Carne Ross

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Person.png Carne Ross   Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Unwelcome Guests WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(diplomat, anarchist, whistleblower)
Carne Ross.jpg
ExposedUK/Deep state
A UK diplomat turned dissident. In a 2010 piece the UK Observer he charged the UK 'deep state' with hiding evidence from the Chilcot inquiry.

Carne Ross is a former member of HM Diplomatic Service (1989-2004) and resigned after giving then-secret evidence on the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War. He then founded and now runs Independent Diplomat, a non-profit diplomatic advisory group. [1]


From 1995-98 Carne Ross worked in London on the Middle East peace process and as speechwriter to foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind, before joining the UK Delegation at the United Nations, where the issue of Iraq - he was the key British negotiator with the Iraqi government and the weapons inspectors - was soon to take over his life:

"I think sanctions [against Iraq] were wrong and they harmed the wrong people. They did immeasurable damage to the Iraqi civilian population. We were conscious of that damage, but we did too little to address it. We said we were trying to address it, but frankly it wasn't enough and I'm not proud of my own role in that because I was a vigorous defender of British policy in the security council. We would not have treated a European or American people in that way."


Carne Ross was in New York on September 11, 2001 and his recollection of the attack on the World Trade Centre is vivid:

"I saw the first plane go over and then went to a ludicrous EU meeting which dragged on as reports were coming in of the attacks. The meeting ended after both planes struck. The UN building was evacuated and we were sent home. My home was downtown, so I walked back against this flood of people coming the other way - people covered in ashes and weeping. I went to my apartment on the south side of Union Square which looks south over lower Manhattan. I watched all afternoon, watched this huge pall of smoke which didn't go away for weeks. You could smell it in the apartment and in the streets around for weeks afterwards."

The lesson Ross draws from 9-11 is of the compassion of New Yorkers and the way political leaders in the US and UK misjudged the mood:

"There was no desire for vengeance among people on the streets. Union Square became a collecting point for people to light candles, pray, sing, grieve. I'd make my way through these crowds every day and it affected me very profoundly. Tragically, that compassion is something that the governments of both the US and Britain have seemed to ignore since."


In the wake of 9-11, Ross was given responsibility for UK policy on Afghanistan. He quickly realised that meant preparing for war. When the invasion came, he spent six weeks in Kabul negotiating with warlords. Again his account tempers the excitement of the moment with the disillusionment of having to come to terms with what could be achieved. The allies didn't understand Afghanistan, didn't have sufficient forces on the ground, were trapped in their fortified compounds, were naive about the willingness of the warlords to cede power, and were far too optimistic in their belief that opium production could be curtailed.


Carne Ross returned to New York and, increasingly doubtful of the wisdom of British policy in the Middle East, decided to take a year-long sabbatical, joining the graduate international affairs programme at the New School in Greenwich Village, where he studied a subject of which Donald Rumsfeld might approve - the limits of knowledge in decision-making:

"I was ultimately trying to grasp the claim in diplomacy, and in policy-making in general, to knowledge because I had doubts about the whole thing. What is it that we know, how do we know it and how can we make policy on the basis of that knowledge? Examining the theory helped crystallise a lot of my doubts."

While he was on sabbatical, Britain and the US invaded Iraq and Ross's doubts turned to anger:

"I was very close to my former colleagues in the mission and was in touch with a lot of the diplomats at the UN Security Council. I was very conscious of what the British government was doing, and I was very sceptical of it. I contemplated resigning at the time and making a fuss, but felt that resigning would be standing up in front of a runaway train and I'd just be crushed.
"It was an agonised experience because I knew that the evidence they were presenting for WMD was totally implausible. I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too. We all believed the Iraqis had something, but that is very different from saying they had that much. The intelligence indicated that they'd failed to account for what they had in the past. They hadn't given us a complete account of the disposal of their past stocks, so we thought there was something, but there was no way that the claim of an imminent threat was sustainable. The 45-minute stuff was ridiculous."

He had lost faith in the Foreign Office but had no idea what to do with his life, so at the end of his sabbatical year he engineered a compromise - a secondment to the UN in Kosovo.

Butler Inquiry

In the summer of 2004, he supplied a secret, written testimony to the Butler Inquiry on intelligence and weapons of mass destruction. The act of giving evidence finally brought his career as a British diplomat to an end:

"I told [the inquiry] what I knew in terms of the evidence on WMD and what the inspectors told me during the four and a half years that I dealt with it. I also wrote down my views on the available alternatives to war, which were fairly forthright. I felt that war should be the last alternative, and emphatically it was not in this case. There was a very good alternative to war that was never properly pursued, which was to close down Saddam's sources of illegal revenue. That testimony crystallised what I felt about the Iraq issue, and once I'd written it I felt there was no going back. I had to quit. I couldn't honestly work for this government with a smile on my face."[2]

Chilcot Inquiry

In March 2013, Carne Ross revealed he was ‘warned’ by Margaret Aldred, the senior civil servant running the Iraq Inquiry, not to mention the late biological weapons expert Dr David Kelly when giving evidence. Ross was a close friend of Dr Kelly, who had been named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing the Blair Government of lying to take Britain into the 2003 Iraq war. Ross said:

"I was taken into the room where witnesses sat and shortly before I was to testify an official came in and said, 'You are not to speak about David Kelly'.
"I wasn’t happy about it. I felt very strongly about David. He was a man of honesty and integrity.
"I wanted to remember him in that setting and they prevented me for no good reason. What difference would it have made? It’s pure control freakery. It was weird. Chilcot was incredibly tense. Clearly he feared I was going to say something."[3]


A Quote by Carne Ross

UK/Deep state“I testified last week to the Chilcot inquiry. My experience demonstrates an emerging and dangerous problem with the process. This is not so much a problem with Sir John Chilcot and his panel, but rather with the government bureaucracy – Britain's own "deep state" – that is covering up its mistakes and denying access to critical documents... I asked for access to all the documents I had worked on as Britain's Iraq "expert" at the UN Security Council, including intelligence assessments, records of discussions with the US, and the long paper trail on the WMD dossier. Large files were sent to me to peruse at the UK mission to the UN. However, long hours spent reviewing the files revealed that most of the key documents I had asked for were not there. I was told that specific documents, such as the records of prime minister Tony Blair's visit to Syria, could not be found. This is simply not plausible.”25 July 2010The Observer


Event Witnessed

9-11New York
Washington DC
North America
A complex and spectacular set of events in New York and Washington. The US government was quick to blame Al Qaeda, though no evidence of guilt was presented and there is much suspicion about what Al Qaeda really is. In the USA 9-11 assisted the Patriot Act's roll back of civil liberties, the stepping up of domestic surveillance and the financial advancement of the military industrial complex. Abroad 9-11 helped launched wars on Iraq and Afghanistan that had been planned long before.
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