Our contributor Olivier Guitta explains the Clearstream scandal which is engulfing France in a dirty tricks scandal often compared to Watergate. Here is his summary of the messy case:
A prime minister [Dominique de Villepin] known for skullduggery asked, allegedly on the orders of the president, a top—notch intelligence official to investigate his chief enemy, a man of his own party and a fellow minister——in connection with allegations he knew to be false, for the purpose of eliminating his principal rival for the 2007 presidential election.
This blatant misuse of state power by the highest officials to pursue a personal vendetta reveals how dysfunctional the French political system has become. Increasingly, the regime itself is attacked as virtually a monarchy, so great are the president's powers. Coming in the wake of the November riots in immigrant communities and this spring's demonstrations by students, leftists, and unionists that forced Villepin to abort his labor reform, the Clearstream scandal has the Villepin government, and perhaps even the Fifth Republic, reeling.
Thomas Lifson�� 5 07 06