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Archive for April of 2006
April 28, 2006
April 25, 2006
hat to make of Mitchell Wade's claims that he and Brent Wilkes used a hooker ring in the Imperial City to subborn congressmen and now senior government officials? Part of the story is an internal maneuver by the FBI to squeeze a potential witness.
Wade, caught up in the Duke Cunningham scandal, already has turned cooperative government witness. He now asserts that his business partner Wilkes (who is not cooperating) handled all the hooker logistics. Wade says the two used hookers on behalf of their company, MZM. The pressure is now on Wilkes. Unless he copts a plea, Wilkes is now facing Mann Act violations — the women and limos came from Virginia into D.C. Jail time for those felonies is serious.
According to the WSJ
, here's how it worked:
According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Mr. Wade told investigators that Mr. Cunningham periodically phoned him to request a prostitute, and that Mr. Wade then helped to arrange for one. A limousine driver then picked up the prostitute as well as Mr. Cunningham, and drove them to one of [two] hotel suites, originally at the Watergate Hotel, and subsequently at the Westin Grand.
Wade claims he merely referred the calls to Wilkes who dealt with the hookers and limos. So the pressure is on Wilkes to cut a deal. Why go through all this? Apparently the FBI and others believe that more congressmen and officials besides Cunningham were serviced. And Wilkes knows the details. Names being floated include some well known congressmen. Moreover, our dear friend Porter Goss, now sitting in the ruins of the Agency, is being implicated. At the most innocent level, he attended Wade and Mitchell sponsored booze and cigar poker parties in the Watergate. Less clear is if hookers were there.
Apparently, at a Wade and Mitchell 'event', Goss while a congressman met middle level CIA employee Kyle Dustin “Dusty” Foggo (one of Wade's childhood friends). Based on the relationship that developed, Goss selected Foggo to become the Agency's number three official last October, vaulting him from obscurity to seniority in a single promotion.
For all of the gymnastics and gyrations involved, MZM/Wade/Mitchell still received relatively small scale contracts in the national security realm. The millions add up, of course. But apparently with Foggo in the harness at the Agency, Wade and Mitchell were poised to move up into the big leagues and pull down much larger deals for themselves.
An investigation into Foggo's dealings with Wade and Mitchell is being handled by the Agency's Inspector General (that position is ostensibly independent from the new position of CIA Director and is removable only by the President). Perhaps now Goss' obsession to stop alleged leaks from IG personnel such as Mary McCarthy takes on a more personal and even more self serving purpose.
ay-in-day-out details of this story have been reported by Pulitzer winner Dean Calbreath of the San Diego Union Tribune and Laura Rozen
, among others. We've tried to keep track of the arcana of Cunningham's shake down of contractors seeking favors for the designer commodes, help with his real estate problems, his boat, etc. Laura delved particularly exhaustively into the details of MZM's maze of shell companies and money games. That Cunningham and Cruise (who reportedly played a character based on Cunningham in 'Top Gun') melted down in public at about the same time seemed an act of Providential humor.
28.04.06 10:30 PM According to TPM's Muckraker site, Goss via a spokesperson denies attending a Wade/Wilkes/MZM poker party
in the Watergate and/or Westin hotels.
April 23, 2006
s Armchair noted in the comments, Mary McCarthy is now denying she was the source of the rendition leak. Perhaps that is true. Annonymous Agency sources apparently confirm that McCarthy is now acknowledged not to have been 'central' to Dana Priest's WaPo rendition stories. But McCarthy admits to having unauthorized contact with Priest on unrelated matters.
he Stiftung always viewed the sweeping nature of Goss' 'exceptional' polygraphs imposed to find the source of the leaks as political theater first and foremost. The goal was to instill both fear and renewed ingroup/outgroup distinctions. In that sense, McCarthy's denial, while factually interesting and unsurprising, is also unfortunately largely meaningless.
Goss has found a useful symbolic victim. The blood flows. All gawk at the spectacle. For Goss, a success. McCarthy's actual complicity with the Priest rendition stories is besides the point for his objectives.
Within the ranks, the institutional ethos will rally behind a re-affirmation of the very real and valuable creed of protecting information and obeying classification restrictions. In normal times, such a rally would be healthy and salutory.
There are not normal times. As Armchair notes in the comments, the abnormality, however, is not 9/11. Or the largely trumped up bogeyman of 'terrorism' as it exists in 2006. Indeed, compared to the existential threat of Soviet nuclear obliteration or determined KGB subversion and assault, the terrorist threat is of a much lower order of magnitude.
Our true threat is the Administration's extreme Schmittean authoritarian agenda at home and its revolutionary militarist ideology abroad. This threat challenges serving intelligence officers even more intimately than the rag tag terrorist bogeyman. An unhealthy Republican stranglehold on all three branches of government only exacerbates matters. For an officer confronted with illegal or other troubling activity, for all practical purposes there is no effective recourse to appeal channels traditionally open to an officer. Who among us can imagine a spineless Roberts or ignorant Hoekstra doing anything but obeying their masters in the West Wing?
What really can one do? An oath is an extremely important and indeed even sacred undertaking. One never makes them lightly. Or without consequences of the highest order. Yet each of us owes a higher duty to the Constitution and the Nation than to a bureaucracy or a piece of paper. Have many of us not made that exact same observation to the in-hindsight-pathetic protestations of the German officer corps that they were bound by a personal oath to obey?
Yet, institutions have both the right and need to demand compliance with rules, regulations and oaths. An officer who has a disagreement with potentially illegal activity such as torture and rendition may very logically conclude that appeal channels would be meaningless in this politicized atmosphere. But if that officer elects not to resign or accept early retirement and violates their oath by leaking that information to the media, they should expect an investigation and termination.
No one said having a conscience was easy. Or compliant with career goals, ambition or pressing financial situations.
But these are secondary considerations. Let us not forget: the Administration and its martinets like Goss et al. made this bed. It is they who equated disagreement with disloyalty. Or treason. It is they who politicized process. It is they who imposed the truly radical while demanding obediance. It is they who imposed a 'with us or against us' polarization at home. With a vengeance. Their insistence on both maximum radicalization and complete compliance is temerity of the rankest sort. And after they are gone in 2008, delousing our institutions defiled by their cadres can not begin soon enough.
April 21, 2006
ho would have thought that G. Gordon Liddy would live to see his escapades as a 'Plumber' rendered quaint by a far more malignant and paranoid government apparat? Leaks are indeed the rationale for the expanded effort to suppress speech under the tattered cloak of 'national security.'
Was anyone surprised when Bush and Cheney were outted as leakers-in-chief re the flawed National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq? Or by the largely symbolic recent firing of CIA officer (seconded to the NSC) Mary McCarthy over the renditions? Both show the vengeful hypocrisy of the Administration's misuse of national security claims to contaminate policy debate and to silence critics. Putin would be proud.
The Stiftung can summon no outrage over Bush/Cheney's selective leak of the NIE to Judy Miller. Why? No sentient creature in 2006 has any excuse for not knowing the Administration so thoroughly debased 'intelligence' as a politicized product. That Fred Hiatt approves via the WaPo of the selective and deliberately inaccurate characterizations of the shoddy and hastily cobbled together NIE is just icing on the cake.
Regarding Mary McCarthy's firing, the Stiftung views it as a symbolic act by a paranoid and vengeful apparat. But McCarthy should not be surprised, either. If McCarthy was identified as the leaker, she more or less had to be terminated. The Agency or any intelligence entity would cease to exist effectively if employees felt the freedom to leak details on policies or operations with which they did not agree.
Before a reader's head explodes in a paroxysm of disbelief, the Stiftung in no way endorses the Administration's embrace of torture and perversion of American values (let alone defiance of effective interrogation techniques, which succeed because they avoid torture). The Stiftung simply believes that when one seeks the privilege of serving the Nation in that capacity and signs on the dotted line, one must accept the rules of the game.
Sort of like a Coppola-esque 'This is the life we've chosen'.
Grievances are to be handled and hashed out within appropriate internal channels. Or one resigns. Or if one chooses to leak, one should expect termination. In this case, if McCarthy believed strongly in what she did, she should have accepted that her actions could result in termination. We always are careful before agreeing with Snyder quoted in the WaPo article — in fact, we double and triple check — but in this case, Snyder is correct, McCarthy's position within the CIA's IG does indeed raise troubling concerns.
The McCarthy situation and the witchhunt over the NSA wiretap leaks are all part and parcel of a broader effort by the Administration and the permanent national security establishment to chill communications in the Imperial City. Added to the mix is the ongoing AIPAC criminal case. Dear Reader, please do not be mistaken in believing that the AIPAC matter was limited to AIPAC, Larry Franklin, or was merely a bureaucratic outgrowth purely of struggles between Neocon elements in OSD and elsewhere in the Community
The Administration was looking at a variety of entities and personnel to target before filing charges against AIPAC's Rosen. Although now that Rosen is implicating Saint Condi as a leaker to him in his defense
, the Administration may yet rue the choice of Rosen and AIPAC. It certainly promises more entertainment.
The Administration has let loose the permanent national security uber alles mindset on us all. Mixed together with the Administration's authoritarian ethos, that mindset promises to be particularly toxic to small 'd' democracy. A great danger is that while the Administration's shelf life may be limited to 2008 the unleashed permanent national security establishment will remain with us for long after. Cadres in many places have been diluted (or infused?) with True Believers in the Administration's Schmittean authoritarian agenda. If the Nation is lucky to replace this crowd with a new Administration more or less committed to liberal democracy and the empirical enlightenment, we should expect the need in all likelihood for some kind of housecleaning at some level.
ne agony of our current time is how historical analogies are butchered by generalist 'journalists' seeking to explain contemporary events. The Stiftung calls it “The History Channel Syndrome”. Inapt historical analogies are cobbled together to get mindshare. It is not just journalists, either. Some historians like Victor Davis Hanson make a career out of this.
case in point is on the Harpers blog, “The CIA 'Wehrmacht'”.
Ken Silverstein seeks to explain the tensions at CIA between Goss/the ideologogicals and the traditionalists. Silverstein chooses the unhappy analogy of comparing the situation to the differences between the Wehrmacht and the SS on the Eastern Front. We say 'unhappy' because Silverstein subscribes to the sloppy and now disproven (even within Germany) false bifurcation that the Wehrmacht were the 'classy' old school militarists and crimes on the Eastern Front attributable to the SS.
There are two flaws with the Harpers blog item. First, as mentioned, by 1998 even in Germany the pretense that the Wehrmacht waged honorable war and the blame for the horrors resided with the SS was all but abandoned. The Wehrmacht, from the Commissar Order on down to anti-partisan activity, was complicit in gross war crimes, savagery and in the case of prisoners of war, mass murder. The scorched earth retreat by the Wehrmacht in late 1943-1944 imposed staggering human costs on civilian populations in Belarus and Ukraine. The myth peddled by retired generals, servicemen and their water carriers that the Wehrmacht resisted the Commissar Order and fought an honorable war is a staple of most History Channel level history. But aside from History Channel-level war porn, it is not true. The struggle Silverstein recounts over torture is a microcosm for a wider conflict underway within the cadres at CIA. Calling those opposed to Goss the 'Wehrmacht' is an extreme disservice, no matter how clever the author may think the comparison.
Second, this is old, old news. The tensions within the CIA are among the most overt 'secrets' in the Imperial City. Silverstein misses the real story within the CIA in pursuit of the clever analogy. The mass purges of senior management, the dissaffection of middle managers, particularly in the DO, all point to a potentially catastrophic meltdown in capability now and for the future. A more apt analogy for Harpers and Silverstein would be to look at ideological purges and their consequences. Most Americans do not realize how bad things are there operationally and in terms of morale.
Harpers can do better.
egroponte's need for a Tony Snow may be greater than his President's. Here's his own defense of his bloated NDI office infrastructure:
“If there's one watchword for what we've been about, it's integration,” he said, noting that all agencies are supposed to feed threat information to the counterterrorism center and participate in three daily video conferences.
“I don't see us as another bureaucratic layer at all,” he said. “What's changed is that for the first time, there's a high-ranking official in charge of managing the intelligence community . . . ”I flatly reject the notion that somehow control of civilian intelligence is being gobbled up by the Pentagon.“
Even Bush had the sense of sending out a Scott McClellan to utter such transparently inaccurate bromides. The facts are clear: there has been no real integration, the CIA is free fall, DoD has escaped Negroponte's reach, and the staff is indeed just bloat.
The Stiftung has to agree with David Ignatius (and this is the second time in recent months we have done so). As Ignatius writes today in the WaPo
, the Community is as disorganized as ever, despite Negroponte's billion dollar budget and 1,539 headcount staff. Ignatius goes so far as to compare our disorganization to Syria's fractured intelligence apparatus. We also agree with his conclusion: ”You would have thought it was impossible to make our intelligence problems even worse, but the Bush administration has accomplished that. This is a dangerous situation for the country, and it needs to be fixed, now."