French counterterrorism efforts have been praised by several analysts, but I am surprised to see that two scholars of the American Enterprise Institute argue that "France is the world's most sophisticated practitioner of counterterrorism. The U.S. can learn from her experience."
Reuel Marc Gerecht and Gary J. Schmitt write in The American:
Whereas September 11, 2001, was a shock to the American counterterrorist establishment, it wasn't a révolution des mentalités in Paris. Two waves of terrorist attacks, the first in the mid-1980s and the second in the mid-1990s, have made France acutely aware of both state-supported Middle Eastern terrorism and freelancing but organized Islamic extremists. In comparison, the security services in Great Britain and Germany were slow to awaken to the threat from homegrown radical Muslims. Britain's gamble was that its multicultural approach to immigrants was superior to France's forced-assimilation model. But with the discovery of one terrorist plot after another being planned by British Muslims, as well as the deadly transportation bombings that took place in London on July 7, 2005, the British have begun to question the wisdom of their "Londonistan" approach to Muslim immigration.And France does not even have a Guantanamo type prison. Or does it? In 2005, the European Council's commissioner for human rights has described the Paris prison "Palais de Justice" as a "dungeon" with "inhumane" conditions. See the Telegraph report cited in Davids Medienkritik. While there is criticism of US counterterrorism practices, US prisons in Guanatanamo and those for ordinary criminals on US soil, France does not get much media scrutiny.
UPDATE: The Palais de Justice was closed in June 2006. See comment by Axel.