The case of Charles McGonigal is bigger than one corrupt FBI agent.
In fact, it’s bigger than the entire FBI.
The legal case against Charles McGonigal, the FBI’s former New York counterintelligence chief — a scandal that launched a thousand conspiracy theories — is beginning to wind down. Last week, a judge in the Southern District of New York sentenced McGonigal to 50 months in prison; a second judge in Washington, DC, is expected to sentence McGonigal on a different set of charges in February.
But the bigger story — about transnational flows of money, intelligence, and influence, and the weakness of the legal and ethical firewalls that are supposed to constrain them — is just beginning.
The two McGonigal indictments offer a rare glimpse of the inner workings of the Acela corridor, a global bazaar where contacts, secrets, and influence are swapped for millions while the laws that are supposed to protect US national security interests are often ignored.
And now, with McGonigal’s two guilty pleas and first sentencing, that rare window into how things really work inside the steakhouses of Washington and Manhattan is closing. McGonigal was embraced by this clubby world of lobbyists and law enforcement dons even as he brought home bags of cash to fund his secret double life. [Continue reading…]