Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage
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The Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage (English: External Documentation and Counter-Espionage Service, SDECE) was France's external intelligence agency from 6 November 1944 to 2 April 1982 when it was replaced by the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE). It should not be confused with the Deuxième Bureau which was intended to pursue purely military intelligence.
Under the Fourth Republic the SDECE was subordinated to the Council President. From the onset of the Fifth Republic and until 1962, it was subordinate to Prime Minister Michel Debré and its resources largely dedicated to the Algerian War. Following the Mehdi Ben Barka affair, General Charles de Gaulle subordinated the service to the Ministry of Defence, and the service was gradually militarized.
Its next to last director was Alexandre de Marenches.
Directors of the SDECE
- André Dewavrin alias "Colonel Passy", (DGER/SDECE), from 19 April 1945 to April 1946
- Henri-Alexis Ribiere, from April 1946 to January 1951
- Pierre Boursicot, from January 1951 to September 1957
- General Paul Grossin, from 1957 to 1962
- General Paul Jacquier, from 1962 to 1966
- General Eugène Guibaud, from 1966 to 1970
- Alexandre de Marenches, from 6 November 1970 to 12 June 1981
- Pierre Marion (SDECE/DGSE), from 17 June 1981 to 10 November 1982
- Guerrilla intelligence-gathering and operations with montagnard partisans during the First Indochina War carried out by the Groupe de Commandos Mixtes Aéroportés (GCMA).
- Operation Condor (1954) of Colonel Jean Sassi at Dien Bien Phu April 30, 1954.
- Operations interdicting the supply of weapons to the National Liberation Front (FLN) and its couriers in Europe (the « porteurs de valises », activists supporting Algerian independence) during the Algerian War.
- Efforts to obtain control of Nigerian oil production in 1968 in association with Biafran separatists.
- Reporting the Yom Kippur War in October 1973 (it was the first Western intelligence service to do so.)
- Reporting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.
- Supporting the coup d'état against Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the Central African Republic in 1979 (Operation Barracuda) and installing a pro-French government.
- Efforts in 1977 and August 1980 to subvert colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
- Support of Québécois separatist movements by agents of the SDECE as part of operation « Assistance et cooperation technique » or « Opération Ascot».
- Assassination of Cameroonian Independence leader Félix-Roland Moumié in Geneva in 1960.
- According to Alfred McCoy's The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (1972), the SDECE financed all of its covert operations, during the Indochina War, from its control of the Indochina drug trade (see also French Connection) 
Known or supposed agents
- Jean-Charles Marchiani, with SDECE from 1960 to 1970
- Vladimir Volkoff, intelligence officer during the Algerian War
- Philippe Thyraud de Vosjoli
- Colonel René Bertrand, alias Beaumont
- Colonel Pierre Fourcaud
- Colonel Marcel Leroy, alias Leroy-Finville
- Colonel Paul Ferrer, alias Fournier
- Colonel Marcel Mercier, lpart of the Red Hand terrorist group
- Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard Nut, chef de mission, killed on assignment February 15, 1983
- Major Boatham, alias Beaumont
In popular culture
- The film le Professionnel.
- Frederick Forsyth's 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal, also very thoroughly describes the organization of SDECE.
- Netflix 2016 original series A Very Secret Service (French: Au service de la France])