The CIA Spied On French Parties In 2012 Election

On Thursday, Wikileaks released documents showing that the CIA was spying on French Parties during their 2012 presidential election based upon the premise that Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (Union pour un mouvement populair) was not guaranteed victory in the election. The leak presumably would have come from someone in the CIA who would have had access to the document through CIA systems. The leak also comes in the wake of other members of the intelligence community leaking evidence that Michael Flynn lied about not discussing sanctions with Russia leading to his resignation on Monday and renewed interest in alleged Russian interference in the United States 2016 presidential election. The leaker may have an ally of Flynn’s motivated by spite over his outing by the intelligence community or, alternatively, may have been motivated to remind Americans that the United States also is involving itself in the elections of other nations, including allies such as France. Though the motive is unclear, the fact that the United States has spied on French parties is indeed clear.

Of particular interest is President Sarkozy, the Socialist Party (PS), and other potential candidate’s plans and intentions for these elections. Analysts assess that the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the current ruling party, is not assured of winning the presidential election and, as a result, analysts are interested in the electoral strategy of the non-ruling parties listed below.

(S//NF) French political parties and persons of interest include:

A. (S//NF) Socialist Party (PS)

B. (S//NF) National Front (FN)

C. (S//NF) Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)

D. (S//NF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK)

E. (S//NF) Nicolas Sarkozy

F. (S//NF) Martine Aubry

G. (S//NF) Francois Hollande

H. (S//NF) Marine Le Pen

The documents do not seem to describe any attempt to affect the results of the elections, as Russia has been accused of, but rather appear to be gathering information on how these actors in the election would intersect with the interests of the United States. Notably, of the questions which the espionage orders asked agents to address was “[v]iews and characterization of the United States.” Other concerns involved their economic plans in particular including monetary crises in Europe and attempts to reach out to leaders of other nations, presumably in relation to their economic plans.

Nicolas Sarkozy speaking
Nicolas Sarkozy of the Union for a Popular Movement was not guaranteed reelection in 2012. As a result, the CIA felt it necessary to spy on major French parties to ascertain their positions public and private. [Image by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images]

Ultimately, François Hollande, of the Socialist Party (Partie Socialiste) won the election. The Socialist Party in France is a social democratic party, similar to the politics of Bernie Sanders, rather than an actual socialist party at this time. Social democrats focus on constructing a strong social safety net and prefer a mixed economy of both private and state-run industries while socialists have collective ownership and control of the means of production as their primary drive. There is no indication that United States acted upon the information gathered to interfere in the election results based on these documents, though documents suggesting such interference was performed or considered could potentially surface – if they exist – in the future if the leak was intended as a warning shot to the United States intelligence community.

François Hollande exiting a car
François Hollande of the Socialist Party ultimately won the 2012 election in a runoff, ousting Nicolas Sarkozy. [Image by Jack Taylor/Getty Images]

Most likely, the United States performs such invasive espionage in the elections of allies and non-allies alike before any legitimate election. The document seemed to order the gathering information that would be useful in organizing diplomatic efforts to ensure United States economic interests in Europe generally and in France in particular. Wikileaks ties these documents to a separate economic espionage orders in France from the same period which called for espionage on export contracts and economic infrastructure projects of $200 million or more including the French healthcare system for some reason.

(S//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) Report impending French contract proposals or feasibility studies and negotiations for international sales or investments in major projects or systems of significant interest to the foreign host country or $200 million or more in sales and/or services, including financing information or projects of high interest including:

Of note, the CIA acknowledges in the newly leaked document that it is spying on a friend and so they information should not be shared with foreign intelligence agencies or leaders.

It is entirely possible that any government spying on our 2016 election similarly could have stumbled upon the DNC leaks and Podesta emails in a similar manner. However, this is not evidence of the leaks being the result of a foreign government’s espionage.

[Featured Image by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images]

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