New York Times Editorial, February 18, 2017: Keeping the Kremlin’s Hands Off France’s Elections
With the United States engulfed in questions about Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, France is determined to head off any such meddling in its coming presidential election.
Wikileaks, February 16, 2017: CIA espionage orders for the 2012 French presidential election
All major French political parties were targeted for infiltration by the CIA’s human (“HUMINT”) and electronic (“SIGINT”) spies in the seven months leading up to France’s 2012 presidential election. The revelations are contained within three CIA tasking orders published today by WikiLeaks …
On Monday Richard Ferrand, the director of Emmanuel Macron’s campaign, claimed that the Russians had unleashed “hundreds and even thousands” of hacking attempts against Mr. Macron, and that RT and Sputnik, government-controlled news outlets, are spreading fake news, as they were said to have done during the American election cycle. The stories about Mr. Macron range from allegations that he is engaged in a secret extramarital gay affair to accusations that he used state funds to pay for foreign travel.Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front candidate, who has received Russian financing, is expected to win the most votes in a crowded field in the first round of voting, on April 23.
The espionage order for “Non Ruling Political Parties and Candidates Strategic Election Plans” which targeted Francois Holland, Marine Le Pen and other opposition figures requires obtaining opposition parties’ strategies for the election; information on internal party dynamics and rising leaders; efforts to influence and implement political decisions; support from local government officials, government elites or business elites; views of the United States; efforts to reach out to other countries, including Germany, U.K., Libya, Israel, Palestine, Syria & Cote d’Ivoire; as well as information about party and candidate funding.
France is wise to take steps now, though it is too early to know whether they will have much effect. Mr. Ayrault was absolutely right, however, when he stated on Wednesday what should be obvious to all democratic governments: “After what happened in the United States, it is our responsibility to take all measures to ensure that the integrity of our democratic process is respected.” At stake, he said, is “our democracy, our sovereignty and our national independence.”
(For the record: In 2014 the National Front party of Marine Le Pen took out a regular loan from the First Czech Russian Bank registered in Moscow. This after French banks had rejected all loan requests by the party. On July 1 2016 the FCRB’s license was revoked by the Russian Central Bank over other issues.)
I agree with the NYT that “Ayrault is absolutely right” to take steps now. Those steps will hopefully prevent further U.S. interference in French elections which the NYT editors so blatantly ignore.
It should also help to dismantle the stupid assertions that some slanted reporting by Russian news outlets, in contrast to completely faked “news” by the NYT, could somehow influence voter decisions in France or anywhere else.