US Still Depends on Private Spies in Pakistan

Program supposedly disbanded months ago still thriving
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Suggested by Disillusioned
Posted May 16, 2010 9:21 AM CDT
Michael Furlong, a Defense Department official, is under investigation for allegedly hiring private contractors to gather intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.   (AP Photo/US Air Force)

(Newser) – When it emerged earlier this year that US intelligence in Pakistan and Afghanistan was standing largely on the shoulders of private contractors hired as spies—including information used to kill insurgents—the feds quickly said the programs were being discontinued and swept the whole matter under the carpet. The New York Times revisits the issue today, and finds quite the opposite—private spies are still filing a flurry of reports from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The legality of hiring private citizens as spies is murky at best, but is particularly delicate in Pakistan, where the US military is barred from operating. Yet the intel reports have proven invaluable to the US, reports the Times—perhaps more so than those from the CIA's finest. A Pentagon spokesman says the matter “remains under investigation by multiple offices within the Defense Department.”

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