11 July 2003

The Sgt Schultz defence...

But you actually did raise it though Prime Minister and you don�t want to look foolish so when you raised the information in Parliament and then your own office has got doubts about, you don�t want to look foolish and you don�t want the Australian people to �


It�s not a question of looking foolish. It�s a question of keeping things in perspective and what I said was that if I had been told in January of this material it would not have altered in any way our decision to participate in the military operation. That�s the point I�m making. The other point to remind you of is that the assessment that the British made, they are still standing by. I mean everybody is going around incorrectly saying that the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded a document was forged. But what the British are saying is put that aside because they have other evidence. That�s their judgement. It�s not mine because I haven�t seen any of the evidence. I�m only reporting their judgement, I�m not saying that I have independently reached the same conclusion. I can�t do that. But what the British are still saying as of now is that forget the forged document, accept that it is a forgery, it doesn�t alter the view that we held then and which we still hold to. So the suggestion that the original claim has been disproved is itself not proved and all that�s been established is that one piece of evidence on which it rested has been established as a forgery but according to the British they have other evidence which does not in any way alter their conclusion


Prime Minister, you claim that weapons of mass destruction will be found, as times goes by without having found any are you more convinced (inaudible)?


Well look, I�m certainly� I remain rock solid in the belief that the decision we took was justified on the basis of the intelligence assessments that were available. There were clear, compelling intelligence assessments available to the effect that Iraq had a WMD capacity and nothing I have seen since has shaken the assessments that were made at that time. As far as the current search for evidence and material, that goes on and I think it�s too early for people to jump to the conclusion that it won�t be successful.

We have a pure repeat of the Children Overboard affair where information available to the prime minister's office mysteriously failed to reach the prime minister. Just as with that incident the prime minister tells us he did not know until long after he had milked it for every political advantage he could gain.

From the Sydney Morning Herald
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) admitted last night that it knew intelligence on Iraq's nuclear program was questionable shortly before the Prime Minister, John Howard, presented it to Parliament to build a case for war.

The revelation will deepen the damaging controversy about the Government's use of flawed intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

The department claims it did not tell Mr Howard or the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, of information from the American State Department in January that cast doubt on claims that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.

This follows the extraordinary admission yesterday by Australia's peak intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments (ONA), that it received the same information but had also failed to pass it on to Mr Howard.

So now the foreign affairs department as well as the office of national assessments have mysteriously failed to make ministers aware of things. It's not even worth asking if the government will take any action will be taken to discipline the relevant officials.

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