May 11, 2005 – More than three months after Iraqis elected a transitional national assembly, the CIA remains in control of Iraqâ€™s secret police and the countryâ€™s most important intelligence service, commonly known by its Arabic name, the Mukhabarat.
According to Iraqi intelligence officials who spoke with Knight Ridder, the director of the Mukhabarat still receives all his funding from the US and reports directly to CIA officials, who have thus far refused to turn control of the unit over to the Iraqâ€™s newly elected government. Iraqi officials also say that shortly after the countryâ€™s January polls, US forces hid sensitive intelligence archives from the previous year, preventing Iraqi officials from accessing them.
Some Iraqi politicians suggest that the US will not release the files because they might reveal the full extent of American-led spying operations on Shiite politicians who now hold power. An unnamed US official told Knight Ridder the US fears that Iraqi leaders close to the Iranian government might share information with Tehran.
Leaders of Iraqâ€™s new government say the CIAâ€™s actions violate the countryâ€™s sovereignty.
The CIA reorganized the Iraqi intelligence services after US-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. When partial sovereignty was handed over to Iraqiâ€™s interim government last June, the CIA released some intelligence agents to work for Iraqi ministries. But the CIA retained control of the powerful Mukhabarat, which is led by Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, an Iraqi general and Sunni Muslim who had been involved in a botched coup against Saddam in the 1990s.