UK Iraq Inquiry hears that spy agency cut corners

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2011 4:13 PM
UK Iraq Inquiry hears that spy agency cut corners

A former British intelligence official said the country's spy agency cut corners while collecting evidence to back the government's case for the war in Iraq.

The Iraq Inquiry headed by Sir John Chilcot on Thursday released an edited transcript of testimony from the former spy, whose name was not released. The ex-spy said his agency, MI6, validated intelligence that was later withdrawn after sources were deemed unreliable.

He said MI6 was "probably too eager to please" the government and was guilty of "flying a bit too close to the sun."

"The pressure to generate results, I fear, did lead to the cutting of corners," he told the inquiry.

The spy also said the agency had concerns over former Prime Minister Tony Blair's head of communications, Alistar Campbell, who he described as "somewhat of an unguided missile."

MI6 suffered from Campbell's tendency to "pass various stories and information to journalists without prior consultation," the spy, identified as SIS2, testified.

Campbell responded to the testimony in a Twitter message Thursday, writing that "No such views expressed to me" at the time.

The inquiry is examining mistakes made before and after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It won't apportion blame or assign criminal liability, but is expected to publish its report this year with recommendations for handling future conflicts.