The Spy Who Cracked Up in the Cold

Page 4 of 5

For the next seven months, Warren continued his job at the embassy. Then, on September 15th, 2008, Victim 2 visited the U.S. embassy in Algiers. She wanted to file a complaint: She claimed Andrew Warren had raped her. The news of the complaint circulated around the compound, making its way to a Marine who worked in the security office. After hearing about the complaint, the unidentified Marine told embassy officials that he'd heard a similar story about Warren from another woman: Victim 1 – who was then asked to file a complaint as well.

Without being told why, Warren was summoned back to Langley. His supervisor sat him down alone in a room and told him that he was being accused of rape. Warren insisted that both encounters were consensual. The CIA officer then escorted him to two diplomatic security-service agents who were waiting: Scott Banker and Danielle Pasquale. The agents demanded Warren give up his phone and laptop. Warren told Banker that he'd left his laptop in his hotel room but admitted it probably had photos of both women on it. After the interview, Warren gave his phone and laptop to Banker for forensic analysis.

The lab found "multiple photographs" of Victim 1 and Victim 2, "along with various other women," on his laptop and phone. Around the same time, the FBI was conducting a raid on his residence in Algiers. "During the search, agents recovered, among other items, apple-martini mix, multiple data-storage devices, including multiple computer hard drives, memory cards, Valium and Xanax and a handbook on the investigation of sexual assaults," according to the DSS investigation affidavit. The U.S. government claimed it also found child pornography, which Warren denied existed.

Warren argued that he was the victim of a "honey trap," a plot used by foreign governments to blackmail or entrap men by using attractive females. He also claimed that the Algerian intelligence chief had it in for him, feeling threatened by a black man who spoke Arabic and who was not as easily duped as the Americans the Algerians were used to dealing with. There is also a remote possibility that Warren may have believed that he was doing his job – recruiting sources, in these cases, through predatory sexual practices. When it came to Muslim women, after all, sex with a Western man, with photographic evidence, would provide serious leverage. The judge later noted Warren believed he could "get away with it" because he assumed the women would be too terrified to speak out.

As the investigation unfolded, Barack Obama was elected and a new director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, was appointed. Inside the State Department, U.S. officials panicked at what they saw as a potential international scandal: not just Andrew Warren's behavior, but the CIA's presence in Algeria. At the time, the U.S. military was launching AFRICOM, a new African command center – and the U.S. government was terrified it would be seen as an attempt to control African governments. State Department officials convened a meeting to spin the story. "Most of our local staff thought the story would pass relatively quickly, but the focus would shift from the reported incidents to questions of the CIA presence in Algeria," a cable made public by WikiLeaks stated.

In January 2009, news of the investigation was leaked to Brian Ross at ABC News. Warren was portrayed as a rapist and a criminal; Panetta, the new CIA director, was asked about the case at his confirmation hearing and said Warren should be fired. In March 2009, Warren was terminated. His psych report noted, "Following his being fired and charged with the current offense, he also became clinically depressed. When his depression and post-traumatic anxiety escalated and was not adequately controlled by alcohol alone, he turned to cocaine powder and then crack cocaine to escape from his severe anxiety and depression."

It's exceedingly rare for a CIA officer to be convicted of a crime other than espionage. In fact, there is currently only one other in prison. Warren's lawyers believed he would be able to cut a deal, perhaps beat the charge, saving him from prison and the government from having its darkest secrets spilled during a trial. 'We had a strong case," says Mort Taubman, one of Warren's many lawyers.

Warren, though, was convinced he was going to jail. Despondent, he slid right into the gutter, developing a stunning quarter-ounce-a-day crack habit. On April 3rd, 2010, just three weeks before his final arrest at the Ramada Inn, the Norfolk police were called after he allegedly exposed his penis to his neighbor. According to current documents, when the cops showed up, Warren gave an officer a fake Social Security number and an alias. He told the officer that he was an expert in martial arts, fluent in eight languages and had a disguise kit and a Glock pistol. He told the officer he worked for the CIA.

The officer thought Warren was insane. And in a way, he was right: The former agent was in the midst of a drug-fueled psychotic episode – but everything he said was true. "Crack got rid of the pain," he later told the judge. "As soon as I got sober, I did more. I was afraid I'd be arrested. I was afraid I'd be arrested, I'd have my bail revoked. I was going to jail anyway, so I just began using crack."

After his bust, on April 27th, 2010, he appeared in a wheelchair at the courthouse. The feds piled on the charges: resisting arrest, possession of a firearm, and drug paraphernalia. His lawyers cut a deal: He'd plead to one count of abusive sexual contact and one count of using cocaine while possessing a firearm and avoid a trial. More than 24 colleagues and friends wrote letters asking for leniency. The missive sent by his friend, hedge-fund manager Ed Williams, is typical: "I am not aware of all the details, but the media describes a person that I do not know or recognize. The Andrew that I know has led an exemplary life. A life of fighting for his country, a life of helping others, a life of giving back, a life of teaching others, a life worth saving. I know Andrew can rebuild his life if given the opportunity to prove himself again – he has a strong family and many friends to support him if given the opportunity."

Warren's defense argued that the stress of a life lived on the dark side – the interrogations, the renditions, seeing friends killed – derailed him. The prosecutor recommended a 33-month sentence, but the judge, Ellen Huvelle, slapped him with 65 months. "It is rare that the court is confronted by an individual who has accomplished so much and fallen from grace so far," she said. In Algeria, she said, "you had a house, you had diplomatic immunity, you were an important person in the community. I think you took a calculated risk that it would not be discovered and that she would not complain. Because of her religion, I think you are well aware of – you've been in Muslim countries – the extreme humiliation, pain and ostracism a person like this would suffer if the full facts ever became known." She concluded: "The public needs to be protected [from Andrew Warren]."

In March 2011, he arrived at Ashland's federal correctional institution in Kentucky for a five-year stay.

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