Cunningham, Defense Contractors, and the CIA

by TChris

Speculative explanations of the recent resignations tendered by CIA officials Porter Goss and Kyle "Dusty" Foggo continue to circulate. The turf battle theory, explored in this Newsweek article, boils down to a power struggle between John Negroponte and the CIA's leadership. The more interesting and salacious theory ties Foggo to Brent Wilkes, the defense contractor who allegedly bribed former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham.

The CIA has acknowledged that its internal watchdog is investigating if Foggo helped steer any contracts to Wilkes.

Wilkes' parties were attended by "at least six former and current members of Congress" as well as intelligence officials and businessmen, according to Ken Silverstein at Harper's. Wilkes reportedly provided prostitutes to Cunningham; as reported here, federal agents are asking whether other congressional representatives received similar favors.

Katrina vanden Heuvel paints a picture that isn't pretty:

So picture this: Republican Congressmen, CIA officials, defense contractors, shady businessmen, and lobbyists playing poker in a Watergate hotel room complete with your tax dollars and free prostitutes. The mind boggles.

The prostitution story raises eyebrows, but (as Molly Ivins writes here), "I don't care who anyone in politics is screwing in private, as long as they're not screwing the public."

On other hand, if you expect me to pass up a scandal involving poker, hookers and the Watergate building with crooked defense contractors and the No. 3 guy at the CIA, named Dusty Foggo (Dusty Foggo?! Be still my heart), you expect too much. Any journalist who claims Hookergate is not a legitimate scandal is dead -- has been for some time and needs to be unplugged. In addition to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, Hookergate is rife with public interest questions, misfeasance, malfeasance and non-feasance, and many splendid moral points for the children. Recommended for Sunday school use, grades seven and above.

One of the interesting questions involves Shirlington Limousine, which reportedly ferried the hookers to Cunningham at the Watergate.

Shirlington is the firm that is deeply implicated in the Cunningham scandal and got the DHS contract despite being headed by a man with a lengthy criminal record.

Ivins again:

The former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, Clark Kent Ervin -- that would be the DHS equivalent of a police department's internal affairs chief -- tried to blow the whistle on shady contracts at DHS and instead was thrown overboard himself. Folks, we'll never get government straightened out again if we don't keep the IGs strong and independent.

The current IG at Homeland Security received this letter asking for an investigation of Shirlington's receipt of a $21 million Homeland Security contract for limousine services. Ivins is correct: the IG needs to have the courage, and the encouragement of Congress, to seek answers to the serious questions that the letter poses.

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