Judge Limits Defense Access to State Secrets in CIA Case
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Defense attorneys representing a former top CIA official will only have limited access to classified evidence and will be subject to stringent disclosure rules under an order issued by the federal judge overseeing the case.
Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the spy agency's No. 3 executive until his resignation last May, was charged last month with using his previous position as a logistics officer to direct $1.7 million in secret supply deals to his best friend, San Diego defense contractor Brent Wilkes. According to a federal indictment, Wilkes reciprocated by paying for lavish trips to Scotland and Hawaii and promised Foggo a job.
The pair, both 52, face 11 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering - crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The two men pleaded not guilty to the charges and are free on bail.
Prosecutors have said in court that they expect secret information to play a key role in a trial.
U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns granted an order Monday requiring defense attorneys to obtain security clearances and restricting access to or discussion of classified evidence to secure workrooms to be established in federal government buildings or courthouses.
The defense will also be required to seek court permission before disclosing classified information.
The order was granted "to protect the national security and prevent the unauthorized disclosure or dissemination of classified national security information and documents."
Prosecutors last week requested a much broader blanket order that would require the defense to give prosecutors specific details about classified information they planned to introduce in open court. In court filings, they raised the prospect that the defense may try to "graymail" the government - a process by which defendants threaten to disclose state secrets during trial in order to push the government into dropping charges rather than risk security breaches or political embarrassment.
Burns said in his order that he may extend or revise his order as the case proceeds.
Attorneys for Foggo and Wilkes did not immediately return messages left seeking comment.
The charges against them stemmed from a 20-month investigation into a bribery scandal that has already sent former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison.
Wilkes is charged in a separate indictment with 25 counts of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and making unlawful monetary transactions of more than $700,000 to Cunningham. He insists he is innocent.
Cunningham pleaded guilty in November 2005 to taking more than $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors and was sentenced to more than eight years in prison.
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