The U.S. is expanding its secret intelligence forces in Africa to spy on terrorist hideouts, but many of the spying missions are actually being run by contractors who supply the aircraft, pilots, and personnel to collect intelligence from airspace above Uganda, Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Contractors were previously used to conduct airborne spying operations in Latin America in the 1990s and early 2000s. The Pentagon often turns to outside contractors for “deniability,” according to an expert with the Brookings Institution, but “it rarely turns out that way,” he adds. “When things go bad, you can have two scenarios. Either the contractors are left holding the bag, complaining about abandonment, or else some kind of abuse happens and they’re not held accountable because of a mix of unclear legal accountability and a lack of political will to do something about it,” he says.