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Report: Dysfunctional Committee Let Cunningham Have His Way

The House Intelligence Committee is refusing to make public an internal report about how imprisoned former GOP Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of San Diego was able to steer millions in contracts to corr

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House Intelligence Committee is refusing to make public an internal report about how imprisoned former GOP Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of San Diego was able to steer millions in contracts to corrupt defense contractors.

A version of the report prepared to be unclassified provides new details about how Cunningham got his way, but does not address whether other committee members were aware of Cunningham's abuses or culpable, according to Monday's Los Angeles Times, which obtained the 23-page document.

The outside investigator who wrote the report, Michael Stern, told the Times that looking at lawmakers' roles was not in his assignment. Former GOP Rep. Porter Goss of Florida, who went on to become CIA director from 2004 to 2006, was the Intelligence Committee chairman for much of the time Cunningham's abuses were happening.


"There was an agreement as to what they wanted to look at," Stern said.

"The language did not include the culpability or potential involvement of other members."

A five-page executive summary of the report was released last October by Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., then top Democrat on the committee. Harman took that step after failing to reach agreement with then-chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., who objected strenuously.

At the time Democrats were aiming to make unclassified portions of the 59-page report public. Democrats now control the committee, but after a request from Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., for a copy of the report, the committee voted last month not to give it to him.

"My view was that the report was an internal review, principally of staff activity, and that the full report - with all of the names of staff - was not intended for dissemination beyond the committee," Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said in a statement.


"The important thing is that the committee took the review seriously and incorporated changes in the process" to ensure against any other similar incident, Reyes said.

Five of the 12 Democrats on the committee voted in favor of releasing the report to other members of Congress, but the other Democrats joined Republicans in voting to keep it secret.

"There needs to be a determination of how this information was disclosed without proper authorization," Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware said Monday of the L.A. Times story. He said Hoekstra has not yet consulted with Reyes but believes the committee should try to find that out.

Cunningham is serving more than 8 years in prison after pleading guilty in November 2005 to fraud, conspiracy and other charges and admitting taking $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors.

The executive summary of Stern's report last year revealed that Cunningham, who joined the Intelligence Committee in 2001, got his way by badgering and intimidating staffers even though they were often skeptical of his demands, which resulted in at least $70 million in business for two contractors

The fuller version of the report sheds new light on players in the drama including Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the former No. 3 official at the CIA who's pleaded not guilty to fraud, conspiracy and other charges.

Foggo allegedly provided Brent Wilkes, one of the defense contractors accused of bribing Cunningham, with classified information in exchange for extravagant meals, vacations and other favors. Wilkes has also pleaded not guilty.

Also discussed in the report is Brant Bassett, a former CIA case officer with ties to Foggo and Goss. Bassett has not been charged with any crime.

Among details in the report:

  • In a staff e-mail describing a Pentagon program Cunningham was supporting, senior committee aide Michele Lang commented: "HOOAH! Another $5 million of taxpayer money wasted."
  • The money was for a Pentagon counterintelligence program known as Project Fortress being handled by contractor Mitchell Wade, who pleaded guilty last year to bribing Cunningham. The money for Wade grew to $25 million.
  • Even Bassett grew uncomfortable with Cunningham's demands and told staffers that he had "no confidence that Mitch Wade or anybody he was connected with really knew anything about counterintelligence."
  • At one point, after Cunningham apparently alienated Wilkes by working more closely with Wade, Cunningham sought to smooth the breach by sending a bottle of wine to Wilkes' table when they were dining at the same restaurant. The report says Wilkes "told the waiter to take the wine back to Cunningham or to simply pour it out," according to Bassett, who witnessed the scene.
  • Early in Goss' tenure he "would make a point of saying that 'We don't do things for constituencies behind the closed doors"' of the Intelligence Committee. But the report concludes that this policy "tended to atrophy over time."