Best could be not denying that it’s been done rather than feigning ignorance or providing incomplete answers. New documents released by Wikileaks would show that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has listened to the communications of French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande. As a result, President Hollande has decided the holding of a “defense council” in his presence along with defense, interior ministers and French intelligence top officials with a view to “assessing the nature of the data released by the press and drawing useful conclusions.”
The fact that the US intelligence community has spied on French top officials has not been surprising. This seems to be a fact well-known by people who belong to the French intelligence community, and the contrary – US not spying on France – would have been the real surprise given that France – the third most powerful military nuclear country, a most advanced country with global interests around the world and the second most military engaged country against terrorism – has always been a natural interesting target, not only for the NSA but for other great powers’ foreign intelligence services too. What has caused turmoil so far has been that France – too often depicted as a “bad ally” in the US in complete contradiction with the facts on the ground – has finally behaved as one of the “indispensable” and closest ally of the US in recent years.
French soldiers and intelligence officers are fighting everyday on the frontlines against terrorism and global threats and they have been by a very large margin the spearhead of Europe’s defense. If France has been such a good ally, then why does the US spy so much on France? Very likely because France has remained this small country of troublemakers – say “emmerdeurs” – able to continually punch above its weight, keeping the second largest diplomatic network in the world, producing state-of-the art high technologies and always having unpredictable deep desire for independence and national sovereignty.
The latest revelations have confirmed what everybody has already learned from the previous ones about the German intelligence service BND having spied on French officials for the NSA. Two conclusions for now: first, if the NSA has spied on French Presidents, there has been no official confirmation yet saying the NSA has succeeded in intercepting and decrypting the communications. Second, if the NSA has spied on France – data released by Wikileaks has still to be authenticated by competent authorities – then other foreign intelligence services could have spied on France too. In the end, US intelligence activity about France may likely be seen as an unacceptable deep lack of gratitude than as any kind of surprise.