US Pentagon’s ‘secret army’ of clandestine operatives dwarfs CIA spy force: report

Pentagon

THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT of Defense maintains a “secret army” of over 60,000 operatives, many of whom work across the world in a clandestine capacity, with fake identities and manufactured backgrounds, according to a new report. Newsweek, which published the report on Monday, said that the Pentagon force is “more than ten times the size” of the clandestine wing of the Central Intelligence Agency, which is commonly associated with carrying out covert operations abroad.

According to William Arkin, author of the Newsweek report, the Pentagon’s secret operatives are part of a wider US government effort known as “signature reduction”. The program provides undercover government operatives the ability to operate domestically and around the world without the fear of having their links to spy agencies or the military discovered by online sleuths. Some of these operatives carry out clandestine tasks under their real names, claims Arkin, but without having any formal connections with the US government, or even their country of citizenship.

Others operate under manufactured identifies, which, according to the report, are created by the Pentagon’s Operational Planning and Travel Intelligence Center. Its purpose is to alter databases of US government agencies, such as the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or the Customs and Border Protection agency, so as to protect the manufactured identities of covert operatives. Such operatives are also provided with technologies that allow them to evade face-recognition and other biometric identification measures, including fingerprint scanners, according to Newsweek.

Another part of the “signature reduction” program, according to the report, consists of private-sector enterprises that work with the Pentagon to provide its clandestine operatives with contractual covers. These allow the operatives to work abroad under civilian cover and without any official connection to US embassies or military bases, according to Newsweek.

The report claims that the largest component of the Pentagon’s “signature reduction” program consists of members of Special Operations Forces. The remaining components of the program are made up of military intelligence and counterintelligence specialists with a variety of skills, including linguistics specialists and cyber operations. The latter form “the fastest growing” group within the program, and are tasked with collecting information about targets online, as well as engaging in influence campaigns utilizing social media platforms around the world.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 19 May 2021 | Permalink

Comment: Washington Post’s ‘Top Secret America’

Dana Priest

Dana Priest

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Like most intelligence observers, we at intelNews have monitored with interest The Washington Post’s recent investigation into the current state of the US intelligence complex. Authored by longtime investigative reporter Dana Priest and national security correspondent William Arkin, the three-part series offers a long-overdue examination of some of the most pressing issues in American intelligence. The articles are well written, detailed and informative, and intelNews recommends that they be read by all those interested in understanding broad trends in contemporary American intelligence. However, those readers interested in a sneak peak of some of the most important findings of the Post’s investigation, may wish to browse the helpful summary provided by Liz Goodwin, of Yahoo! News’ Upshot blog. In it, she delineates the main conclusions of the report, which –broadly speaking– focuses on three critical issues.

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