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British Intelligence report torpedoes Howard's credibility on Iraq.

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Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs 12 September 2003


In February, British intelligence warned an attack on Iraq would increase the terrorist threat and increase the risk of WMD transfer to terrorists

In March, Howard told the Australian people the exact opposite

The British Parliamentary Inquiry’s report into pre-war intelligence on Iraq has just dropped a bombshell on John Howard’s credibility on national security.

Specifically, it says British intelligence chiefs in February 2003 reached the opposite conclusion to those that John Howard used in March to convince the Australian people to go to war against Iraq.

Paragraphs 126 and 127 of the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee of the British Parliament handed down today state:

The JIC (that is the Joint Intelligence Committee which is made up of the British intelligence chiefs) assessed that al-Qaida and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq.

The JIC assessed that any collapse of the Iraqi regime would increase the risk of chemical and biological warfare technology or agents finding their way into the hands of terrorists, not necessarily al-Qaida.

Contrast this with what John Howard told the Australian people in Parliament on 25 March:

I believe, and the government believes, that the action we have taken will over the medium to longer term reduce the likelihood of a massive terrorist attack on Australia. That is our view.

And further, on that same day, John Howard also told the Australian Parliament and people:

The government argues that in the medium to longer term, by disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and thereby not only denying Iraq the capacity to either deliberately or otherwise pass those weapons to terrorist groups, we do not give encouragement for other rogue states to acquire such weapons, thereby increasing the likelihood, as a matter of sheer logic, of terrorist groups getting hold of such weapons.

In other words, the British intelligence chiefs warned that an attack on Iraq would increase the terrorist threat. One month later, John Howard claimed the reverse.

The British intelligence chiefs warned that an attack on Iraq would increase the risk of the spread of weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. And one month later John Howard again said the reverse.

If John Howard’s defence is that he did not know of the British Joint Intelligence Committee’s conclusions on this matter, it is unbelievable. This was on the eve of the war. Australia, under Howard, was about to go to war with Britain against Iraq.

Australia has an intelligence liaison officer in London who attends regular meetings with the British and allied intelligence agencies. This is the whole reason why we have an intelligence liaison officer in London.

Furthermore, it is clear from the post-Iraq environment, that the British intelligence chiefs were right in that the threat of terrorism has plainly not been reduced since the war in Iraq.

On 12 September 2003, two years after September 11, John Howard’s entire credibility in the reasons for taking Australia to war against Iraq collapsed in a heap.

Honest John - loose with the truth on national security.