Joint Intelligence Committee (United Kingdom)
|Parent department||Cabinet Office|
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The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) is the part of the British Cabinet Office responsible for directing the national intelligence organisations of the United Kingdom on behalf of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and providing advice to the Cabinet related to security, defence and foreign affairs. It oversees the setting of priorities for the three intelligence and security agencies (Secret Intelligence Service, Security Service, GCHQ), as well as Defence Intelligence, and establishes professional standards for intelligence analysis in government.
The JIC is subject to oversight by the Intelligence and Security Committee. The Committee is chaired by a permanent chairman, a member of the Senior Civil Service, and is supported by the Joint Intelligence Organisation which includes an assessments staff. The assessment staff is made up of experienced senior analysts drawn from across government and the military and conducts all-source analysis on subjects of interest to the committee. JIC papers draw input from across the intelligence and security agencies and other related bodies.
Membership comprises the heads of the three collection agencies—the Secret Intelligence Service, Security Service and GCHQ—the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence Staff, the Chief of the Assessment Staff, representatives of the Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other departments, and the Prime Minister's adviser on foreign affairs.
The JIC has three functions:
- Advising the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers on intelligence collection and analysis priorities in support of national objectives.
- Directing the collection and analysis effort of the Secret Intelligence Service, Government Communications Headquarters, the Security Service and the Ministry of Defence based on those recommendations. The direction to the Ministry of Defence is implemented by Defence Intelligence.
- Assuring the professional standards of civilian intelligence analysis staff across the range of intelligence related activities in Her Majesty's Government.
Requirements and priorities
The JIC drafts the annual Requirements and Priorities for collection and analysis, for approval by Ministers. These support the strategic national security objectives of the UK:
- Protect UK and British territories, and British nationals and property, from a range of threats, including from terrorism and espionage;
- Protect and promote Britain's defence and foreign policy interests;
- Protect and promote the UK's economic well-being; and
- Support the prevention and detection of serious crime.
The JIC was founded in 1936 as a sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence, the advisory peacetime defence planning agency. During World War II, it became the senior intelligence assessment body in the UK. In 1957 the JIC moved to the Cabinet Office, where its assessments staff prepare draft intelligence assessments for the committee to consider.
Since founding, the Committee's Chair has been as follows:
- Sir Ralph Stevenson, 1936–39
- Lord Victor Cavendish Bentinck, 1939–45 (subsequently The 9th Duke of Portland)
- Sir Harold Caccia, 1945–48 (subsequently The Lord Caccia)
- Sir William Hayter, 1948–49
- Sir Patrick Reilly, 1950–53
- Sir Patrick Dean, 1953–60
- Sir Hugh Stevenson, 1960–63
- Sir Bernard Burrows, 1963–66
- Sir Denis Greenhill, 1966–68 (subsequently The Lord Greenhill)
- Sir Edward Peck, 1968–70
- Sir Stewart Crawford, 1970–73
- Sir Geoffrey Arthur, 1973–75
- Sir Antony Duff, 1975–79
- Sir Antony Acland, 1979–82
- Sir Patrick Wright, 1982–84 (subsequently The Lord Wright)
- Sir Percy Craddock, 1985–92
- Sir Rodric Braithwaite, 1992–93
- Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, 1993–94 (subsequently Baroness Neville-Jones)
- Sir Paul Lever, 1994–96
- Sir Colin Budd, 1996–97
- Sir Michael Pakenham, 1997–2000
- Sir Peter Ricketts, 2000 – September 2001
- Sir John Scarlett, 2001–2004
- Sir William Ehrman, 2004–2005
- Sir Richard Mottram, 2005–2007 (as Permanent Secretary, Intelligence, Security and Resilience)
- Sir Alex Allan, 2007–2011
- Jon Day, since 2012
Ever since World War II, the chief of the London station of the United States Central Intelligence Agency has attended the JIC's weekly meetings. One former US intelligence officer has described this as the "highlight of the job" for the London CIA chief. Resident intelligence chiefs from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand may attend when certain issues are discussed.
Role in the Iraq dossier
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 (then 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 has so far been 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 of Brockwell, 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.
- "National Intelligence Machinery" (PDF). The Stationery Office. November 2006.
- "Why no questions about the CIA?". New Statesman. September 2003.