Australian PM John Howard has always insisted that he went to war in Iraq based on the best advice of Australian intelligence services, and that any faulty intelligence on WMDs etc originated with the US and UK intelligence groups. But now the SMH reveals that Australia's leading expert on weapons of mass destruction defied political and bureaucratic barriers to warn the Prime Minister that his case for war against Iraq was based on falsehoods and would make Australia a bigger terrorist target.
"Bob Mathews, a 35-year veteran of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, wrote to John Howard as a private citizen three days before he committed Australia to the war - a last, desperate act after the expert's superiors repeatedly blocked him from expressing his views.So what was Howard's response? Dr Mathews' "actions were investigated, his travel was curtailed and charges were contemplated."
Dr Mathews was a principal research scientist for weapons of mass destruction and arms control at the organisation when he wrote the letter and has an esteemed international reputation in WMD and counter-terrorism.
The contents of Dr Mathews' letter, published today by the Herald, are eerily preminiscent. He told Howard:
- There was not even circumstantial evidence to back the view that Saddam Hussein had substantial stockpiles of usable WMD.So John Howard willfully ignored the advice of his top WMD expert - and others, let's not forget - and took Australia into a war based on lies, in which over 35,000 people have already died. That is an offence for which he should not only resign, but also be prosecuted under international law.
- If he did have WMD, and if Iraq were invaded, there was a "high probability" they would be passed on to terrorists. He said there was no chance of their falling into al-Qaeda's hands while Saddam remained in power.
- Australia would "face an increased risk of terrorist acts" if it joined the invasion, which was a "serious distraction to the fight against terrorism".
- Australia would have greater difficulties dealing with South-East Asian nations in combating terrorism due to the Iraq war.
- The United Nations must be given more time for inspections, and was an important curb on Saddam's WMD ambitions.