They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

ABC News reports:

Dusty Foggo, the executive director of the CIA linked to a bribery investigation, is expected to resign soon, according to CIA officials and his associates.

Outgoing CIA Director Porter Goss had refused to remove Foggo from his powerful post after Foggo came under investigation by the FBI and the CIA Inspector General.

In this, the fourth (Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff, Tony Rudy, and now Neil Volz) guilty plea to implicate Rep. Bob "Representative #1" Ney (R-OH), we get more details about what Ney did to earn Jack Abramoff's goodies.

Volz, Ney's former chief of staff, admits to receiving all sorts of bribes while he was still with Ney, and then turning around and taking part in the bribing once he moved over to work with Abramoff.

And we learn about a new, particularly shameless perk: Abramoff helped pay for a two-night vacation of Ney's, without even bothering to funnel the money through one of his nonprofits. "In or about August 2003," the plea reads, "defendant VOLZ paid for part of a two-night trip to the Sagamore Resort at Lake George, New York, for Representative #1 and members of his staff. Defendant VOLZ assured Representative #1 that defendant VOLZ would be reimbursed for his payments by Abramoff." Apparently Ney didn't want his old chief of staff laying out the bribe - he preffered to get it from a familiar source.

Neil Volz, as Ney's former chief of staff, was the one to go between Ney and Abramoff. As a result, there are new details about Ney's shilling.

Read More →

While director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Michael V. Hayden contracted the services of a top executive at the company at the center of the Cunningham bribery scandal, according to two former employees of the company.



Hayden, President Bush's pick to replace Porter Goss as head of the CIA, contracted with MZM Inc. for the services of Lt. Gen. James C. King, then a senior vice president of the company, the sources say. MZM was owned and operated by Mitchell Wade, who has admitted to bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham with $1.4 million in money and gifts. Wade has also reportedly told investigators he helped arrange for prostitutes to entertain the disgraced lawmaker, and he continues to cooperate with a federal inquiry into the matter.

King has not been implicated in the growing scandal around Wade's illegal activities. However, federal records show he contributed to some of Wade's favored lawmakers, including $6000 to Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) and $4000 to Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL).

Read More →

Neil Volz, a former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) who went to work for Jack Abramoff in 2002, is pleading guilty at 10:30 this morning. Volz is expected to help prosecutors advance their investigation into possible bribery schemes between Abramoff and Ney.

Volz's plea is thought to include admissions of "conspiracy to commit fraud and to violating the one-year ban on lobbying after leaving congressional employment," according to Reuters.

Update: Here is the "Criminal Information" for Volz's plea - the facts to which he's pleading guilty.

Your Complete Post-Goss Rundown

The stories this weekend following on Porter Goss' decision to step down from the CIA fell into two different categories: why he left, and how General Michael Hayden is likely to be received as his successor.

On why he left:

On Hookergate being the reason - or it at least gets a mention:

CIA Boss Goss is Cooked "It's all about the Duke Cunningham scandal," a senior law enforcement official told the Daily News in reference to Goss' resignation. (NYDN)

Goss Out, But CIA Struggles on Emblematic of the CIA's woes is its number-three man, Executive Director Kyle (Dusty) Foggo. His story is a depressing tale of reform gone awry. (Newsweek)

Cunningham Investigation Spreads There are inquiries into the actions of officials at the C.I.A. and the Homeland Security Department and of members of the House Intelligence Committee. (NYT)

CIA Director Goss Abruptly Quits The agency also has been drawn into a federal investigation of bribery that has sent former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham to prison.... Friday, people with knowledge of the continuing Cunningham inquiry said the CIA official, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, is under federal criminal investigation in connection with awarding agency contracts. (WSJ)

Goss Forced Out as CIA Director Senior administration officials said Bush had lost confidence in Goss, 67, almost from the beginning and decided months ago to replace him. In what was described as a difficult meeting in April with Negroponte, Goss was told to prepare to leave by May, according to several officials with knowledge of the conversation.... After Goss's announcement yesterday, Foggo told colleagues that he will resign next week. Last week, the agency confirmed that Foggo attended private poker games with Wilkes at a Washington hotel. (WaPo)

Did Goss Try to Muzzle Foggo Inquiry? The CIA has been getting warnings about Foggo for months - but the CIA didn't initiate an internal investigation until March. And now the lid has been blown off. (W&P)

Read More →

A lot of folks, including us, noticed a strange detail in one of the first articles about Brent Wilkes' poker-and-more parties.

"Another player was a CIA agent known as 'Nine Fingers,' so named because he lost one of his digits while on assignment," the San Diego Union-Tribune reported over a week ago in what appeared to be an almost throwaway bit of color.

The Mafia-esque moniker has attracted attention and jokes -- but little new information, until now: Newsweek magazine is the first to identify Nine Fingers as Brant Bassett, whom they also say is "a former Goss aide."

He may be a more central character in our story than the SDUT made him out to be.

Bassett is reported to have been a case officer with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, where Foggo worked. Their paths crossed a number of times over the years and they became friendly, I'm told, which isn't a stretch, given that two publications now put Bassett in poker games with Foggo and Wilkes.

An enduring mystery to this fiasco is why Porter Goss promoted "Dusty" Foggo to the very top of the CIA. Now, informed sources are speculating that Bassett may be the link that explains that mystery, at least in part. Bassett, a counsel and staff director for the Human Intelligence panel of Goss' House Intelligence Committee, had ample opportunity to introduce Goss and his close aide Patrick Murray to Foggo. Did he?

I gave Mr. Bassett a call a few days ago in the hopes he'd be willing to discuss the matter, but he didn't call me back. Newsweek reported that he didn't return their call, either.

Actually, the Post reported almost a year ago that Tom DeLay's staff knew Jack Abramoff arranged the famous Scotland golfing junket. The trip was officially sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), a conservative nonprofit.

What's new here are the emails, which seem so darn conspiratorial:

"Our financial disclosure forms from the England/Scotland trip are due tomorrow afternoon. ... I would appreciate if you would send me your information," a DeLay aide wrote Abramoff's firm.

The e-mails show Abramoff's team provided then-DeLay chief of staff Susan Hirschmann a final cost figure of $75,600 for the weeklong European trip taken by DeLay; his wife, Christine; Hirschmann; Hirschmann's husband; and Rudy.

The e-mails stated DeLay's office could attribute the figures to "the final bookkeeping efforts" by [NCPPR]. Despite the figure from Abramoff, DeLay's report to Congress put the cost lower, at just over $70,000.

[Abramoff's assistant, Susan Ralston] wrote she had a follow-up conversation with DeLay's office. Hirschmann wanted "a name" of someone at [NCPPR] who would attest to paying for the trip and was concerned whether the center's executive director, Amy Ridenour, knew about the costs.

"She (Hirschmann) just wants to make sure that if someone starts asking questions that Amy Ridenour knows about these s," Ralston wrote.


And yes, that Susan Ralston is the same one who's currently Karl Rove's assistant. Apparently she's good at preparing for when "someone starts asking questions."

For the past week, we at TPM and TPMmuckraker have been digging out details about Shirlington Limousine, the car service at the center of the scandal. So has the FBI. Tomorrow's Times reports that "F.B.I. agents have talked to Shirlington employees about driving Mr. Cunningham and prostitutes to hotel poker parties, and have interviewed women who work for escort services."

And it looks like we'll soon have help from Congress in getting more details about those very fishy Department of Homeland Security contracts that Shirlington was able to land:

On Friday, Republicans and Democrats on the House Committee on Homeland Security announced that they planned to investigate Shirlington Limousine's contract.

"The information we've obtained raises a number of serious questions, from the contracting process to possible security concerns," said Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama, the Republican chairman of the House subcommittee in charge of management and oversight at the Department of Homeland Security. "The appearance of a lack of background checks on contractors is another troubling personnel issue at D.H.S. that we are examining."

In a draft letter to the inspector general of homeland security, to be sent Monday, Representative Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, asks why the department hired the limousine company and whether Shirlington's bid received preferential treatment. It seeks a list of official passengers.

Democrats on the committee said Friday that they plan to ask homeland security officials about the Shirlington contract in a May 18 hearing.

AP reports:

A federal judge refused on Friday to give I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby access to a wide range of information from several government agencies, saying he would not allow the former White House aide's trial in the CIA leak case to become a debate over the war in Iraq.

"You want to try the legitimacy of us going to war," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton told lawyers for Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff. "I don't see how that will help us determine whether Mr. Libby lied when he talked to the FBI and went before the grand jury."

CIA Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo has told friends he'll resign his post next week, the Washington Post reports. Meanwhile, former NSA director Gen. Michael V. Hayden is widely rumored to be the White House's pick to replace Goss as CIA director. Time magazine has a profile. The Wall Street Journal confirms that Foggo is under "federal criminal investigation" for improperly awarding agency contracts. Meanwhile, no one seems to have an answer for why Goss resigned so abruptly -- without warning or explanation.

At TPMCafe, Larry Johnson adds his own insights to the fiasco.

LiveWire