International Cooperation Between Intelligence Agencies
Its existence was first revealed by a November 17, 2005, article by Dana Priest in The Washington Post, who also broke the story concerning the existence of the CIA's "black sites". In the article, both the CIA and the French government declined to comment on Alliance Base, while all intelligence officers requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the project, in particular relating to its political and judicial dimensions. "No country wanted to be perceived as taking direction from the CIA," wrote Dana Priest, while France was the only European state willing to engage in more than simple information exchange. "To play down the U.S. role, the center's working language is French," told an anonymous source to the Washington Post investigative reporter. "The base selects its cases carefully, chooses a lead country for each operation, and that country's service runs the operation." Furthermore, this cooperation permits "German case officers to read information from their own country's law enforcement authorities", which is prohibited by German law.
Alliance Base also takes advantage of the "harsh laws" of France concerning anti-terrorism. French magistrates are allowed to detain people suspected of "conspiracy in relation to terrorism" while gathering evidence. According to the top anti-terrorist magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguière, he has in the past ordered the arrest of more than 500 suspects, some with the assistance of US authorities. Dana Priest cited him as saying: "I have good connections with the CIA and FBI." Dana Priest described the working of Alliance Base, writing that "The CIA brings money from its classified and ever-growing 'foreign liaison' account — it has paid to transport some of France's suspects from abroad into Paris for legal imprisonment' — and its global eavesdropping capabilities and worldwide intelligence service ties." France, on the other hand, "brings its harsh laws, surveillance of radical Muslim groups and their network in Arab states, and its intelligence links to its former colonies."
By handing out information to its counterparts, French intelligence agencies helped the US to convict Ahmed Ressam, arrested in 1999, as well as Zacarias Moussaoui, who lived a long time in France.
In the days following the attacks, President Jacques Chirac issued an edict to French secret services ordering them to share information with US counterparts "as if they were your own service," according to two officials who read it and were cited by Dana Priest. According to the Washington Post investigative reporter, the arrest of Christian Ganczarski, alleged to be an important Al Qaeda responsible, was one of the 12 major operations it has engaged in during its first years. Since the end of 2001, France has detained about 60 suspects, some with the help of the CIA, according to a CIA veteran cited by Priest.
Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, director of the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DST), said "There's an easy exchange of information. The cooperation between my service and the American service is candid, loyal and certainly effective." Jean-Louis Brugière, on the other hand, was quoted by Dana Priest as saying that "The relations between intelligence agencies in the United States and France has been good, even during the transatlantic dispute over Iraq, for practical reasons."
John E. McLaughlin, former director of the CIA, has claimed that the cooperation between the DGSE and the CIA "is one the best of the world".
Read more about this topic: Alliance Base
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