German parliament to probe aid for US during Iraq war

10th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

10 March 2006, BERLIN - Opposition parties Friday cleared the way for parliament to conduct an investigation into the activities of Germany's foreign intelligence agency in the fight against terrorism and allegations that German spies in Baghdad supplied target information to the US during the 2003 Iraq war.

10 March 2006

BERLIN - Opposition parties Friday cleared the way for parliament to conduct an investigation into the activities of Germany's foreign intelligence agency in the fight against terrorism and allegations that German spies in Baghdad supplied target information to the US during the 2003 Iraq war.

Negotiators from the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Greens and the Left Party agreed on an agenda for the probe, which opposition deputies are expected to sanction on Tuesday so that parliament can formally set up a seven-member commission of inquiry at the end of the month.

Peter Ramsauer, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, said the inquiry was unnecessary and could prove harmful to Germany.

In addition to examining the activities of the BND intelligence service, the inquiry will also look into clandestine CIA flights transporting terrorist suspects across German territory to secret prisons for torture.

It will also investigate whether German officials passed on information about a German citizen of Lebanese origin, Khaled el-Masri, who was mistakenly caught up in the process known as "extraordinary rendition" and interrogated in an Afghan prison before being released months later.

In two lengthy stories last week The New York Times described the activities of the BND agents in Iraq and said their involvement with the Americans was much greater than the Germans had previously acknowledged.

The BND admitted last week that one of its agents worked alongside the US military at its operations command centre during the Iraq war but said he did not pass on any information to the Americans.

The admission came in response to a claim in The New York Times that a BND liaison officer based at US Central Command in Qatar passed on information gathered by two other BND agents in Iraq before and during the early stages of the war in 2003.

Relations between Berlin and Washington at the time were at a low over then-German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's opposition to military action against Iraq, which he made the focus of the 2002 federal election campaign.

The Times said the US-German intelligence-sharing arrangement was made and approved in late 2002 by officials that included then- foreign minister Joschka Fischer and the current foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was Schroeder's intelligence services coordinator.

DPA

Subject: German news

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