In a move that is sure to unleash a fresh firestorm of accusations that Russia is interfering in the upcoming French elections, Wikileaks has released three classified CIA “tasking orders” revealing details of a seven-month long spying campaign and involvement by the agency ahead of the 2012 French presidential election.
The documents reveals that 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 latest set of revelations are contained within three CIA tasking orders published as context for its forthcoming – and cryptic – CIA Vault 7 series.
Named as targets are the French Socialist Party (PS), the National Front (FN) and Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) together with current President Francois Hollande, then President Nicolas Sarkozy, current round one presidential front runner Marine Le Pen, and former presidential candidates Martine Aubry and Dominique Strauss-Khan.
According to Wikileaks, the CIA operation initially ran for 10 months from November 21, 2011, to September 29, 2012, and continued after the April-May 2012 French presidential election and into the formation of the new government.
Specific instructions tasked CIA officers to discover Sarkozy’s private deliberations “on the other candidates” as well as how he interacted with his advisors. Sarkozy’s earlier self-identification as “Sarkozy the American” did not protect him from US espionage in the 2012 election or during his presidency.
The CIA assessed that President Nicholas Sarkozy’s UMP party was not assured re-election and ordered officers to find out Sarkozy’s private deliberations “on the other candidates” as well as how he interacted with his advisors, according to the documents. The agency also reportedly outlined orders specific to the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), including obtaining the party’s “Strategic Election Plans” and gleaning private thoughts within the party on Sarkozy’s campaign strategies.
As part of the disclosures, 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.
Significantly, two CIA opposition espionage tasks, “What policies do they promote to help boost France’s economic growth prospects?” and “What are their opinions on the German model of export-led growth?” resonate with a U.S. economic espionage order from the same year. That order requires obtaining details of every prospective French export contract or deal valued at $200m or more.
The opposition espionage order also places weight on obtaining the candidates’ attitudes to the E.U’s economic crisis, centering around their position on the Greek debt crisis; the role of France and Germany in the management of the Greek debt crisis; the vulnerability of French government and French banks to a Greek default; and “specific proposals and recommendations” to deal with “the euro-zone crisis”.
According to Wikileaks, the CIA espionage orders published today are classified and restricted to U.S. eyes only (“NOFORN”) due to “Friends-on-Friends sensitivities”. The orders state that the collected information is to “support” the activities of the CIA, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)’s E.U section, and the U.S. State Department’s Intelligence and Research Branch.