- Top secret documents obtained by The Telegraph in Baghdad
show that France provided Saddam Hussein's regime with wide-ranging
assistance in the months leading up to the war, including intelligence
on private conversations between Tony Blair and other Western leaders.
Paris also provided Saddam with lists of assassins available for "hits" in the West and details of arms deals to neighbouring countries. The two countries also signed agreements to share intelligence, help each other to "obtain" visas for agents to go to other countries and to exchange information on the activities of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'eda leader.
Ooooops... slight misquote there. The article I was quoting referred to "Russia" and "Moscow", not "France" and "Paris". Apoligies for the typo.
It's a natural mistake, after all. Russia may, indeed, have promised to veto a Security Council war resolution, just like France, but they were so much more conciliatory about it. Chirac had so many nasty words for American policy, and that hurts, which is why Dubya's crew is so much angrier at the French than at the Russians, who they accuse only of selling arms to Iraq in the run-up to the war, a relatively minor matter.
And while Russia denies the reports that they were sharing intercepts with Saddam, and telling him where to find good hit men, they have also stopped criticizing the American war effort, and postwar plans, while the French just keep yapping. Their policies may still be substantively the same, but that's not what's important, is it?
Russia was always a strange member of a peace party anyway, what with their bloody mess in Chechnya -- a point on which some French commentators were absolutely vicious.