His Own Private CIA?


What the hell is up with this?

Adviser linked to Afghan deaths, St. Pete firm ran Socom unit

When Mike Furlong was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, he headed up a unit charged with breaking the will of enemies, not by dropping bombs or firing missiles but by messing with their minds.

Now he is the center of a controversy about misusing information gathered for educational purposes. The New York Times reported Monday that Furlong set up a network of private contractors to hunt down and kill militants.

Between August 2005 and February 2008, Furlong was deputy director of the Joint Military Information Support Command at MacDill. As head of the unit, which used to be known as the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, Furlong was responsible for “military and civilian personnel whose mission is to plan, coordinate, integrate and execute transregional psychological operations to promote U.S. goals and objectives for overseas operations,” according to Maj. Wes Ticer, spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command headquartered at MacDill.

At the time, Furlong was a much-lauded military veteran. He served as an arms control negotiator at the Pentagon. He served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was an operations officer with the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He commanded the 6th Psyops Battalion and Joint Psyop Task Force in Bosnia. He won a Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters and a number of other medals and commendations.

After retiring from the military, Furlong became a vice president and director of the Strategic Communications and Information Operations Division of Science Applications International Corp., a key government and military contractor. He served in a similar capacity at Booz Allen Hamilton.

Then he came to MacDill, where Furlong’s command served “as a key contributor” in the Defense Department’s “ongoing efforts to erode adversary power, will and influence,” according to the U.S. Special Operations Command fact book.

What happened after Furlong left MacDill, particularly in the areas of power, will and influence, was the subject of a front-page story Monday in the New York Times.

In February 2008, Furlong became a strategic planner and technology integration adviser at the Joint Information Operations Warfare Command at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

The Times wrote that in mid-2008, “the military put Mr. Furlong in charge of a program to use private companies to gather information about the political and tribal culture of Afghanistan.”

The paper said that under this “benign government information-gathering program” Furlong hired contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help track and kill militants. Those activities “seemed to accelerate” in the summer of 2009. According to one contractor the Times interviewed, Furlong referred to his contractors as “my Jason Bournes,” a reference to the fictional American assassin created by novelist Robert Ludlum and played in the movies by Matt Damon.

Furlong did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

His network ultimately ran afoul of military brass. It was dismantled, and he is under investigation, the Times reported.

See also:
Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants
Outsourcing intelligence
Pentagon probes alleged ad hoc spy ring
Senior US official Michael Furlong questioned over private security contractors
Official: Pentagon probing alleged spy operation
Contract killers
Afghanistan Spy Contract Goes Sour for Pentagon – Part 1
US official estalished private spy network: report
Booz Allen Hamilton: A Strategy and Technology Consulting Firm
SAIC: From Science to Solutions

Mike Furlong is obviously an extremely skilled operator and an American patriot, well qualified to be running the type of operation he’s alleged to have been running. That it’s possibly illegal is certainly poking around in a gray area of U.S. law. By definition, the CIA breaks foreign law all over the world, every day, that’s what they do. In today’s reality of global conflict, the official line between military, civilian contractor, government agent is blurry almost to the point of imperceptibility.

/anyway, Furlong tried to do the right thing, perhaps in the wrong way (or maybe with tacit, plausibly deniable permission), I hope he doesn’t get in any trouble over this

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