An Air Force civilian employee who resigned in July amid allegations he ran an illegal contractor spy ring in Afghanistan is still facing possible criminal charges, according to a new report.
Michael Furlong and his boss Mark Johnson resigned in July after the Air Force inspector general informed both men they would face official censure for how they ran their information-gathering network, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
“After 17 months of DOD investigations and an FBI investigation, it was determined that no criminal laws were broken,” Furlong wrote in his letter, obtained by the AP.
The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Pentagon’s Defense Criminal Investigative Services is continuing to make inquiries into the case, officials told the AP.
In 2009, the CIA claimed that Furlong’s private military contractors were running an illegal spying network in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ex-CIA agent Duane Clarridge was allegedly managing the network, which officials said was helping target terrorists for capture and kill operations.
The AP obtained a Defense Department report from June 2010 that concluded Furlong’s ring had hidden covert spying activity and violated Pentagon policy. Furlong maintained that his contractors, who were running a network of low-level local operatives who worked their own sources, were operating within the law.
Officials told the AP that when contractors run their own information-gathering networks, their sources become part of a private company rather than the U.S. government, creating a loophole that makes it difficult to verify the information.
The network gave threat information to the military — and Furlong wrote in his resignation letter that the ring “saved U.S. and Afghan lives” with its reports.
“Most importantly, we saved U.S. and Afghan lives with the `Force Protection Atmospherics’ program,” Furlong wrote. “We enabled the separate targeting board process and the Predator operations to be much more successful than they were or have been since they terminated the Atmospherics program. That is verifiable fact.”
Furlong wrote that he knew his operation existed in an intelligence-gathering gray area, but said he believes he will be cleared, the AP reported.
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