This segment originally aired Nov. 11, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
A year after the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and shook the country, the French government has responded by tightening its criminal code, expanding police powers and, for the first time since 1872, creating a national guard.
The Interior Ministry says it will create a new enhanced security status, which will let more private security guards carry arms. But more guns on the street won’t fix deeper failings within French intelligence agencies.
“Every terrorist who attacked Paris, in January or November, was previously known by our intelligence services,” Georges Fenech, of France’s Parliamentary Investigative Committee on Terrorism, told VICE News correspondent Katie Engelhart. “Some had even been convicted. It was, for us, a defeat of our intelligence services.”
Fenech led France’s official investigations into the 2015 terrorist attacks and has called for a “French Guantanamo” to be built on French soil. Yet critics accuse the government of taking things too far, surrendering vital civil liberties under the cover of an ongoing state of emergency.
“In exceptional circumstances, we need exceptional means,” he said. “We think we have to go further.”