A privately owned consulting firm is working on a proposal to circumvent the CIA with a private spy army that reports directly to President Trump.
According to multiple unnamed intelligence sources that talked to BuzzFeed News and The Intercept, intelligence consultant Amyntor Group was asked to put together a plan that would involve a global organization of private spies working outside of federal agencies, conducting covert operations in countries like Iran and North Korea, and reporting directly to CIA director Mike Pompeo and Trump.
An Amyntor attorney told BuzzFeed News that the arrangement would be legal. However, the attorney’s statement also suggested that the matter itself is classified, explaining the reliance on anonymous sources.
“The type of contract about which BuzzFeed is writing, however, would be entirely appropriate with direction and control by the proper governmental authority,” the statement read. “What would be inappropriate, and potentially illegal, would be for any individual purporting to have direct knowledge of what would be a classified contract proposal to disclose that information publicly.”
However, one disturbing detail unearthed by the Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole is that Erik Prince — brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of mercenary firm Blackwater — came up with the concept and enlisted (formerly) convicted felon and Iran-Contra architect Oliver North to sell the idea to the Trump administration.
Former CIA veteran John R. Maguire is also helping Prince with the proposal, according to The Intercept. Even though Prince and Maguire say they aren’t cooperating on the project, Scahill and Cole’s sources, which include some of President Trump’s donors, say the two are working together.
The Intercept’s sources also say the underlying impetus behind the idea is to create an intelligence network that is deeply loyal to the Trump regime, adding that neither Trump nor Pompeo trust the current “deep state” intelligence apparatus that’s currently investigating Trump’s supposed ties to Russia.
Should the private spy army become a reality, it would happen without the knowledge of top national security officials and agencies. National Security Council (NSC) spokesman Michael Anton told the Intercept that he found “no evidence that this ever came to the attention of anyone at the NSC or [White House] at all,” adding, “The White House does not and would not support such a proposal.”
When asked for comment, an unnamed spokesperson for the CIA told Scahill and Cole they were “provided wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda.”
Another spokesperson for the NSC told BuzzFeed News that General H.R. McMaster — Trump’s National Security Advisor — had no knowledge of the proposal.
Curiously, Amyntor is headquartered in Whitefish, Montana. That’s the same town where Whitefish Energy — the company that secured a $300 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid that was later revoked by the Puerto Rican government — is based. There is no known relationship between the two companies.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.