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Germany

Press Review: No German Parliament Committee on BND Affair

The chances of a German parliamentary enquiry into the role of German agents in the Iraq war faded on Monday as opposition leaders split on an official probe.

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The German opposition couldn't find enough common ground to push the enquiry through

Many German papers questioned the Greens backtracking on their call for an official investigation and called for more openness from German intelligence officers and the government.

Die Welt derided the lack of coordination in the opposition. "This parliamentary principle has once again proved true after the Greens said goodbye to a parliamentary committee that would have been charged with conducting an inquiry into the BND affair," the paper wrote. It also questioned the motives of Green leadership saying that "they had no interest in possibly having their party's former leading light, Joschka Fischer, portrayed in a negative manner." And the weekly said that even if a new committee's mandate would have been limited, "it doesn't change that the government has the duty to provide adequate information about the activities of intelligence officers to the appropriate parliamentary committees."

Bundesnachrichtendienst in Pullach BND

The German press wants more openness

The Financial Times Deutschland called the opposition "garbage," repeating the words of Franz Müntefering. "For days, the FDP, the Greens and the Left Party called together for a sword to be drawn against the government," they wrote. "Now the Greens and the FDP meekly fold away their pocket knives." The paper acknowledged that the Greens want to give the government until the end of February to explain the activities of German intelligence officials and the CIA. But they added that the opposition parties' motives are suspect. "The strange trinity that makes up the opposition was just wishful thinking: Because all of them had the longing for attention while the their true interests and goals diverged," they wrote.

The Tageszeitung praised the Greens for being the first to call for a parliamentary committee to investigate and acknowledged that "they are disappointing many with their withdrawal of the initiative." But they added that the more embarrassing question is why. "What motive did they have for doing so," they wrote. "Was it the rumbling of Joschka Fischer against it or was it the new party leadership changing their mind about questioning the ruling coalition or was it a newly gained conviction that maybe the intelligence agents really didn't do anything wrong."

Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Steinmeier denies the allegations

The Badische Zeitung called it a "pity" that there won't be any investigative committee in parliament that will ask about the limits of the German anti-terror initiatives. That is because the paper says that it i,s in this realm, that "more openness is necessary." And while no one wants to hinder the secret work of intelligence officials, the paper writes, for credibility's sake, a few rules have to be agreed on: "If Germany continually bashes prison camps such as Guantanamo, then they shouldn't continue to send German interrogators there to question detainees," they wrote. "And if Germany continues to condemn torture, then they also need to make clear whether German citizen Mohammed Haidar Zammer was tortured in Syria before German investigators interrogated him."

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