Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

CIA officers rape women, steal money, pamper mistresses

The CIA logo. How patriotic.

The patriotic CIA logo

Longtime CIA case officer Andrew Warren is being investigated for apparently raping two women in Algeria where he was stationed.   Warren (Wikipedia article) had a reputation for taking potential recruits to strip clubs and brothels.  As the Washington Post reports:

As CIA case officers attempt to recruit a foreign spy, they often offer personal inducements, ranging from cash to medical care. In some cases, a potential recruit may be taken to a strip club or even to a prostitute if it is deemed critical to cementing the relationship, longtime officers say. But for Warren, “it was a lifestyle thing,” costing the agency thousands of dollars, said one former co-worker who describes himself as a friend.

Several of his colleagues (i.e. multiple people) said they were not surprised by the sexual assault allegations.  And this guy was still in a position of trust and responsibility why?  Though the matter has attracted the attention of Congress, and resulted in a joint statement by the chairperson and the ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees the CIA, charges have not been filed against Warren.

Happily, not all of the corrupt  CIA employees have been so lucky. Steve Levan, a 16-year veteran who worked for the No. 2 man in the agency, recently pleaded guilty to misusing agency credit cards which were supposed to be used by undercover agents—to the tune of $115,000, much of which he spent on his mistress.  His attorney filed a motion saying that the judge should consider Mr. Levan’s allegedly strong record of service at the CIA—a record which hasn’t been released.  In other words, the mere fact that he worked for the CIA means that he should be held to an easier standard than common folks.

Then there’s Kyle “Dusty” Foggo (Wikipedia article), the agency’s former No. 3 officer, who was indicted on corruption charges two years ago.  He helped a high school friend of his, Brent Wilkes, score CIA contracts.  Oh, and he also used the agency to provide for his own mistress.  The Post reports:

After … his mistress was turned down for a job in the general counsel’s office, Foggo, who was the CIA’s executive director, called an associate general counsel into his office and “grew increasingly loud in tone and condescending,” according to a memo the counsel placed in her files. “[S]peaking in the third person, [Foggo] said, among other things, that when the EXDIR has an interest in a candidate for employment that I had better respect the EXDIR’s interest.”

The mistress was subsequently hired after an accelerated security check, because her paperwork was tagged “ExDir interest.” When her failure to perform required duties provoked her supervisor’s complaints, Foggo arranged for the supervisor—a 20-year veteran who had won many performance awards—to be ousted and moved to the Defense Department. The supervisor alleged in a court affidavit that her ouster was retaliatory.

The matter of his mistress was not a one-time mistake on Foggo’s part.  A 1989 performance review stated that he “takes a very liberal and self-serving position regarding the interpretation of Agency rules and regulations” and warned that “he is likely to remain a potential threat to security through his poor judgment.”  After the September 11th attacks, he used his position as the agency’s top administrator—hand-picked by the director—to steer CIA contracts to a friend of his, who repaid him with, among other things, a $30,000 vacation in Hawai’i.  As the U.S. Attorney said at his sentencing hearing, “A man who exploits a national crisis should be humble enough to not call himself a patriot.”

CIA HQ. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and vaillainy

CIA HQ. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy

But Foggo does claim to be a patriot: in a court filing, his attorneys claimed that he has “committed his life to public service” and that his dedication and skills justified his promotions, the record of misconduct in his personnel file notwithstanding. They declined to elaborate.  Again, the mere act of working for the CIA should get him a lighter penalty, nevermind the fact that he used his position to enrich and benefit himself, not the people.

One former intelligence officer, a 26-year veteran of the CIA, writes that

This affair demonstrates what officers in the closed society of the CIA have known for years: that senior management uses a double standard that allows members of the agency’s “good ol’ boy” network to do whatever they wish.

Mr. Foggo’s offenses included breaches of agency regulations that, for others, have raised questions of loyalty and sometimes resulted in dismissal. Yet, Mr. Foggo simply got a wink and a nod from superiors who continued to protect him. This sort of cronyism continues to harm agency morale.

As Mr. Foggo’s defenders have done, these senior officials also would undoubtedly like to portray themselves as great “patriots.” But Samuel Johnson said it best when he noted that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

John Radsan, a former CIA assistant general counsel, agrees.  He says that the internal guidelines and structures that are supposed to guard against corruption and misconduct are really a self-regulating system with few incentives for reporting bad behavior. That’s why we end up with a swell fellow like Kyle Foggo atop the CIA.

The CIA’s response to these many scandals is to point out that they have lots of employees and not all of them lie, cheat, and steal and, really, only a very tiny minority of them go around raping women.  So it’s all really okay, thank you for your interest—and go screw yourself while we patriots keep saving America.

Charges may still be filed against Andrew Warren.  If convicted, he’ll probably resort to the last refuge in order to save the only thing he cares about: himself.

See also this blog post, about FBI agents who fleeced taxpayers for $7.8 million

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New Mexico abolishes death penalty

New Mexico has a great flag; it was rated #1 in the Union in a 2001 NAVA survey

New Mexico has a great flag; it was rated #1 in the Union in a 2001 NAVA survey

New Mexico’s governor, Bill Richardson, signed a bill that abolishes capital punishment in that state—at least henceforth; the two people currently on death row in the Land of Enchantment will stay there. For crimes committed after 1 July of this year the maximum penalty will be life in prison without the possibility of parole.

New Mexico is the second state to abolish capital punishment since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated it in 1976.  New Jersey did so in 2007.  The state used the death penalty very sparringly, only executing one person since 1960.

Richardson said that over 12,000 people contacted his office by phone, e-mail, snail mail, or in person; over three-quarters supported repeal.  While he used to support capital punishment, he cites the possibility of executing an innocent person and the racial disparity in the penalty’s application as reasons for abolishing it.

There are now 15 states without the death penalty; two of them, Nebraska and New York, had existing statutes declared unconstitutional by their Supreme Courts and have yet to pass new laws.  About 22.25% of all Americans live in a state without the death penalty.  Many others, including Maryland, are considering abolishing it.

Winner of $1.4 million Templeton Prize announced

The winner of the 2009 Templeton Prize has been announced.  According to the NY Times:

Bernard d’Espagnat, 87, a French physicist and philosopher of science, has won the $1.4 million Templeton Prize for his work on the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics, the John Templeton Foundation said Monday in Paris. Noting that the rules governing the behavior of subatomic particles contravene common-sense notions of reality, Dr. d’Espagnat, a professor emeritus at the University of Paris-Sud, coined the term “veiled reality” to describe a world beyond appearances, which science can only glimpse and which he said could be compatible with “higher forms of spirituality.”

ScienceNOW reports that “Over the years, he has developed the idea that the reality revealed by science offers only a ‘veiled’ view of an underlying reality that science cannot access, and that the scientific view must take its place alongside the reality revealed by art, spirituality, and other forms of human inquiry.”

The Templeton Prize (Wikipedia article), established in 1972, is the best known award given out by the Templeton Foundation; it is awarded to a person who “has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.”  Until 2001 it was formally known as the “Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion” and from 2002-2008 it was called the “Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities.”  The monetary award, currently £1,000,000 (ca. $1.4 million U.S.) exceeds the cash that accompanies the Nobel Prizes.

M. d’Espagnat will formally receive the award from the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace on 5 May.

Russia to increase military spending

According to the BBC, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Russia will begin a comprehensive military rearmament from 2011.

Mr Medvedev said the primary task would be to “increase the combat readiness of [Russia’s] forces, first of all our strategic nuclear forces”.

Explaining the move, he cited concerns over Nato expansion near Russia’s borders and regional conflicts.

Increased oil revenues make such spending possible.  The recent conflict with Georgia (the country, not the state) apparently demonstrated to them that much of their equipment is outdated and their tactics need updating.