BERLIN, AP -Opposition parties agreed Friday to force a parliamentary investigation on the role of German spies during the Iraq war.
Lawmakers from the three parties, which have the votes to carry out their threat, said they had agreed on the scope of the probe. Previously they said top officials — including former ministers — might be called to testify.
Under pressure from media reports and political foes, the government has acknowledged that two German intelligence agents were deployed in Baghdad during the 2003 war.
Officials have confirmed that German intelligence passed on information gathered by the two spies, including the position of Iraqi security forces, to U.S. authorities, despite then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s outspoken opposition to the war.
The current government, made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Schroeder’s Social Democrats, insist the German spies helped ensure that locations such as hospitals and embassies were not mistakenly bombed.
But opposition lawmakers say they are not convinced that U.S. military planners could not have used the information to identify targets for air raids.
The government has denied a report in The New York Times that German agents procured a copy of Saddam Hussein’s defense plans for Baghdad and passed it to U.S. intelligence.
Schroeder had ruled out any “active” German involvement in the war, souring relations with Washington. However, he insisted that Germany was a reliable partner in the fight against international terrorism.
Negotiators for the opposition Free Democrats, Greens and Left Party said they also agreed to investigate the use of German airspace and airports by CIA aircraft, the alleged abduction of a German citizen who says he was tortured in Afghanistan and the questioning of terror suspects in foreign jails by German security officials.
The probe will be “comprehensive but not excessive,” Left Party lawmaker Petra Pau said.
The government has argued in vain for restricting discussion of intelligence matters to a secretive parliamentary panel and has warned that a parliamentary probe could make other countries less willing to cooperate with Germany to combat terrorism.