Published February 27, 2006
BERLIN – Germany denied a report Monday that its intelligence service passed information about Saddam Hussein's plans for defending Baghdad to the United States a month before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The New York Times reported in Monday's editions that German agents in Baghdad obtained a copy of the Iraqi plan, and a German intelligence officer supplied it to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in February 2003.
"This account is wrong," German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said at a news conference. "The Federal Intelligence Service and, therefore, also the government, had until now no knowledge of such a plan."
Germany lined up with France and Russia to oppose the war in Iraq, and former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insisted Germany would provide no active support for the U.S.-led operation. Schroeder's stance damaged relations with Washington.
However, German officials have said the two countries' intelligence services cooperated closely, and the current government already is being pressured by opposition lawmakers over what aid two German spies deployed in Baghdad in early 2003 provided to the United States.
The Times cited a classified U.S. military study as saying that German agents in Baghdad obtained a copy of the Iraqi plan from an unidentified source. The plan detailed how and where Saddam intended to deploy his most loyal forces, the paper said. It was not clear how or when the Germans allegedly obtained the plan.
A German intelligence officer in Qatar then reportedly supplied the plan to a U.S. DIA official working at the wartime headquarters of the overall U.S. commander, Gen. Tommy R. Franks.
The Times said the U.S. military study contains a copy of an "overlay," or sketch, supplied by the Germans. The newspaper report did not say whether the German agents had supplied other information.
Wilhelm said the German intelligence service had no knowledge of the Dec. 18, 2002, meeting when the Times said Saddam met with his commanders to discuss the defense of Baghdad.
"The two [Federal Intelligence Service] employees did not obtain Saddam Hussein's plan to defend Baghdad," he said. "They also didn't ... supply it to the U.S. via third parties a month before the start of the war."
He said he had no reason to suspect that German agents could have obtained or passed on the information in other ways.