Pentagon Pushes For Greater Spy Powers; Wants To Run Businesses, Like CIA
By Colin Clark
April 20, 2012
ON A TRAIN SOMEWHERE ON THE EAST COAST: Imagine a soldier, wearing mufti, traveling through Syria in a rattletrap taxi. He’s a spy, dressed in a suit, going to meet an agent who says he can offer rebels the Syrian government’s order of battle.
The soldier, an Army intelligence officer fluent in Syrian and Iraqi Arabic, has spent 18 months cultivating the source, a senior official in the telecommunications company owned by the brother of Syria’s president. The son of a general, the agent has grown disillusioned by two years of civil war and wants to help end his country’s agony. His information could help the rebels break the regime’s back.
That’s the kind of operation the Pentagon hopes its agent might be able to execute if they are given authority they’ve requested from Congress. It would substantially increase the Defense Intelligence Agency’s authority to build covers, create businesses and to run them for long periods.
“Expansion of this authority is necessary to permit DOD to conduct revenue-generating commercial activities to protect such operations and would provide an important safeguard for U.S. military forces conducting hazardous operations abroad,” the request for legislation says. It was first reported by my colleagues at Inside Defense.