Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kyle "Dusty" Foog gets sent up the river. There is some justice, after all.

Yes! The former #3 official at the CIA, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison on Friday. He was convicted of using his position at the CIA to steer agency contracts to his buddy, Brent Wilkes, who was convicted of bribing former California congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham (also convicted and sent up for 8 years). [Read the whole sorted story at Vanity Fair: Washington Babylon]

The WaPo reported on Friday:

"A longtime logistics officer, Foggo was the CIA's executive director from November 2004 until May 2006, holding the agency's third-ranking position and one in which he oversaw the CIA's daily operations and budget.

Foggo, of Vienna, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and acknowledged he conspired to defraud the government through his relationship with Brent R. Wilkes, the businessman and friend. Prosecutors said Wilkes took Foggo and his family on a $30,000 Hawaiian vacation and courted him with expensive meals.

In return, court documents say, Foggo helped Wilkes get lucrative contracts."

You'll remember, the Bush administration blamed the CIA for the intelligence lapse that led to 9/11 and the mistaken impression that Saddam had WMD. Of course, the real story is the CIA actually warned Bush and Condi about OBL wanting to attack inside the US, but W. was on vacation at the time, so he did nothing.

The CIA also constantly questioned the assertion Saddam had WMD, which is what led to Dick Cheney making all those repeated visits to Langley, Va., to twist arms into coming up with the right answers. This rush to get the war on also led to the creation of Dougals Feith's Office of Special Plans at the pentagon to cherry pick intel to fit the facts around the policy.

In any case, Bush picked Florida congressman Porter Goss to clean house inside the CIA in August of 2004. Cheney was of the opinion that, in the lead up to the Iraq invasion the CIA had been disloyal by questioning how much of a threat to the US Saddam really was. This was a golden opportunity for some payback. And the appointment of Iran/Contra co-conspirator John Negroponte as intelligence czar (DCI) ensured also a more pliable CIA the next time they needed to manufacture a war.

Goss' short tenure was a first class disaster. He couldn't get anywhere with Negroponte as his boss and the agency was reeling from his hirings and firings and was described as being pretty much in "mutinous" mood all around.

Foggo brings down Goss:

Significantly, what ultimalty led to Goss' resignation was the appointment of Dusty Foggo as the #3 man in charge of the day-to-day running of the CIA in November of 2004. Interestingly, by the way, he also brought in a certain Brant "Nine Fingers" Bassett, who had been at the agency previously and had been working with Goss as a staffer on the House Intelligence Committee.

"Nine Fingers" Bassett got his nick name from his prowess at playing poker with none other than Brent Wilkes, who wrote him a check for $5000 while he was working for Goss in congress.

TPM reported in May of 2006:

"The $5,000 Bassett accepted from Wilkes was for helping him with a business trip to a part of Europe where Bassett knew 'the lay of the land from before' -- presumably a reference to Bassett's earlier work for the CIA, said the person speaking for Bassett. Bassett 'was not an employee of [ADCS]. It was a one-off consulting deal' this person said on Bassett's behalf."
[ADCS was Wilkes' company]

Ken Silverstein wrote for Harpers on May 9 2004 that Bassett and another CIA type, undercover and thus un-named, were the ones who convinced Goss to put Foggo in the #3 spot. That decision proved to be fatal.

Foggo had a reputation from way back when it came to playing fast and loose with the rules. Goss asked Foggo if there was anything he needed to know before he appointed him and Foggo just sort of forgot to mention he was colluding with Brent Wilkes to rip off the government, he was planning to go into business with Wilkes once he retired (after making Wilkes rich), and was also planning on perhaps taking Cunningham's seat when he retired.

But other than that, though, we was good to go. He then proceeded to use his position to direct his underlings to hire Wilkes' shell company to provide aviation support, which Wilkes know nothing about, and other contracts involving armored vehicles to protect agency employees around the world, which Wilkes also knew nothing about providing.

Foggo, as well -- and this is the part I really love -- forced the agency to hire his mistress (known as "ER."), despite their objections relating to her previous job in the government. The government's sentencing memorandum says:

"As CIA hiring officials began to investigate ER's background . . . they learned of problems in her previous government employment that precluded her from employment with the CIA: she had engaged in improper conduct with a superior and had impeded the Inspector General’s investigation of the conduct by destroying evidence. As a result, on or about February 28, 2005, a CIA official sent ER a rejection letter."

No problemo, just hire her and shut up. After she started making her $100,000 salery, thanks to good old Dusty, her supervisor soon came the conclusion she was a waste of money. The 20-year employee was then, naturally, summarily fired by Foggo. Foggo, meanwhile, was charging the tax payers to keep his wife and children in Germany, far away from his little love nest in Va.

More on the history of Foggo that should have raised alarm bells for Goss, but didn't.

"Twenty years ago, long before he and Wilkes would execute this scheme, incidents of a very
different sort demonstrated that Foggo was self-motivated when it came to breaking the law,
violating policies, and lying to conceal such misconduct.

In 1989, while stationed overseas, Foggo stopped his car in front of bicycle bypass. One frustrated passing cyclist slapped the trunk of Foggo’s car. After the two exchanged words, Foggo responded by knocking him off his bike and punching him in the face. Then, much as he would later lie to others at the CIA about the 'cigar bar' cover story for him and JC [Wilkes nephew, Joel Combs] Foggo concocted a story that local police officers had fabricated the entire incident as payback for Foggo’s having spurned their efforts to solicit a bribe from him.

Foggo’s superiors and the local officials considered his explanation to be 'unrealistic and implausible.' Foggo’s chief of station was convinced that Foggo was lying to him. Foggo’s assault on one of its citizens so outraged that nation that officials there filed a Diplomatic Protest with the U.S. Ambassador.

During this same overseas assignment . . . The CIA had to initiate an investigation into Foggo’s undisclosed contacts with foreign nationals. Foggo’s responses to this investigation raised '[m]any more questions than answers,' as it became clear that he had 'withheld information concerning his relationship[s]' with multiple foreign women with 20 whom he was romantically involved. [Huffington Post reports he was sharing a woman with a known Russian mole!]

Though crediting Foggo’s 'reputation as a can-do administrator' and acknowledging his
'high performance appraisals,' the investigator reached the following prescient conclusion: 'Mr. Foggo’s selective compliance with Agency rules and regulations, and unique interpretation of those rules vis-a-vis his "three drop’ rule," is an indication that he is likely to remain a potential threat to security through his poor judgment.'

Similarly, although Foggo’s supervisor at that time 'recognized that Mr. Foggo was talented at his job as a Chief of Support, and recommended him for continued employment with the Agency,' he also 'knew Mr. Foggo was a person who was seriously flawed, ethically and morally, who would cut corners to achieve his aims.' He viewed Foggo as 'a charming' and 'glib' 'people person,' who had the ability to win people over.

Nevertheless, Foggo’s former chief was shocked when Foggo reached the CIA’s highest
ranks: 'I was flabbergasted when Mr. Foggo was selected as the Executive Director. I found
Director Goss’s selection to be quite revealing, that Mr. Goss would be taken in by a ‘con man’ like Mr. Foggo.' While Foggo’s ascension may have been shocking, his crime was not: 'I was not surprised when I learned of his guilty plea

Next time: Carol Lamm fired to save Foggo and Wilkes?

See my entry from 5/5/06 for a preview:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Who the hell is Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, anyway?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is giving the GOP response to Obama's speech tonight, so I thought before the media gets around to crowning him the next president, I'd delve a little into who Jindal really is.

Read all about it at my democraticunderground journal. Check out the comments, too, there are some good ones, plus additional info added by me as I found out more about him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Holder to Gitmo. Binyam Mohamed returns to UK.

In a funny bit of timing, as AG Eric Holder was winging his way toward our Club Med for the "Worst of the Worst" at Gitmo, Ethiopian detainee Binyam Mohamed, the UK resident at the heart of a torture scandal, was on his way back to London. The BBC reports he just arrived and will be taken to a police station, processed and then, presumably, released.

The BBC:

"A British resident detained at Guantanamo Bay for more than four years has arrived back in the UK. Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, 30, landed at RAF Northolt in London on Monday afternoon, accompanied by Metropolitan Police officers. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said his release was the first step towards the goal of closing down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Mr Mohamed said in a statement: 'I have to say, more in sadness than in anger, that many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years . . . I wish I could say that it is all over, but it is not. There are still 241 Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo. Many have long since been cleared even by the US military, yet cannot go anywhere as they face persecution. Then there are thousands of other prisoners held by the US elsewhere around the world, with no charges, and without access to their families." [The rest of his statement]

The Guardian:

"Upon his return to England after more than four years inside Guantánamo, Mohamed will be taken to a secure, secret location in order for him to be fully rehabilitated by a team of volunteer doctors and psychiatrists. Mohamed will be kept under a 'voluntary security arrangement' which involves reporting to the authorities, but he will not be subject to an anti-terror control order. His lawyers reiterate that he has nothing to hide after US terror charges against him were dropped last year. "

The Gaurdian: Mohamed beaten until last minute . . .

"Mohamed was found to be suffering from bruising, organ damage, stomach complaints, malnutrition, sores to feet and hands, severe damage to ligaments as well as profound emotional and psychological problems which have been exacerbated by the refusal of Guantánamo's guards to give him counselling.

Mohamed's British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said his client had been beaten 'dozens' of times inside the notorious US camp in Cuba with the most recent abuse occurring during recent weeks. He said: 'He has a list of physical ailments that cover two sheets of A4 paper. What Binyam has been through should have been left behind in the middle ages.'

Lieutenant colonel Yvonne Bradley, Mohamed's US military attorney, added: 'He has been severely beaten. Sometimes I don't like to think about it because my country is behind all this.'

Stafford Smith, the director of legal charity Reprieve, said yesterday that Mohamed had been routinely beaten by Guantánamo's notorious emergency reaction force, a six-strong team of guards in riot gear who have been the subject of previous abuse allegations. The alleged beatings were routinely administered against Mohamed 'for no reason' and some were 'recent' according to Stafford Smith."

Obama buys the policy:

So, what? Is Holder going down there to to get a few punches in before we shut the place down? I'm thinking if Mohamed was getting beaten as the UK was negotiating with the Obama administration for his release - to say nothing of the force feeding! -- then that's seriously messed up. Here we got a new president, a new policy, no more torture, etc. and we find the same old stuff going on.

And God knows what's going on around the world at our other secret prisons. Obama & Co. just told a judge in the US the courts have no jurisdiction over 4 detainees at Baghram suing for their release after six years of detention:


"Barbara Olshansky, lead counsel for three of the four detainees and a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, said she was deeply disappointed that the Obama administration had decided to 'adhere to a position that has contributed to making our country a pariah around the world for its flagrant disregard of people's human rights.'"

Extra note:

Speaking of some of those left behind at Gitmo: When will the seven Uyghurs being held at Gitmo be getting released? Not only weren't they ever charged with doing anything wrong, they've actually been found to be totally innocent, which is rare at Gitmo, yet they're still there. We wouldn't want to offend the Chinese, though. We'll release the Uyghurs when they tell us we can!

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