German worked in Tommy Franks' office in Iraq: report
2 March 2006, BERLIN/WASHINGTON - German politicians Thursday played down a new report in the New York Times detailing assistance to the United States by German intelligence agents during the Iraq war.
2 March 2006
BERLIN/WASHINGTON - German politicians Thursday played down a new report in the New York Times detailing assistance to the United States by German intelligence agents during the Iraq war.
The report said a German intelligence officer worked in the office of the top American commander of the Iraq invasion, General Tommy Franks, and passed on information collected by two German agents in Baghdad.
Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat member of the Parliamentary Control Commission which discusses intelligence activities, called the report "absurd and unreliable."
Max Stadler, a member of the opposition Free Democrats, said the report contained nothing new.
The Times gave the source for its report as a classified section of a review compiled by Scholz's committee. But it was not clear whether this meant a government report prepared for the committee.
The Times said the review stated that the decision to station an intelligence officer in Franks' office in Qatar from early 2003 through the invasion on March 20, 2003, was made at the highest levels of the German government, even though Berlin was a staunch critic of the Iraq invasion.
A version of the report was released to the public, but the original 300-page dossier was cut down to 90 pages, and, according to the Times, omitted such information as the stationing of the German liaison officer in Franks' office.
The Times said it was able to view a copy of the classified copy from a German journalist.
It said the German intelligence officer made 25 reports to the Americans, answering 18 of 33 specific requests for information during the first few months of the Iraq war.
Most of the information was on sites that should not be bombed, including diplomatic compounds, but eight of the reports had to do with Iraqi police and soldiers in Baghdad, including two that provided the geographic coordinates of military units.
The German report, however, insisted that German intelligence did not direct airstrikes, the Times said.
Stadler said the fact a German intelligence officer made 25 reports to the Americans had already been published in both German and US media.
Scholz called the Times report "a rehash of previously known facts that has nothing to do with serious research." He said the Times was trying to sell excerpts from a government report to a parliamentary committee as further proof of the involvement of German intelligence agents in Iraq.
"This involvement was cleared up long ago by the Parliamentary Control Commission," he said.
While the German report indicated the intelligence cooperation as systematic, 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.
Germany has long insisted it provided little help to the US-led invasion forces, but a parliamentary review and news reports indicated regular cooperation.
The Times also reported earlier this week that the German intelligence agents in Baghdad in 2003 obtained a copy of Saddam Hussein's defence plans for the capital, which were passed on to the United States.
The German government strongly denied the story and said it was never aware of the Baghdad defence plans, which the Times said it obtained from a classified US military study.
According to the classified review cited Thursday by the Times, 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 secret service coordinator.
The Times said the operation was stopped at the end of the invasion and the three intelligence agents involved received the American Meritorious Service Medal recognizing the "critical information to United States Central Command to support combat operations in Iraq."
The Parliamentary Control Commission is due to meet again on Monday to discuss this week's revelations. Opposition parties are pressing for a full parliamentary inquiry.
Subject: German news