Files Unsealed Before Sentencing Detail Rule-Breaker's Rise at CIA
Thursday, February 26, 2009
CIA officer Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud, rose steadily through the agency's ranks to become its third-highest-ranking official despite a record of misconduct and warnings in his personnel file that he was willing to disregard or break the agency's rules, according to Justice Department documents unsealed yesterday in preparation for Foggo's sentencing today in Alexandria.
The documents provide an unusually detailed account of his misdeeds within the top ranks of the nation's clandestine service. They recount how Foggo's colleagues repeatedly accused him of improper liaisons with foreign nationals, how he allegedly assaulted a foreigner who bumped his car, and how -- from his perch at CIA headquarters as executive director -- he bullied the agency's office of general counsel into hiring his subperforming longtime mistress and then transferred the woman's complaining supervisor.
For nearly three years, Foggo concealed that his childhood friend Brent Wilkes was the principal figure behind a company for which he had arranged lucrative CIA contracts for supplies and aviation services. The improper deals were exposed in part because Wilkes was separately bribing a congressman. The FBI raided Wilkes's offices in 2005 in that probe, eventually laying bare his extensive and secret ties to Foggo and the CIA, according to the government's account.
Foggo's deceits wasted more than $1 million in public money, according to a long and angry memo filed by three prosecutors with the acting U.S. attorney in San Diego, who oversaw the probe and wants U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris to impose a stiff sentence. But the account also raises new questions about how a field officer who repeatedly set off ethical alarms was able to ascend in 2004 to a position where for nearly two years he oversaw the CIA's day-to-day worldwide intelligence-gathering operations.
Porter J. Goss, a former CIA officer, congressman and director of central intelligence, who appointed Foggo to that job in 2004 and gave him a performance award in 2005, laid the blame on unnamed members of his "senior staff" in an affidavit submitted to the court. He said that "I did not suggest him nor seek him out" and that he felt "deceived and betrayed" by Foggo just before firing him in May 2006.
The prosecutors attributed Foggo's extraordinary rise at least to his unusual charm and to the image he cultivated as a big patriot in the midst of war. "His ability to ascend up CIA ranks, despite a record of misconduct, demonstrates how good he was at deceiving others into believing him," they said in their memo to the judge.
Foggo's attorneys at Akin Gump countered in their own memo to the judge that their client has "committed his life to public service" and that his dedication and skills justified his promotions and now warrant a light sentence. CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield declined to comment.
But some of the agency's other employees have suggested that in giving Foggo so much responsibility, the CIA's internal controls went seriously amiss.
"I was flabbergasted when Foggo was selected as the Executive Director," Jim Olson, a former CIA station chief in several locations, said in an affidavit submitted to the court under the name "John Doe #2." Olson said he was Foggo's supervisor in the country where Foggo was accused of slugging a cyclist. Olson said he found Foggo's explanation of the incident "entirely unrealistic and implausible."
Olson also said in the affidavit that he knew Foggo had "failed to report a number of his contacts with foreign national women." He said he considered Foggo "to be morally suspect at that point" -- a charming and glib field officer who repeatedly curried favor with more senior officials but nonetheless "cut corners to achieve his aims." Despite those misgivings, Olson said in his affidavit, he backed Foggo's continued employment because he was "talented at his job as a chief of support."
A personnel report, dated September 1989 and included in the court documents, said that "thus far, the picture painted of Mr. Foggo is one of glad-handler, who takes a very liberal and self-serving position regarding the interpretation of Agency rules and regulations." The author's advice for his superiors was redacted.
Other warning signs went unheeded. A CIA officer listed as "Jane Doe #1," who said she witnessed the beginning of Foggo's dealings with the company secretly controlled by Wilkes, had concerns about what he was doing but said she had "no choice" as his subordinate but to accede to those dealings.
A third CIA official, listed in an affidavit as "Jane Doe #2" and one of Foggo's principal advisers, said she had known for a while that Foggo and Wilkes were close enough to vacation together with their families -- trips to New York, Florida, Hawaii and Scotland that the prosecutors called illegally unreported gifts from Wilkes worth tens of thousands of dollars. She said that Foggo had told her he hoped to work for Wilkes and then run for Congress with Wilkes's financial support.
She said she told others at the agency that "we should trust Dusty's accounts" that Wilkes had no connection to the agency's contracts. Although she eventually learned that Wilkes controlled the contracting company, her affidavit does not mention her reporting that to others.
A fourth CIA official, who supervised Foggo's mistress in the general counsel's office, explained in an affidavit that Foggo ordered her transferred to the Defense Department after she complained that the woman's work was "sub-par." She said that she filed a complaint about Foggo in March 2005 with the agency's inspector general "using the designated system meant to ensure my anonymity and prevent retribution," but that the office "referred the complaint directly" to Foggo, and that he quickly figured out who was behind it.