Germany ‘gave US defence plans for Baghdad’
27 February 2006
BERLIN – The German government Monday rejected a US newspaper report that German intelligence agents passed on plans for the defence of Baghdad to the United States ahead of the US-led invasion.
The New York Times, quoting from a classified US military study, said two agents of the German secret service (BND) in Iraq obtained copies of the plans and a German official relayed them to American commanders about a month before the March 2003 invasion.
“The assertion that the two BND agents obtained plans for the defence of Baghdad and passed them via the chain of command is inaccurate,” government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told a news conference in Berlin.
The reported incident came as US-German ties were at a low over then-German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s opposition to the war, which he made the focus of the 2002 federal election campaign.
Last Thursday, the German government released a report that said Germany provided the United States with information on developments in Iraq that was gathered by German agents who remained in the country after the invasion.
The information included military and troop activities and the location of Iraqi special forces, often ascertained with the help of GPS equipment, the dossier said, while denying media stories that German intelligence helped the United States target its bombs. The government report did not mention the Baghdad defence plans.
The Times report indicated that Germany provided a great deal more assistance to the United States than the Berlin government has publicly acknowledged.
The Times said two German intelligence agents in Baghdad obtained the defence plans for the Iraqi capital, which provided the United States with information on where and how president Saddam Hussein planned to deploy his soldiers. It also gave a look into top-level Iraqi strategy sessions, the Times said.
The plans revealed that Saddam had changed his longstanding defence plans for Baghdad that involved placing forces along the road to Baghdad to weaken any invaders before they reached the capital.
According to the Times, the US military study said Saddam notified commanders of a new plan in December 2002, which involved concentrating soldiers on four defensive rings near Baghdad.
Wilhelm said the BND was at the time unaware of such a meeting and of the existence of the new defensive plan.
Opposition parties have called for a parliamentary investigation into the role played by German intelligence in Iraq during the US military campaign to unseat Saddam Hussein.
Such a probe is supported by the Greens party, which was the junior member of Schroeder’s Social Democrat-led coalition government that opposed the war.
One of the party’s former leading figures, Joschka Fischer, was foreign minister under Schroeder. Germany’s current Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was Schroeder’s secret service coordinator.
Other countries that publicly expressed reservations about the March 2003 invasion also provided help to the invaders that they did not publicly disclose, the New York Times said.
Egypt, for instance, allowed refuelling tankers for aircraft to be placed in its territory and allowed warplanes use of its airspace and warships use of its waters, and Saudi Arabia allowed US special forces to initiate attacks from its territory, US military officials who requested anonymity told the Times.
Subject: German news