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Undernews Goes Behind The Goss Gloss

Undernews: Behind The Goss Gloss

An extract from the daily Undernews newsletter compiled by Editor Sam Smith



JOSEPH CURL AND BILL GERTZ, WASHINGTON TIMES - CIA Director Porter J. Goss resigned abruptly yesterday, leaving a post he held for less than two years and becoming the latest high-level administration official to be ensnared in a White House shake-up. Mr. Goss, widely unpopular among senior officials in the intelligence community and blamed for repeated leaks in recent months, called President Bush yesterday morning to offer his resignation. . .

Mr. Goss' resignation comes as his executive director, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, is being investigated by the CIA's inspector general. The IG is probing agency contracts awarded to companies owned by Brent Wilkes, who is at the center of an FBI bribery investigation that netted a guilty plea from former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, California Republican. Cunningham served on the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees. Mr. Goss had promoted Mr. Foggo, who served as a midlevel procurement official, to executive director, the No. 3 post in charge of agency administration. Mr. Foggo is a longtime friend of Mr. Wilkes. Cunningham admitted taking bribes from Mr. Wilkes, defense contractor Mitchell Wade and two other co-conspirators. He is serving more than eight years in prison. Mr. Wade has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the FBI. Mr. Foggo, through a CIA statement, denied any wrongdoing and said all contracts were properly awarded. "Mr. Foggo has overseen many contracts in his decades of public service. He reaffirms that they were properly awarded and administered," the CIA said. Mr. Wilkes' attorney told the Wall Street Journal his client is innocent. A senior administration official, who asked not to be named, said yesterday that Mr. Goss' resignation was not linked in any way to the Foggo or Cunningham investigations. The official said the White House did an extensive check and was assured that Mr. Goss is not under suspicion.

TPM MUCKRAKER - Here at TPM HQ we were listening to the president's announcement. And the talking heads on CNN were speculating whether Goss's departure might be part of Josh Bolten's 'new blood' shake up in the Bush administration. I don't suppose it has anything to do with the fact that Goss is neck deep in the Wilkes-Corruption-and-Hookers story that's been burbling in the background all week. We don't know definitely why Goss pulled the plug yet. But the CIA Director doesn't march over to the White House and resign, effective immediately, unless something very big is up.

SPLOID - "Something happened," neo-conservative magazine editor William Kristol said on Fox News this afternoon. "It's going to be a bad few days. We're going to discover something ... It will be something not good for the Bush Administration." Fox News actually got a phone call from a "top White House official" during Kristol's damning comments, and Kristol was cut off so Bush mouthpiece Chris Wallace could say the Goss resignation is just a harmless part of the "White House shakeup." Sure.

RIGOROUS INTUITION - As Daily Kos convincingly argues, the true scandal of the Duke Cunningham hooker story is likely the gender of the hookers. There are some very carefully parsed statements regarding Brent Wilkes' Watergate "hospitality suites," such as the claim of the lawyer for Shirlington Limo's Chris Baker that his client was "never in attendance in any party where any women were being used for prostitution purposes."

Cunningham staked out ground in Congress as a particularly gross character, describing his 1998 prostate operation as "just not natural, unless maybe you're Barney Frank." Frank noted that Cunningham "tends to frequently blurt out stuff on gay issues. He seems to be more interested in discussing homosexuality than most homosexuals." Two years earlier Cunningham had baited Frank on the Massachusetts Democrat's own hooker scandal, cutting him off in debate with "Would you like to talk about prostitutes and basements?" (Interestingly, it was only the Barney Frank angle that found any traction in the press and with the general public following The Washington Times' flap of child hookers on the Hill stories in 1989.)

But Cunningham is himself deeply and unhappily closeted, according to Chris Crain of The Washington Blade:

"Cunningham, who is married with grown children, has admitted to romantic, loving relationships with men, both during his Vietnam military service and as a civilian. That was the remarkable story that this publication reported two years ago, when Elizabeth Birch, the former Human Rights Campaign leader, inadvertently outed Cunningham at a gay rights forum.

"Birch never mentioned Cunningham's name, but she talked about a rabidly anti-gay congressman who asked to meet privately with her in the midst of a controversy over his use in a speech on the floor of the House the term "homos" to describe gays who have served in the military. Alone with Birch and an HRC staffer, the unnamed congressman shared that he had loved men during his life. . . "

The CIA, of course, is the genuine Mac Daddy of Capitol Hill prostitution. If Craig Spence could talk, he would, and so he can't. The Agency's interest in prostitution as a tool of blackmail and political leverage happened before at the Watergate, and may have even be closer to the truth of Nixon's fall than the "second-rate burglary." So to the degree Goss and Foggo may be involved, I think it's safe to assume it wasn't for their own personal "stress management."

NEWSWEEK - Former Texas congressman Charlie Wilson told Newsweek that he attended two or three poker games with federal contractor Wilkes and his cronies at the Watergate, but saw no hookers and quit going to the games because he was bothered by the cigar smoke. An eyewitness (who asked not to be identified commenting on sensitive matters) told Newsweek that in 1999, Foggo, Cunningham and a former Goss aide and ex-CIA official known as Nine Fingers (identified to Newsweek as Brant Bassett) attended an all-male Wilkes poker party at the Westin Grand Hotel in Washington. (Bassett and lawyers for Wilkes and Cunningham declined to comment; CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano told Newsweek: "Mr. Foggo maintains that government contracts for which he was responsible were properly awarded and administered. If he attended occasional card games with friends over the years, Mr. Foggo insists they were that and nothing more




PROGRESS REPORT - If Hayden is confirmed, "military officers would run all the major spy agencies, from the ultra-secret National Security Agency to the Defense Intelligence Agency." One former intelligence official said, "It seems to me the Pentagon grows even stronger now. . . Every time there's a change, it moves in that direction."

In a speech on Jan. 23, Hayden boasted that he was knowledgeable on the Fourth Amendment: "[B]elieve me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth." But in a question at that same speech, Knight-Ridder reporter Jonathan Landay noted that Hayden "repeatedly referred to the Fourth Amendment's search standard of 'reasonableness' without mentioning that it also demands 'probable cause'"; Hayden continued to deny that the amendment contained any such clause. When Landay asked Hayden if the amendment contains the phrase "probable cause," Hayden bluntly replied, "No."

Hayden misled Congress and the public about the administration's domestic spying. In his Oct. 17, 2002 testimony, Hayden told a congressional committee that any surveillance of persons in the United States was done consistent with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which required a court-approved warrant for wiretapping. As American Progress Senior Fellow Morton Halperin pointed out, "At the time of his statements, Hayden was fully aware of the presidential order to conduct warrantless domestic spying issued the previous year," making Hayden's misleading statements to Congress illegal.


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