BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi leaders on Friday expressed incredulity and disappointment over a report that U.S. officials had spied on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi leaders.
“If it is true, it reflects that there is no trust and it reflects also that the institutions in the United States are used to spying on their friends and their enemies in the same way,” Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, said in a statement. “We will raise this with the American side and we will ask for an explanation.”
Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward wrote about the reported espionage in his fourth book about the Bush administration, “The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008,” which is scheduled to be released Monday. The Post published an article about some of the book’s disclosures Friday.
Some Iraqi officials said the revelation is likely to hinder already contentious negotiations toward an agreement that would govern the role of U.S. troops in Iraq after the United Nations mandate that allows them to operate in Iraq expires in December.
“It is going to affect the level of trust between us as two parties,” said Abbas al-Bayati, an Iraqi lawmaker who acts as a spokesman for the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shiite political coalition that includes al-Maliki’s party. “Spying is usually done when one party is hiding something, and we know the Iraqi government has nothing to hide from the Americans.”
Al-Bayati said he was dumbfounded by the report.
“I see no reason for them to spy on Iraqi leaders, because they are in constant touch with the (U.S.) Embassy and the military hierarchy, and we’re always meeting continuously with them at the highest and lowest levels,” the lawmaker said.
“The American administration has all the information it needs on the Iraqi armed forces.”
White House press secretary Dana Perino declined to comment on whether the administration had spied on al-Maliki. When asked whether the administration would respond to Iraqi demands for an explanation, Perino said the United States was in regular communication with the Iraqi government on a range of issues.