US covertly running spy network in AF-Pak to monitor terror despite Pentagon ban: NYT

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New York, May 16 (ANI): Despite an official ban, top US military officials continue to hire the secret services of private spies for information regarding militants movement and other strategic inputs from deep inside the troubled tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, officials have revealed.

The US Army has been not allowed to carry out ground operations inside Pakistan, and more importantly according to Pentagon rules, the military is not allowed to hire contractors for spying.

However, reports suggest that not only the secret network is still operating in the region, daily inputs regarding movement of militants and working of the Taliban in Pakistan are submitted to US commanders.

Citing some Pentagon officials, The New York Times reported that the supervisor who set up this secret contractor network, Michael D. Furlong, was now under investigation.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell also confirmed that the covert programme was under investigation. He, however, refused to divulge any details about the investigations.

"The program remains under investigation by multiple offices within the Defence Department, so it would be inappropriate to answer specific questions about who approved the operation or why it continues," Morrell said.

"I assure you we are committed to determining if any laws were broken or policies violated," he added.

However, The New York Times claimed that Furlong's operatives were still providing information using the same intelligence gathering methods as before. The contractors were still being paid under a 22 million dollar contract.

The contract is being managed by Lockheed Martin and supervised by the Pentagon office in charge of special operations policy, the newspaper claimed.

Lockheed Martin's spokesperson Tom Casey said that no Pentagon officials had raised any concerns about the work so far.

"We believe our subcontractors are effectively performing the work required of them under the terms of this task order. We've not received any information indicating otherwise. Lockheed is not involved in the information gathering, but rather administers the contract," Casey said.

Meanwhile, Furlong, in his only interview to a newspaper, claimed that senior US commanders have actually 'blessed' his work.

He declined to provide further details concerning the issue. (ANI)

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