This is the first item in what will become a regular feature on Phase Zero. We'll be posting previously unpublished codenames that refer to secret programs, organizations, and activities. And we'll try to divine from limited information what they might be. If you have new information (or codenames of your own) to share with us, you can email us or use Gawker Media SecureDrop.
They don't have their own television show and they suffer from a congenital air force inferiority complex to Army criminal investigations (or CID), but the Air Force Office of Special Investigations is a $300 million a year, 3,300-strong law enforcement and security organization that not only spans the globe sniffing out crimes and spies, but it is also the premier techno-cyber investigatory arm of the Pentagon. And online undercover sleuthing is hot right now, with AFOSI leading the defense march.
Reading AFOSI press releases, one might think it's all to catch Air Force sex predators and the occasional foreign spy, but buried in hyper-secret fine print are a set of special access programs, known in the biz as SAPs, that focus on "insider threats." We hear that Covenant Guard is just such a program, and that its focus extends to defense contractors and others "affiliated" with the U.S. Air Force who are suspected of Middle Eastern terrorism connections. Catching homegrown extremists or prying into the private lives of Muslim Americans? If it's just the former what's the point of the hyper-secrecy?
Illustration by Jim Cooke.