Pentagon secrets: New battlefield espionage units or what?

The &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Pentagon has created new battlefield espionage units that for the first time have been assigned to work directly with Special Operations forces on secret counterterrorism missions, tasks that until now have largely been the province of the Central Intelligence Agency, senior Defense Department officials say.

The small clandestine teams, drawn from specialists within the Defense Intelligence Agency, which is separate from the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>CIA, provide the military's elite Special Operations units with battlefield intelligence using advanced technology, help recruit spies in foreign countries, and scout potential targets, the officials said, as International Herald Tribune reported.

Sen. John McCain wants the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on allegations that the Defense Department may be bending U.S. laws in order to give Secretary &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Donald Rumsfeld more authority over clandestine overseas operations.

The Strategic Support Branch is meant to address what Rumsfeld called the Pentagon's "near total dependence on the CIA" for human intelligence, something Rumsfeld ordered ended. But Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita denied that the Pentagon has a clandestine unit reporting directly to Rumsfeld.

He also said, that "it is accurate and should not be surprising that the Department of Defense is attempting to improve its long-standing human intelligence capability. ... A principal conclusion of the 9/11 commission report is that the U.S. human intelligence capability must be improved across the board", says Fox News.

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