Another Goss Aide Is Linked to Military Contracting Scandals

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An old Central Intelligence Agency hand who was close to outgoing Director Porter Goss was previously a paid consultant to one of the defense contractors who allegedly bribed ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, according to government documents and a person familiar with the matter. The financial link between Brant Bassett — who served two stints at the CIA and recommended the controversial Kyle "Dusty" Foggo for a top agency post — and defense contractor Brent Wilkes could prove a further embarrassment to Goss in the wake of what sources in and out of government say are investigations by the CIA inspector general and the Justice Department into Wilkes' ties to the agency, as well as to Congress and the Pentagon.

Bassett was paid $5,000 in May 2000 as a consultant to ADCS Corp., a company headed by Wilkes, Foggo's friend since childhood, according to disclosure forms Bassett filed when he was a House intelligence committee aide to Goss while the former Congressman was the panel's Republican chairman. Bassett was not working for the CIA at the time of the payment. Still, it may not look good for yet another of Goss's right-hand men to be associated with Wilkes — whom prosecutors allege, in Cunningham's guilty plea, provided more than $600,000 of the $2.4 million in bribes that landed Cunningham a more than eight-year federal prison sentence in March.

As part of its mushrooming Cunningham probe, the Justice Department has been looking into whether Foggo received improper gifts such as lavish travel from Wilkes, according to a source familiar with the case. Wilkes' business held at least one contract with the CIA as well as technology contracts with the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials and other sources. An investigator for the House intelligence committee is also scrutinizing Bassett's link to Wilkes, according to government disclosures obtained by TIME.

When Goss became CIA director in late 2004, he brought Bassett back for a second stint at the agency as a consultant in the directorate of operations, according to a person who spoke on behalf of Bassett. Bassett knew Foggo from the days when both served in the CIA's directorate of operations, according to one official.

The $5,000 Bassett accepted from Wilkes was for helping him with a business trip to a part of Europe where Bassett knew "the lay of the land from before" — presumably a reference to Bassett's earlier work for the CIA, said the person speaking for Bassett. Bassett "was not an employee of [ADCS]. It was a one-off consulting deal" this person said on Bassett's behalf. Wilkes' Washington attorney, Nancy Luque, said Wilkes has done nothing wrong and that Bassett was hired as a consultant "for his knowledge of the area they were working in and facility with the languages spoken there."

Bill Hundley, an attorney for Foggo, who told colleagues this week that he will step down from the agency's number three position as Goss leaves, says Foggo denies wrongdoing and is "really more of a victim here." Hundley added that he has not had any inquiries from either the Justice Department or the CIA inspector general, who is investigating whether Wilkes' business received any special treatment from Foggo.

"To him this guy was his friend and he obviously knew he was in the defense contracting business," Hundley says of the relationship between Wilkes and Foggo. But Foggo "is just shocked, really, that he would — if he did — have given that amount of money to Cunningham." Hundley added that Foggo may have attended widely reported poker parties that Wilkes threw in a hospitality suite in Washington, "but there was no hanky-panky" at these events, he said.