Wednesday, February 20, 2008

France Spying On The Brits? Quel Surprise! (Daily Mail)

According to the Daily Mail, a Tory Member of Parliament, Patrick Mercer, is claiming that he has been told by "senior security sources" that the French placed bugs in the office of a former Defense Procurement Minister, Lord Paul Drayson (Thanks, Justin!). Drayson resigned from his position, apparently unexpectedly, in November, 2007.

Whatever the truth of the story, the idea that the French are engaged in economic espionage is old news. I had a group of students look at CI threats to the US a few years ago (as part of a class project) and one of the threats they identified was from the French. According to one article they found (sorry, no hyperlink but the citation is: Blood, Christopher G., Holding Foreign Nations Civilly Accountable For Their Economic Espionage Practice, IDEA: The Journal of Law And Technology, VOL 42. No. 2, p. 231), the French bugged their business class seats in Air France flights in the early 70's. National Defense Magazine (a publication of the National Defense Industrial Association) cited a Public Administration Review article claiming that France was a "major offender" when it came to economic espionage.

The National Counterintelligence Executive used to publish annual reports to Congress on Foreign Economic and Industrial Espionage. The last available one, unfortunately, is from 2005 (download full text here) and it contains little about French activities (perhaps because there were none...). The most interesting chart in the context of the current story is the one on display below which shows that the French get fairly routine access to DOD facilities and to military industry in the US but are certainly not the only ones.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The FRU recruited and handled agents from a secure base within the Intelligence Corps centre at Thiepval barracks. Mercer was stationed at Thiepval barracks and he worked in plain clothes and was the target of two assassination attempts. Mercer a former battalion intelligence officer said he had "extensive contacts" with the FRU.

A writes: "I just got it confirmed that Patrick Mercer, OBE, was a leading officer in the Force Research Unit (FRU). He served in South Armagh and was at the front of things", "A" was the informant.

So, if Mercer said he was told by senior security sources, then, he was told by senior security sources.

It maybe "old news" but Patrick Mercer loves the limelight and I understand some of his constituents regard him to be a benevolent despot with their town (Newark) nothing more than the gateway to the corridors of power.