Article: Six Degrees of Bacon

May 13, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Six Degrees of Bacon
By MAUREEN DOWD
WASHINGTON

I bet you’re wondering how someone like Dusty Foggo, who had his C.I.A. badge deactivated yesterday because of his role in a scandal ripe with poker parties, Dominican cigars, prostitutes, Scotch, luxury suites, bribed congressmen, defense contracts and even a rumored Teutonic dominatrix, was ever chosen to run day-to-day C.I.A. operations at such a parlous moment in American history.

It’s because of Bacon Guy.


That would be Michael Kostiw, a conservative darling who was Porter Goss’s first choice to be the third-ranking official at the C.I.A. He was derailed in 2004 after fellow spooks leaked word to The Washington Post that Mr. Kostiw had left the agency under a hickory-smoked cloud two decades earlier, after being caught shoplifting a $2.13 package of bacon from a supermarket in Langley, Va., near C.I.A. headquarters.

Not the pork you usually associate with Washington.

Mr. Goss, W.’s absurd choice to lead our inept intelligence agency in the battle against Islamic terrorists, was so loony he wanted to put a man in charge of C.I.A. discipline who had to be disciplined for slipping chazerai into his pants, or wherever he put the package to bring home the bacon.

Mr. Goss’s departure, after a season spent sulking about losing the president’s ear to John Negroponte, has opened the window on a whole new level of incompetence, turf wars, corruption and wackiness. Now we see that the C.I.A. was mired not only in professional mistakes, but also in a complete lack of personal and personnel judgment. The more you know about the people Mr. Goss put in top positions, the scarier it gets.

When he was caught in 1981, Mr. Kostiw had been a C.I.A. case officer for a decade. But his answers on a C.I.A. polygraph test and psych exam about the purloined bacon were so sketchy that he was placed on administrative leave and forced to get counseling, Walter Pincus wrote in The Post. Mr. Kostiw wound up resigning.

Like Brownie, Bacon Guy found his comeback path greased by cronyism. He worked on Porter Goss’s terrorism subcommittee when Mr. Goss led the House Intelligence Committee, after working as a lobbyist for ChevronTexaco. (All roads lead back to oil.)

After Bacon Guy was forced to withdraw, Mr. Goss and his chief of staff, Patrick Murray, were not moved to look for a sterling choice for the No. 3 post. They were moved to go on a rampage to ferret out and get rid of the libs in the agency whom they suspected of leaking the news of Bacon Guy’s carnivorous crime.

With a Nixonesque sense of paranoia and vendetta, the Bush dominatrixes never seem to worry about the nefarious activity itself — from shoplifting to gathering data on all Americans’ phone records. They just resent it when the nefarious activity is revealed. When word got out that the government was snooping on domestic calls, the administration rushed into action, not to investigate the violation of the Constitution but to punish any government employees who might have leaked it to The Times.

Despite rumors and complaints about Dusty, Porter Goss once more went for a bad choice, installing Dusty in the inner circle of Gosslings, as the C.I.A. director’s cronies were known.

No doubt trying to save himself, Mr. Goss asked Dusty to step down once he became publicly ensnared in a bribery scandal that includes a wild cast of poker-playing characters, like Duke Cunningham and the retired C.I.A. official Brant Bassett, a k a “Nine Fingers.” He’s said to have a prosthetic 10th finger to hide his identity during cloak-and-dagger operations.

Dusty’s childhood friend Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor who has racked up almost $100 million in government contracts, is reported to have given Dusty’s other pal, Nine Fingers, a $5,000 fee to go to Germany for a few days as a consultant on a business deal in 2000.

Investigators are looking into whether Mr. Foggo gave a contract to deliver bottled water to a C.I.A. office in Iraq to a relative of Mr. Wilkes, and whether Mr. Wilkes treated him to posh vacations in Hawaii and Florida.

In a scene that would impress even the “Law and Order” impresario Dick Wolf, investigators from the F.B.I., the I.R.S., the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the C.I.A.’s inspector general showed up yesterday for the searches. Dusty’s C.I.A. office and his house in a nearby Virginia suburb were examined.

The dolts at F.B.I. headquarters could not get it together to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s computer before 9/11, but now we have the F.B.I. searching the C.I.A.

That’s not progress.

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