WatergateGate: Slow Going
Three notable pieces were published this weekend on the painfully slow-moving hookers 'n' Congressmen 'n' spooks scandal.
- Newsweek's Brent Wilkes profile
- Ken Silverstein's "Nine Fingers" Basset story
- The San Diego Union-Tribune's poker party report
While they are all rich with color (a Nine Fingers "prank letter" filled with sexually explicit talk was intercepted by the KGB, who then tried to blackmail him), they are also all short on hookers (with Newsweek not mentioning them at all). Closer looks, after the jump.
The Newsweek piece seems to infer prostitutes, with talk of Wilkes staying in a hotel suite frequented in the 1940's by Naval officers who needed to be "pampered," but then the rest is about bribing Duke Cunningham and getting secret defense contracts, stuff which we already knew about. Becoming a rich and successful defense contractor doesn't really seem that hard, as you just need to buy two or three Congressmen, get your friend Dusty promoted to 3rd-in-charge of the CIA, and then pay for his vacations. Names on the "guilt by association" list include: Tom DeLay, Duncan Hunter and Jerry Lewis. Also, Brent likes to "burst into show tunes." Once again, we ask: what was the gender of these alleged hookers?
Silverstein puts the lie to the "Goss tried really hard to reform the agency" story, telling the inspiring tale of Goss' ability to surround himself with people with goofy nicknames and questionable ethics. Here's the heh-heh-heh bit:
Foggo had long served as a logistics expert for the CIA, his last posting having been Frankfurt. His duties then included taking care of visiting congressional delegations, a job at which he excelled. "Some of the Gosslings knew Dusty from trips they made to Germany when they were on the Intelligence Committee," one source told me. "Dusty would be waiting on the tarmac and he'd have cars and hotels lined up. He took good care of them, which is why they liked him so much."
Heh heh heh. Seriously, being third-in-command of the CIA is like being their official party planner, isn't it. Sounds like Foggo was perfect for the job!
Finally, the Union-Tribune's brilliant piece may make you feel like you're actually at a Watergate poker party.
The source said more than half a dozen current and former lawmakers showed up at the Watergate at one time or another, though some came to talk with Wilkes rather than play poker.
In 1994, then-Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Texas Democrat who was a strong backer of CIA operations in Soviet-held Afghanistan and a member of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, attended a couple of games, including the one Murray wrote about.
Wilson once showed up with a sackful of "party favors," including guns from the former Soviet Union and China as well as fake Mont Blanc pens that were actually camouflaged weapons, loaded with a single .32-caliber cartridge. Wilson confirms reports from Murray and a Wilkes business associate that he cheerfully distributed the little guns among the poker players.
Wow, little pen guns! Awesome! Seriously, is the entire CIA actually convinced it's 1963 still, or is that just the old white guys of Washington in general? The piece also makes brief mention of "miniskirted women serving food and drinks" at their pre-Washington parties, and almost pinpoints the location of their Watergate suite:
During his frequent trips to Washington, Wilkes rented a three-bedroom hospitality suite on the sixth or seventh floor of the Watergate Hotel, which adjoins the office complex made famous by the Nixon administration's political-spying scandal of the early 1970s.
Hey, Atlantic Media -- can one of your Watergate-based publications send someone down the damn hall to find out which room it was specifically? You could send Murray Waas if he's tired of waiting for the Rove indictment.
Defense Contractor's House of Cards [SD Union-Tribune]
Man in the Middle [Newsweek]
Gosslings, Bacon, and a Kobe Beef Cow [Harper's]