BRITAIN ran a covert 'dirty tricks' operation
designed specifically to produce misleading intelligence that Saddam
had weapons of mass destruction to give the UK a justifiable excuse
to wage war on Iraq.
Operation Rockingham, established by the Defence Intelligence
Staff within the Ministry of Defence in 1991, was set up to
'cherry-pick' intelligence proving an active Iraqi WMD programme and
to ignore and quash intelligence which indicated that Saddam's
stockpiles had been destroyed or wound down.
The existence of Operation Rockingham has been confirmed by Scott
Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector, and a US military
intelligence officer. He knew members of the Operation Rockingham
team and described the unit as 'dangerous', but insisted they were
not 'rogue agents' acting without government backing. 'This policy
was coming from the very highest levels,' he added.
'Rockingham was spinning reports and emphasising reports that
showed non-compliance (by Iraq with UN inspections) and quashing
those which showed compliance. It was cherry-picking intelligence.'
Ritter and other intelligence sources say Operation Rockingham
and MI6 were supplying skewed information to the Joint Intelligence
Committee (JIC) which, Tony Blair has told the Commons, was behind
the intelligence dossiers that the government published to convince
the parliament and the people of the necessity of war against Iraq.
Sources in both the British and US intelligence community are now
equating the JIC with the Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the US
Pentagon. The OSP was set up by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to
gather intelligence which would prove the case for war. In a
staggering attack on the OSP, former CIA officer Larry Johnson told
the Sunday Herald the OSP was 'dangerous for US national security
and a threat to world peace', adding that it 'lied and manipulated
intelligence to further its agenda of removing Saddam'.
He added: 'It's a group of ideologues with pre-determined notions
of truth and reality. They take bits of intelligence to support
their agenda and ignore anything contrary. They should be
Johnson said that to describe Saddam as an 'imminent threat' to
the West was 'laughable and idiotic'. He said many CIA officers were
in 'great distress' over the way intelligence had been treated.
'We've entered the world of George Orwell,' Johnson added. 'I'm
disgusted. The truth has to be told. We can't allow our leaders to
use bogus information to justify war.'
Many in British intelligence believe the planned parliamentary
inquiry by MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee will pass
the blame for the use of selective intelligence to the JIC, which
includes senior intelligence figures .
Intelligence sources say this would be unfair as they claim the
JIC was following political instructions. Blair has been under
sustained criticism following allegations that intelligence on the
threat from Iraq was 'sexed up' to make it more appealing to the
The rebel Labour MP and Father of the House, Tam Dalyell, said he
would raise the Sunday Herald's investigation into Operation
Rockingham in the Commons on Thursday and demand an explanation from
the government about selective intelligence. Ritter has also offered
to give evidence to parliament.
Both the MoD and Downing Street refused to comment on Ritter's
allegations about Operation Rockingham, saying they did not make
statements on intelligence matters.
British and American intelligence analysts have also come forward
to dispute claims made by President Bush that two military trailers
found in Iraq were bio-weapons labs.
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