NPR logo Investigation Finds Pentagon Official Set Up Private Spy Ring

Investigation Finds Pentagon Official Set Up Private Spy Ring

Michael Furlong in Washington yesterday. The Pentagon says he set up a private spy ring in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP

So, part of that $80.1 billion dollars paid for an unauthorized private spy network set up in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The New York Times reports that a Defense Department investigation found a senior Pentagon civilian official "deliberately misled" military leadership when he set up the network.

The Pentagon investigation concluded that the official, Michael D. Furlong, set up an “unauthorized” intelligence network to collect information in both countries — some of which was fed to senior generals and used for strikes against militant groups — while masking the entire operation as a more benign information operations campaign.

The inquiry concluded that “further investigation is warranted of the misleading and incorrect statements the individual made” about the legality of the program, according to Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

Furlong denies the charges saying his operation was approved at the highest levels and that he was never interviewed by investigators. The real problem is that he used private contractors as spies, something which is against Pentagon rules. Also, the operation was only supposed to supply "atmospherics" but morphed into traditional spying.

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One great sidebar Duane Clarridge, whom you might remember as the CIA veteran who was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush for his role in the Iran-Contra affair (an involvement he has always denied), oversaw some of the agents.