On September 24, 2002, The British Government released a 'dossier of evidence' on the military capabilities of Iraq. Entitled Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction - The Assessment of the British Government, it became publicly available (as a 55 page PDF document) at 08:00 BST. Parliament was recalled for an emergency session to discuss the issues raised at 11:30 BST on the same day.

Many people will see this publication as a PR exercise which makes the public feel that they have seen some facts written down and distributed to the people. It does serve to digest the background of the problem, although its use beyond preparing the public for war seems unclear.


The report contains an introduction from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
It is unprecedented for the Government to publish this kind of document. But in light of the debate about Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), I wanted to share with the British public the reasons why I believe this issue to be a current and serious threat to the UK national interest.
What is obvious is that the document contains little or no new information, and even less that is proven fact. Excusing the lack of hard evidence in the document, Blair says
Gathering intelligence inside Iraq is not easy. Saddam is one of the most secretive and dictatorial regimes in the world. So I believe people will understand why the Agencies cannot be specific about the sources, which have formed the judgements in this document, and why we cannot publish everything we know. We cannot, of course, publish the detailed raw intelligence. I and other Ministers have been briefed in detail on the intelligence and are satisfied as to its authority.
His summary, outlining the next steps as he sees them, reads
The case I make is that the UN resolutions demanding he stops his WMD programme are being flouted; that since the inspectors left four years ago, he has continued with this programme; that the inspectors must be allowed back in to do their job properly; and that if he refuses, or if he makes it impossible for them to do their job, as he has done in the past, the international community will have to act.

I won't post the full thing here (because it's long, it's easy to get elsewhere and it contains images) but, to pique your interest, here are just the table of contents and the executive summary from the document


Executive Summary

  1. Under Saddam Hussein Iraq developed chemical and biological weapons, acquired missiles allowing it to attack neighbouring countries with these weapons and persistently tried to develop a nuclear bomb. Saddam has used chemical weapons, both against Iran and against his own people. Following the Gulf War, Iraq had to admit to all this. And in the ceasefire of 1991 Saddam agreed unconditionally to give up his weapons of mass destruction.

  2. Much information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is already in the public domain from UN reports and from Iraqi defectors. This points clearly to Iraq's continuing possession, after 1991, of chemical and biological agents and weapons produced before the Gulf War. It shows that Iraq has refurbished sites formerly associated with the production of chemical and biological agents. And it indicates that Iraq remains able to manufacture these agents, and to use bombs, shells, artillery rockets and ballistic missiles to deliver them.

  3. An independent and well-researched overview of this public evidence was provided by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) on 9 September. The IISS report also suggested that Iraq could assemble nuclear weapons within months of obtaining fissile material from foreign sources.

  4. As well as the public evidence, however, significant additional information is available to the Government from secret intelligence sources, described in more detail in this paper. This intelligence cannot tell us about everything. However, it provides a fuller picture of Iraqi plans and capabilities. It shows that Saddam Hussein attaches great importance to possessing weapons of mass destruction which he regards as the basis for Iraq's regional power. It shows that he does not regard them only as weapons of last resort. He is ready to use them, including against his own population, and is determined to retain them, in breach of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR).

  5. Intelligence also shows that Iraq is preparing plans to conceal evidence of these weapons, including incriminating documents, from renewed inspections. And it confirms that despite sanctions and the policy of containment, Saddam has continued to make progress with his illicit weapons programmes.

  6. As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has:
    • continued to produce chemical and biological agents;
    • military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them;
    • command and control arrangements in place to use chemical and biological weapons. Authority ultimately resides with Saddam Hussein. (There is intelligence that he may have delegated this authority to his son Qusai);
    • developed mobile laboratories for military use, corroborating earlier reports about the mobile production of biological warfare agents;
    • pursued illegal programmes to procure controlled materials of potential use in the production of chemical and biological weapons programmes;
    • tried covertly to acquire technology and materials which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons;
    • sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it;
    • recalled specialists to work on its nuclear programme;
    • illegally retained up to 20 al-Hussein missiles, with a range of 650km, capable of carrying chemical or biological warheads;
    • started deploying its al-Samoud liquid propellant missile, and has used the absence of weapons inspectors to work on extending its range to at least 200km, which is beyond the limit of 150km imposed by the United Nations;
    • started producing the solid-propellant Ababil-100, and is making efforts to extend its range to at least 200km, which is beyond the limit of 150km imposed by the United Nations;
    • constructed a new engine test stand for the development of missiles capable of reaching the UK Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus and NATO members (Greece and Turkey), as well as all Iraq's Gulf neighbours and Israel;
    • pursued illegal programmes to procure materials for use in its illegal development of long range missiles;
    • learnt lessons from previous UN weapons inspections and has already begun to conceal sensitive equipment and documentation in advance of the return of inspectors.

  7. These judgements reflect the views of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). More details on the judgements and on the development of the JIC's assessments since 1998 are set out in Part 1 of this paper.

  8. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are in breach of international law. Under a series of UN Security Council Resolutions Iraq is obliged to destroy its holdings of these weapons under the supervision of UN inspectors. Part 2 of the paper sets out the key UN Security Council Resolutions. It also summarises the history of the UN inspection regime and Iraq's history of deception, intimidation and concealment in its dealings with the UN inspectors.

  9. But the threat from Iraq does not depend solely on the capabilities we have described. It arises also because of the violent and aggressive nature of Saddam Hussein's regime. His record of internal repression and external aggression gives rise to unique concerns about the threat he poses. The paper briefly outlines in Part 3 Saddam's rise to power, the nature of his regime and his history of regional aggression. Saddam's human rights abuses are also catalogued, including his record of torture, mass arrests and summary executions.

  10. The paper briefly sets out how Iraq is able to finance its weapons programme. Drawing on illicit earnings generated outside UN control, Iraq generated illegal income of some $3 billion in 2001.

The official release URLs from which the document can be obtained are listed at the end of the document as

  • www.pm.gov.uk
  • www.fco.gov.uk
  • www.mod.uk
  • www.official-documents.co.uk
Most of those sites were experiencing severe problems on the morning of the 24th. If you have problems, a mirror of the PDF can be found here:
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/02/uk_dossier_on_iraq/pdf/iraqdossier.pdf

Well thank goodness for that - the dossier of "evidence" is finally released, we can bomb Iraq with a clear conscience. I have changed my opinions completely, fuck the poor people in their tents and mud huts, they're asking for it! Bomb the bastards! Woohoo!

Oh, wait, hang on - damn you, Blair, there's no evidence in there at all, you fool - I was looking forward to illegally starting a war against the wishes of every right-thinking person in the world, and now you've ruined it for me. Let's have a closer look at this dossier of "evidence":

The dossier is based on the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee - lots of text patiently explains how important they are, how long they've been going, and how wise and reputable they are. Blair believes that we'll understand that he can't publish everything, or reveal sources. Yes, fair enough Tone, but what about the evidence? Funny, there doesn't seem to be any. Plenty of "intelligence shows", "intelligence indicates", "almost certainly" - okay, no evidence yet. But lots of statistics about what various chemical weapons can do (mustard gas, that'll fire up the tabloids), five pages of what Iraq used to do (including a lovely picture of some dead children, but no mention of how many children have died thanks to our sanctions), plenty of grainy pictures of "dual purpose" buildings, photos of missiles, and an awful lot of supposition, suggestion, and conjecture. It's 55 pages long, and doesn't even get started properly until page 20 - before that it's blank pages, introductions, summaries, and a history of what Saddam used to do. On page 35 it rehashes a history of the weapons inspections, then on page 46 there's a big history of Iraq under Saddam. And that's it. Pages 20 to 35 are the only meat. 15 pages, 1.5 spacing, with big-ass margins (just to clarify, white space is always a good thing, I'm just pointing out how little actual text there is on the pages). And let's be clear on this point, there is no actual evidence on any of those 15 pages.

If Iraq managed to get hold of some fissile material and various bits and pieces, it could have a nuclear weapon in one or two years. Gasp! So could I! When will they come to get me? Yes, Saddam is a bad, bad man. Yes, he's been trying to get hold of naughty stuff that he's not allowed to have. Yes, he doesn't particularly like us. Yes, he's used chemical weapons on his own people (er, chemical weapons that we sold to him, used on people we completely ignored when Amnesty kept telling us what was going on - until now, when it's convenient to remember). Yes, we should keep an eye on the slippery sod, and keep those weapons inspectors in there. We kinda already knew that though, Tony, you're just collating old news and presenting it as shocking new data. But there is nothing in this dossier of "evidence" that makes me think "ooh, shit, now I see he is a threat to us", no actual proof, even for a second. If Saddam is the problem, and Saddam alone, then prepare a small team to go in quietly and assassinate him, if that's what you really want. Why cluster bomb and dump depleted uranium on the ordinary poor bastards trying desperately to survive? How is that going to stop Saddam? Are dying children easier targets? Is it fun? Do you get some sick, fucking perverted pleasure out of it? If you imagine for one second that doing that will upset Saddam, you're sorely mistaken. You're just clearing up his mess for him.

In a hilarious section, the dossier "proves" that Saddam is lying about a large area he calls "presidential" or "sovereign", and thus excluded from weapons inspections - because it is much bigger than Buckingham Palace! What the fuck? It's a weapons site because it's bigger than where the Queen lives??

There's also a very interesting history of Saddam and Iraq that never once mentions the CIA's involvement in the various upheavals, no mention of the US's involvement in the Iran-Iraq war, or how we used to support the guy. The section on Saddam's persecution of the Kurds fails to mention that we allow Turkey to enter the no-fly zone regularly to take pot shots at them. And the pictures of dead children that Saddam used chemical weapons on seem to be missing the captions explaining that we gave him the fucking stuff in the first place, or that while this all went on he was our best mate, despite the howls of protest from human rights groups for years begging us to stop selling the crazy bastard weapons.

When Blair announced he was releasing this big dossier of "evidence", I thought, perhaps stupidly, that there might be some actual evidence in the dossier. Is that too much to expect? Am I wrong for thinking that? Have I twisted his words? There's no evidence in there, just statements about what "intelligence shows". The phrase "intelligence shows Saddam has weapons" is NOT proof. That's like saying, here is a piece of paper that proves conclusively that Iraq has a big nuclear bomb. You open the piece of paper, and it says "Someone told me that Iraq has a big nuclear bomb." That's not evidence. That's just shit. Sorry Blair, you'll have to do better than that. Perhaps we can have some actual, honest-to-goodness evidence next time, please. If you start a war based on this flimsy piece of conjecture, then you're a lying, murdering, genocidal sack of shit, and will burn in hell for all eternity, along with Bush, Saddam, and the fucking Teletubbies.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King

Update, 15th July 2004

The Butler Report has just come out in the UK, which sternly says that lots of things went wrong, but - hey! - nobody is to blame. So that's all right, then. Apparently the intelligence was bad, the sources were flawed, there was nothing recent to say Saddam was a threat, urgent or otherwise, the 45 minutes claim shouldn't have been in there, and caveats were taken out of the dodgy dossier, but it's nobody's fault, and nobody should get sacked. Again with the whitewash by a Blair-friendly old geezer - so, let me get this straight, the Hutton enquiry finds that the dossier was *not* manipulated by the government at all, was entirely correct, and the government was entirely blameless. Now the Butler report says, ah, well, yes the intelligence was actually shit, and things were removed, taken out of context, and overall were dodgy, but the government is entirely blameless. Blair must think we're all retarded, or ridden with Alzheimers, or something. So when David Kelly said the 45 minutes claim was bullshit, then got bullied into killing himself - does this mean he was telling the truth? Does that mean the BBC was telling the truth, too? That would make Blair and Campbell and co a bunch of liars, wouldn't it? Whatever it means, I'm sure the government is blameless.

So, if the intelligence was poor, there was no recent intelligence, AND caveats were taken out by the government, how is that not sexed-up? Blair is now saying it doesn't matter that Saddam didn't have any WMDs, because he was a very bad man who killed people. No, it doesn't matter, I guess - oh, wait though, wasn't that the MAIN FUCKING REASON we went to war in the first place? You insisted he had them, he was a threat, he would kill us all, he could get nukes, fire, fire, run, run - and now all of a sudden, we did it for the poor oppressed Iraqi people, he used to gas them, you know, he had rape rooms, and everything. The people we didn't give a shit about when we sold him the weapons, and supported him while he gassed them. The same people we bombed into the middle of the next millennium, whose arms and legs we ripped off, who we killed - about ten thousand of them dead so far. And a thousand soldiers dead, too - for fucking NOTHING. "Oh, but you can never be sure with intelligence, that's just the nature of it" - then why start a war based on it? With all the dodgy sources, single sources, and hearsay, surely somebody, somewhere could have put their hand up and said hang on a second, we can't base a war on this. Surely Blair and friends could see that the intelligence wasn't enough, especially when they had to remove caveats and make it sound more impressive? But hey, nobody is to blame, everything's fine, the world is safer with Saddam gone. Sure it is, tell that to the poor fuckers dying EVERY SINGLE DAY over there. Tony and company - you are all a bunch of lying, murdering scumbags, and I hope you burn in hell for all eternity. Fuck you all.

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