Germans probe role of intelligence service in Iraq
11 May 2006, BERLIN - The German parliament on Thursday formally began an investigation into the activities of the country's foreign intelligence service during the Iraq war.
11 May 2006
BERLIN - The German parliament on Thursday formally began an investigation into the activities of the country's foreign intelligence service during the Iraq war.
The 11-member parliamentary commission of inquiry will focus on whether the BND intelligence agency helped the US military during the March 2003 invasion to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Opposition parties in parliament mustered enough votes for the inquiry, following claims in the US media that German intelligence agents in Iraq passed on sensitive information to American forces.
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.
In addition to examining the activities of the BND, the inquiry will look into clandestine CIA flights transporting terrorist suspects across German territory to secret prisons.
The BND admitted earlier this year 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 directly to the Americans.
Germany's current foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was Schroeder's intelligence services coordinator at the time.
The start of Thursday's inquiry coincided with a ceremony in Berlin marking the 50th anniversary of the BND - one of three intelligence agencies in Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel told the gathering there was no alternative to intelligence agencies, part of whose job was to exchange information with US services.
"This remains important and necessary," the chancellor said.
Subject: German News