Monday, March 15, 2010

Contractors Helping Kill Terrorists

The New York Times ran a big story about it today.
Under the cover of a benign government information-gathering program, a Defense Department official set up a network of private contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help track and kill suspected militants
That sounds like a good idea. Too bad we couldn't keep it secret.
The official, Michael D. Furlong, hired contractors from private security companies that employed former C.I.A. and Special Forces operatives. The contractors, in turn, gathered intelligence on the whereabouts of suspected militants and the location of insurgent camps, and the information was then sent to military units and intelligence officials for possible lethal action in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the officials said.
In my opinion, this is exactly the sort of thing we should be doing, but unfortunately, Furlong is now in trouble.
Officials say Mr. Furlong’s operation seems to have been shut down, and he is now is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Defense Department for a number of possible offenses, including contract fraud.
If you go through the long article, it appears that Furlong's operation led to enemy deaths. That's a good thing. Unfortunately he apparently stepped on some toes at the CIA. This is just speculation on my part, but I'd be willing to bet that someone got upset that an outsider was running a valuable intelligence operation and decided to shut him down. If Furlong's operation did provide significant information that enabled us to target terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he should be commended and promoted, not prosecuted. We need people who can find creative ways to produce useful intelligence. And as usual, we need to do a far better job of protecting the secrecy of our operations. 

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