The Trump administration is weighing a plan to outsource certain covert intelligence activities to the private sector -- including the kidnapping and rendering of foreign nationals to other countries.
BuzzFeed reports that one plan before the administration would allow associates of the private firm Amyntor Group to "help capture wanted terrorists on behalf of the United States" by tracking "specific suspects in a Middle Eastern country... for possible 'rendition' to the United States."
In fact, the publication's sources say that operatives associated with the company are already in place monitoring two terrorism suspects in an unnamed country. Although the sources did not want to name the country for fear of compromising Amyntor's associates, they insisted that they "have the information and capabilities to snatch the two suspects and transport them to the US or a third country."
The plans to outsource key intelligence functions to private contractors mirror proposals made by Blackwater founder Erik Prince to hand U.S. military operations in Afghanistan over to private mercenary groups. Despite these similarities -- and despite the fact that Prince is "close" to some Amyntor officials -- BuzzFeed's sources says he has nothing to do with the new proposals.
One former senior intelligence official contacted by BuzzFeed expressed concern at the proposal, which he said could give a blank check to mercenary groups.
"All the institutional structures exist to prevent things from going off the rails," they said. "Is this an attempt to circumvent oversight?"