March 16th, 2010
04:33 AM ET

Pentagon investigating purported ad hoc spy network

The Department of Defense has launched an investigation into whether a $24 million contract to gather information about developments in towns and villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan may have been inappropriately used instead to run an ad hoc spy ring, according to U.S. military officials.

Concern within the Central Intelligence Agency about the contract prompted the investigation, officials said. An investigation by the Defense Department's inspector general is under way, according to a U.S. defense official. It's not clear whether that is the only investigation.

The contract was meant to be limited to gathering what is known as "open-source information," in which material is gathered in an unclassified manner from, for example, local media and public events.

The contractors may have instead hired local agents to gather information on the specific locations and movements of particular individuals and passed it along to military officials for possible lethal strikes, according to government officials and private-sector businessmen familiar with the investigation.

Military officials say the concern is that contract money used for open-source information cannot be used to target individuals. But a source close to the man overseeing the program says there is an exception if there is a demonstrated threat to U.S. forces and "force protection can be invoked as a reason."

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Filed under: Military • National security • U.S.
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Raymond

    And why is this hitting the media? So the CIA is really concerned about this? I think not...Sounds like CIA is putting this investigation to the media as window dressing on another objective..maybe to put fear into those involved to expose them, or back pedaling to steer around something that was leaked to the public to keep the democratic lead congress from investigating.

    March 16, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. john

    These types of operations have been going on for years whether they "supposedly" have the funding for it or not, that's not the issue.. our government never has a problem funding anything that is in the best interest of their agenda and they never have a problem lying about what they are doing and covering it up while we the taxpayers pay for it and they get off not having to pay taxes... WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Pete

    Hell if backyard meter reader can come up with the where abouts of Omar or Bin Laden and info isgood I am for lot more meter readiers. Water or what ever they read

    March 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chuck Lentine

    You wonder if this is the program that got several CIA agents (7 I think) killed. The spy brought in a bomb and blew them up.

    So the question is are we giving money to the enemy? Could they be supplying phony or old information to get money to fund their activities and setting our people up for an attack (bombings). Maybe we should be using this concept as a STING OPERATION not as a contracting out operation. Anyone that supplies any information should be assume to be the enemy. They might just lead us to the people we're looking for. Just don't use their information and don't trust them.

    This really isn't my field but I know contracting out doesn't work in government. Contracting companies purposly under bid to get the contract but find loophole that allow them to make the contract more expensive than if government employees did the work. That's because changes to the contract are not open for a rebid, so the contractor can charge an arm and a leg for every change $50 scew drivers and tolet seats. When you pay your own employees you can get them to do anything without raising their salary everytime you give them a new task. Contrcting out don't work that way.

    March 16, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
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