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Talking up terror

Intelligence officials systematically inflate the terrorist threat. Ministers must ask the right questions

By Peter Lilley   November 2003

Dramatic events often bring long submerged problems to the surface. The Iraq war and subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction highlight several issues about scrutiny, accountability and the use of intelligence. They can be summarised in three questions. Who is to be held responsible for bad advice? How can parliament better scrutinise complex material such as intelligence reports? And should law officers be more accountable?

The key question post-Iraq is: who misled whom about the existence of WMD? Did the government mislead the public, or was the government misled by intelligence assessments? The doctrine of accountability has always…

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