France takes a big step backwards in the struggle for the rule of law, as the Parliament passes a law authorizing massive data collection without judicial oversight or review.
(1) CARLOS YÁRNOZ (París), El Parlamento francés da su apoyo final al espionaje sin control judicial; La aprobación de la ley coincide con el escándalo de las escuchas a tres presidentes, El Pais, 24 de junio 2015 (20:43 CEST).
(2) Stefan Ulrich (Kommentar), “Geheimdienste: Frankreich entwanze sein eigenes Haus; Heuchelei? Frankreich empört sich über die NSA-Spionage und weitet zugleich die Rechte der eigenen Geheimdienste aus. Paris sollte vor der eigenen Tür kehren,” Suddeutsche Zeitung, 25. Juni 2015 (09:12 Uhr).
(3) “Ecoutes massives: une méthode qui a séduit bien d’autres pays,” Le Figaro, le 24 Juin 2015.
The French look pretty silly, decrying the fact that the U.S. has spied on the last three presidents of France on the same day that the Parlement adopts a law vastly expanding the government’s surveillance authority and even the power to enter homes without judicial supervision.
But a larger issue is at stake here, for all Western democracies.
Slowly we chip away at the guarantees of our fundamental human rights, achieved through centuries of struggle for thr Rule of Law, and always it is done in the name of fighting terrorism.
We seem oblivious to the fact that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, in the famous words of Lord Acton. The very bulwarks of our freedoms are being whittled away, with little thought of what will be left to protect us when the new criminals are overzealous officials in our own governments, who consider themselves and are considered to be “above the law”.
The timing of the new law was full of irony, as it coincided wirh revelations that the U.S. had been spying on Francois Hollande and the two preceding presidents. But the issues it raises are not just of this moment, but rather are of trancendental significance for the future of democratic government under the rule of law.
The draft law itself will now be reviewed by the Conseil Constitionnel, which in France may review the constitutionality of a law before it enters into force. So a chance remains that the Constitutional Council will reject this travesty of a law.
The Trenchant Observer