The Men Who Would Be Spooks

There's nothing like topping off a national celebration with some vindictive settling of scores. Within hours of the Dec. 21 release of two French journalists who had been held hostage in Iraq for four months, politicians, security officials — and even former abductees Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot themselves — were trading accusations over the efforts to free them from their captors. The main target: conservative legislator Didier Julia and his team of dilettante sleuths, who sought to bypass official attempts to secure the pair's freedom by dealing with shadowy Middle Eastern contacts of their own. Their media-hyped campaign...

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