Was a Christian non-governmental organization funded by the Pentagon, with Congress fully briefed on the plan, used to smuggle spy equipment into North Korea?
The story goes something like this: in 2004 the Pentagon, fired up by the need to “protect the country” post 9/11, was keen on muscling in on the CIA’s virtual monopoly on strategic intelligence collection, including on North Korea.
[Devised was] a scheme to smuggle electronic monitoring equipment and other spyware into top priority target North Korea. … A religious charity called Humanitarian International Services Group (HISG) was developed [to enable] the smuggling of monitoring equipment into North Korea under cover of shipments of used clothing.
The HISG charity was funded by the Pentagon to the tune of an estimated $15 million during the course of the operation. In a test run the HISG charity managed to successfully conceal a large number of Bibles in a hidden compartment at the bottom of a shipping container topped up with used winter clothing, a highly prized commodity for starving and freezing North Koreans.
It is reported that short wave radios and some electronic devices intended to monitor nuclear programs as well as interfere with North Korean military communications were indeed smuggled into the country by unwitting Christian missionaries, aid workers, and Chinese smugglers, but whether they provided any critical intelligence is unclear. The operation continued to run during the Obama administration, finally winding down in 2013. While it is certain that George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld knew of and approved the operation, it is not known if either the Bush or Obama White Houses had explicit knowledge of it.
The United States government does in fact impose a ban on recruiting certain categories of individuals as spies. Clergymen are off limits partly for ethical reasons but more because the exposure of such a relationship would be devastating both to the religious organization itself and to the United States government. Use of the U.S. taxpayer-funded Peace Corps is also banned because exploiting it would potentially turn its volunteers into targets for terrorists.
[Read full American Conservative article by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer]