Porter Goss resigns; is prostitution probe a factor?

Bush announces the resignation of his CIA director.


Tim Grieve
May 5, 2006 10:04PM (UTC)

Let the Hindenburg soar.

George W. Bush just announced that he has accepted the resignation of CIA Director Porter Goss. Goss, a former GOP congressman, has been on the job for less than two years, and neither he nor Bush gave any explanation for his departure.

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The high-profile way in which Bush announced the news seems to suggest that there's nothing unseemly involved; you wouldn't expect the president to stand side by side with Goss and talk about their "very close, personal relationship" if he knew that a serious shoe were about to drop.

That said, there was a hasty, thrown-together quality to Bush's Oval Office remarks this afternoon, and the president clearly isn't ready to name a replacement for Goss yet. It's hard to think there isn't something going on behind the scenes here, especially after neither Bush nor Goss so much as mentioned a pretense -- more time with the family? -- for Goss' leaving.

So why the sudden move? Everyone is guessing now, but there's at least a whiff of scandal around Goss: As we noted last week, there's speculation that Goss may have attended poker parties organized by defense contractors implicated in the Randy "Duke" Cunningham corruption probe. One of those contractors has said that he didn't just bribe Cunningham but hired prostitutes for him as well.

The CIA has denied that Goss was a guest at the poker parties -- so far as we know, no one has asked about hookers yet -- but the timing of his resignation today is at least a little curious: TPMmuckraker reported yesterday that the Watergate Hotel, where some of the poker parties are said to have taken place, has received a number of subpoenas from federal investigators looking into the Cunningham case.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Dusty Foggo, the man Goss installed in the No. 3 job at the CIA. As we've reported previously, the CIA's inspector general is looking into Foggo's oversight of contracts at the agency; NBC says the investigation includes allegations that Foggo steered a $2.4 million contract to Brent Wilkes, one of the contractors implicated in the Cunningham case. Wilkes and Foggo have been pals since college, and Foggo made the scene at -- and even hosted some of -- the contractors' poker parties.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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