How a bunch of disgruntled Lefties in the CIA first launched Operation Culture of Corruption.
Written by Dagny D'Anconia    Friday, 16 December 2005


Last week Dr. Rice said "This is essentially a war in which intelligence is absolutely key to success. If you are going to uncover plots, if you are going to get to people before they commit their crimes, that is largely an intelligence function." (See Rice)

In this information age, warfare has more and more to do with intelligence and less to do with brute force. The battlefield we fight on is often the world of intelligence, and the crucial battles that are fought can occur silently, and unseen. So it is with a battle ongoing in the shadow lands where politics and intelligence overlap.

The extraordinary confession of Randy Cunningham offers a glimpse into this shadowy world. The media has portrayed the Duke Cunningham case as a simple one of bribery and greed among congressmen and defense contractors. The villains and their motives seem as simple and banal as any Greek tragedy. However, they have largely missed the story behind the story. For MZM was no ordinary defense contractor.

MZM Inc. provides intelligence gathering, technology, and analysis for both international and domestic governments and private sector clients. It is, in effect, a mercenary intelligence company. It grew after 9-11 as more US government contracts became available. It employs many people from the intelligence community who ceased working for the US government during the Bush Administration. Thus it may have an unusually high number of disgruntled intelligence professionals who could not or would not work for the Bush Administration. (See Center for Public Integrity and Rogue Weasels)

MZM was a large recipient of intelligence work contracts. MZM received a blanket contract for 250 million dollars over five years according to an official with Washington budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense. Of 90 contracts that MZM received through the blanket purchase agreement, 85 involved no competitive bidding. They had at least 68.6 million dollars in revenue in 2004. Since 2002 it received 163 million dollars in federal contracts.

When the Duke Cunningham scandal broke, the blanket contract was revoked. Two weeks later the president, Mitchell Wade resigned and some MZM employees went public saying that Mitchell Wade had forced them to donate money. MZM thus distanced itself from the MZM’s president, Mitchell Wade. Shortly thereafter the General Services Administration awarded MZM a spot on one of its large contracts, making it eligible for up to $2.25 million in work over five years. The announcement does not guarantee MZM the revenue, but the company is now among the more than 1,000 firms eligible to provide consulting and management services to government agencies.

"I honestly thought they were going to be in the federal contracting doghouse for at least six months," said Keith Ashdown, vice president for policy and communications at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group. "That was the quickest exit from the doghouse I have ever seen." (See finance)

From the time the scandal broke to the time the contracts were blocked was two weeks. Only about two weeks later the ability to contract with the US government was back. One month later the company was sold, including its 450 employees, to Diversa Corporation, a biotechnology firm that does antibody related development for the Defense Department.

Even though MZM was briefly blocked from contracts, it was able to get back to government contract work in about one month. MZM certainly knows how to work the intelligence system. Not even the Randy Cunningham scandal seemed to interfere for long. MZM knows how to get things done in Washington and part of that is making donations to the right people. "There's no question that both Wilkes and Wade were expert at greasing the wheels of the legislative machine," said Keith Ashdown, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "They knew who and when to give money to, and it really gave them free rein over taxpayer-funded defense contractors." (See Finance)

MZM set up a PAC (MZM Inc. PAC) and many of the donations were channeled through this PAC. In addition, there were also many donations made from employees of MZM. Nearly all MZM donations were to Republicans. These donations were made strategically to gain influence with the congress persons where MZM and their allied facilities were located, that is, the districts adjacent to Centcom, and the districts where their main facilities were located. Other donations were made to congressmen on key committees. (See Federal Election Commission and House)

MZM made alliances with companies that converted documents to machine readable formats that they would presumably use in intelligence analysis. The most infamous of them is ADCS (Automated Document Conversion Systems). MZM cooperated with ADCS in bribing and influencing of congress persons. For example: Randy Cunningham lived on the yacht supplied by MZM and a smaller fiberglass boat near it was supplied by ADCS. MZM President, Mitchell Wade, once listed ADCS as his employer on a donation while he was President of MZM. Bribing and influence buying was a team effort for MZM and ADCS. (See San Diego Tribune Articles, Cunningham timeline, Federal Election Commission and House)

While MZM was engaging in bribery on the West Coast with ADCS and targeting West Coast Congressmen, it was also working cooperatively with a company called IMC (Information Manufacturing Corp.) on the East Coast and donating to East Coast congress persons. Both ADCS and IMC were in the same business (document conversion) for the same customers (US government). The Center for Public Integrity reports that IMC received a 12 million dollar contract to set up a facility in West Virginia, and MZM was to supply 30 of the 70 people working there. The East Coast operations started after the West Coast operations, and occurred concurrently with them. (See ICM Web site, Center for Public Integrity, Federal Election Commission and House, Cunningham timeline)

MZM almost always had two congress persons targeted for each site of operations: IMC took care of the congress persons near its West Virginia operations: Alan Mollohan in west Virginia and Virgil Goode in adjacent Virginia. MZM also set up a facility in Martinsville Virginia, and gave extensive donations to the local Republican Congressman, Virgil Goode.

In Florida the districts adjacent to Centcom were targeted: MZM took care of Katherine Harris, and IMC took care of Bill Young. In California where ADCS was located, the two Congressmen were Randy Cunningham and Duncan Hunter.

IMC also donated extensively to John Murtha of Pennsylvania and Senator John Rockefeller from West Virginia. Like ADCS, IMC also had their employees give to targeted politicians. (See Federal Election Commission) The CEO of IMC also personally gave $22,000 to John Kerry and $18,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2004. The other two executives noted on their web site (the senior Vice President, and the Chief Operating Officer also gave money only to Democrats).

In contrast, the Congressmen targeted by MZM for donations were usually Republicans. In many cases they were people who would be desirable targets for control by Democrats. For example, the Associated Press analysis of records from PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks campaign spending, lists the following:

Tom DeLay received $70,000 from Wilkes and his associates. While all these appear to be legal, the appearance of impropriety is already being used by the Democrats. Ronnie Earle, who is prosecuting Tom DeLay has subpoenaed records from Wilkes and his associates looking for anything he can use.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. received $46,000 from Wilkes, Wade and their associates. He has been a thorn in the side of the Democrats for a long time. He also has his district where ADCS is located. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, R-Calif. received about $50,000 from Wilkes, Wade and their associates. Not only does he hold an important position, he also has a district which is close to that of the location for ADCS.

Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., a member of the House Appropriations Committee received about $46,000 from Wilkes and his associates. He has had a solid record as a conservative, and co-founded the effective Conservative Action Team.

Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla. is widely viewed among Democrats as the person responsible for giving the White House to George Bush. Thus she is a prime target. She received more than $50,000 from owners and employees of MZM and ADCS.

Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va.; Rep. was once a Democrat, but switched sides to join the Republicans. As a Democrat he voted to impeach Clinton, which was not something they thought a Democrat should do.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich. is also a target due to his position on the Intelligence Committee.

Since the Associated Press has not noticed the coordinated donations with ICM, they are unaware of the donations which IMC specialized in, specifically:

John Murtha of Pennsylvania is the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee and the former Chairman of the committee. He received at least $24,500 from IMC employees.

Bill Young of Florida is located a long way from West Virginia, but his district is adjacent to Centcom. He received at least $12,000 from IMC employees.

Alan Mollohan, D-Va., top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee is also the local Congressman for the IMC facility in West Virginia. He received at least $21,700 from IMC employees.

Senator John Rockefeller from West Virginia is not only the Senator from IMC's state. He also is the Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. He received at least $13,000 from employees of IMC.

The amounts listed may be considerably more when state committees and other sources are included. Where business motives leave off and political motives start is hard to distinguish. In most cases, the goal of getting a congress person in trouble and the goal of making money off of a congress person are similar. In both cases the modus operandi are the same: donations, favors and bribes wherever possible, with the source of the money clearly apparent.

Each congress person targeted by MZM, ADCS and IMC was a potential targets for bribery, however not all acted like Randy Cunningham. However, even where there was no impropriety, there was the appearance of impropriety. This has been noted and exploited by the media.

The Democrats’ theme of “Culture of Corruption” fits neatly with the situations created by MZM and its associates. One recent article is titled: “Cunningham case only hints at extent of rot”, and concludes that ”This isn't governance. This is looting.” In those articles Duncan Hunter is portrayed as a villain nearly equal to Duke Cunningham. The DeLay prosecution in Texas is also seeking documents from the MZM and Duke Cunningham scandal. (See Media)

So far only Republicans have been outed, suggesting a Democrat ideology for the persons involved at MZM. This would make sense given who MZM recruited from. No MZM executives have been charged even though six months have passed since MZM’s bribery was made public. Republicans have paid the price while MZM executives appear to have arranged their affairs to avoid prosecution. (See Cunningham Timeline and Prosecutor’s comments)

When the congress person is no longer delivering financially profitable contracts, or if political considerations outweigh the financial profit, then the political motives become apparent. Whether outed for partisan political destruction, or blackmailed for manipulation, in ether case the person has political value. The Randy Cunningham scandal shows the intent of MZM to “own and use” congress persons.

Some Congressmen may be easier to lead astray than others. Randy Cunningham had been probed by the Ethics committee regarding a Medicare Bill, and John Murtha had been under suspicion for steering government business to relatives of himself and other Democrat congress persons (Pelosi and Kanjorski). (See Corruption)

There are additional parallels between John Murtha and Randy Cunningham. Both had admirable military careers. Both were getting on in years. Both had demonstrated lapses in judgment with respect to improper behavior. Both have been acting in ways lately that have puzzled colleagues: Cunningham has confessed to accepting absurd bribes, and John Murtha has taken absurd positions regarding Iraq and the military.

The lead prosecutor said that the Cunningham bribes represented a crime of “unprecedented magnitude and extraordinary audacity.” They included extravagant antiques, and transactions involving large sums of money. In fact the amount of bribes involved were absurdly extravagant. (See Audacious) The idea that Randy Cunningham "demanded, sought and received" a “19th-century Louis-Philippe commode” sounds absurd.

Similarly, John Murtha has behaved absurdly. As an experienced Marine, he should know better than say that the Army is “broken, worn out” and “living hand to mouth” in a time of war - particularly since that is not true. His call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq before the elections there caused the White House Spokesman Scott McClellan to say they found his statement “baffling”. (See Baffling)

MZM had obvious success in bribing Randy Cunningham. He had been in ethics trouble before with the Medicare Bill, and sold things on Ebay using the Congressional Seal. He was getting on in years, and because of that he may have been more easily duped than younger Congressmen. He was an outspoken Republican. He was an ideal target.

Randy Cunningham signed off on his confession after being urged to do so by one of his lawyers, Mark Holscher. (See Holscher) This is the same lawyer who defended Wen Ho Lee and another accused spy for China pro bono. Thus Randy Cunningham’s lawyer has experience with espionage cases, twice working for free against the side of national defense. For a quick summary of the Wen Ho Lee case see (Wen Ho Lee). He also prosecuted a high profile fraud case against the Republican governor of Arizona.

Even though three weeks have passed since the confession of Randy Cunningham, there are signs that he does not really believe his own written confession. In an interview the Assistant U.S. Attorney Sanjay Bhandari said that Cunningham is still going through the process of accepting responsibility for his crimes. "We're not at a point right now where we can say we have a good sense of how much ultimately Cunningham could provide as far as useful information. ... That's going to take some time. ... What I mean by accepting responsibility is something beyond standing in court and saying, 'Yes, I did commit offenses and I plead guilty under the plea agreement,' but actually going beyond a level of denial and minimizing their role and actually getting to a point where they can be helpful to you." (See prosecutor’s comments) In essence, they say Randy Cunningham is in denial and that he is saying his role was minimal.

Apparently Randy Cunningham has not really accepted that he is guilty of what they think he is. Perhaps he was pressured into signing a confession which is not completely true. The prosecutors are not satisfied with the amount of information that has come from Randy Cunningham, but perhaps that is because he does not have the information. He wasn’t the mastermind behind what happened. Antiques are something that could be given to a person, and the value of them not known. Similarly, with the crazy real estate market in California, the value of real estate is similarly subjective and variable. The value of such things are left to others to determine. Randy Cunningham may have taken what he thought was a small gift, and then been duped, pressured and railroaded.

Recall that MZM is essentially a CIA-like intelligence organization, probably made up of those that served in the previous Democrat Administration. The Randy Cunningham scheme indicates that they do not play by the rules. We do not know just how much of the charges in the indictment of Randy Cunningham were real, how much were fabricated, how much exaggerated or reinterpreted, and how much were part of a plea deal worked out by his lawyers. People in trouble tend to sign off on whatever their lawyer tells them to.

Somebody privy to the MZM operation information probably outed Randy Cunningham. So far no MZM executives have been indicted in spite of their apparent guilt. Until and unless MZM officials are indicted, and the whole story comes out about the activities of MZM, those congress persons targeted would be wise to exercise extraordinary caution. Republicans (Duncan Hunter, Katherine Harris, Bill Young, and Virgil Goode) may be at particular risk because they were in a similar category for the plans of MZM. The tactic of bringing false or exaggerated charges against Republicans is not new, as brilliantly explained in a column by Ann Coulter:

“Democrat prosecutor Barry Krischer has spent two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to find some criminal charge to bring against Rush Limbaugh. Political hack Ronnie Earle spent three years and went through six grand juries to indict Tom DeLay. Liberals spent the last two years fantasizing in public about Karl Rove being indicted. Newt Gingrich was under criminal investigation for 3 1/2 years back in the '90s when liberals were afraid of him. Final result: No crime.” (See Coulter)

Even though the tactic of bringing bogus charges is not new, the involvement of a rogue intelligence company in the process is new. Perhaps after all those attempts the Democrats finally reached the breaking point and decided to convict a Republican, innocent or not, once and for all. They and the media seem to think that scandals and indictments are their ticket back to the White House.

Most recently Tom DeLay has been caught up in this web as well. The crass Democrat prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, is on a well publicized vendetta to destroy Tom DeLay. Yesterday Ronnie Earle subpoenaed the bank and other records from the President of ADCS, Brent Wilkes and his associate, Max Gelwix.

Tom DeLay’s lawyer said “He can subpoena all he wants, there’s nothing there. ... We’re not concerned about it.” (See DeLay) DeLay and his lawyer are assuming that the other side would not be so unethical to manufacture evidence. However, in intelligence wars, manufacturing evidence is a basic stock in trade.

It was only a little over a year ago that we were coping with a poorly done forged memo. Dan Rather, CBS, and the Democrats used it to try to convict President Bush in the court of public opinion before the election. Bill Burkett’s claimed that some shadowy figure named Lucy Ramirez gave it to him at a livestock show on March 3, 2004. An acquaintance of Burkett who was at the livestock show backs up his statement. Perhaps he was telling the truth:

Burkett said “I didn’t forge anything. I didn’t fake any documents. The only thing I’ve done here is to transfer documents from people I thought were real to people I thought were real. And that has been the limitation of my role. I may have been a patsy. ... I didn’t even ask any questions. Should I have? Yes. Maybe I was duped. I never really even considered that.” (See Burkett)

It might have been more effective if a competent intelligence professional had done the forgery. Perhaps they are learning from their mistakes.

Liberal bloggers are easily and gleefully finding the list of blatantly phony companies associated with Brent Wilkes and ADCS. Brent Wilkes paid money to Group W advisors, which in turn paid money to The Alexander Strategy Group, which is associated with Jack Abramoff. Linking up the Tom DeLay scandal with the Duke Cunningham scandal, and then noting that Brent Wilkes had Iran Contra ties long ago, has resulted in the Liberal bloggers extreme glee: They declare they have uncovered “The. Biggest. Scandal. Ever!” (See Scandal) It may actually be the biggest political intelligence operation in America ever, and the bloggers may be just a few of the many useful pawns in the blogosphere and the media, each contributing to the “Culture of Corruption” bandwagon.

We live in an age where the boundaries of human conduct we relied upon have disappeared. Already we have seen the Oil for Food scam, where whole nations were illegally influenced. Assuming that the other side would play fair in a court of law is assuming a fact not in evidence.

Examples of where rules of conduct are being routinely broken are the leaks regarding Guantanamo, and the leaks regarding secret prisons. The Rogue Weasels continue to cause havoc: " Current and former CIA officers speaking to ABC News on the condition of confidentiality say the United States scrambled to get all the suspects off European soil before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived there today. The officers say 11 top al Queda suspects have now been moved to a new CIA facility in the North African desert." (Italics added.) (See Leaks)

These are critical times. China, North Korea, Iran, and Al Queda are all active sources of trouble. President Bush and Secretary Rice have been forced to deal with numerous leaks involving intelligence operations in addition to dealing with these problems. These leaks have not only damaged foreign policy and Republican chances in the next election. They are sabotaging the fight against Islamofaschism and Chinese Communism.

With the vast source of money available from China, the history of the Democratic National Committee accepting donations from China, the recent Chinese espionage uncovered in Southern California, and the transfer of technology to China during the Clinton Administration, one can imagine the financial stakes for the Democrats and any Rogue Weasels. Similarly, the vast source of money available from petrodollars may be helping incentivise the Rogue weasels. The Center for Public Integrity used the MZM web site to profile MZM. (The web site has since been shut down.) According to them MZM was open for business for “both international and domestic governments and private-sector clients.”

MZM is made up of people experienced in intelligence operations, likely to be politically motivated against Republicans, and demonstrably used to operating with a disregard for the law, or common ethics. Under the circumstances, appearances in the media may be misleading, and the Randy Cunningham case may have a lot more to it than one individual’s failing.


The facts cited in this report are based on publicly available documents written by numerous sources including journalists, government data bases etc. My analysis relies on the accuracy of those sources, which are provided so that anyone can examine them and make their own determination.

Citations and Links:

Prosecutor’s comments:

Center for Public Integrity profile:

Some of their information was from the MZM website , which has since been blanked out.

Federal Election Commission and House:

San Diego Tribune Articles: Cunningham Timeline:

IMC Website:






Corruption: DeLay:




Rogue Weasels:



Wen Ho Lee:

The focus of Operation Kindred Spirit, as the investigation was called, was nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee. Evidence had piled up that during his visits to the People’s Republic of China, he had been badgered repeatedly by Chinese scientists to divulge classified information, that Lee had not reported on these visits as required, and acknowledged them only when confronted with evidence that they had taken place. The investigation showed that Lee had downloaded classified information onto the unclassified Los Alamos computer network around the time of one of his trips to Beijing, that he had built a personal library of nuclear warhead design for more than a decade, failed one polygraph after another had been improperly administered, and succeeded, even though he was under suspicion, in gaining access to classified computers. Qualified scientists testified the tapes contained the “crown jewels” of America’s nuclear secrets. Thanks to what Trulock says was an incompetent prosecution, 58 of the 59 charges against Lee were dropped. He merely served 227 days in solitary confinement and paid a small fine. Though a convicted felon, he was a free man, lionized by CBS's “60 Minutes” as a victim of enthic profiling, and was said to be worth “a lucrative book and movie deal.”