Two German spies in Baghdad provided intelligence to the US military during the Iraq war but did not help select bombing targets, a government report released late on Thursday found.
A day after a two-thirds majority voted against a parliamentary enquiry into the affair, the report released on Thursday stated that two German spies provided the United States with intelligence but were not involved in helping the US bombing campaign in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
The 90-page text, a fraction of the almost 300 pages of evidence which were analyzed by a parliamentary control committee, included details of Federal Intelligence Service (BND) President August Hanning's decision on March 17, 2003 that the two BND agents would remain in Baghdad despite the evacuation of the entire German diplomatic corps from the Iraqi capital.
The order came just three days before the US-led invasion began with a number of attempted surgical air strikes on specific targets in Baghdad. The allegations at the center of the affair claimed that the BND agents were in the capital to identify these targets for the US military, which the German government continues to deny.
Coordinates provided "not military"
The report said the BND agents did provide intelligence to the US military but that the information was mostly limited to reports about civilian-protected or other humanitarian sites, such as "synagogues and Torah rolls and the possible locations of missing US pilots."
The agents also provided US counterparts with descriptions in isolated cases of Iraqi military forces along with geographic coordinates, after they were convinced the Americans had the information, the report said.
It also said that the two agents depended on the invading US army for their safety and ability to gather intelligence and would have been in contact to ascertain their whereabouts in relation to Baghdad and the German mission.
"In view of the possible need for evacuation or decontamination measures the (BND agents) would be dependent on the willingness of US authorities to cooperate," the report stated.
Media reports alleged that the German agents had given the United States coordinates that could be used for bombing but the report maintained that the BND provided "no support for the strategic air offensive" in Iraq.
Schröder's anti-war stance in question
The affair has become a particularly sensitive subject in Germany due to former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's strong criticism and opposition to the war which simultaneously alienated the United States and earned Schröder's Social Democratic-Green party coalition government a second term in office.
It also reflects badly on incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has since ruled out sending troops to Iraq.
German opposition politicians have rejected the government's view and have demanded a full parliamentary investigation which would require current and former government officials to testify under oath, despite the control committee's majority vote against such action in the Bundestag on Wednesday.
Following up his comments on Wednesday, chief detractor Hans-Christian Ströbele, the Green party representative on the parliamentary control committee, said: "The Federal Intelligence Service agents have provided building coordinates which were used purely for military action." He reaffirmed his belief that the agents were there to pinpoint targets for destruction.
The Green party postponed talks on how to progress in its campaign to force a new parliamentary enquiry, while the liberal Free Democrats are due to meet next week to announce their own proposals. Only the left-wing alliance Left Party came out and directly called for a new enquiry on the basis of the report.
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