How the CIA Came Unglued

By David Ignatius
Friday, May 12, 2006

To understand what went so badly wrong at the CIA under Porter Goss, it's worth examining the career of his executive director, the onomatopoetic Kyle "Dusty" Foggo. His rise illustrates the conservative cronyism, leak paranoia and political vendettas that undermined Goss's tenure.

Foggo was an affable employee of the CIA's Directorate of Support, managing logistical activities in Germany, when he came to the attention of then-Rep. Goss and his aides on the House intelligence committee. Foggo is said to have endeared himself to Goss and his staff director, Patrick Murray, by facilitating trips overseas for members of the House panel.

When Goss and Murray arrived at the CIA in the fall of 2004, their first choice for the agency's No. 3 job of executive director was a former CIA officer named Michael Kostiw, who had many friends in conservative political circles. But Kostiw's nomination was sabotaged when a CIA insider leaked the fact that he had once been accused of shoplifting. The charges were dropped after Kostiw resigned and agreed to seek counseling. Kostiw's past made him an inappropriate choice for such a senior position, in the view of many career CIA officers, but to Murray the leak was evidence of a liberal cabal at the CIA that was determined to obstruct the Bush administration's agenda.

Goss's second choice for executive director was the ingratiating logistical officer. As is standard procedure with such senior appointments, Murray and other senior aides were briefed on Foggo's file, which included what one former CIA official describes as instances of "dumb personal behavior." The briefers included Mary Margaret Graham, then chief of counterintelligence, and Jeanette Moore, then head of the Office of Security, who, according to ABC News, had once reprimanded Foggo about alleged insubordination, though the CIA says a formal letter was never filed. Murray rejected the material about Foggo as petty and is said to have warned Graham, "If this leaks, you're dead."

Foggo was duly installed on the seventh floor and, to the amusement of his colleagues, began placing pictures of himself prominently around headquarters. Meanwhile, a period of internal bloodletting ensued that was worthy of the Soviet NKVD under Joseph Stalin. The associate deputy chief of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, Michael Sulick, complained angrily to Murray about his tongue-lashing of Graham, arguing that he was treating CIA officers as if they were Democratic congressional staffers. An indignant Murray thereupon demanded that Sulick be fired for insubordination. His boss, Operations Deputy Director Stephen Kappes, refused Murray's demand, and both he and Sulick resigned.

The political fallout from Foggo's appointment continued. Graham left in 2005 to become a top aide to the new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte. Moore, the head of security who had reprimanded Foggo, soon retired; at the time she was the agency's highest-ranking African American woman.

And what became of Foggo? As executive director, he is said to have continued as an aggressive CIA logistician, though that sometimes put him crossways with the new DNI structure and magnified the tension between Goss and Negroponte. Foggo also carried on Murray's cold war with the operations directorate, telling agency colleagues that no unit at the CIA was more important than any other and that, in a phrase meant to urge unity, "We're all purple."

The sad last act of the Foggo drama involves allegations of corruption. It turned out that he had attended poker parties hosted by his old school pal Brent R. Wilkes, a military contractor whose activities were described in the bribery indictment of former representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the CIA inspector general's office has been investigating whether Foggo, back when he was a support officer in Germany, helped steer to one of Wilkes's companies, Archer Logistics, a roughly $3 million contract to supply bottled water to CIA operatives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Foggo, who resigned from the CIA on Monday, has denied any wrongdoing.

The chronic mismanagement of the CIA under Goss and Murray has been an open secret for many months, and the real question is why it took the Bush White House so long to fix it. When I posed this question a few weeks ago to a senior administration official, he repeated the line that the agency was full of leakers and obstructionists. The political vendetta against the CIA went to the top, in other words. It did real damage to the country before President Bush finally called a halt.

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