Australian Iraq war case

The report, by former intelligence head Philip Flood, found no evidence that Australia’s intelligence agencies came under political pressure to strengthen the case for war.

However it said they had failed to properly challenge assumptions and sources.

“There has been a failure of intelligence on Iraq WMD,” it said.

“Intelligence was thin, ambiguous and incomplete. Australia shared in the allied intelligence failure on the key question of WMD stockpiles.”

However it did find that Australian assessments and key judgments were relatively cautious and cleared the government of political interference in the intelligence community.

“Using similar but not all the material available to the UK and the US, Australian assessments on Iraq’s capabilities were on the whole more cautious and seem closer to the facts as we know them so far,” it said.

The report comes after similar criticisms of British and American intelligence agencies about shortcomings in pre-war intelligence on Iraq’s unfound weapons, allegations which were used to justify the war.

Prime Minister John Howard said regardless of its findings, his government’s decision to join the invasion of Iraq was correct and he has no regrets about it, as he launched the report.

“The inquiry has found no evidence of politicisation of the assessments on Iraq, either overt or perceived,” he said.

“Disagree with our decision (to join the campaign), say that we were wrong, say that we were misguided, but don’t accuse us of heavying the intelligence agencies,” Mr Howard said.

The report also proposes an extensive list of recommendations to improve the functioning of intelligence agencies, including doubling funding and staff, and implementing better oversight arrangements and more transparency and accountability.

The Flood report was ordered in March following a parliamentary inquiry into pre-war intelligence about Iraq’s WMD.

Mr Flood was also asked to investigate claims of other intelligence failures, including about the October 2002 Bali bombings that claimed 202 lives, many of them Australian.

The report found that Australian agencies should have known more about Jemaah Islamiyah, but it noted that the inquiry had seen no evidence to indicate any Australian service, including the spy agency ASIO, had any specific warning of the attack.

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