Saturday, May 06, 2006
BY RICHARD SISK and JAMES GORDON MEEK, DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - CIA Director Porter Goss abruptly resigned yesterday amid allegations that he and a top aide may have attended Watergate poker parties where bribes and prostitutes were provided to a corrupt congressman.
Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the No. 3 official at the CIA, could soon be indicted in a widening FBI investigation of the parties thrown by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the bribery conviction of former Rep. Randall (Duke) Cunningham, law enforcement sources said.
A CIA spokeswoman said Foggo went to the lavish weekly hospitality-suite parties at the Watergate and Westin Grand hotels but "just for poker."
Intelligence and law enforcement sources said solid evidence had yet to emerge that Goss also went to the parties, but Goss and Foggo share a fondness for poker and expensive cigars, and the FBI investigation was continuing.
Larry Johnson, a former CIA operative and a Bush administration critic, said Goss "had a relationship with Dusty and with Brent Wilkes that's now coming under greater scrutiny." Johnson vouched for the integrity of Foggo and Goss but said, "Dusty was a big poker player, and it's my understanding that Porter Goss was also there [at Wilkes' parties] for poker. It's going to be guilt by association."
"It's all about the Duke Cunningham scandal," a senior law enforcement official told the Daily News in reference to Goss' resignation. Duke, a California Republican, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison after pleading guilty in November to taking $2.4 million in homes, yachts and other bribes in exchange for steering government contracts.
Goss' inability to handle the allegations swirling around Foggo prompted John Negroponte, the director of National Intelligence, who oversees all of the nation's spy agencies, to press for the CIA chief's ouster, the senior official said. The official said Goss is not an FBI target but "there is an impending indictment" of Foggo for steering defense contracts to his poker buddies.
One subject of the FBI investigation is a $3 million CIA contract that went to Wilkes to supply bottled water and other goods to CIA operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan, sources said.
In a hastily arranged Oval Office announcement that stunned official Washington, neither President Bush, right, nor Goss offered a substantive reason for why the head of the spy agency was leaving after only a year on the job.
"He has led ably" in an era of CIA transition, Bush said with Goss seated at his side. "He has a five-year plan to increase the analysts and operatives."
Goss said the trust Bush placed in him "is something I could never have imagined." "I believe the agency is on a very even keel, sailing well," he said.
The official Bush administration spin that emerged later was that Goss lost out in a turf battle with Negroponte, but Goss' tenure was marked by the resignations of several veteran operatives who viewed him as an amateur out of his depth.
White House officials said Bush would announce early next week his choice to succeed Goss. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, Negroponte's top deputy, heads the list of potential replacements, with White House counterterror chief Fran Townsend also on the short list.
Negroponte "apparently had no confidence" in Goss, and Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board was also "very alarmed by problems at the CIA," said a congressional source involved in oversight of U.S. spy agencies. "Supposedly the [Cunningham] scandal was the last straw," the source said. "This administration may be on the verge of a major scandal."
Full NY Daily News story. Bill Spier blogged hints of this story yesterday on DemLog.
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