More Questions About a Goss Aide

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The number three official at the Central Intelligence Agency, who announced this week he is stepping down as his boss Director Porter Goss leaves later this month, cleared defense contractor Brent Wilkes in for at least one visit to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., within the last 12 months, sources tell TIME.The visit occurred before Wilkes was cited — though not charged — in ex-congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s November guilty plea as an unindicted co-conspirator who provided over $600,000 of the $2.4 million in bribes that Cunningham admitted accepting from defense contractors. (Though Wilkes is not named in the Cunningham indictment, his attorneys, who insist Wilkes has done nothing wrong, have confirmed he is "co-conspirator No. 1.")

The CIA inspector general and the Justice Department are closely scrutinizing the relationship between Wilkes and outgoing executive director Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, a childhood friend, as the wider Cunningham investigation continues. Cunningham was sentenced to more than eight years in prison in March. A California newspaper, the North County Times, reported this week that a Defense Department investigator has complained that Cunningham, who is serving a more than eight-year sentence, is not fully cooperating in the investigation. A Cunningham attorney declined comment. reported Wednesday that Brant Bassett, an old CIA hand and Goss aide who helped recommend Foggo for his post as the CIA’s top administrator, had previously served as a paid consultant to Wilkes — though he was not working for Goss or the Agency at the time. Bassett was paid $5,000 in May 2000 as a consultant to Wilkes’ ADCS Corp., according to disclosure forms Bassett filed when he was a House intelligence committee aide. While Goss, a former CIA case officer, chaired the intelligence committee, Bassett was a committee aide from mid-2000 until 2004, when he followed Goss back to the CIA as a consultant after Goss became director. Officials said, however, that the two are not personally close. A person who spoke on behalf of Bassett said his consulting work for the CIA has not involved work on the “Seventh Floor,” the area where the director’s suite is located and top Agency management works.

A former CIA official said it was highly unusual to help a friend get access to headquarters. “I have a lot of old buddies from high school who’ve never visited me at the agency. They have family and friends day, which is very well organized, and you visit the hall of heroes, if you want to show your family and friends around,” the agency veteran said. The CIA and Foggo’s attorney, Bill Hundley, declined comment today. “As a rule, we do not publicly discuss who may or may not have visited Agency headquarters,” a CIA spokesperson said. 

Earlier this week, when TIME reported the Bassett consulting assignment, Hundley said that 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 in exchange for improper gifts such as lavish travel. 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. Wilkes’ attorneys have said he has done nothing wrong.