The New York Times is reporting, in duly scandalized tone, on the basis of information received from “military officials and businessmen in Afghanistan and the United States” that the US government was getting around the Pakistani ban on US military operations withing that country’s borders by using a private contracting company employing retired CIA officers and Special Forces military personnel to locate militants and insurgent bases of operation.
Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazetti breathlessly suggest that these contractors are being used to target Predator drone attacks, and that all this is very possibly “a rogue operation” breaking some unspecified alleged law against the use of private contractors in covert operations. On top of which, why, funding for all this was probably improperly diverted from an Internet website intended to inform the US military about “Afghanistanâ€™s social and tribal landscape.”
We have here a classic example of the damaging leak by disgruntled insiders. Details about a covert operation are made public, the covert activity is (surprise! surprise!) disclosed to have been going on in secret, the public is advised in shocked tones that persons working for the US government have been quietly engaged in doing harm to enemies of the United States, the covert operation in question is darkly hinted to transgress some unspecified and unidentified federal intelligence statute and/or international law, and finally the secret mission is accused of diverting funding from its own cover.
Even under Obama, it appears that American Intelligence Operations policy will continue to be decided by press leaks and disinformation.