Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sarkozy's Campaign Accounts Rejected by Conseil Constitutionnel

Sarkozy's books don't add up, the Conseil Constitutionnel has confirmed. With this rejection, the UMP now faces bankruptcy. Sarkozy has resigned from the CC in order to reclaim his "freedom of speech."

I recall that the FN almost went bankrupt after the election of 2007, and look where they are now. Perhaps this is the beginning of the comeback.

Batho Gives Her Version

Delphine Batho, no longer a minister, exhibits all the naïveté that one might expect of the political novice she remains. "Economic forces" wanted her ouster, she says, and got it. In particular, she accuses Vallourec, a company involved in fracking, for having her fired. This wouldn't have happened, she insists, if "government solidarity" had been maintained. If anyone is guilty of breaking solidarity, it is not the former minister of ecology, she insists, but her bosses Ayrault and Hollande. And anyway, the government has adopted a policy of austerity without being willing to speak its name.

Can she really be that clueless? Does she actually believe that "solidarity" means that the government must agree to whatever position a minister holds most dear? Can she not imagine that there might be legitimate reasons for policy disagreement, in which case the decision lies not with her, but with the prime minister and the president? Daniel Cohn-Bendit could be withering about the political ineptitude of his comrades among the Greens. Batho seems intent on proving rhat "Green Socialists" can be just as clueless.

France Is Shocked, Shocked to Learn That Everybody's a Sinner

I heard from my fellow blogger Arun Kapil that one of our mutual readers was disappointed that I hadn't discussed Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA monitoring of electronic communications. It seemed to me more a matter of American than of French politics, and in any case Snowden's revelations were not among my highest priority concerns. But two recent reports have made the topic relevant to French politics.

First, France, presumably under American pressure, refused overflight permission to an aircraft carrying Bolivia's president, apparently in the belief that Snowden might be aboard. Given François Hollande's hectoring of the US for spying on French citizens, this was a bit much. Jean-Luc Mélenchon had called for France to welcome Snowden as a hero and political refugee--also a bit much--and now Hollande, who had gone out of his way to criticize the NSA, was  apparently truckling under to American pressure. A real profile in courage.

And today Le Monde tells us what of course we already suspected. France is no babe in the woods in the matter of electronic espionage. Indeed, it seems that the DGSE is collecting "the totality" of the electronic communications of French citizens, and, what is more, the information is not used solely for external security purposes but shared with other agencies:
Le Monde est en mesure de révéler que la Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE, les services spéciaux) collecte systématiquement les signaux électromagnétiques émis par les ordinateurs ou les téléphones en France, tout comme les flux entre les Français et l'étranger : la totalité de nos communications sont espionnées. L'ensemble des mails, des SMS, des relevés d'appels téléphoniques, des accès à Facebook, Twitter, sont ensuite stockés pendant des années.

Les gendarmes ont aussi fait appel à cet outil dans des affaires de pédophilie. La police judiciaire peut, enfin, solliciter les moyens de la DGSE via la Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur, la DCRI. Les données, obtenues en dehors de toute légalité, entrent alors souvent dans la procédure judiciaire sous la forme de renseignements anonymes.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. The NSA at least maintains the pretense of legality with the fig leaf of the FISA court. The French intelligence services seem to be under no such restraint, although, to be sure, the FISA court hasn't proved to be much of one. This seems to be a case of "what can be done will be done." Frankly, I'm resigned to it.