he felt an inquiry was necessary after chief U.S. weapons inspector
David Kay testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
that intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities
and his threat could have been faulty.
all wrong and that is most disturbing," Kay told the committee.
He resigned from his position as the Iraqi Survey Group's team
leader on Jan. 23 after finding no evidence of weapons. The survey
group continues to search.
Kay's testimony, saying, "I think it is right, as a
result of what David Kay has said, and the fact that the Iraq
Survey Group now probably won't report -- in the very near term
-- its final report, that we have a look at the intelligence that
we received and whether it was accurate or not."
minister's announcement came two days after U.S. President Bush
unveiled plans for a similar bipartisan commission to investigate
U.S. prewar intelligence.
The intelligence inquiry's mandate
intelligence inquiry will "examine the effectiveness of structures,
systems and processes," according to the official explanation
of the inquiry's terms of reference.
committee also pointed out that if it believes an individual is
laid open to criticism as a result of the inquiry, that person
will be allowed to respond before the final report. The committee
would consider an individual's need for legal representation
in such a situation.
It aims to
investigate the accuracy of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction
(WMD) in Iraq up to March 2003, and to "examine any discrepancies
between the intelligence used by the government before the conflict,
and what has been discovered by the Iraq Survey Group since the
end of the conflict."
will also look at the intelligence available on WMD programs in
other countries considered to pose a threat to the West, and will
attempt to assess the state of global trade in these weapons.
will then issue recommendations to Blair on the gathering, evaluation
and use of WMD intelligence in the future.
will not touch on the politics behind the decision to go to war
with Iraq, a controversial omission that has tipped off a furor
among critics who say the inquiry's remit is too narrow.
Anger among the opposition
inquiry was initially supposed to include members from both major
opposition parties, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. But
Blair's announcement of the inquiry's scope caused immediate dissent
among the opposition, and the Liberal Democrats immediately announced
that they would not participate in the probe.
wider issue which most concerns people in this country is the
judgments, arrived at by politicians, which were based on that
intelligence. They want to know whether we went to war on a false
premise. Unless that question is speedily and publicly addressed
there is likely to be a continuing erosion of trust in this government,"
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy told the Press Association.
Then, on March
1, the Conservative Party also withdrew from the so-called Butler
inquiry, citing many of the same reasons as the Liberal Democrats.
The Conservatives had previously believed that the inquiry would
cover the way intelligence was handled before the Iraq war, and
that they would therefore be able to investigate politicians'
In a March
1 letter to Blair, Conservative Party leader Michael Howard wrote
that the inquiry, "does not include amongst its aims an examination
of the acts or omissions of individuals. It makes clear that it
will consider such acts or omissions only in the context of its
examination of structures, systems and processes. There is no
basis in the terms of reference for that view and I consider it
a quite unjustifiable restriction on the committee's approach."
party's boycott, Conservative MP (Member of Parliament) Michael
Mates said he still intends to take the position offered him on
that Michael Howard has made his decision on behalf of the official
opposition, but I believe that my duty is to continue to serve
the review as best I can in the important tasks we have been given,"
Head of the inquiry: Lord Butler of Brockwell
who selected the committee members, picked former Cabinet Secretary
Lord Robin Butler of Brockwell as the group's chairman. Now retired,
Butler, 66, has worked directly for three prime ministers; he
was private secretary to Edward Heath from 1972-74 and to Harold
Wilson from 1974-75.
He was principal
private secretary to Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,
and in that capacity supervised the "secret intelligence
feed" that went to the prime minister.
as second permanent secretary to the Treasury from 1985-87 and
as secretary of the Cabinet and head of home civil service from
to smooth the transition from the Major to Blair governments in
1997, retiring in 1998, less than a year after Blair's Labour
Party took power.
notes that Butler is "supremely well-qualified to examine
whether there were any intelligence failings, or whether ministers
put their own gloss on nuanced conclusions from MI6 (Secret Intelligence
vast experience, there is also skepticism that he will be sufficiently
open with his findings.
the Guardian reacted to Butler's appointment, calling him, "the
ultimate Whitehall safe pair of hands," suggesting he is
not inclined to cause problems for Blair. The newspaper referred
to a former inquiry Butler headed in 1996, which sought to determine
whether Britain had allowed arms sales to Iraq.
inquiry, he famously noted that "half the picture can be
true," words which critics may apply to his viewpoint on
the current intelligence inquiry.
Other members of the inquiry committee
Secretary Jack Straw told members of the House of Commons that
four other privy councillors would make up the committee.
other members are:
Right Honourable Sir John Chilcot GCB, a career diplomat with
senior positions in the Civil Service on his resume. He served
as permanent undersecretary of State in the government's
Northern Ireland Office from 1990 until 1997, as well as several
positions in the Home Office, Civil Service Department and the
Right Honourable Ann Taylor MP, a senior Labour Party member and
chairwoman of the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee,
which oversees intelligence services. She was government whip
from 1977-79 and government chief whip from 1998-2001.
Right Honourable Field Marshal Lord Peter Inge, a member of the
House of Lords and former chief of defense staff from 1994-97.
Right Honourable Michael Mates MP, a member of the Conservative
Party and chairman of the Northern Ireland select committee. Mates
has been a member of the Committee on Intelligence and Security
since 1994 and was chairman of the Select Committee on Defense
Committee from 1987-92.
Timetable for release of the committee's findings
inquiry conducted private hearings in April and May, with more
detailed analysis of written material on certain aspects each
part of the investigation. During June and July, the committee
was set to re-interview witnesses if deemed necessary and conclude
the investigative portion of its work. The committee will then
prepare its report, which it will present to Blair before the
summer parliamentary recess begins July 22.
will undergo questioning from the committee, rather than from
the other committee members will be granted access to all intelligence
reports and assessments and will call witnesses to give evidence
in private. Witnesses will include members of the U.K.'s intelligence
will consult the U.S. Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities
of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, under
the joint chairmanship of former Sen. Chuck Robb, D-Va., and Judge
Lawrence Silberman. The committee's official Web site also says
it intends to "keep in touch with the Iraq Survey Group."