18 February 2004

Intelligence agency head comes out as newspaper source

FRANK LEWINCAMP: The seminar was conducted under the Chatham House rule, there was a further injunction given clearly to the students, including Mr Forbes, both before and after my presentation that there be no attribution, citing or disclosure of any of the information presented.

I have spoken to Mr Forbes on about four occasions since the seminar, most recently when he called me last Friday to say that an article about intelligence reporting on Iraq WMD would be appearing in the Age the next day. He did not tell me the content of the article.

As to the content of Saturday's article, I have given testimony to this committee in June and November last year about the key judgements which DIO provided to government on the state of Iraqi WMD.

There are similar statements in the article about a latent WMD capability able to be activated at short notice and the degree of weaponisation being unknown, but I have never made and would not make some of the statements attributed to the official in Mr Forbes article.

For example, I have never said that the Bush administration's claims justifying an invasion were exaggerated, nor have I said that the Government was told that Iraq WMD did not pose an immediate threat.

Overall, the article characterises these issues in ways in which I do not. There are judgements in there with which I disagree and views that I do not hold.

This is the second time a high security official has fallen on his sword. It will be interesting when the parliamentary committee report (those parts not yet leaked) is finally released.

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