Monday, 2 May 2011

The Death of David Kelly - The "intelligence" that went into the September 2002 dossier

The purpose of this post is to flag up some sources of information about the "intelligence" (such an inappropriate word in the context) that went into the September 2002 Government dossier on so-called weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

This letter of 17th September 2002, Comments on draft dossier, contains concerns of what seems to be a member of the Defence Intelligence Staff about the September dossier. These concerns cannot come from Dr. Brian Jones since, according to his oral testimony, he only returned from leave on 18th September 2002.

The following document, Note on Iraq dossier 20/09/02, from 20th September 2002 summarises some concerns of Dr. Brian Jones regarding the September dossier.

A document from 17th July 2003 (the day David Kelly died!), Note of concerns expressed by DIS Staff 17/07/03, summarises concerns regarding the September dossier from Defence Intelligence Staff.

The preceding document is part of a briefing note for the Secretary of State for Defence, Note Martin Howard/PS Secretary of State 18/07/03, in preparation for appearing before the Intelligence and Secuirty Committee.

The suggested line about the dissent in DIS to be taken by the Secretary of State is here: "Speaking note" of Dissent in DIS to Iraq WMD Dossier.

The need for such briefing arose from an anonymised letter (from Dr. Brian Jones), Letter to Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence 08/07/03, sent to the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence on 8th July 2003.

There may be other documents on the Hutton Inquiry web site yet to be identified. The innocuous sounding titles of some of the preceding documents does not reflect their potential importance in understanding the sequence of events.

In addition, there are some potentially interesting documents on the Iraq Inquiry (Chilcot) web site on the Private Evidence page.

Specifically of interest in attempting to understand the processing of intelligence (sic) are four lengthy, heavily redacted documents containing oral testimony to the Iraq Inquiry from Sir Richard Dearlove (head of MI6 in September 2002) and from an unnamed MI6 officer designated as "SIS4".

I hope to update my understanding of the topic once I have had more opportunity to consider these documents.


  1. The Government tried to distance itself from Brian Jones' description of himself at FSB/6.

    "Paragraph 39 [BBC Submission]- this states that Dr Jones self description as the most
    senior and experienced intelligence officer has not been challenged This isn't
    correct, please see paragraph 40 of the Government's submission explaining
    that Dr Jones and his team were technical experts, not privy to all of the
    intelligence and not the branch responsible for making an evaluation on the
    significance of the 45 minute point."

    Obviously a touchy area.

  2. Felix,

    Very much a touchy area for the then Government.

    And, I suggest, it is still a very touchy area.

    Let me explain.

    The Government is acknowledging that the intelligence behind the 45 minute claim was withheld from the technical experts in Brian Jones' section in the Defence Intelligence Staff.

    If there are no technical issues applicable to the 45 minute claim that may be defensible.

    However, if there are technical issues which apply, or potentially apply, to the assessment of the credibility of the 45 minute claim then the Government are, I suggest, in deep doo-doo.

    But, so it seems to me, there are potentially applicable technical issues.

    At the FAC on 15th July 2003 David Kelly states this in answer to a question, "We are talking in terms of Iraq, in terms of what we knew ten years ago, a country which filled its weapons to use them, it did not maintain a stockpile of filled weapons, with the exception of mustard gas.".

    See Question 138 here: Transcript of evidence taken on 15/07/03.

    So, for at least some weapons, there is good historical evidence to believe that for a 45 minute claim to be other than fluff, it is necessary to know if the weapons can be filled etc in the 45 minutes before deployment!

    In that setting the withholding of the 45 minute claim is, in my view, indefensible.

  3. Another part of David Kelly's answer to Question 138 is worth quoting:

    "It is actually quite a long and convoluted process to go from having bulk agent and munitions to actually getting them to the bunker for storage and then issue them and subsequently deploy them.".

    To paraphrase - deployment in 45 minutes is utter fantasy!

  4. Jones' statement to the Iraq Inquiry,2009 includes the line:

    "At that time,[19 September 2003] or shortly afterwards I believe David Kelly would have been aware of most, if not all of them.[Jones' concerns about the Dossier]"

  5. Brian Jones interiew with Paul Waugh, Independent 10 Feb 2004
    'Nevertheless, he was upset when loyalist Labour MPs appeared determined to belittle his evidence by claiming that he was some kind of pedant, a mere "technical" type. Eric
    Joyce, the MP for Falkirk West, appeared on Newsnight to say just that. Dr Jones said:
    "You get angry. My wife would have throttled him."'

    (Covering article here regarding the 45 minute claim)

    However Joyce just seems to be parrotting the Treasury Solicitor's line, outlined in para 40 at FSB/2:
    Dr Jones himself accepted in his evidence that his expertise did not lie in the assessment of the reliability of intelligence, and that in such matters he would rely upon guidance from the SIS. His section within the DIS was not even the lead section appropriate for evaluating the 45 minute point, which was primarily a matter for the directorate which advised on doctrine, deployabillty, command and control and types of firing mechanisms used by Iraq.

  6. Felix,

    David Kelly commented on parts of the "intelligence" in the draft dossier around 9th September 2002 specifically mentioning that there was lots of "spin" present in it.

    See page 110 of the evidence on the afternoon of Monday 11th August 2003.