Gates asks for probe into pentagon operations

Associatedpress and Associatedpress

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked for a wide-ranging study of the Pentagon’s information operations and given officials just 15 days to complete it.

The review comes amid a separate Pentagon investigation into whether an official hired private contractors to run an off-the-books spy operation for tracking suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Information operations” include such activities as electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception and others generally used to influence, disrupt or corrupt an enemy’s decision making.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told a press conference Tuesday that Gates asked a small group of officials to study whether the programs are being run with proper oversight and guidelines.

The review was prompted by the case of Michael D. Furlong, who had directed a defense contract to gather information in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region that could be shared with military units. After military officials suspected he was using Defense Department money for an off-the-books spy operation, defense officials shut down that part of the contract, officials said last week. The New York Times reported that some of the intelligence gathered was used to track down and attack militants.

Furlong denied the allegations. He said last week that the program was authorized by military commanders.