Friday 20 May 2011

Problematic Intelligence

The Iraq Inquiry recently published declassified documents on its website; its expected that the media should report on these things and it should be called into account when it misleads. No paper or outlet is perfect or absolutely objective but that does not mean all sense of proportion is lost. The Guardian requires to be called to account (this is not new, this is not revolutionary) and this is a perfect case in point.

One of the documents released was a letter sent from Richard Dearlove (MI6 Head 1999-2004) to the then British Ambassador to the U.S, David Manning. In their article about some of the recent declassified documents, The Guardian writes about the document:
Despite its concerns, MI6 told ministers before the invasion that toppling Saddam Hussein "remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies".
That sounds very sinister. MI6 here is apparently saying that the removing Saddam is "prize" because of oil supplies. Very sinister, indeed. Except, the Guardian didn't quote the full paragraph which gives a much wider reason of why removing Saddam was a good goal. The full sentence reads (.pdf):
"The removal of Saddam remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies; engage a powerful and secular state in the fight against Sunni extremist terror, open political horizons in the GCC states, remove a threat to Jordan/Israel, undermine the regional logic on WMD."
The assessment goes on to say:
Working for regime change could be a dynamic processof alliance building which could effect climatic change in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
So, not so sinister at all. This document is pretty interesting and it provides more documentation of MI6 belief about WMD.  Its a shame The Guardian decided to butcher a sentence which changed the context so radically.