Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dusty Foggo, American Hero

Former CIA executive director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo is charged with 28 counts of wire and mail fraud, unlawful money transactions and making false statements stemming from evidence uncovered in the prosecution of Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Dusty's defense, however, has taken an unusual turn — he is threatening to expose the identities of numerous agents and programs.
Prosecutors say Foggo has threatened "to expose the cover of virtually every CIA employee with whom he interacted and to divulge to the world some of our country's most sensitive programs — even though this information has absolutely nothing to do with the charges he faces."

Prosecutors also allege his lawyers are seeking to introduce classified evidence to "portray Foggo as a hero engaged in actions necessary to protect the public from terrorist acts" to gain sympathy from jurors.

Foggo's efforts to disclose classified information are "a thinly disguised attempt to twist this straightforward case into a referendum on the global war on terror," wrote prosecutors Valerie Chu, Jason Forge and Phillip L.B. Halpern in a court motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Rather than throwing the usual tight lid on the entire proceding, the government is instead requesting that a judge hold a closed hearing, to allow him to determine whether the information is both relevant and admissible in this case. Dusty's lawyer is declining comment.

Foggo's indictment dates back to February 2007.
...prosecutors alleged that Foggo, in exchange for lavish gifts, pressured subordinates to award water and procurement services contracts to [longtime friend Brent] Wilkes and his company, ADCS Inc.

"Among the gifts that are provided are these lavish overseas gifts, including a $44,000, one-week stay at a Scottish castle," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sanjay Bhandari said. "Beyond that, there's a pattern of promises of future gifts -- a job at Wilkes' company."...

Foggo faces an 11-count indictment charging him with conspiracy, wire fraud, depriving taxpayers of honest services, conflict of interest and money laundering. He "affirmatively hid" the gifts from his superiors at the CIA before his resignation, U.S. Attorney Carol Lam told reporters.
Charges against Foggo have increased to 28 since then.
Foggo has denied any wrongdoing, saying through agency spokespeople that any contracts he dealt with were "properly awarded and administered." However, a source has told Newsweek that Foggo had acknowledged to associates that he may have tipped off Wilkes that CIA contracts were coming up for bid - an activity which, according to the source, Foggo said was neither improper nor illegal. The source is close to a group of poker players who took part in a 1999 game arranged by Wilkes and attended by Foggo, Cunningham and a nine-fingered former CIA officer named Brant Bassett, who worked for Goss when the outgoing CIA chief was House Intelligence Committee chair. Foggo denies giving Wilkes any such tip-offs, according to another source close to the outgoing CIA official; Bassett and lawyers for Wilkes and Cunningham had no comment.
(I think it's great that they included the description "a nine-fingered former CIA officer" -- it gives that scene a cheap-spy-novel feel.)

It is actually not that unusual for a defendant to claim he or she must release classified material as part of a defense -- the usual term is "graymail." Any time that national security issues enter into a case in this way, Congress has passed laws instructing the courts to create unclassified replacements that can be released in public.

What this boils down to, though, is the payback for eight years of increasing government secrecy, from an administration who would promote someone like John Negroponte to be Director of National Intelligence. Eight years of increased cronyism in government has led to unscrupulous people like Dusty Foggo having their hands on embarrassing or damaging information. It makes you wonder how many blackmail attempts are successful and we don't get to hear about them.

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