Fallout from Kiessling affair could affect American-German relations

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has ordered the rehabilitation of a four-star general falsely accused of consorting with homosexuals. But the affair , with its possible side effects on military discipline and on German-American relations, is by no means ended.

Mr. Kohl capped the political fire Wednesday by arranging for Defense Minister Manfred Worner to cancel an early decision that Gen. Kuenter Kiessling had become a security risk and to restore the officer to active duty.

The officer said he considered his honor restored and asked to be retired with full honors at the end of March.

But Hans-Jochen Vogel, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, said his party will press for a parlimentary investigation of the affair, in particular to determine the role of the military counterintelligence service in the general's temporary disgrace. The case has added to a growing mistrust of the various state intelligence and police services.

It remains unclear to what degree the armed forces' confidence in its civilian leadership has suffered. But in a letter last week to retired admirals and generals, the armed forces' senior officier, General-Inspector Wolfgang Altenburg, placed responsibility for the original decision to declare Kiessling a security risk at the door of the Defense Ministry's civilian staff.

The effect of the affair on German-American relations could be far-reaching. The military counterintelligence service said it began looking into General Kiessling's background only after a high-ranking civilian adviser to Mr. Worner claimed that United States Gen. Bernard Rogers, NATO's supreme commander in Europe, had refused to have anything to do with Kiessling, who was then his deputy, because the German was a homosexual. General Rogers has twice denied having played a role in Kissling's dismissal, but West German newspapers continue to claim that he triggered the affair.

[Sir John Hackett, a former commander of the British Army of the Rhine, said in an interview with Jane's Defense Weekly that the Soviet Union masterminded a smear campaign leading to the dismissal of Kiessling, Reuters reports.]

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