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Larry Johnson: Why Did Goss Resign?

Why Did Goss Resign?

By Larry Johnson
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Saturday 06 May 2006

Yesterday's surprise announcement by Porter Goss comes on the heels of press stories that members of Congress received sexual favors from prostitutes allegedly procured by Brent Wilkes, an entrepreneur implicated in the bribery of Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Wilkes, we are told, hosted poker and hooker parties at the Watergate Hotel. Wilkes also happened to be an old high school buddy of the CIA's number three man, Dusty Foggo.

Speculation in the blogosphere suggested that Porter Goss selected Foggo because of his ties to Wilkes and may be implicated in the sexscapades. I'm told by a friend who used to work at the Agency that Goss, on this charge, is clean. In fact, Goss may be a victim, guilty only of selecting some lousy staff.

A former CIA buddy tells me that Porter's main problem, however, is a key staffer who is linked to both Brent Wilkes and the CIA's Executive Director, Dusty Foggo. My friend also said that it is highly likely that the Goss staffer did participate in the hooker extravaganza. Goss, politician that he is, probably recognized that even though he did not participate in the sexual escapades and poker games, his staffer's participation created a huge problem for him that would be difficult to escape.

There also is truth to the rumor that Goss was not happy with presiding over a CIA that had been rendered a co-equal with the Department of Defense intelligence units. Prior to the creation of the National Director of Intelligence, the CIA was the lead intelligence agency. No longer. Ironically, part of the impetus for the creation of the NDI was the perceived "failures" of the CIA with respect to 9/11 and Iraq. Recent revelations by retired CIA officers, such as Paul Pillar and Ty Drumheller, make clear that the CIA basically got it right on Iraq and was ignored by the Bush administration.

Porter Goss, to his credit, did make a valiant effort to revitalize the human collection side of the Agency. He reopened CIA posts overseas that his predecessor, George Tenet, had closed. On the demerit side of the ledger, however, Goss also politicized the CIA. He brought political operatives into the CIA who made loyalty to the Bush presidency the primary concern. This helped drive out much needed talent and weakened the CIA's ability to conduct overseas operations while tarnishing the CIA's tradition for offering objective analysis.

It appears there will be another victim in this mess - Dusty Foggo, the CIA's Executive Director. Dusty is an old friend of Brent Wilkes and there has been plenty of speculation and rumor suggesting that Dusty got his job because of Porter's intervention. Not so says a friend. Dusty got the job thru the intervention of one of Porter's senior aides, who pushed and got Dusty the job. While the rumor mill tries to suggest Dusty was implicated in the hooker scandal, a friend tells me no. According to my friend:

"Regarding Dusty's poker games, I guess guilt by association is a favored game in Washington on both sides of the political spectrum, but really, these events were quite innocent, at least when viewed from the perspective of if Dusty is guilty of anything beyond keeping too high a profile in what turned out to be the wrong company. If you want to know, the way these things worked was that once or twice a week, Dusty would host a poker game either at his house in Vienna or Brent's place at the Watergate, later the Westin. These things went on from the mid 1990s until Dusty went to Frankfurt in the early 2000s. Basically, Dusty used these games to take his mind off of his feud with Buzzy Krongaard, which was a minor thing to Buzzy, but weighed pretty heavily on Dusty's mind. When at Dusty's place, they were pretty much all Agency guys, except for Brent. Dusty's wife laid out the food and drink. When downtown, Brent would invite Duke and some other denizens from the Hill, but the majority were always Dusty's Agency poker buddies. Brent would pop for the drinks and snacks downtown, and the ambiance was kind of like the poker game on "The Sopranos." At either location, Dusty was the center of attraction and kind of the host. There was always a lot of bitching about Buzzy, even in front of the Hill guys. These were always all guy things, there weren't any women there. Dusty is a big cigar aficionado, in fact, he used to have the license plate CIGRMAN on his car. The room was always filled with smoke. Downtown, it wasn't unusual for guys to crash in the bedrooms or on the couch before going home at dawn to catch a shower and go in to work. It would not surprise me if Brent used the same rooms at the Watergate and Westin for subsidized Congressional encounters with hookers, but I don't know this to be the case. If Brent did, I doubt that he would've said anything to Dusty about it, because, for all of his judgmental shortcomings, Dusty has enough of a political antenna to realize that he shouldn't be playing poker in the same room where Duke was availing himself of free hookers. As you probably know, Dusty is the type of guy who people either love or hate. In my experience, women who hate him do so because he is an unabashed chauvinist of the old school. Guys who hate him pretty much do so because they wish they had the moxie to get as much poontang as they think he is getting. So there you have it, at least my take."

Unfortunately for Dusty, his days at CIA are probably numbered. What is even more unfortunate is the effect of this scandal on the CIA and ultimately this nation. The CIA has endured the shame of the president, the vice president, and the Republican controlled Congress, blaming it for intelligence failures in Iraq when in fact, the CIA told the truth on critical issues but the leaders did not want to hear it. The CIA also has endured a president and vice president whose immediate staff have been implicated in the outing of an undercover CIA officer. Despite a promise to get to the bottom of this breach of secrecy, President Bush has permitted one of the participants in that leak - Karl Rove - to stay on the job. And now a sex scandal that implicates, by association, the former Director of the CIA and the number-three man at the Agency.

Hopefully, President Bush will seize this opportunity to remove the taint of politics from the CIA. We need a professional, not a political hack running the CIA. We live in a dangerous world that requires an organization like the CIA capable of operating in the world of the covert and clandestine. Faced with a crisis of leadership and confidence, however, the CIA may be distracted from its mission of helping protect this nation. Viewed in this light, the sudden departure of Porter Goss is a real tragedy.


Larry C. Johnson is CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm that helps corporations and governments manage threats posed by terrorism and money laundering. Mr. Johnson, who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and US State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism (as a Deputy Director), is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management. Mr. Johnson has analyzed terrorist incidents for a variety of media including the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, ABC's Nightline, NBC's Today Show, the New York Times, CNN, Fox News and the BBC. Mr. Johnson has authored several articles for publications including Security Management Magazine, the New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. He has lectured on terrorism and aviation security around the world.

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