Saturday, August 20, 2005

Operation Rockingham,3604,1089931,00.html

David Kelly, giving evidence to the prime minister's intelligence and security committee in closed session on July 16, the day before his suicide, said: "Within the defence intelligence services I liaise with the Rockingham cell."

Operation Rockingham was set up by the defence intelligence staff within the Ministry of Defence.

In an interview in the Scottish Sunday Herald, 8 June 2003, with Scott Ritter, the former chief weapons inspector in Iraq spoke about Operation Rockingham.

Ritter said: 'As inspections developed throughout the 1990s it became clear that Unscom were accomplishing a great deal. This became a liability for the UK and the US. Because of the level of Iraqi disarmament, France, China and Russia began talking about lifting sanctions. This wasn't what Britain and America wanted to hear - they wanted sanctions and regime change.

'Operation Rockingham became part of an effort to maintain a public mindset that Iraq was not in compliance with the inspections. They had to sustain the allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, even though Unscom was showing the opposite.'

Operation Rockingham aimed to tell lies. It aimed to create a fake picture that Saddam was armed to the teeth.

Ritter: 'Operation Rockingham cherry-picked intelligence. It received hard data but had a pre-ordained outcome in mind. It only put forward a small percentage of the facts when most were ambiguous or noted no WMD.'

Ritter described how its staff ignored proof of Saddam's compliance.

'Britain and America were involved in a programme of joint exploitation of intelligence from Iraqi defectors. There were mountains of information coming from these defectors, and Rockingham staff were receiving it and then selectively culling reports that sustained the claims that weapons of mass destruction were in existence. They ignored the vast majority of the data which mitigated against such claims...

'In terms of using selective intelligence, this policy was coming from the very highest levels.'

A written reference to Operation Rockingham is found in a 1998 British parliamentary report.

Ritter reports that Rockingham's tactics included leaking false information to the weapons inspectors, and then using the resulting inspectors' search as 'proof' of the weapons' existence.

'Rockingham was the source, in 1993, of some very controversial information which led to inspections of a suspected ballistic missile site. We went to search for the missiles but found nothing. However, our act of searching allowed the US and UK to say that the missiles existed.'



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