For those who supported the Iraq war (a band of merry men that doth include myself), one of the most damning aspects of the run-up to the invasion was the cynical and duplicitous campaign organised by the Blair administration to justify their claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. This running sore had still not run dry in the political landscape.
The Hutton report brought two aspects of this campaign to light: the close relationship between Number Ten and the intelligence services; a politicised relationship that reflected badly on both parties. The objective analysis of MI6 was cast into doubt and, their capability to deal with the Islamist threat, placed under question marks. Now the Ministry of Defence appears to be casting further dust into the eyes of both parties.
As leaked, MI6 ran an operation known as Rocking ham, a "spin unit", working in tandem with their US counterparts and supporting the theory that Blair signed up to the invasion during the autumn of 2002, a timeline never revealed to Parliament, monarch or nation.
The Sunday Herald has previously revealed the existence of two secret “spin units” operating within British and American intelligence and designed to concoct a false premise for war.
In Britain, Operation Rockingham collated questionable information supporting misleading claims about Saddam’s active WMD arsenal to back up the case for war. The British spies gathering the information – mainly from untrustworthy Iraqi defectors – knew the claims were either bogus or out of date. The information was used by the Blair government to persuade the British parliament and people that war with Iraq was a necessity.
The MOD argues that the information that these "spin units" collated was sourced from the Iraqi National Congress under Ahmed Chalabi, and that most of the disinformation was passed from Iranian intelligence. If true, the intelligence services were either duped or willing pawns:
Garry Hindle, head of terrorism and international homeland security and resilience at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for Defence and Security Studies, said he had been aware of claims that the INC was feeding disinformation to the US as part of an Iranian intelligence operation for “a couple of years”.
“It is certainly significant for a senior MoD official to comment on this,” he added. “I would tentatively suggest that, given the close ties that existed between the Pentagon, the US administration and the INC, and the sidelining of the CIA and the State Department, that it may not necessarily be that ‘duping’ is the key, but rather a wilful acceptance of information that supported objectives or validated beliefs.”
Why did the Iranians wish to aid the coalition invasion of Iraq, when there was every probability of strategic encirclement? If the intelligence services were cognizant of, perhaps deliberately co-operating with the Iranian mullahs, what was the quid pro quo? An acceptance of Shiastan and carte blanche for the Sadr army to attain hegemony over Shia militias.
Whatever price was paid in Iraq, we should be grateful that the duplicitous incompetence of our homeland security has come to light, at the hands of a Ministry that views their handiwork with some scepticism, I suspect. They cocked up the possible threat from internal Islamist radicals in the 1990s, allowing the development of Londonistan. They encouraged a war that has succoured terrorism and converted Al-Qaeda from a base to a franchise. Iran is now resurgent and the British Army is overstretched, unable to maintain two fronts, and undermined by a sceptical public opinion at home.
That is a damning record for our intelligence services, now sullied by New Labour. Both politicians and securocrats have endangered us, their turncoat ranks closing in to protect skins at the expense of our lives. That will not be forgotten.
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