(President George Bush and his pal, former CIA Director Porter Goss)
One of the enduring passions of President George H.W. Bush has been the study of national security intelligence and the institutions that support a central intelligence structure inside a liberal democracy.
That is right up there as one of President Bush’s dad’s biggest hobbies.
But the CIA has been fantastically mismanaged during the tenure of Bush 41’s son, our current president.
Sidney Blumenthal writes in Salon:
Acting on the president’s charge, Goss in effect purged the CIA. He was even conducting lie detector interrogations of officers to root out the sources of stories leaked to the press — to the Washington Post, for example, in its Pulitzer Prize-winning expose of CIA “black site” prisons where detainees are jailed without any due process, Red Cross inspection or Geneva Conventions protection. Last month, a CIA agent, Mary McCarthy, was fired for her contact with a reporter. Like others subjected to questioning, she was asked her political affiliation.
But Goss’ purging weakened the agency and his own inherent bureaucratic strength in relation to his voracious rivals at the Directorate of National Intelligence and the Pentagon. The more he served as the president’s loyalist, the less was his power. By fulfilling his mission, he diminished himself. The butcher’s defense of the integrity of the CIA from the directorate and the Pentagon lacked all conviction.
Goss’ attempt to run the CIA through his own band of loyalists proved his ultimate undoing. It turned out that the “gosslings,” as they were known at Langley (after “quislings”), had unsavory connections that trailed them into the agency. An unintended consequence of Goss’ dependence on his team of political hatchet men was that his future was dependent on their past.
As Goss parried with Negroponte and Rumsfeld, federal investigators began to close in on his third-ranked official, in charge of contracting, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, for possibly granting illegal contracts to Brent Wilkes, the military contractor named as “co-conspirator No. 1” in the indictment of convicted former Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, now serving eight years in prison for accepting $2.4 million in bribes. Wilkes, who gave $630,000 in cash and favors to Cunningham, remains under investigation by prosecutors. Cunningham has confessed to accepting a $100,000 bribe from “co-conspirator No. 1.” Wilkes’ business associate, Mitchell Wade, has pleaded guilty to bribing Cunningham.
For years, Wilkes hosted “hospitality suites” at the Watergate Hotel for House members and other associates that involved poker games and, allegedly, prostitutes. That, too, is under investigation. Foggo has admitted his presence, but “just for poker.” At least six House members, unnamed so far, are alleged to have participated. Goss has denied attending as CIA director, but not as an elected representative. Yet another hand at the poker table has been identified as Brant Bassett, aka “Nine Fingers.” Bassett was Goss’ staff director on the House Intelligence Committee and was hired as a consultant to the CIA’s Directorate of Operations.
Foggo and Wilkes are best friends going back to high school in suburban San Diego. They were roommates at San Diego State, where they were members of the Young Republicans, were best men at each other’s weddings, and named their sons after each other. Wilkes pays for a joint wine locker for them at the Capital Grille steakhouse favored by lobbyists and Republican legislators.
The White House announcement of Goss’ resignation was incredibly abrupt, without advance warning or a named successor. White House aides frenetically briefed the press that the sole reason was an internecine conflict between Goss and Negroponte. But such an internal controversy could have been managed for a smooth transition. Something else appeared to be at work.
Indeed, in March, the CIA’s inspector general had launched an investigation into Foggo’s relationship with Wilkes, who had received CIA contracts in Iraq. Three days after Goss left, Foggo quit, too. In a highly unusual development, two days later, on Wednesday, the special agent in charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s investigation in the “Duke” Cunningham case, Rick Gwin, spoke publicly: “This is much bigger and wider than just Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham,” he told Southern California’s North County Times. “All that has just not come out yet, but it won’t be much longer and then you will know just how widespread this is.”
Former State Department Chief of Staff and retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson has made the point in meetings I’ve been to with him that Rumsfeld and the President are also “breaking the military.”
Other retired generals, General Anthony Zinni most recently at a Council on Foreign Relations dinner Tuesday evening, are pounding on the same point. The military is coming off its wheels.
The American public needs to think about its future and what things are going to look like when American pretensions about its place in the world, its commitments to other allies, and its need to oppose ill-doing thugs and rogue regimes (yes, there are some) are simply unsupportable and crumble because of the missteps, dereliction of responsibility, and arrogance of those now in power.
— Steve Clemons