Thursday 24 April 2003

Can we trust the intelligence services?

The accusation by the chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix that the case against Iraq was "shaky" raises the question as to whether the US and British intelligence services can be trusted over one of the major issues of our day - the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Both the United States and UK issued dossiers last autumn making a series of accusations against Iraq.

Not only have no mass weapons systems been found (one has to add a "yet" here), but there were major flaws in the documents which will put in doubt any assessment of programmes elsewhere - in North Korea, Iran and Syria, for example.

Although many intelligence professionals prefer to keep any review of what went wrong (and right) private and in-house, some professionals are speaking out.

One of the fiercest critics is Alex Standish, editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest.

He said: "The bottom line is that the intelligence services have not covered themselves with glory."

Full story...