Iraq to quiz US over spying claim

A00219809.jpgIraq is to ask US officials for an explanation after a new book suggested the United States had been spying on senior members of the Iraqi government.

The claims are made by US journalist Bob Woodward in The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008.

“If it is true… it reflects that there is no trust,” Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Woodward’s book quotes a US source as saying the US knows “everything” said by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

“If it is true it casts a shadow on the future relations with such institutions,” a statement from Mr al-Dabbagh added, referring to the Central Intelligence Agency and other US agencies.

We have extensive co-operation with Prime Minister Maliki. Our ambassador sees him almost daily
Dana Perino
White House spokeswoman

The War Within, due to be published on Monday, is the fourth book on the Bush administration by Mr Woodward, the Washington Post’s associate editor.

It examines the handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and President Bush’s leadership and governing style, according to the Post.

Several sources in the book support the claim that Mr Maliki and other Iraqi leaders were being spied on by the US administration.

But Mr Woodward says the tactic was not universally popular in the White House – some senior US officials questioned whether it was worth the risk, given Mr Bush’s efforts to develop a close working relationship with Mr Maliki.

Growing rifts

The book also claims that the US “surge” in 2007, in which nearly 30,000 extra troops were sent to Iraq, was not the primary reason for the steep drop in violence seen over the last year.

Mr Woodward says new covert techniques have been used successfully by US military and intelligence officials to find, target and kill insurgents.

He does not go into detail about them, saying the White House asked him to withhold specifics in the interests of national security.

The book quotes from interviews given by Mr Bush himself, and looks at the how the decision-making of the war evolved and the internal clashes it caused.

It reveals a breakdown in the confidence between the president and his military commanders in the region, as well as discord between the state and defence departments.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino declined to comment on reports of the book’s contents.

“We have extensive co-operation with Prime Minister Maliki. Our ambassador sees him almost daily,” she said.

“To the extent that they (the Iraqi government) have any concerns, because we have the good relationship that we have with them – which is one that’s been very open and frank, and we have contact with them every single day – I’m sure that they’ll be talking about it,” she added.

Mr Woodward is well-known for his investigative reporting, and first came to prominence for his role in exposing the Watergate scandal which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.


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