The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Monday, September 08, 2003
More on the Joint Intelligence Committee - and the US connection
In general, the amateurish quality of the oral evidence sessions of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee is shown up by the Hutton sessions covering much the same ground.
(The interventions of that failed would-be parliamentary Max Miller, Andrew 'Chaff' Mackinlay impart a sort of Brighton Rock seediness to proceedings, ably complemented by Chairman Donald Anderson - a good Mayor of Swansea in a bad year.)
But the session with Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (ex-Foreign and Commonwealth Office , and currently a BBC Governor) is not without interest.
PNJ, as she may or may not be called for short, was also for a time Chairman of the JIC (1993-4), and fills in some blanks on how it operates - or, at least, how it used to. She's distinctly sniffy about the lack of regular meetings of the relevant Cabinet committee  under the present government - which she would expect to have some kind of oversight of the work commissioned from the JIC:
I think, I will put it this way, there is the danger that you do not get properly recorded decisions and properly analysed decisions. That is a problem. There is also the question of accountability.
She also mentions the question of US-UK intelligence cooperation;
...there is independent assessment [of intelligence]. I think that is important to both sides. It is better for both sides to have each tested it and, of course, those assessments are compared. We do have knowledge of each other's assessment but they stand independently of each other, it is not the other side's lot that goes to your ministers, it is your assessment that goes to your ministers.
Which raises the question, What did US agencies make of the 45 minute claim? A cursory search produces nothing on the point. But surely, so important a piece of intelligence would have been passed to the USIC for assessment, and that assessment would have been shared with UK ministers.
(By contrast UK/US cooperation - if that's the word - on the Niger uranium business has been written about ad nauseam.)
Is there any information that could be prised out of USIC on the 45? If not the assessment itself, then at least confirmation that a US assessment was made, when, by whom, when communicated to the JIC (or whomever else in HMG).
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