Intelligence Failure as a Mutually Reinforcing Politico-Intelligence Dynamic: The Chilcot Report and the Nature of the Iraq WMD Intelligence Failure

2018-04-10T12:29:56Z (GMT) by Mark Phythian
By the time the Chilcot Report was published in July 2016, inquiries of one sort or another focusing on Iraq had been a semi-permanent feature of British politics for a quarter of a century. These stretched back to the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War and the House of Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee’s investigation of Britain’s role in producing a ‘supergun’ for Saddam Hussein’s regime, and included Sir Richard Scott’s 1992–96 investigation into the export of defence and dual-use goods to Iraq.1 The question of intelligence failure in relation to the 2003 invasion of Iraq had itself been either the context for or subject of four previous inquiries by the time the Chilcot inquiry was established. The Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) quickly published a report into The Decision to Go to War in Iraq in July 2003,2 but without access to intelligence assessments. The parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) produced its report on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction Intelligence and Assessments in September 2003.3 This was followed by the report of a judicial inquiry conducted by a former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Lord Hutton, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, a Ministry of Defence biological weapons expert who committed suicide after giving evidence to the FAC inquiry.4 After this report in January 2004, the Blair Government felt obliged to concede a further inquiry into the WMD question, to be conducted by a team of privy counsellors led by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler and including former Northern Ireland Permanent Secretary Sir John Chilcot among its members.

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