Examination of Witness (Questions 640-658)|
19 JUNE 2003
Q640 Chairman: Again, that is not
the question. You were asked did anyone else suggest that information
had been misused by governments?
Mr Wilkie: No-one has voiced that
Q641 Mr Illsley: Mine is a very narrow
question. You mentioned a few minutes ago that the allegation
that uranium was being purchased from Africa was known to the
Australian intelligence services back as far as 2001, did you
Mr Wilkie: No. There has been
some media reporting on this that has been reasonably accurate.
The CIA had sent someone to Niger in early 2002 who had gone back
and reported that they had concerns about the claims. My understanding
is that information was shared through the normal intelligence
sharing arrangements between the countries, so it was known in
ONA and would have been known, I assume, in your own intelligence
services. The 2001 reference was to the fact that the International
Atomic Energy Agency had some concerns about the claims of that
vast quantity of piping since late 2001.
Q642 Mr Illsley: We have heard a
lot of evidence about the claim of 45 minutes, which I do not
want to go back into, but could it be that this document has been
compiled from pieces of intelligence which are quite old? I draw
attention to the 45 minutes claim because we have heard conflicting
evidence that perhaps weapons were deployed in the first Gulf
War in 1991 and it occurs to me that perhaps this document has
drawn on pieces of intelligence which are quite old. Would that
Mr Wilkie: It is possible. I am
speculating now. It may be claims like the 45 minutes were as
much a reference to Iraqi army war fighting doctrine as reality.
If people ask me what the proof is, if that was an accurate comment
then I would have expected coalition forces to have found weaponised
chem bio agents.
Q643 Mr Maples: One of the things
you said very early on was that this document does not read like
a JIC assessment, it reads more like a marketing document or a
political document, which in a sense it is because it was published
by the Government but, we are told, based on the JIC assessments.
What is quite interesting is that before the Desert Fox
operation at the end of 1998 the Government, the Foreign Office,
also published an assessment which was much shorter, a three page
assessment, of Iraq's then weapons capability and what struck
me was that the tone between the two documents was very different.
I would just like to read you the passages on chemical and biological
weapons and I would ask you how they strike you. "Iraq would
be capable of regenerating a chemical warfare capability within
months. Some CW agents and munitions remain hidden. The Iraqi
chemical industry could produce mustard gas almost immediately
and limited amounts of a nerve agent within months. This and some
deionisation could be done covertly." On BW: "Saddam
almost certainly retains some BW production equipment, stocks
of agents and weapons. In any case, Iraq has the expertise and
equipment to regenerate an offensive BW capability in weeks".
Whereas this document says: "Iraq has continued to produce
chemical and biological agents". They are separated by four
years but I wonder whether the tone of the 1998 document that
I have read to you sounds more like a JIC assessment than the
2002 document? It sounds more qualified to me.
Mr Wilkie: I would agree, there
is a different tone to it, yes.
Q644 Mr Maples: You think that to
talk about "could" and "has the capability to have
some ingredients or store some weapons he made before" is
perhaps a more realistic assessment?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q645 Mr Maples: You said you saw
some of the raw intelligence that went into Australia's assessment
of this, which was presumably very similar to the intelligence
that went into this. Are any of your misgivings about this document,
and presumably whatever the Australians used, based on what you
saw as evidence? You said you think this document goes beyond
the intelligence evidence. Is that based simply on the fact that
it does not sound like a JIC document to you, or is it based on
having seen some of the raw intelligence yourself and therefore
believing that this document goes beyond that?
Mr Wilkie: I did see some raw
intelligence which led me to create that term "garbage-grade".
It just looked like nonsense being said by someone trying to win
favour with someone or trying to encourage a US intervention.
In regard to the post-1998 material in here, what strikes me is
just how much reference there is to facilities and so on, they
keep saying they are being rebuilt but do not present any intelligence
or any case to take it from "it has been rebuilt and is probably
producing castor oil" to "it is producing agents and
those agents have been weaponised at this site and they are being
moved to these areas and so on".
Q646 Mr Maples: The key phrase in
the Executive Summary, it seems to me, is: "As a result of
the intelligence we judge that Iraq has continued to produce chemical
and biological agents". That goes considerably beyond the
1998 statement. What I am trying to get from you is did you see
the intelligence of what collectively we think has happened between
1998 and 2002 and in what sense does it either justify or not
justify the statement that "Iraq has continued to produce
chemical and biological agents"?
Mr Wilkie: I do not believe that
there was adequate hard intelligence to justify the claim.
Q647 Mr Maples: This is intelligence
that you saw?
Mr Wilkie: Yes. Sorry, the turn
of phrase was?
Q648 Mr Maples: ". . . continued
to produce chemical and biological agents".
Mr Wilkie: I do not believe there
was enough evidence to prove that they were producing chemical
and biological weapons.
Q649 Mr Maples: When you say you
do not believe, the evidence that you saw would not justify that?
Mr Wilkie: What I saw did not
convince me that was the case. What is my evidence? The fact that
I am not concocting this just now, I said this on 11 March when
I resigned, I went public then with my judgment about how I thought
WMD was being overplayed. The other important bit of evidence
wasI was waving this around earlierif that was accurate
I think we would have found something by now.
Q650 Mr Maples: What I want to understand
is whether your judgment that this goes beyond what was justified
by the intelligence is based on having seen the intelligence or
simply that the tone of this is rather different?
Mr Wilkie: No, no, I am sorry.
It is an informed judgment based on me having seen intelligence
and I now judge that that statement was overstating it. Can I
just say something in fairness to the intelligence. I am sure
you all know this but intelligence is not an exact science, there
is a certain amount of black magic and black art and at some point
someone has got to sit down and say, "I have read all this
and I judge this". I am not necessarily criticising the intelligence
official who said, "I judge that", I am saying I judge
Q651 Mr Maples: But your assessment,
your judgment of this document and your actions were based not
on a feeling that this does not sound right but were based on
having seen hard intelligence information which you believed did
not justify the political conclusions that were being reached?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q652 Mr Maples: I do not want to
put words into your mouth, correct me if I am wrong, but it was
on the basis of that that you resigned your job and your career.
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q653 Mr Maples: You have given up
your career because you believed that the raw intelligence that
was available did not justify the political conclusions that were
being based on it?
Mr Wilkie: I am happy for you
to put those words in my mouth because that is what I would say.
My decision to resign was based on my judgments that were informed
by my access to hard intelligence and assessments provided by
ONA and ourselves.
Q654 Chairman: I think the Committee
would sympathise with anyone who resigns on a point of principle
like yourself, but you concede that you did not see all the evidence?
Mr Wilkie: No, I did not see all
the evidence. I do not think anyone has seen all of it, the database
Q655 Chairman: You concede that you
were effectively a lone voice in the intelligence establishment
Mr Wilkie: As far as I am aware,
Q656 Chairman: Your judgment differed
from that of your superiors?
Mr Wilkie: Yes.
Q657 Chairman: Perhaps I could refer
you to the dossier, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction,
which you have in front of you. If you would look at the Executive
Summary, paragraph six was the key judgment: "As a result
of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has continued to produce
chemical and biological agents". You dispute that?
Mr Wilkie: I dispute that.
Q658 Chairman: If you would turn
over the page, you see under seven: "These judgments reflect
the views of the Joint Intelligence Committee". So you also
differ in your judgment not only from your own Australian intelligence
community but from the British intelligence community?
Mr Wilkie: Absolutely.
Mr Maples: I would just say it does say
"reflect", it does not say "are the views of the
Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr Wilkie.