The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti reports that Duane R. Clarridge, who parted with the Central Intelligence Agency over twenty years ago, has been running a private network of spies from his poolside at his home near San Diego. Clarridge 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.”
Furthermore, Mazzetti reports that Clarridge, “who was indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-contra scandal and later pardoned,” “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.”
Mazzetti paints a portrait of the 78-year-old Clarridge. He is someone who believes Washington is bloated with bureaucrats and lawyers who impede American troops in fighting adversaries and that leaders are overly reliant on mercurial allies. He has for years sent dispatches, “an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports,” to military officials and conservative commentators like Oliver L. North, “a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst,” and Brad Thor, who writes “military thrillers” and frequently appears on Glenn Beck’s show. His reports were used by officials in the U.S. military up to plan military strikes in Afghanistan until spring of last year.