Pentagon to investigate intelligence unit that allegedly used contractors
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, March 16, 2010
The Pentagon said Monday that it was looking into allegations that a Defense Department official had set up an intelligence unit staffed by contractors to hunt insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the guise of social and cultural information-gathering.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to confirm or deny whether a criminal investigation had been opened into activities by Michael D. Furlong, a former Special Operations officer who now works as a senior civilian officer for the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Tex.
Furlong's operation, which included numerous former intelligence and Special Operations officials now in the private sector, raised hackles at the CIA, where it was considered "a semi-independent intelligence-collection operation in a war zone," according to a U.S. official familiar with the agency's concerns. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that it was "not apparent who authorized" the operation but that the "potential for disaster" was obvious.
A second source close to the intelligence community said that "both the [CIA] and the Special Operations community . . . have been expressing grave concern for a long time. Why he was able to keep his job, much less continue this program, is a mystery."
Unease about Furlong rose to the highest levels of the intelligence agency, with several briefings provided to CIA Director Leon Panetta.
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Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants - NYT
Pentagon considers Afghanistan spy ring claim - BBC