Prewar Iraq Threat 'Limited'

Prewar Iraq Threat 'Limited'
December 16th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Prewar Iraq Threat 'Limited'

Prewar Iraq Threat 'Limited'
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 16, 2006
A British expert had said before the invasion that he and other analysts believed the danger had been contained, a report says.
By D'Arcy Doran, Associated Press
LONDON - Britain's former top Iraq expert at the United Nations said in previously secret testimony that most government officials did not believe Iraq posed a threat in the months leading to the U.S.-led invasion, according to a newly disclosed report.
Carne Ross, a former first secretary to the British mission at the United Nations responsible for Iraq policy, told a House of Commons committee that he and other analysts believed that Iraq had a "very limited" ability to mount an attack of any kind, including one using weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.
Ross yesterday declined to comment on his testimony, saying it spoke for itself.
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday published the testimony, which Ross gave in 2004 to Lord Butler's official inquiry into intelligence on Iraq.
Butler did not fault the government but criticized intelligence officials for relying in part on "seriously flawed" or "unreliable" sources.
Ross said he was advised by lawyers that he risked prosecution under Britain's Official Secrets Act if he made his testimony public, but the committee published his testimony after the Foreign Office said its contents did not breach the act, said Andrew MacKinley, the committee member who asked Ross to submit the documents at a hearing last month.
"Indeed, it might be a green light for others to furnish other evidence. I would welcome that," MacKinley said.
Ross served in the British mission at the U.N. headquarters from 1998 until 2002. Later, he was posted to Kosovo and Afghanistan, but kept in contact with British Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry experts on Iraq and inquired about the shift toward war.
"It was the commonly held view among officials that the threat had been contained," Ross said in the written testimony.
"Iraq's ability to launch a WMD or any form of attack was very limited," he wrote. "There were approx 12 or so unaccounted-for Scud missiles; Iraq's air force was depleted to the point of total ineffectiveness; its army was but a pale shadow of its earlier might; there was no evidence of any connection between Iraq and any terrorist organization that might have planned an attack."
During the months leading up to the war, he said, there was no new evidence that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein posed a threat.
"What changed was the government's determination to present available evidence in a different light," he testified.
Ross told the committee that he resigned from the government in September 2004 because of his misgivings over the war. He is now an independent consultant.

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