CIA activities in France

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While the CIA cooperates with its French counterpart, the DGSE, the countries do collect information on one another, especially in the economic and scientific areas.

France 1950[edit]

Unconventional warfare preparation[edit]

CIA forms the French branch of Operation Gladio.[citation needed] Admiral Pierre Lacoste stated that the CIA supported the French Gladio and the OAS right wing extremist organization to attack Charles DeGaulle.[1]

The CIA is suspected to have infiltrated the French Communist party and worked to support the growth of non-revolutionary communists within France to offset the Soviet influence on the more radical elements within the French Communist Party.[citation needed]

The CIA is suspected to have been involved in supporting the student riots against Charles DeGaulle to retaliate against his withdrawal from NATO and his Francophile policies.[citation needed]

"Charles De Gaulle undertook covert operations in Quebec using nationalist and separatist movements in Quebec, under the rubric of "Assistance et Cooperation Technique" or "Operation Ascot." Jacques Foccart dispatched SDECE agents to Quebec to develop and foment the growth of separatist movements."[2]

France 1992[edit]

Clandestine intelligence collection[edit]

"According to the Director of Central Intelligence, Bob Gates, at least 20 nations from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America are involved in intelligence activities that are detrimental to our economic interests. Some of the specific cases are shocking. According to a recent New York Times article by Peter Schweizer, `between 1987 and 1989, French intelligence planted moles in several U.S. companies, including IBM. In the fall of 1991, a French intelligence team attempted to steal `stealth' technology from Lockheed.' Other accounts report that French intelligence units conduct 10 to 15 break-ins every day at large hotels in Paris to copy documents that belong to businessmen, journalists, and diplomats. According to other accounts, the French have been hiding listening devices on Air France flights in order to pick up useful economic information from business travelers.[3]

France 1993[edit]

Clandestine intelligence collection[edit]

"In 1993, R. James Woolsey, then a new Director of Central Intelligence, publicly announced that economic intelligence focused on European corrupt practices and bribery was now a CIA program. French intelligence had been aggressively going after information from American executives. Woolsey said "No more Mr. Nice Guy." [4]

Shortly afterwards, the CIA Paris station had at least five officers working on understanding French national trade policy, and countering French economic espionage against the US. Four were under diplomatic and one under nonofficial cover.[5]

France 1995[edit]

Clandestine intelligence collection[edit]

The CIA Inspector General delivered a report on CIA clandestine service work on economic intelligence, which is likely[clarification needed] to end the careers of several officers, including Paris station chief Dick Holm, European CS division chief Joseph DeTrani, and at least four case officers.

France's Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua, revealed the problem in February 1995. The officer under nonofficial cover as a foundation representative made two errors in posing as a foundation representative: communicating too openly with the C.I.A. station and communing too secretly with her target, a French official. Mr. Holm, the station chief, found out about the love affair she was conducting with the official. It was clear that the romance could compromise the operation. Holm convinced his chief to continue the operation.

The French, however, broke the usual agreement among Western services and announced what they had learned, expelling the embassy-based officer "incompatible with their diplomatic status.".[6] Controversy flared over questions about whether spying on allies for economic data is a worthy pursuit for the CIA, even if the allies do it to the US, or if other missions have a higher priority.[7] While there were tragicomic aspects, the issue of what espionage is tolerable among nominal allies remains complex, especially when involving clear security issues as with Jonathan Pollard.

France 2006[edit]

Rendition and clandestine intelligence collection[edit]

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the League of Human Rights (LDH) filed a complaint urging the French Public Prosecutor to investigate the alleged use of French airports by secret CIA flights transporting terrorist suspects. On 19 February, the UK National Air Traffic Services acknowledged that three CIA jets had travelled through the UK on a number of occasions, indicating that the UK authorities were aware of the so-called CIA torture flights. The UK police have reportedly started inquiries into the allegations.[8]


  1. ^ Kwitny, Jonathan (1992-04-06), "The CIA's Secret Armies in Europe", The Nation. 
  2. ^ Federation of American Scientists, DGSE - General Directorate for External Security/Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure 
  3. ^ William Cohen (June 24, 1992), "Countering Industrial Espionage in the Post-Cold-War-Era", Congressional Record (Senate): S8732 
  4. ^ name=Woolsey 2000-03-17 Woolsey, James (March 17, 2000). "Why We spy". Wall Street Journal. 
  5. ^ Weiner, Tim (March 13, 1996). "C.I.A. Confirms Blunders During Economic Spying on France". New York Times. 
  6. ^ CIA 1995-1996 Economic Espionage in France (English)
  7. ^ Weiner1996-03-13
  8. ^ International Commission of Jurists (February 2006), "National Inquiries into allegations of secret CIA flights and detention centres", E-Bulletin on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights (PDF)