Australia was party to spying on the United Nations, including Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to assist the lobbying campaign for launching the war against Iraq.
Intelligence community sources confirmed that the Howard Government received details of the UN bugging, in response to revelations to be published in a book by a senior Australian intelligence analyst turned whistleblower, Andrew Wilkie.
The book, which has been vetted by the Attorney-General's Department and had some details censored on national security grounds, also states that:
Australian agencies gathered intelligence on the US Administration and reported that allegations of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorists were not the main reasons it wanted to invade Iraq.
The Opposition was deliberately misled during briefings by intelligence agencies in the lead-up to the war, with facts undermining the Government's position omitted.
The Government knowingly presented false intelligence to the public that exaggerated the threat that Saddam Hussein posed.
These are big allegations and very hard to prove. Misbriefing opposition politicians can be tested. Intelligence distortions (sadly) are subject to the Four Steps:
1. Deny everything. 2. Admit it when it becomes unavoidable. 3. Say you didn't get the papers. 4. Blame it all on the troops.
The recent performance over the prison abuses in Iraq is a classic to add to a long list from children that weren't thrown overboard to the Manildra meeting the Man of Steel told parliament he had not attended.
The new Wilkie allegations will receive the same treatment, along with a claim by the Foreign Minister of Kleenex that even discussing these matters threatens the US alliance.