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Weapons claims fitted US plans, says Wilkie

by Peter Fray, Herald Correspondent in London Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 8:16 AM

Andrew Wilkie, formerly with the Office of National Assessment, also accused John Howard of repeating false claims about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger so that he could be a player on the world stage. Mr Wilkie said both governments had ignored warnings from their own intelligence agencies that the US was intent on deposing Saddam Hussein for "strategic and domestic reasons".

Weapons claims fitted US plans, says Wilkie

By Peter Fray, Herald Correspondent in London

June 20 2003

The Australian and British governments grossly exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction to stay in step with the United States' plan to invade Iraq, a former senior Australian defence analyst has told a British parliamentary inquiry.

Andrew Wilkie, formerly with the Office of National Assessment, also accused John Howard of repeating false claims about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger so that he could be a player on the world stage.

Mr Wilkie said both governments had ignored warnings from their own intelligence agencies that the US was intent on deposing Saddam Hussein for "strategic and domestic reasons".

Deliberately distorted and doctored evidence about Iraq's weapons program had backed up a series of "ridiculous", "preposterous" and "fundamentally flawed" claims before the war.

"The British and Australian governments were deliberately intent on using WMD to exaggerate the Iraq threat so as to stay in step with the US . . .

"It was a rare opportunity for the Australian Prime Minister to be a player given the involvement of Australian agencies in this matter."

Mr Wilkie was invited to give evidence to the foreign affairs select committee - one of two British parliamentary inquiries examining the Blair Government's justification for war.

He said the heavily qualified language from intelligence agencies about the reliability of information from Iraqi dissidents was ignored.

"The apparent direct political interference with intelligence agencies in the United States and the more subtle political pressure applied in London and Canberra, meant that the rules were different with Iraq," he said.

"Intelligence that once would have been discarded was now useable, with qualification. The problem was that the juicy bits of intelligence most in accord with governments' position were being latched on to and the qualifications were being dropped."

He told the Herald outside the hearing that US interests in Iraq included gaining access to Iraq's oil reserves and trying to restart the Middle East peace process.

Mr Wilkie, an analyst who had worked on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, resigned on March 11 in protest against the Government's war stance.

While he did not deny Saddam had a weapons program or was a "horrid" ruler, it was obvious several claims made by the Australian, British and US governments were exaggerated and in some cases "simply wrong".

These included the "ridiculous" suggestion in the Blair Government's first dossier released last September that Saddam had extensive stockpiles from the 1980s and 1990s of unaccounted-for chemical or biological weapons - including 360 tonnes of bulk chemical agent and 3000 tonnes of precursor chemicals.

He said it was impossible to make such claims when not even the Iraqis themselves knew how much had ever been produced, how much had been used against Iran in the 1980s or how much had been destroyed outside the UN's gaze in the 1990s.

"Most chemical and biological agents soon break down unless produced to a very high level of purity and then effectively stabilised," he said.

Claims about Iraq's weapons build-up between 1998 and 2002, when UN weapons inspectors were absent, were also "unconvincing" as Iraq had neither the technical nor practical abilities to rebuild its program so quickly.

"For the Iraqis to have rebuilt their WMD program since 1998, virtually from scratch, would have been an enormous undertaking."

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 17 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
This just in. This Justin Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 8:19 AM
KOBE KOBE SBM Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 10:57 AM
Pax Americana daniel Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 2:33 PM
daniel daveman Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 4:36 PM
Daveman daniel Sunday, Jun. 22, 2003 at 4:43 PM
That's easy daveman Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:16 AM
then fuck off daveman then fuck off daveman Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:33 AM
daveman is an active duty "traitor" Eric Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:39 AM
excuse for what chump? Lefty Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:45 AM
Yes. It's my job. Eric Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:47 AM
I'm a disinformation agent and a propagandist for the Government. Lefty Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:52 AM
Which gov't would that be, lefty? Eric Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 7:55 AM
Eric KOBE SBM Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 9:17 AM
Hey Eric, dont you just love these one liners? KOBE SBM Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2003 at 3:59 PM
KOBE SBM Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 4:53 AM
^ Eric Thursday, Jun. 26, 2003 at 5:55 AM
^ Eric Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 2:35 AM

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