The attempted coup by France's 'deep state'


Last month, just before Mediapart broke the WikiLeaks revelations about US spying on France, a last-minute amendment was discreetly made to the French government’s highly-controversial snooping bill shortly before it was due to become law. The change would have given the country's secret services complete freedom to spy on any individual who was not “French or a person habitually residing in the country”. A French Parliamentary committee accepted the amendment, though the eventual outcry when details of it later emerged forced the government to remove the measure. However, argues Mediapart's editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel, in an article written before the WikiLeaks spying disclosures, the episode shows just how much the French government kowtows to the anti-democratic tendencies of a whole panoply of non-elected technocrats and officials - France's 'state within a state' or 'deep state'.

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The speeded-up Parliamentary procedures imposed by the French government on the passage of its surveillance bill allowed for just one reading in the National Assembly and one in the Senate. After that a joint Parliamentary committee of members from both chambers agreed on the final text, whose adoption was then subject to a formal vote without debate. From a procedural point of view, the bill was forced through Parliament, a practice that is even more questionable given the fact that it dealt with fundamental issues of public and individual freedoms. Still, if there is already a breach in the wall of democracy, why not abuse it?