Lost in battle

Sometimes news stories that would otherwise make waves get lost when there is a major story dominating all else.

I think this item from the Independent, kindly pointed out by a reader, certainly deserves some attention.

Colin Powell’s former chief weapons expert has accused Tony Blair and George Bush of failing to give an accurate picture of British and American intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

Greg Thielman, a senior figure in the State Department until last year, told The Independent yesterday that the “political leadership” in both countries was responsible for the “distorted” impression given of the Iraqi threat.

…………Mr Thielman was the Director of the Office of Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs, based in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the State Department. He reported directly to General Powell.

He told The Independent that the intelligence agencies in the UK and US both agreed the need for caution and caveats to claims about Iraqi weapons.

He said:”We were mostly reading from the same sheet. The way the political leadership in Britain and America explained this intelligence to their populations was not an accurate rendition of what intelligence services were saying. Iraq did not pose an imminent threat to either its neighbours or the US or Britain.”

He said that, while he normally admired the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), he was disappointed to see the way it handled the dossier produced in September 2002.

“I have the greatest respect for the Joint Intelligence Committee and their product, but I was disappointed in some of the things the JIC was saying in the September dossier,” he said.

“In particular, I wasn’t very impressed with the 45-minute point. Its use didn’t put it in proper perspective, they didn’t make clear it was exaggerated.”

He added that the dossier had been “floating around” in early 2002 and was surprised when it resurfaced in September. “It didn’t seem a paper based on developments in intelligence. It was a political document.”

Not a million miles away from certain claims that have caused something of a fuss in the UK over the past months is it?