- 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
- 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 eliminated.'
- 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 public.
- 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
- 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.