Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DoD Official Tied to Private Spy Effort

WASHINGTON --- A Defense Department official is under investigation for hiring private contractors to gather intelligence on suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, The New York Times reported Sunday.

That information was then supplied to military units and intelligence officials, the Times said, citing anonymous military and business sources in the United States and Afghanistan. The scheme violated U.S. policy against using contractors as spies.

Michael D. Furlong was reported to have hired contractors from a private company run by retired Special Forces officers for what some of the Times' sources described as an off-the-books spy operation. Some of the Times' sources said the information gathered by the contractors was used by the military to track down and attack militants.

The officials who spoke to the newspaper said they were not sure who condoned Furlong's operation, and it may have been funded by diverting money from a program intended to merely gather information about the area.