Right Thinking From The Left Coast
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

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Blame In On the Brits

How typically French.

The French government tried to blame the British intelligence service MI6 for the sinking of the Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, in a campaign of “misinformation and smears” that infuriated the Thatcher government, newly released documents have revealed.

French secret agents, on the orders of the government, planted bombs on the Rainbow Warrior in a New Zealand harbour, killing one of the crew. The scandal rocked the French government, which lied for more than two months, denying responsibility for the act of state terrorism. The documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act to the Guardian, show how French attempts to incriminate M16 soured relations between the two countries.

Note how the Guardian refers to this as an act of state terrorism, which is wasn’t.  The Greenpeace ship was in New Zealand to interfere with French nuclear tests taking place in the South Pacific.  The French were protecting their own national interest.  Perhaps they didn’t go about it the right way, but this doesn’t fit under the umbrella of terrorism in any sense of the word.

The then French president, Fran├žois Mitterrand, was in danger of being toppled, as politicians and officials struggled to avoid the blame and save their jobs.

Sir John Fretwell, the British ambassador in Paris, privately warned London that Mitterrand could be forced to resign in a Watergate-style scandal. He wrote: “The highest personalities in the land are fighting for political survival and even the fabric of the state is beginning to shake under the impact of repeated revelations, denunciations, attempts to acknowledge bits of truth while concealing others ... and the desperate attempts to find answers which will somehow satisfy public opinion while keeping the president above the melee.”

In other words, the French were denying for months their one successful military operation of the 20th century.

Posted by Lee on 11/29/05 at 07:49 AM in Europe and the UK • Permalink


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