Direction centrale des renseignements généraux
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The Direction Centrale des Renseignements Généraux (Central Directorate of General Intelligence), often called Renseignements Généraux (RG), was the intelligence service of the French police, answerable to the Direction Générale de la Police Nationale (DGPN), and, ultimately, the Ministry of the Interior. It was also in charge of the monitoring of gambling places and horse racing ranges.
The RG was subdivided into four sub-directorates:
- Analysis, prospective and society facts
- Resources and methods
- Games and casinos
The RG employed 3 850 public servants of the Police. They were not covered by the defence classification (of their name, for instance), though some of them had access to have security clearance (some of the files are classified information).
Members of the RG did not have a judiciary police qualification as long as they worked for this service, except for those of the "Games and casinos" sub-directorate.
The last chief of the RG was Joël Bouchité.
Sub-directorate of Research
The Sub-directorate of Research is in charge of intelligence, prevention and repression of terrorist acts, particularly by monitoring groups and organisations likely to be linked to such activities.
Sub-directorate of Analysis, prospective and society facts
The Sub-directorate of Analysis, prospective and society facts is in charge of analysing and syntesing data collected from social, financial or other institutions.
Sub-directorate of Resources and methods
The Sub-directorate of Resources and methods is in charge of recruitement, logistics, documentation and juridical matters, as well as of budget and staff training.
Sub-directorate of Gaming and casinos
The Sub-directorate of Gaming and casinos monitors these places together with horse racing, and also has judiciary and police powers there.
Although police intelligence services appeared in the Ancien Régime, the term "Renseignements Généraux" dates back to 1907, with the creation by the Director of the General Security, Célestin Hennion, of an intelligence department parallel to the judiciary services.
During the 30s, the activities of fascist groups, more or less manipulated by foreign powers, (like "La Cagoule") triggered the creation of a "Direction des services de renseignements généraux et de la police administrative" (1937), followed by a "Inspection Générale des Services de Renseignements Généraux et de la Police Administrative" (1938).
In 1941, the Regime of Vichy created its own service, named "Direction Centrale des Renseignements Généraux".
After the liberation of France, the RG took back the role that they had in the 30s. With the context of the decolonisation, they were confronted to new threats, notably the emergence of modern terrorism with the OAS.
From 1973, the job of monitoring France's borders was passed to a dedicated service, the "Police de l'Air et des Frontières" (PAF).
From the 90s, the RG have been confronted to new events. They now particularly monitor radical Islamism, anti-Globalization movements, and cults.
Over the years, there have been numerous accusations that the RG has engaged in illegal spying on journalists or political opponents of the government, apparently with some basis. The abolition of the RG or its integration with some other police service, such as the DST, was suggested several times, and finally implemented on July 1, 2008 (see Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur).
The particularity of the RG was their anonymous synthesis reports called feuilles blanches (white sheets).
- "La réorganisation des services de renseignement", official website of the French Ministry of the Interior, September 13, 2007
- Sarkozy sues French ex-spy chief. Hugh Schofield, BBC. 16 October 2008. However, it is clear from the contents of his notebooks that as head of a domestic intelligence agency, Mr Bertrand viewed his remit rather more broadly. Published in Le Point news magazine, the private notebooks contain all sorts of tittle-tattle about the financial, sexual and personal secrets of prominent men and women. ... Mr Sarkozy believes - and the notebooks appear to bear this out - that during the early years of this decade the then President, Jacques Chirac, was using the Renseignements Generaux agency to dig up dirt on his rivals, of whom Mr Sarkozy was one