Examination of Witness (Questions 620-639)|
19 JUNE 2003
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
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
Mr Wilkie: Do not put words in
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 beenI think the term used was"sexed
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
Q627 Chairman: Answer that and then
I want to move on, please.
Mr Wilkie: I am not accusing the
British intelligence and security services of 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 promisedI
do not know if the word "massive" was used in this document,
I do not think it waswe 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
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
Q634 Mr Olner: I am not shifting
the blame, you are putting the blame there.
Mr Wilkie: I am not blaming the
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
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.
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 and 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
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