No Comment — August 13, 2009, 4:05 pm

Inside the World of Dusty Foggo

Dusty Foggo, the man at the heart of a scandal that took down a number of senior CIA figures close to former director Porter Goss, had a reputation as a hardworking and hard playing wheeler-dealer whose friction with agency bean-counters was a steady source of colorful stories. In today’s New York Times, David Johnston and Mark Mazzetti paint a fascinating portrait of a different Dusty Foggo: the architect of the agency’s system of black sites, the pulse points of the intelligence community’s extraordinary renditions program. Hints of Foggo’s involvement in this program appear in the documentation filed with the court connected with his sentencing, and from the trial itself it was apparent that Foggo’s intimate involvement with super-secret projects insured him cover for many of his corrupt dealings.

“It was too sensitive to be handled by headquarters,” he said in an interview. “I was proud to help my nation.” With that, Mr. Foggo went on to oversee construction of three detention centers, each built to house about a half-dozen detainees, according to former intelligence officials and others briefed on the matter. One jail was a renovated building on a busy street in Bucharest, Romania, the officials disclosed. Another was a steel-beam structure at a remote site in Morocco that was apparently never used. The third, another remodeling project, was outside another former Eastern bloc city. They were designed to appear identical, so prisoners would be disoriented and not know where they were if they were shuttled back and forth. They were kept in isolated cells.

The existence of the network of prisons to detain and interrogate senior operatives of Al Qaeda has long been known, but details about them have been a closely guarded secret. In recent interviews, though, several former intelligence officials have provided a fuller account of how they were built, where they were located and life inside them.

The black sites system was ordered shut down by President Obama as one of his first official acts. But the CIA has resisted disclosures about it, arguing that they would damage relations with cooperating states. The Times piece offers some interesting details about the black sites and how they were maintained. On the other hand, it is foggy on a number of details. Particularly odd is the reference to a project “outside another former Eastern bloc city.” Why does the Times give us fairly precise information about projects, and suddenly go all hazy about this one? We have to suspect that this is because the Times source was emphatic about not giving up the information. By process of elimination, suspicion could fall on Szymany Air Base in northeastern Poland, where eight High-Value Detainees were held and interrogated. Evidence has recently accumulated that waterboarding was practiced at this site, which clearly would have been criminal conduct under Polish law. The Times source might have good reason to avoid any detail about this project because Polish criminal investigators are now busy with a probe into what transpired there, as has been reported in the Polish press and in the German newsweekly Der Spiegel, but has not (yet) been reported in major U.S. media. John Sifton, a human rights researcher whose work has focused on the black site system, notes that it’s fairly clear that the CIA was operating another black site in close proximity to Szymany—perhaps in one of the Baltic states. “The cat is out of the bag with respect to Szymany,” Sifton states, “but the other black site in its vicinity remains a well guarded secret. It boils down to this: The Times’s sources either wanted to avoid mentioning the Polish operations, because of the ongoing investigation there, or wanted to avoid revealing the other nearby operation, which remains secret.” Records of aircraft involved in special renditions operations show a number of landings at airports in Vilnius and Palanga in Lithuania, each less than an hour’s flying time from Szymany.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2015

Dressed to Kill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wrong Prescription?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Travel Day

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fugue State

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One Day Less

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

[Browsings]
“I’m worried that what the Houthis did to push Yemen into a civil conflict in September 2014, the Saudis may end up doing again when they end their campaign by eliminating the Houthis.”
Photograph by Alex Potter
Article
The Speakeasy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In order to understand how Marty’s could survive as an institution, I returned a year after my first visit to spend a week at what was sure to be the world’s bleakest comedy club.”
Photograph by Mike Slack
Post
The Lost Land·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I had first encountered some of these volumes—A Swiftly Tilting Planet, The Giver—as a child, and during adolescence, they registered as postcards from a homeland recently abandoned.”
Photograph by the author
Article
Wrong Prescription?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whatever the slogans suggested, the A.C.A. was never meant to include everyone.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Post
Introducing the July Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trudy Lieberman reports on the failed promise of the Affordable Care Act, Sarah A. Topol explores Ukraine’s struggle for a national identity, Dave Madden spends a week in Hollywood’s toughest comedy club, and more

Photograph by Stanley Greene/NOOR Images

Percentage of Japanese and Italian men, respectively, who rate their kisses a 9 or a 10:

14, 72

Babies prefer to look at attractive people.

A bag of headless goats was found on Long Island.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today