Brian Jones should not have been given "the old two-shoe shuffle", his former boss at the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) said. Air Marshal Sir John Walker, who was chief of defence intelligence and deputy chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), has fully backed Dr Jones' protest about the Iraq dossier and said he is "astounded" the views of so eminent an expert and his colleagues were ignored.
Sir John said one of the most vital safeguards to check on accuracy of information appears to have been ignored.
He said: "If Brian Jones and his staff had said they were unhappy about an aspect of intelligence then I, when I was chief of defence intelligence and a member of the JIC, would have sat up and taken on board what they were saying.
"I am astounded that, instead of sounding alarm bells, their reservations appear to have been put aside. There have been attempts to dismiss Brian as something of a senior NCO. But, in reality, he was one of the foremost authorities in his field in this country.
"The Defence Intelligence Staff are the analysts of the whole intelligence community. They are supposed to scrutinise information brought to them by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), the Security Service (MI5) and GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters]. The JIC are not analysts; that is not their role.
"The DIS is there as a check. For example, I remember in my time, GCHQ got very excited about something, but then the analysts looked at it and found it was not what it seemed. GCHQ, of course, accepted that. It would have been wholly wrong to give Brian and his staff the old two-shoe shuffle, and try to fob them off with saying there is intelligence they don't know about. That is not the way the JIC normally operates. What we have subsequently discovered, through the Hutton hearings, was that this intelligence about the 45 minutes was hearsay. It did not come directly from a normally reliable source, but that source speaking to someone else. You would not get a conviction against a two-bit burglar based on that kind of evidence, let alone go to war."
Sir John insisted that the JIC remained the best forum for collating intelligence. He said: "You do not want a situation like the US, where you have intelligence agencies competing against each other. But what happened this time was that the JIC was used for public relations purposes."
Meanwhile, a member of the intelligence community, who has left the service in the past 11 months, said: "It is true that DIS are the analysts for the intelligence community, although 5 [MI5] tend to do some of their own stuff. It's also true that the JIC are not known for their analytical skills.
"Part of the problem with Iraq was that there was a feeling we were over-reliant on technical stuff, and we had to develop humint [human intelligence] to get a more accurate picture. Ironically, that is where it began to go wrong."Reuse content