Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A.

By MARK MAZZETTI, The New York Times

Published: January 22, 2011

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” Mr. Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the C.I.A. payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Mr. Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say.

Mr. Clarridge, 78, who was indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-contra scandal and later pardoned, is described by those who have worked with him as driven by the conviction that Washington is bloated with bureaucrats and lawyers who impede American troops in fighting adversaries and that leaders are overly reliant on mercurial allies.

His dispatches – an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports – have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck.

For all of the can-you-top-this qualities to Mr. Clarridge’s operation, it is a startling demonstration of how private citizens can exploit the chaos of combat zones and rivalries inside the American government to carry out their own agenda.


  1. Back when there was the Bill of Rights, our clandestine agencies of the government had to be careful about things like torture and rendition and trials and rights to counsel, etc., so privatization was a necessary means of farming out the dirty work.

    But with the demise of the Bill of Rights, the government is free to do all the dirty work in house now — and hence, the military has cut off private clandestine funding.  It’s a private jobs killer.  It might even be socialism since the the government is taking over work that has been traditionally part of the private domain.

    • RUKind on January 24, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Unionize them. Apprentice programs. Shop stewards. Union reps. The whole nine yards.

    “We make the bones for the stay-at-homes.” Has a certain ring to it. Post-service they can consult for international Mafias the world over.

    Oh, wait…   Never mind.

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