Monday, January 24, 2011

Going Rogue Electric Boogaloo


More on this from Wired. And we wonder how the U.S. government gets faulty intelligence about things like Saddam Hussein having WMD?


Nobody could have anticipated this:
Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A.

WASHINGTON — Duane R. Clarridge parted company with the Central Intelligence Agency more than two decades ago, but from poolside at his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Well, that’s just peachy. Any rich asshole, or person with rich asshole friends, can field their own private CIA or NSA. Hell why not? Can’t imagine there being a problem with everyone fielding their own private spy operation, can you?

Oh, and this:

His dispatches — an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports — have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck.

For all of the can-you-top-this qualities to Mr. Clarridge’s operation, it is a startling demonstration of how private citizens can exploit the chaos of combat zones and rivalries inside the American government to carry out their own agenda.

Yeah this is so awesome. How great that a bunch of rich assholes can decide all on their own that they don’t like the policies of the duly elected President of the United States, and just go off to pursue their own foreign espionage campaigns. How awesome that they can feed certain salacious bits of information to their rich asshole-funded private propaganda machine, too.

First of all: how is this legal?

Second of all: how is this legal?

Third of all: Can you imagine what our allies are thinking when they read this? WTF? “We thought so-and-so represented the United States government!” “Oh, no! He’s just running his own rogue operation. Pay no attention!”

None of this would even be possible if we hadn’t decided a few years ago to “outsource” critical national security operations like intelligence gathering to “private contractors.” Who thought that was a good idea, anyone know? That is a colossally stupid idea.

Of course, this is the same U.S. government which decided it was a good idea to out a CIA agent just out of spite. So, I’m not surprised.

But back to my first question: How is this not illegal? It appears it is, but someone at the Pentagon decided to use some clever semantics to skirt the law:

Four months later, the security firm that Mr. Clarridge was affiliated with, the American International Security Corporation, won a Pentagon contract ultimately worth about $6 million. American officials said the contract was arranged by Michael D. Furlong, a senior Defense Department civilian with a military “information warfare” command in San Antonio.

To get around a Pentagon ban on hiring contractors as spies, the report said, Mr. Furlong’s team simply rebranded their activities as “atmospheric information” rather than “intelligence.”

Mr. Furlong, now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general, was accused in the internal Pentagon report of carrying out “unauthorized” intelligence gathering, and misleading senior military officers about it. He has said that he became a scapegoat for top commanders in Afghanistan who had blessed his activities.

This whole thing stinks to high heaven. Wonder if Darrell Issa will be investigating this? I’m guessing ... no.

As they say ... stay tuned.