Murphy's Law: March 13, 2002

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The 30 January 2002 issue of the Paris "Le Canard" illustrated just why the French are in a snit with Washington over the War on Terrorism. During the war in Afghanistan, supposedly each time the French generals tried to satisfy French prime minister Chirac's wishes and offered to help or support their American counterparts, all they got were rejections and not always courteous ones at that. As an unnamed French general complained last December: "The Americans let us understand that they would do the cooking and we would do the dishes...."

The Pentagon asked its French and British allies to supply it with refueling airplanes for US combat aircraft operating in the region and supply ships for its US Navy warships. These "ancillary" tasks lacked the glory by participating in combat. The French aircraft carrier "Charles de Gaulle" was stationed in the Gulf of Oman and on the Indian Ocean on 19 December 2001 and, at America's request, was scheduled to stay there until June 2002. 

The Americans (described by Le Canard as "sure of themselves and domineering") also held back on giving the French the intelligence gathered on the Taliban or the location of al-Qa'ida networks in the region. So French intelligence services spied on their American ally by intercepting US military communications in the region. "Gabriel" and "Transall" aircraft specially fitted with surveillance equipment allegedly flew around to their hearts' content while a French ship equipped with the required electronic equipment proceeded in the same manner. 

The French also dispatched two "Atlantic 2" spy planes to Djibouti in the "hope of obtaining a clear conscience". Their mission was to observe (on behalf of French intelligence services only) any possible American warlike intentions toward Somalia and Yemen. - Adam Geibel


 


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