UK Joint Intelligence Committee

From Academic Kids

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) was founded in 1936 as a sub-committee of the Chiefs of Staff. It grew to maturity in World War II, becoming the senior intelligence assessment body in the UK. In 1957 it moved to the Cabinet Office, where it has since been served by a dedicated Assessments Staff who prepare draft intelligence assessments for the committee to consider.

The main task of the JIC is to produce definitive top-level all-source assessments for UK ministers and senior officials. In addition it agrees (for approval by ministers) the requirements and priorities which direct the collection work of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and GCHQ and inform the work of the Security Service (MI5) and the Defence Intelligence Staff. It evaluates the performance of the UK intelligence agencies and presents summaries to the Prime Minister and other ministers. The JIC normally meets once a week. Its chairman was John Scarlett until July 2004, when he moved back to become the new Chief of MI6.The present interim chairman is William Ehrman, a career member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In addition to its Chairman, the JIC comprises the heads of the British intelligence agencies, the Chief and Deputy Chief of the Defence Intelligence Staff, the Chief of the Assessments Staff, representatives of the Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other departments, the Intelligence and Security Coordinator [1] (, and the Prime Minister's advisor on foreign affairs. Full details of the UK central intelligence machine, of which the JIC is part, are set out in a now somewhat dated official document at [2] ( JIC meetings are in two parts: the first at which Australia, Canada and the US are represented; and the second, with no foreigners present. Britain's European allies do not attend any substantive JIC meeting, though they may be allowed a courtesy appearance on occasion.

The JIC recently played a controversial role in compiling a dossier in which the UK government set out the threat posed by Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction in the run up to war. There were allegations that the dossier was "sexed up" prior to publication in order to bolster the case for military action. Evidence that the wording of the dossier was "strengthened" was presented to the Hutton Inquiry, a judicial review set up to investigate the circumstances leading up to the death of an eminent government weapons expert David Kelly who had criticised the wording of the dossier in off-the-record briefings to journalists. Dr. Kelly committed suicide shortly after his identity was confirmed to the media by the government. JIC members John Scarlett and Sir Richard Dearlove (head of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service) gave evidence to the Inquiry in which they argued that the words used in the dossier were consistent with their assessment of the intelligence available at the time.

Despite the work of the 1400 strong Iraq Survey Group in post-war Iraq no evidence of actual WMD capability was uncovered, according to its final report in September 2004. The US and UK Governments both announced investigations into the assessment of WMD intelligence in the run up to war. The British inquiry, headed by Lord Butler, in its report in July 2004, while critical of the British intelligence community, did not recommend that anyone should resign. Similarly, the US Senate Intelligence Committee, while critical of US intelligence officials, did not recommend any resignations in its report, also issued in July 2004.

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