Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, June 25, 2003
ANDREW WILKIE'S EVIDENCE to the UK Select Committee on Foreign Affairs is now available, and the Bunyip has read it.

As the circumstances indicated, and despite attempts by Auntie and Henny Herald to boost its significance, it's pathetic.

These extracts give a fair representation of Wilkie's case, or lack of it.

Q587 Mr Pope: Mr Wilkie, you said in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that: "The fictions about Iraq's weapons programmes could be a best selling fairytale". In the British Government's assessment, which I am sure you are very familiar with, the British Government came to the conclusion that: "Iraq has a usable chemical and biological weapons capability in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 687, continues to attach great importance to the possession of WMD, has ballistic missiles, has the capacity to deliver chemical, biological agents"....

Mr Wilkie: Mr Pope, I found, and I still find, the British Government's September dossier fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons..... I think over-playing the unaccounted for weapons was quite misleading because, for a start, there is still a question mark over exactly what was unaccounted for. I do not think UNMOVIC ever tried to say "there are exactly X tonnes of precursor" or whatever, all they were trying to say was "We cannot account for it"....

...I am not saying that Iraq did not have a WMD programme. There is so much evidence that has been accumulated over so long that I do not think there is any doubt that Iraq had some sort of WMD programme.

Q590 Sir John Stanley: Mr Wilkie, in your interview on the Today programme in this country on 4 June you said: "I am satisfied that governments have exaggerated Iraq's WMD capability. Governments in all three capitals have exaggerated Iraq's links with al-Qaeda. The governments in all three capitals have exaggerated both the general risk of WMD terrorism as well as the specific risks of Iraq passing WMD to al-Qaeda. The governments have exaggerated what their intelligence communities have offered them". .... Just taking the Executive Summary [of the JIC September review], the Executive Summary, as far as I can see having just reread it very quickly, does not make any reference to the phrase that you used, "massive programme". It talks about a "current threat" and I know the words "imminent threat" have been used by some British politicians, but I am not sure that the phrase "imminent phrase [i.e. threat]" actually appears in this document. Certainly I do not see any reference to "massive programme". Just taking the couple of pages of the Executive Summary, could you tell us what is the wording there that you feel is unjustified against your information as to what intelligence was available?

Mr Wilkie: Okay. Before I look specifically at the Executive Summary, Sir John, I just want to remind us all that there was an awful lot more to the three governments trying to justify this war than just this dossier. In fact, I think the most emotive statements were probably oral statements in our Parliaments and so on, people standing up and saying what they said. ...

Q593 Sir John Stanley: Could I ask you to go back to my question, if you would be kind. This is a very important document for the Committee. You made this accusation of exaggeration and this is the base written document of the British Government, this was the one and only document which was an authentic document and stated to be derived from JIC [Joint Intelligence Committee] sources, unlike the "dodgy dossier". From the Executive Summary, what wording in this do you consider is an unjustifiable exaggeration against the intelligence that you knew?

Mr Wilkie: I will ask for a moment just to read and think, if you do not mind. I am sure you will appreciate that this is a very quick look.

Q594 Sir John Stanley: I assume before making the claims you have made you studied the document minutely. I hope so.

In vain, Sir John. What follows from Wilkie is pure flannel.

Wilkie's reasons for opposing the liberation of Iraq are no more based on intelligence information than are Uncle's reasons for supporting it.

Wilkie is just another citizen with an opinion, and that is why he needs the assistance of Henny Herald and Auntie to look like something more.

You may have a low opinion of the critical faculties of politicians. In this case they leave some of our best and brightest journalists for dead.