From the Christian Science Monitor :
posted May 8, 2006 at 11:09 a.m.
Report: Scandal may have played role in Goss resignation
Media sources say a corruption investigation may have forced White House to act quickly on Goss, and may also touch other defense and intelligence officials.
By Tom Regan
A widening investigation into a corruption scandal in Congress may have played a key role in the decision by the White House to ask Central Intelligence Agency Director Porter Goss to step down.
The New York Daily News reported Sunday that a "little known White House advisory board" pushed President Bush to dump Mr. Goss as CIA head. The president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board was reportedly alarmed by the investigation of a spreading corruption scandal that had already looked into the actions of the CIA's number three official and its executive director, Kyle Dustin (Dusty) Foggo, and may have indirectly touched on Goss himself.
The investigations have focused on the Watergate poker parties thrown by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, a high-school buddy of Foggo's, that were attended by disgraced former Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham and other lawmakers. Foggo has claimed he went to the parties "just for poker" amid allegations that Wilkes, a top GOP fund-raiser and a member of the $100,000 "Pioneers" of Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, provided prostitutes, limos and hotel suites to Cunningham.
Cunningham is serving an eight-year sentence after pleading to taking $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to cronies. Wilkes hosted regular parties for 15 years at the Watergate and Westin Grand Hotels for lawmakers and lobbyists. Intelligence sources said Goss has denied attending the parties as CIA director, but that left open whether he may have attended as a Republican congressman from Florida who was head of the House Intelligence Committee.
Harpers.org, the website of Harper's Magazine, reported in late April that the FBI was investigating "current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence comittees" as part of the scandal investigation. The Wall Street Journal also reported that in recent weeks the FBI has interviewed women from escort services in the Washington area, as well as obtained information from the Watergate Hotel, where many of the poker parties were allegedly held. While no other member of Congress has been implicated so far, if the FBI finds evidence of favors being given to lawmakers, it could lead to charges.
The New York Times reported Sunday that the investigation into Randy Cunningham's actions "has produced a second round of inquiries into the actions of officials at the CIA and the Homeland Security Department and of members of the House Intelligence Committee," according to government officials.
Writing for the progressive online news site truthout.org, Larry C. Johnson (who worked previously with the CIA and the US State Department's Office of Counterterrorism as a deputy director), says sources have told him that Goss did not directly take part in the any of the parties that Foggo attended, but that other members of his staff may have.
A former CIA buddy tells me that Porter's main problem, however, is a key staffer who is linked to both Brent Wilkes and the CIA's Executive Director, Dusty Foggo. My friend also said that it is highly likely that the Goss staffer did participate in the [parties]. Goss, politician that he is, probably recognized that even though he did not participate ..., his staffer's participation created a huge problem for him that would be difficult to escape.
There also is truth to the rumor that Goss was not happy with presiding over a CIA that had been rendered a co-equal with the Department of Defense intelligence units. Prior to the creation of the National Director of Intelligence (NDI), the CIA was the lead intelligence agency. No longer. Ironically, part of the impetus for the creation of the NDI was the perceived "failures" of the CIA with respect to 9/11 and Iraq. Recent revelations by retired CIA officers, such as Paul Pillar and Ty Drumheller, make clear that the CIA basically got it right on Iraq and was ignored by the Bush administration.
Time magazine picks up on Mr. Johnson's second point - that the struggle between Goss and John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence, proved to be too much for Goss, and that the departure of the CIA director is a coup for Mr. Negroponte's bid to assume control over all branches of US intelligence. On the same front, the Los Angeles Times reports that Negroponte and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are also in a turf war over whose office should have the largest say in intelligence matters, in particular the intelligence budget.
David Corn of The Nation says the important question is, even if Goss did not take part in any of the parties, did he know about what might have happened there, or about the close ties between Foggo and Brent Wilkes?
What's this got to do with Porter Goss? Maybe nothing. But here's the reason for speculation. Wilkes did hold parties and poker games for CIA officials and lawmakers, including members of the House intelligence committee. (Goss has been a CIA director, a lawmaker, and a member of the House intelligence committee.) Wilkes was pals with Foggo. (As CIA executive director, Foggo manages the CIA on a day-by-day basis for Goss.) So might Goss know anything about (a) a rigged contract; (b) bad behavior at Wilkes' poker bashes; (c) the non-recreational use of prostitutes; (d) all of the above or something we cannot even imagine?
The Washington Post reports that the White House's pick to replace Goss, Gen. Michael Hayden, will face challenges from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who do not feel comfortable with a military officer heading a civilian agency. Also, The New York Times reported on Sunday that whoever becomes the next head of the CIA will face the daunting task of trying to fill in the holes in the agency's intelligence on Iran.
A year after a presidential commission gave a scathing assessment of intelligence on Iran, they say, American spy agencies remain severely handicapped in their efforts to evaluate its weapons programs and its leaders' intentions. Whoever takes the helm of the CIA after the resignation on Friday of Porter Goss will confront a critical target with few, if any, American spies on the ground, sketchy communications intercepts and ambiguous satellite images, the experts say.