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Failing Intelligence: How Blair Led Us into War in Iraq Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Length: 252 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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"Compelling and depressing stuff from the Whitehall expert on Iraq s weapons of mass destruction." --Professor Peter Hennessy

Brian Jones has given us an extraordinarily important book, written by an insider who retained integrity whilst his superiors, and most of the politicians, compromised theirs... we celebrate the publication of Failing Intelligence, which is a genuine blow for freedom. --Tony Simpson - The Spokesman

Brian Jones, who was then a member of the scientific directorate of the Defence Intelligence Staff and has now given his revealing and angry account in Failing Intelligence. --New York Review of Books

Brian Jones Failing Intelligence documents how the security establishment utterly failed to act honestly, independently and on the country's behalf but instead colluded with Blair's reckless embrace of the Bush 'kick-ass' strategy. --Anthony Barnett, Open Democracy

This is one of the most clear and fascinating insider accounts yet of the Iraq debacle --David Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Dead Hand

About the Author

Now retired, Brian Jones was formerly in the scientific and technical directorate of the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) and was responsible for analysing all intelligence on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. He was the first British intelligence official to go public on the misuse of intelligence to justify the war.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 672 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback Publishing (31 Oct. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00753Q5D6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #233,138 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brian Jones was the head for many years of the part of the UK's Defence Intelligence Staff which deals with Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) weapons. This book is largely about the use and abuse of intelligence before and after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 It's a book which has many strengths, but there are two things to bear in mind before starting it. First, Jones was a mid-level technical specialist, and does not claim any familiarity with the main political actors, nor for that matter with the Middle East. Secondly, he is not an expert on NBC as such (he was by training a metallurgist) and there is little detail in the book on the underlying technologies, although, because of his job, he was obviously well-informed about them. The strength of the book is its detailed (at times almost obsessive) description of how intelligence analysis is actually carried out, and the problems of inadequate and often conflicting information. He brings out very well the problems which result when decision-makers want clear judgements, which intelligence cannot provide. It's very much an analysts book, in several senses. He subjects published documents and later statements to various enquiries to microscopic analysis, pointing out confusions and contradictions, as well as downright mis-statements. It may be a surprise to some how much words matter in an analytical context, and the exact choice of words can be enormously significant, as he shows. It's also a defence of his own team and his colleagues, as well as a vigorous condemnation of the influence of non-analysts in the way that information gets passed on and used. Altogether, a book which is probably unique in its focus and its authority, so long as you recognise its limitations.Read more ›
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Let me say at the beginning that this book is not light reading. It is an incredibly detailed - meticulously so, in fact - description of the part Scientific and Technical Intelligence played (or more accurately, was allowed to play) in the period leading up to the Iraq war, and how that interacted with the Whitehall machine of the day.

It is clear that Dr Jones, in his quest for clarity and precision, ruffled some feathers along the way. The description of the very limited circulation report that appeared to pull the rug from under Dr Jones' attempts to maintain clarity and authority in his Branch's output smacks very much of a device created to bring an end to the matter, as does the account of 'the shutters coming down' in the form of an expected pre-JIC meeting that didn't happen. Dr Jones must be a person of great personal courage, for him to have been silenced in this way. As a precursor (pun intended) to future events, Dr Jones mentions how one of his experts was scapegoated over the Iraq Supergun affair. Apparently, working in 'DI' can have its hazards.

A book like this appears perhaps once or twice per century. For those not familiar with the arcane terminology of 'intelligence' such as 'CX', 'JIC', or 'NOFORN', a glossary is provided. This account of a particular period in the UK's political, military, and social life is fundamental reading for researchers in those fields. Rarely have the operations of the 'Whitehall machine' been made so public. It is first-class reading, and is a testament to Dr Jones' integrity at a time when the word was debased by the political leaders of the day.

Sadly, Dr Jones passed away in February 2012 at the comparatively early age of 67.

If you want to see a dramatised account of how the Americans dealt with their Iraqi-WMD sceptical analysts, search for the DVD 'Fair Game' starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.
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Format: Paperback
Although there have been many books examining the disaster of Blair's Iraq policy, none have had the detail or authority of this one. Written by David Kelly's boss, it explores in great detail the errors omissions and sometimes downright deceit which led Britain into Blair's war. As head of the UK Defence Intelligence Staff, Jones has two great strengths. First, he brings a clear mind to describing the overall pattern of events as the intelligence services drifted into endorsing a war for which they did not have the evidence. and second he gives new details on some issues, such as the 45 minutes section of the dossier.
Both these contributions make it impossible to believe the evidence already given by some of the most senior witnesses at the Chilcot inquiry. Read this book before the inquiry reports. Then check to see what Chilcot glosses over.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been reading a lot of US books on the decision to go to war, mainly written by journalists, and saw this book and bought it. I liked it, in that it was a very full, almost excessively full, examination of the September 2012 dossier, the way dissent from the false conclusions was sidelined, and, interestingly, the author's view that the subsequent enquiries were insufficiently rigorous. (Let's see what Chilcott brings!). So far so good, although it was at times a challenging read because of the extreme subtlety of some of the points - for this reader anyway.

The reason why it is not 5 star for me is that the level of careful detail of the arguments can get a bit tedious, and at times I wanted to say "just give me the headlines". He clearly writes with a lot more care than most people would give to his words when reading them. The US books seem to me to make a detailed story clearer and more readable than Dr Jones managed with his. I could even see why the higher ups - for whom I have no time, and who I think sold us a war by dictatorial and undemocratic chicanery, ironically a war intended to remove dictatorship and bring democracy in Iraq - could have found Dr Jones a bit pedantic, and why they might try to keep him out of the loop.

Having said that, I greatly respect Dr Jones for his membership of "the awkward squad", and his courage in the face of what must have been excessive pressure from the shabby bunch of chancers pulling the strings (and the wool over eyes). His early death is a very sad reward for his outstanding service to the nation.

On a couple of minor points - I was unclear at the end whether Dr Jones's apparent dislike of Blair preceded the dossier crimes or was a result of them. Either way, he seemed to not like him, a view I share.
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