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Viewing cable 05PARIS1807, VILLEPIN'S POLICE ADVISOR DISCUSSES FRENCH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05PARIS1807 2005-03-17 17:05 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001807 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2015 
TAGS: PREL PTER FR PGOV KJUS
SUBJECT: VILLEPIN'S POLICE ADVISOR DISCUSSES FRENCH 
INTERNAL SECURITY 

REF: PARIS 1569 

Classified By: POLITICAL MINISTER COUNSELOR JOSIAH ROSENBLATT, FOR REAS 
ONS 1.4 B/D 

1. (C) Summary: Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin's 
cabinet advisor on the police said March 15 that the French 
security establishment is going through a period of 
"synthesis," in which reforms proposed over the past decades 
are gradually finding their place within standard operating 
procedure. He said France remains as focused "as ever" on 
combating terrorism, but that the latitude offered terrorism 
investigating judges in the 1980s and 1990s may be waning due 
to the country's increasing distance from periods when 
terrorists repeatedly struck on French soil. Regarding 
violence in French society, he said virtually all acts of 
violence and criminality were on the decrease, except for 
troubling increases in the amount of rapes and "gratuitous 
violence." End summary. 

2. (C) On March 15, Poloff met with Jerome Leonnet, the 
"technical counselor" in Interior Minister Villepin's cabinet 
in charge of "the organization and administration of 
police/terrorism/relations with Renseignements Generaux" 
(France's police intelligence agency). Leonnet has been in 
Villepin's cabinet since summer 2004. He said he previously 
worked for seven years with the DST (France's internal 
security service), seven years with Renseignements Generaux, 
and a number of years with the Prefecture of Police in Paris. 

3. (C) Leonnet described the 1980s and 1990s as decades of 
great turmoil within the security establishment. He said 
that terrorism attacks during that period, especially in 
Paris during the mid-1980s, fed a perception among French 
citizens that the security establishment was relatively 
helpless to stop terrorism. In addition, in the late 1990s, 
France underwent a significant rise in violent crimes, 
something it had not experienced before. In response, the 
GOF instituted a number of different laws, including the 
famous "terrorist conspiracy" law, to give more freedom of 
action to its security services. This period of reform 
lasted through 2004, said Leonnet, with the passage of Perben 
II, an omnibus legal reform bill (reftel). Pointing to two 
thick red books of criminal law on his shelf, Leonnet said 
that France had no more need of new laws; what was needed now 
was bureaucratic implementation, streamlining and 
coordination. Leonnet expected this period of "synthesis" to 
continue for the next few years, with a particular focus on 
training and crisis-response. He also addressed the 
oft-debated idea to combine the DST and RG intelligence 
services. It was a bad idea, said Leonnet, because each 
service had different goals and competencies, and when any 
mixing of dossiers occurred, it was quickly ironed out 
through the interagency process. 

4. (C) Turning to terrorism, Leonnet said he expected that 
getting convictions with the "terrorist conspiracy" charge 
(used to great effect from the 1980s onward) will become more 
difficult for France's terrorism investigating judges. 
Initially, said Leonnet, investigating judges like Jean-Louis 
Bruguiere were given enormous leeway in the conduct of their 
investigations. Standards of proof for "terrorist 
conspiracy" were much lower than standards in other criminal 
cases. However, said Leonnet, the level of evidence required 
for "terrorist conspiracy" convictions is on the increase. 
Terrorism investigating judges will need more evidence than 
was necessary before. Leonnet described this evolution as a 
natural progression away from the reactive policies of the 
1980s and 1990s that takes into account current realities, in 
which the memory of actual terrorist acts has grown distant 
and the demand for civil liberties has become stronger. 
Still, he considered French citizens sensitized to terrorism 
and aware that France remained a prime target for terrorists. 

5. (C) Asked to comment on a newspaper article in early 
February drawing on Renseignement Generaux sources that 
reported Islamist radicals controlled approximately 40 
mosques/prayer halls in France and numbered approximately 500 
militants and 5000 sympathizers, Leonnet said the estimates 
were correct. There had clearly been an increase in radical 
Islam in France over the past few years, said Leonnet. 
Nonetheless, he was optimistic that the long-term trend 
towards radical Islam would begin to decline. Citing efforts 
by the GOF such as ensuring that all imams spoke French, 
close surveillance of mosques and troubled neighborhoods by 
police and security services, the "veil" law, and a 
determination from President Chirac on down to foster 
integration, Leonnet said the GOF was well aware of its 
challenges regarding the spread of radical Islam, and it was 
taking the necessary steps. 

6. (C) In any case, said Leonnet, the issues of integration 
and immigration had no effect on criminal violence. He said 
that over the past few years, incidents of violence and 
criminality have been on the decrease. Violence perpetrated 
by immigrants usually has a financial or social goal, said 
Leonnet, and those types of crimes have gone down. The two 
exceptions were cases of rape and "gratuitous violence." On 
the increase in rapes, Leonnet speculated that the wide 
diffusion of pornographic films on cable television was an 
important contributing factor. Regarding "gratuitous 
violence," or violence committed with no goal in mind, 
Leonnet said that societal structures that previously weeded 
out and controlled such behavior no longer played the same 
role. Mandatory military service was gone, as was full 
employment and cohesive family structures, all of which 
contributed to identifying individuals with a propensity 
towards gratuitous violent acts. 
Leach