Uh, does anyone else see a problem with this?
Congress has given the Pentagon important new authority to fight terrorism by authorizing Special Operations forces for the first time to spend money to pay informants and recruit foreign paramilitary fighters.
The new authority, which would also let Special Operations forces purchase equipment or other items from the foreigners, is spelled out in a single paragraph of an 800-page defense authorization bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in October.
The new law authorizes the secretary of defense to spend as much as $25 million a year through 2007 “to provide support to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups or individuals” who help Special Operations missions to combat terrorism. It also specifies that Congress is not providing authorization for the Pentagon to conduct covert action, which has traditionally been undertaken by the C.I.A. and requires explicit presidential authority.
Senior military officials and a retired Army intelligence officer said the money could be used for purposes as diverse as buying a truck for an urgent mission or paying cash to irregular allies, like the Northern Alliance in the Afghan war against the Taliban. “This could also be used to pay bribes on the ground to help a mission along,” said the retired Army intelligence officer.