Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Perspective: Pro-Iran agency may take over Iraq's intelligence

Above: a satellite image of Baghdad. In a little-noticed agreement made in October, Iraq and Iran agreed to share intelligence.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Far from the daily warfare in the streets of the Iraqi capital, another, quieter struggle is being waged -- that for control of Iraq's intelligence agencies.

It's a battle with high stakes for the United States. The Iraqi National Intelligence Service, or INIS, is funded completely by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, according to military and intelligence sources.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the CIA has placed more than 500 officers in Iraq, according to U.S. intelligence sources, making the station the CIA's largest in the world -- larger, even, than the CIA presence in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

The INIS head, the secretive Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, was appointed three years ago by the United States.

But now, the future of the U.S.-controlled agency appears to be in jeopardy. A document from Iraq's National Security Council lays out a blueprint for Iraq's new intelligence community. Under that plan, all intelligence gathering would be consolidated under Iraq's Iranian-friendly central government.

Read the rest at CNN