DECEMBER 09, 2013
A multi-billion-dollar program launched by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after 9/11 to spy on terrorists and rogue nations is a “colossal flop” plagued by “financial irregularities,” according to senior agency officials cited in a mainstream newspaper exposé on the scandal-plagued initiative.
It took the government more than a decade but it’s finally—and quietly—pulling the plug on the failed experiment, which was supposed to collect intelligence on terrorists and nations considered enemies of the United States. Nevertheless, the damage has been done. American taxpayers are out at least $3 billion with little to show for it and Uncle Sam is finally cutting the cash flow.
The anti-terrorism program is known as NOC because it gives CIA operatives, often posing as business executives, non-official cover, presumably to delve deeper and gather more intelligence. The goal was to get the agents, who usually pose as diplomats abroad, out of embassy offices and into foreign businesses, universities and other local operations, the news story reveals.
The reporter evidently attended a NOC forum in which CIA agents spoke of their cover jobs, false identities and how they were protected. The general consensus was that the initiative was a disappointment that gathered no valuable intelligence. A senior officer exchanged a note with a colleague that read: “Lots of business. Little espionage.” A former senior CIA official said “it was a colossal flop.” The sentiment was echoed by a dozen former colleagues, the article says.
The reason this particular initiative failed is not uncommon among government agencies—incompetence, mismanagement, waste…the list can go on and on. Because of inexperience, bureaucratic hurdles, lack of language skills and other problems only a few of the deep-cover officers recruited useful intelligence sources, CIA operatives revealed in the article. Sometimes the CIA didn’t send the right people with the right cover and others were posted too far from where their targets were located.
And like every bloated, secret government program with no oversight, this one was “tainted by financial irregularities.” The story didn’t get into much detail but it quotes a former senior CIA official and an agency inspector general finding that some NOCs billed the CIA for “unjustified time and expenses.” Few were forced to repay the money, the sources said.
Officially, the CIA refuses to comment on this scandal-plagued program that’s proven to be a money pit for taxpayers. “The agency does not discuss publicly any cover techniques that it may employ,” an agency spokesman says in the story. “The CIA does keep the congressional intelligence oversight committees fully informed of its activities, which are constantly evolving to meet the threats to national security. And, while the details of the agency budget remain properly classified, sequestration and budget cutbacks have affected the entire federal government, including CIA.”
This is simply the latest of many scandals to rock the CIA recently. Last year the agency’s director, David Petraeus, resigned in shame after having an extramarital affair with his biographer. Also last year Judicial Watch obtained CIA records detailing how it played fast and loose with national security information by granting unusual access to agency files to the filmmakers of the Osama bin Laden movie.
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