule, was recorded in the Iraqi intelligence files. I will just give you an example. A soldier deserted to Saudi Arabia. They even knew he had six bullets in the cartridge of his Kalashnikov rifle. This is how minutely Iraqi intelligence kept track of matters. If they could keep track of how many bullets are in a Kalashnikov rifle it is most likely that key documentation or evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme or any other kind of programme or human rights abuses were documented in Iraq. It was a bureaucracy that kept a record of almost anything that was of any significance or insignificance in Iraq.
Q722 Chairman: So in the light of that characteristic how can you help the Committee in this way? Here we have in November of last year a unanimous Security Council Resolution 1441. We have the forces of the coalition beginning to build up at his frontiers. There was a final opportunity if he did not co-operate. If he had destroyed those weapons it would surely have been easy to produce those meticulously produced records, surely easy to produce the scientists who did it. What conclusion do you draw from that?
Mr al-Marashi: In fact, they would produce documents but then, again, the time it takes to link the paperwork to the actual destruction process, there was the key problem. They could produce any kind of documents necessary but how do you prove it?
Q723 Chairman: But these are documents to show, if it be the case, that he had destroyed all his weapons. If he had done so, surely those documents could have been produced to say, "Look: I am clean".
Mr al-Marashi: They could have been produced.
Q724 Chairman: So why were they not if he had in fact destroyed them?
Mr al-Marashi: The whole 12,000-page document that he handed over to the UN was this kind of effort, to provide the documentation that he had destroyed them.
Q725 Chairman: Yes, but by general consent the documents which were produced on December 8 were wholly irrelevant in terms of the fact that they were old documents, there was nothing that could show the process -----
Mr al-Marashi: But it shows the point that he did try to produce paperwork to prove that he was complying. The fact was that it was not believed. He could have produced documents that would have provided evidence to say, "Look: I have destroyed this much amount of anthrax", but then the inspectors would have gone and would have had to take that paper and see the physical evidence of that destruction, so if he was faking this kind of evidence it would eventually have been uncovered.
Q726 Chairman: Can you give any plausible explanation as to why, if he had destroyed those weapons, at a point when he had the international community united, when he had the coalition forces building up, he did not produce the proof?
Mr al-Marashi: To understand why he did not do that? No.
Q727 Chairman: Before thanking you, could I also say a big thank-you for making such strenuous efforts to come to the Committee, as I understand you were a victim of the rail system and you did take a taxi, I think, for a large part of the journey.
Mr al-Marashi: Yes, that is correct.
Q728 Chairman: Thank you for that and thank you for your helpful evidence.
Mr al-Marashi: My pleasure.
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