Spying for Profit

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Michael Furlong
The war in Afghanistan, and military operations in neighboring Pakistan, have provided ample business opportunities for ex-CIA and Special Forces operatives to collect intelligence on behalf of the U.S. government—even though it’s illegal for Washington to authorize such work.
A good example of spies-for-hire is Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, who as a CIA agent helped the Reagan administration carry out the ill-fated Iran-Contra scheme before going into business for himself. Claridge was indicted for lying to Congress, but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.
As part of his contract with the Department of Defense, Clarridge funneled information from Afghanistan—“an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports,” wrote The New York Times—some of which he fed to conservative television personalities, such as his old Iran-Contra partner Fox News’ Oliver North.
But Clarridge’s work for the Pentagon may be over, now that the official who hired him and other private spies, Michael D. Furlong, is in hot water for contracting out intelligence gathering that’s supposed to be done only by the government. To circumvent the ban, Furlong called their activities the gathering of “atmospheric information” rather than “intelligence.”
Even if it wasn’t illegal, depending on private spooks to inform military and civilian officials is not a good idea, says Charles Allen, a former Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis who worked with Clarridge at the CIA. Allen is also an alumnus of the Iran-Contra debacle. He told The New York Times that private spies can cause a lot of trouble, for themselves and the nations involved. “We don’t need privateers,” he added.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A. (by Mark Mazzetti, New York Times)
Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants (by Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti, New York Times)


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