Fighting Terrorism, French-Style





FRANCE and the United States have different notions of liberty, equality and fraternity, though the words look roughly the same in both languages. Methods of combating homegrown terrorism — another French word dating from 1789 — are also quite different, stemming from different histories, legal systems and conceptions of the state....

The French state is highly centralized, not federal. Fed up with a series of bombings in the 1980s, France tried to better coordinate domestic and foreign intelligence with the establishment in 1984 of the Unité de coordination de la lutte anti-terroriste (the coordination unit of the anti-terrorist struggle), or Uclat, and tried something similar within the Justice Ministry.

French law governing intelligence was reformed in 1986 and refined again after 1995 and 2001, with another reform in 2006 by Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister, to give even more margin of maneuver to the investigating judges and the police. The Central Directorate of Domestic Intelligence was founded in 2008 as a merger of the intelligence services of the Interior Ministry, which were responsible for counterterrorism and counterespionage, and of the state police....



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