From the monthly archives:

August 2003

One of the Hutton Inquiry’s little surprises concerns the relationship between the Labour government and the top ranks of the British intelligence community. They are in love.

Downing Street’s Director of Communications, Alastair Campbell, regards John Scarlett, once our top spy in Moscow and now chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, as “a mate”. Tony Blair is immensely grateful for the help the intelligence services gave in the preparation of the dossier on the threat posed by Iraq. At the urging of an unnamed spymaster, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) empties its files trying to find a few nuggets to help make the dossier even stronger.

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James Bond and his masters will never be the same again. The changes in the relationship between the British intelligence community and the government, revealed by the Hutton Inquiry, are–for better or worse –here to stay.

Intelligence bureaucracies such as Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and America’s Central Intelligence Agency have traditionally seen their role as identifying monsters. Their officers go out into the world, keep their eyes and ears open and return with warnings for their masters of threats to the well-being of the nation they serve.

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The Hutton Inquiry has surprised everyone. It was meant to look at the circumstances surrounding the death of the government scientist Dr. David Kelly. Instead it has been revealing who wields power in Britain and how.

Most of the facts in the Kelly affair were clear in the public mind long before Lord Hutton called his first witness at the Royal Courts of Justice this week: Tony Blair wanted to attack Iraq and hoped for help from the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in making the case for war.