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Pentagon, CIA Lines Blur as US Wars Step Further into Shadows

New Pentagon strategy 'reflects the Obama administration’s affinity for espionage and covert action'

Common Dreams staff

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The Pentagon has announced plans to implement a heavy increase in spies around the world as part of a new espionage network comparable to the CIA that is likely to increase covert US strikes overseas.

U.S. officials told the Washington Post Saturday, the goal is to transform the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency into a spy service "focused on emerging threats and more closely aligned with the CIA and elite military commando units."

"The expansion of the agency’s clandestine role is likely to heighten concerns that it will be accompanied by an escalation in lethal strikes and other operations outside public view. Because of differences in legal authorities, the military isn’t subject to the same congressional notification requirements as the CIA, leading to potential oversight gaps," the Post reports.

The DIA is expected to send over 1,600 "collectors" overseas in the next five years, who will be trained by the CIA and work with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, but will be assigned missions from the Department of Defense.

Officials said the Pentagon's top targets for the program will be Islamist groups in Africa, weapons transfers by North Korea and Iran, and military modernization in China.

"This is not a marginal adjustment for DIA. This is a major adjustment for national security” stated DIA director, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn at a recent conference.

The Post continues:

The sharp increase in DIA undercover operatives is part of a far-reaching trend: a convergence of the military and intelligence agencies that has blurred their once-distinct missions, capabilities and even their leadership ranks [...]

Through its drone program, the CIA now accounts for a majority of lethal U.S. operations outside the Afghan war zone. At the same time, the Pentagon’s plan to create what it calls the Defense Clandestine Service, or DCS, reflects the military’s latest and largest foray into secret intelligence work. [...]

The DIA overhaul — combined with the growth of the CIA since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — will create a spy network of unprecedented size. The plan reflects the Obama administration’s affinity for espionage and covert action over conventional force. It also fits in with the administration’s efforts to codify its counterterrorism policies for a sustained conflict and assemble the pieces abroad necessary to carry it out.

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