Latest CIA Scandal Puts Focus on How Agency Polices Self
Friday, March 20, 2009
As a novice CIA case officer in the Middle East, Andrew Warren quickly learned the value of sex in recruiting spies. Colleagues say that he made an early habit of taking informants to strip clubs, and that he later began arranging out-of-town visits to brothels for his best recruits. Often Warren would travel with them, according to two colleagues who worked with him for years.
His methods earned him promotions and notoriety over a lengthy career, until Warren, 41, became ensnared in a sex scandal. Two Algerian women have accused the Virginia native of drugging and sexually assaulting them, and, in one instance, videotaping the encounter.
Six weeks after the allegations came to light, Warren has been formally notified by CIA Director Leon E. Panetta of his impending dismissal, according to U.S. government officials familiar with the case. But the episode -- one of three sex-related scandals to shake the CIA this year -- has drawn harsh questions from Congress about whether the agency adequately polices its far-flung workforce or takes sufficient steps to root out corrupt behavior.
The CIA says that these problems involve a tiny fraction of its workforce, and that those found to have breached rules are punished or fired. But former officers say the cases underscore a perennial challenge: guarding against scandal in a workforce -- the size of which is classified but is generally estimated to be 20,000 -- that prides itself on secrecy and deception.
"You have an organization of professional liars," said Tyler Drumheller, who oversaw hundreds of officers as chief of the agency's European division. Experienced field managers are needed, he said, because inevitably "some people will try to take advantage of the system . . . and it's a system that can be taken advantage of."
The allegations against Warren drew an angry blast from the Senate panel that oversees the CIA. "The alleged activities are completely unacceptable," committee leaders Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) said in a joint statement last month. Feinstein also criticized the CIA for what she said was not promptly informing Congress about the case, given its potential to damage U.S. relations with Algeria.
Repeated attempts in recent weeks to contact Warren through relatives were unsuccessful.
The recent string of embarrassing revelations started with the CIA's former No. 3 officer, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who was indicted on corruption charges two years ago. Court documents released in recent weeks depict Foggo as bullying the office of the agency's general counsel into giving a job to his mistress, whose subsequent performance reviews were subpar.
Last month, agency officials confirmed the firing of Steve Levan, a 16-year veteran who pleaded guilty to misusing CIA credit cards. Levan, an analyst, worked at the agency's headquarters for the No. 2 official, Stephen R. Kappes. As part of his plea agreement, Levan acknowledged obtaining credit card numbers assigned to undercover operatives and using them to run up bills surpassing $115,000. Much of the money was spent on hotel rooms and gifts for a mistress, according to two agency officials familiar with the case. He is awaiting sentencing this spring.
Michael S. Nachmanoff, Levan's attorney, declined to comment on the case. In a pre-sentencing motion filed last week, Nachmanoff said the judge should consider his client's strong record of service for the CIA -- a record the agency had declined to release, he said.
But the most damaging revelations involved Warren, an Arabic speaker and Middle East specialist who was on a rapid ascent after CIA postings in Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt and Algeria. He most recently served as Algiers station chief. But the State Department ordered him home in October after two Algerian nationals alleged that he assaulted them in separate incidents at his apartment.
The women told State Department investigators that Warren assaulted them after giving them drug-laced drinks that made them pass out. State referred the matter to the Justice Department, where an investigation is ongoing. Warren has not been charged.