Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The state of Intelligence

By now you're probably familiar with the sordid details of the Vito Fossella story; a moralizing (and married) Republican congressman from New York fathers a child with his mistress, former Air Force lieutenant colonel Laura Fay, with whom he leads a secret double life -- a fact revealed after Fossella was arrested for a DWI three miles from her house. But what stood out to me was this aspect of the story:
The two met while she was the Air Force's House liaison - a position she held from July 2001 until her retirement in September 2006.

Fay is an intelligence officer by trade; her last duty assignment was as chief of the intelligence applications division at the Pentagon.
Now, keep that part of the story in mind when you read this:
Fossella repeatedly lied to Fay, telling her he had separated from his wife, Mary Pat, his former high school sweetheart and the mother of his three children in Staten Island, a source said.

Fay only realized the extent of his deception when he confessed to fathering a love child last week, but made no mention of leaving his wife.
Catch that? A top Pentagon intelligence official apparently believed a congressman -- never a wise decision -- when he told her that he was separated from his wife, but made no attempt to research whether that was true. Of course, she very well may have known but doesn't want to admit it, but let's assume for a moment that this account is accurate and that she really was unaware.

Searching that top-secret research tool, Wikipedia, Fay could have learned this:
In 1990, Fossella married Mary Patricia Rowan. They have three children and live in the Great Kills neighborhood on Staten Island.
That information was freely available on Fossella's Wikipedia page earlier this year. And if Fay had been using her intelligence skills even earlier, she could have found out this interesting tidbit from an earlier version of the page:
In 1990, he married Mary Patricia Rowan. Their first son, Dylan Michael, was born on September 30th, 1995, their second son, Griffin Thomas, on November 21st, 1997 and their first daughter, Rowan Frances, on September 12th, 2003.
According to press accounts, Fossella and Fay's relationship really started developing in the summer of 2003 -- when Fossella's wife was pregnant with the couple's first daughter. The fact that Fay didn't know this is evidence of a startling naivety or willful ignorance.

Either way, does that not tell you everything you need to know about the state of the intelligence services in the United States?


  1. Anonymous1:42 PM

    I think she knew but it certainly sounds a lot better from her angle that she was duped....I think it was at least mutual...she would have checked "everything" she could access about him as soon as she was even a little interested....it still takes two to tango....

  2. I agree. It is interesting, though, that all the press accounts seemingly accept Fay's claim that she thought Fossella was separated from his wife -- neglecting the fact that she was a former Intelligence officer. Either Fay was incredibly naive for not looking further into Fossella's situation, or it's the media that is naive for not recognizing that a former Intelligence officer may have heard of Google.