This book is Ashton Robinson’s unique eye-witness account of the ISG’s operations in Iraq, based at Camp Slayer, in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces the group’s task was to search for weapons of mass destruction or to account for them if they did not exist. But the ISG discovered so much more. The ISG unintentionally gained a fascinating insight into Saddam’s dictatorship through interviews with most of ‘the Quartet’, Saddam’s senior committee of trusted lieutenants, and uncovered a web of international corruption surrounding Iraq’s erosion of UN sanctions. The author interweaves his daily experiences in Iraq with interviews with Saddam’s men and historical analysis of pre- and post-war Iraq. He explores Australia’s intelligence relationships with allies and also covers the human rights issues in the coalition occupation of Iraq, as well as the development of the insurgency in Iraq and the rise of ISIL. This story is not just about the Iraq War; it’s a rare look into Australia’s allied intelligence relations, and the international politics, intrigue and corruption surrounding the war.
Ashton Robinson began his career in the then Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. Most of his subsequent experience in government was with the Australian Department of Defence, the Iraq Survey Group in Baghdad and the Office of National Assessments (ONA) – part of the Australian Prime Minister’s portfolio – where he dealt with long-term strategic matters, including terrorism, transnational crime and irregular migration. Throughout his career Ashton has been an occasional lecturer at Wollongong, Sydney and La Trobe universities as well as at the Australian Defence Force Academy and at the Australian Command and Staff College in Canberra. Ashton joined the University of Melbourne’s School of Social and Political Sciences as an Honorary Fellow in 2016. He now blogs for the Lowy Institute’s Interpreter.