jeudi 14 janvier 2010

Alastair Campbell devant la commission sur l'Iraq (2e partie)

J'ai fini de lire la deuxième partie de la matinée de l'audition d'Alastair Campbell devant l'Iraq Inquiry. C'est toujours aussi passionnant et précis. Voici quelques passages clés :

* Tony Blair a toujours privilégié la solution diplomatique, mais a toujours été prêt à aller au-delà si Saddam Hussein ne coopérait pas :
I think the position at that time was very much, as he said publicly on a number of occasions, and as he said right up to the point of the invasion, that, in his view, this was the best route to resolve this issue peacefully. He still believed, right to the end, I think, that that could have been done, if Saddam had responded in a different way and, in particular, if some of the bigger powers in the United Nations had responded in a different way, as it were, during the denouement just prior to -- in March.


SIR MARTIN GILBERT: But the subtext or the square bracket is that if the United Nations route failed, Britain and the United States would have to take military action. MR ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: I think, once 1441 was agreed and once the French had failed to get 1441 to say what they wanted it to say, then I think that is the obvious logical conclusion.
SIR MARTIN GILBERT: But not before? That was not discussed before?
MR ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: I don't think before, no.

* Le fameux document de septembre 2002 que Tony Blair a présenté devant le Parlement ne servait pas à faire avancer la position d'un conflit contre l'Iraq, mais émanait d'une logique authentique de transparence sur les renseignements validés par les chefs des agences et qui jusqu'alors n'étaient disponibles qu'à un nombre réduit de personnes.

Now, once he has made that decision, as the Prime Minister, and ultimately the head of the intelligence services as well, then, where I sit, I have to kind of do my part of that -- the job that follows from that, and they have to do it, but at no point did anybody, from the Prime Minister down, say to anybody within the intelligence services, "Look, you have got to tailor it to fit this argument, that argument". It just never happened.
SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But the pressure is on --
MR ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: Yes, but if John Scarlett --
SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: You are trying to make a case. We have heard from Sir William Ehrman who stressed how careful were officials to indicate that intelligence was sporadic and patchy, poor, limited. The 9 September estimates on which much of the dossier was based says that intelligence remains limited. So there is a problem here that you want a strong case, but it has to be based on limited evidence.
MR ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: All I can say is that that document that was presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister was -- it was a JIC [Joint Intelligence Committee] document with the Prime Minister's foreword upon it, and I think that the -- if that had been the view that -- so when the Prime Minister said, for example, in the foreword, what he believed the intelligence had assessed, that's what he believed the intelligence had assessed, because to quote John Sawers' evidence to you, he believed the intelligence. Why shouldn't he? So I think actually, in a sense, I -- I don't really -- I don't believe that the dossier in any sense misrepresented the position. I think it was cautious. I think it was -- I think everybody involved in this was aware of the unprecedented nature of it, and for that -- in part because of that took great care in the handling of it and -- look, let's be absolutely frank. I don't think we would be even having this exchange if it was not for the controversy which subsequently ensued, which was, may I say it, not of our doing?


THE CHAIRMAN: Can I intervene? I just want to establish one point, if I may, just regarding Sir John Scarlett and indeed others' ability to raise points on the text of the foreword. Sir John told us that he saw the foreword as something quite separate to the text of the dossier, and that is not disputed, but he also told us that it was, in his judgment, an overtly political statement, yes, signed by the Prime Minister and not something therefore that he could change. Desmond Bowen, in his evidence -- or, rather, in a minute indeed -- said much the same thing. Now, they had the opportunity to intervene, they could, but they didn't, because they felt they couldn't.
MR ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: I don't -- look --
THE CHAIRMAN: You don't agree with that?
MR ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: I'm not disagreeing with how -- look, I don't -- I'm not going to say anything remotely critical about John Scarlett, for whom I have huge regard, but I don't believe that, had any of the JIC thought that the foreword in any sense overstated the case to a degree that would make the work that they had done -- hit its credibility, that they would -- either they didn't feel they had the opportunity to say something, or, indeed, that they wouldn't have done. I think, as I said to you earlier, albeit that they were quite minor changes, the JIC did make changes. It is not as if they say, "That text there a sacrosanct. You can't touch it".

Implicitement, la position que défend Campbell est que la présentation des renseignements s'est faite sur ce qui était établi à l'époque comme viable. On sait aujourd'hui que les informations étaient erronées, mais selon Campbell, les réserves exprimées dans la presse par certains agents n'étaient pas la position relayée par les chefs des services.

Un autre passage est intéressant également concerne l'utilisation de l'expression "beyond doubt" sur le fait que l'Iraq continuait son programme de développement d'ADM. Campbell est assez peu convaincant dans son argumentation de l'usage d'un tel qualificatif pour des renseignements, car on sait qu'une marge d'erreur est inhérente aux informations recueillies par les services de renseignements et que la précaution est de rigueur.

Il me reste l'après-midi à lire. La suite à venir.

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