The French ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Lévitte, accused the Bush administration of fueling an ugly campaign to destroy the image of France. The complaint came after U.S. media, citing administration sources, reported that France had sold Iraq military equipment and helped Iraqi leaders escape to Europe. The French Foreign Ministry last week ordered its diplomats to count the untrue accusations printed in American newspapers. Lévitte sent a letter of protest to Congress, the State Department, and the White House, and complained that hard-liners in the administration were smearing France as punishment for its opposition to the war in Iraq. A senior Bush administration official told The Washington Post the French charge was utter nonsense.