The German government on Monday labeled as "false" a report in the New York Times that two agents of the BND, the German intelligence agency, obtained Saddam Hussein's plan for the defense of Baghdad before the U.S. invasion of Iraq and that the information was passed to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency ahead of the war in early 2003.
"The New York Times allegations are wrong in all their details," Ulrich Wilhelm, the government spokesman, said at his daily briefing Monday in Berlin.
Wilhelm was reacting to a report on Monday that the German government, which vehemently opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, had provided greater assistance to the United States than it had acknowledged.
The article was based largely on a classified study of Iraqi military strategy prepared in 2005 by the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command and includes a sketch of Baghdad illustrating Hussein's defense plan. It says the sketch and the information about the plan were provided by a German intelligence liaison officer to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in Qatar in February 2003.
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller strongly defended the article in a statement Monday, noting that the study on which it was based was "explicit and unqualified" on the matter of German involvement.
The article was the latest of several in both the U.S. and German press indicating that the German intelligence agency cooperated with the United States in its invasion of Iraq. The reports have kicked up a political storm in Germany, with opposition parties in particular demanding a formal investigation of whether the government deceived the public by publicly proclaiming opposition to the war while privately helping in it.
Violence kills 36 people; three U.S. soldiers killed
BAGHDAD - Violence throughout Iraq killed 36 people Monday. But sectarian clashes have declined sharply since the destruction of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra.
A senior al-Qaida in Iraq figure was captured, the Associated Press reported Monday, citing an unidentified Interior Ministry officer. Abou al-Farouq, a Syrian, is accused of financing and coordinating groups working for Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The U.S. military said three soldiers were killed Sunday in combat operations in the capital.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.