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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Butler Report
Lord Butler
Lord Butler has found no evidence of deliberate distortion of pre-war intelligence

In a HARDtalk interview on 14 July, Tim Sebastian speaks to Dr Hans Blix, the former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector, about the Butler Report into Britain's pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

Lord Butler's report on Britain's pre-war intelligence on Iraq's armaments says it contained many serious flaws.

Lord Butler was asked to investigate the accuracy of Britain's pre-war intelligence after the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Hans Blix was the UN's Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq before the war.

Here are some key quotes from his HARDtalk interview with Tim Sebastian which was filmed in Stockholm.

INTELLIGENCE CONCERNS

Tim Sebastian: "At what point did you tell Tony Blair that his intelligence was defective?"

Hans Blix: "In February telephone conversations with him I told him we were not impressed with the intelligence."

TB:" So you said it was wrong?"

HB: "I said I was not impressed"

TS: "When was that?"

HB: "It was on 20th February 2003. I said to Mr Blair that we needed evidence and we did not have evidence and I did say, and I described in the book I published, that it would be paradoxical if they went in with hundreds and thousands of men and found nothing. And he said "no, no" we are convinced, all the intelligence services are sure, even the Egyptian intelligence service tells us so, so I think he was quite convinced it was in good faith but it was wrong."

TS: "If you were telling Tony Blair the intelligence was wrong, in essence, his intelligence from MI6 was wrong and that he didn't change his assessment do you still think he acted in good faith?"

HB: "I think what he should have done would have been to ask for more inspections. But the Americans had a time limit, some time in March."

TS: "In the original intelligence that was presented to the Prime Minister it contained caveats and questions marks. When it was presented to Parliament and the public, those question marks and caveats had gone. Is that still acting in good faith?"

HB: "No I think they should have preserved the question marks."

TS: "It's not in good faith?"

HB: "I think it was a spin that was not acceptable. They put exclamation marks where there had been question marks and I think that is hyping, a spin, that leads the public to the wrong conclusions."

TS: "It's a distortion?

HB: "Yes a spin is a distortion, the public doesn't get the whole truth."

BUTLER COMMISSION

HB: "The Butler Commission says that it would be rash to conclude that there aren't any weapons. Well, I don't think it would be very rash and I think already, from May 2003, we could draw the conclusions fairly safely, that there weren't any weapons.

TS: "Do you feel vindicated?"

HB: "Yes."

TS: "Because you were vilified?"

HB: "Yes I was vilified, ...If we are in a court we want examination of witnesses and cross examination, a critical mind to look at the evidence and we were missing that in this case."

IRAQ SECURITY

HB: "When we hear that the world is better and safer after Saddam has disappeared I would disagree. It's better, the only big gain of the war is that Saddam is gone but safer? How can one claim that it is safer. I mean it has not stifled terrorism it has stimulated terrorism."

TS: "What would you say to Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, President Bush today given the results of Butler inquiry and the senate inquiry?"

HB: "I think I would tell them they should pay more attention to what independent international inspections says. We were reporting to the Security Council ..and our reports were much closer to the truth than the national intelligence services."

SPIN

HB: "I think they hyped the report (on Iraq), evidently."

TS: "Who do you mean?"

HB: "Well collectively since the government and the civil servants put together the dossier for the public, they together were both responsible for the contents of the report."

HB: "Politicians probably felt they had to simplify matters for the public but in so doing I think they also distorted the contents. The question marks were gone where they should have remained. Above all I think the mistake was they should have asked for further inspections because if inspections had gone on into the spring of 2003 we would have been able to go to all the sites that the intelligence had in the UK, the US or elsewhere and there wouldn't have been any weapons of mass destruction and then both intelligence and politicians should have drawn the conclusions that there weren't any."

TS: "And that was a dereliction of duty that they didn't?"

HB: "It was an error, I think on their part, yes."

TS: "So if they did their best it wasn't a very good best then was it?"

HB: "No, that's right you can say that."

The HARDtalk interview with Hans Blix can be seen on News 24 at 23:30 on Wednesday 14th July and at 04:30 on Thursday 15th July.

It can be seen on BBC World at 18:30 GMT and 23:30 GMT on Wednesday 14th July and at 03:30 GMT, 08:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT and 15:30 GMT on Thursday 15th July.



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