With an inquiry into the role of German BND agents in Iraq looking likely, the parties in the ruling coalition have warned that such public scrutiny could damage the ability of intelligence officers to work effectively.
Germany's secret service has never been under such public scrutiny
The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) have warned of the harmful effects a parliamentary inquiry into the role of German BND intelligence officers in Iraq could have on the activities of the German secret service.
"Never before in Germany have the practices of our secret service been dealt with so publicly," SPD interior expert Dieter Wiefelspütz said in an interview with the daily Berliner Zeitung. He added that if this were to be continued in a parliamentary inquiry, then he would "worry about the ability of our intelligence service to function."
The CDU's Wolfgang Bosbach has called for discretion
The CDU's deputy parliamentary leader, Wolfgang Bosbach, called for the opposition parties to use discretion. He said he hoped that the international cooperation between various intelligence services would not be damaged by the way the inquiry was conducted.
A parliamentary inquiry into the role of German BND intelligence officers at the start of the Iraq war, and in particular, the extent to which German agents assisted the United States' military, now looks likely following a decision on Monday by the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) to support the other opposition parties, the Greens and the Left Party, in their call for an investigation.
FDP pushing for expanded scope
According to the FDP, the opposition parties are planning a first meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss how to move forward with an inquiry. The FDP also reportedly wants the inquiry to extend to allegations of secret cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency, accused of operating unlawful detention centers in Europe, as well as the botched kidnapping of German national Khaled al-Masri.
Al-Masri, who was mistakenly abducted by the CIA and held for five months in Macedonia and a prison in Afghanistan, is suing former CIA director George Tenet.