UK military official: Iraq dossier case for war
LONDON – A former British intelligence official says he came under strong pressure to find evidence to back up the government's case for war in Iraq.
The Iraq Inquiry headed by Sir John Chilcot on Thursday released a letter from Maj. Gen. Michael Laurie in which he disputed testimony by Alistair Campbell, who was then-Prime Minister Tony Blair's director of communications.
Campbell had told the inquiry that the dossier asserting that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction was an explanation of Blair's concerns and "not the case for war."
"I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used," said Laurie, who was director general of intelligence collection at the Defense Ministry in 2002 and 2003.
The question of whether the dossier presented to Parliament in September 2002 was "sexed up" has been hotly debated in the aftermath of the invasion and the failure to find any evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Laurie said a previous draft "was rejected because it did not make a strong enough case. From then until September we were under pressure to find intelligence that could reinforce the case," Laurie said.
He said intelligence officials had found no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to weapons of mass destruction, and concluded they had been dismantled, buried or removed from Iraq.
"During the drafting of the final dossier, every fact was managed to make it as strong as possible, the final statements reaching beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts," Laurie said.
"It was clear to me that there was direction and pressure being applied" on the Joint Intelligence Committee and its chairman, Sir John Scarlett, who was the author of the final version, Laurie said.
In a message on Twitter, Campbell said he had "nothing to add to evidence" he gave to the inquiry and insisted the dossier had not been intended as a case for war.