“Prime Minister John
Howard’s department was told eight years ago that the trucking company AWB used
in Iraq was part-owned by Saddam Hussein’s regime and breached United Nations
sanctions,” reports ran yesterday.
“New evidence presented to the Cole inquiry today shows that Mr Howard’s
department was given unassessed intelligence reports in 1998 claiming the
Jordanian-based trucking firm, Alia, was part-owned by the Iraqi dictator’s
government and broke UN sanctions.”

“Unassessed intelligence?” Isn’t material
like this exactly the sort of thing that should be assessed?

Crikey put that question to a member of the
Australian intelligence community – along with an international comparison that
leapt to mind. Their response? “Yes, it is similar to what Harry
Samit of the FBI has just given evidence on in the US in the Moussaoui
case. He’d already joined the dots up about some pending 9/11-type situation.
He was right on to Moussaoui, in what was a solid professional job based on
that sort of intelligence. But he was put down ruthlessly by superiors, in a
way he has described as ‘criminally negligent’ and only mindful of their own
career ambitions.”

Here’s hoping there isn’t too much other unassessed intelligence out
there.

Peter Fray

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