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    Default On the death of GHW Bush - was CIA from 18 on.....

    THERE IS A LOT OF PRAISE FOR BUSH IN THE MSM LATELY. PART OF IT IS JUST BECAUSE HE WAS NOT AS HORRIBLE IN HIS GENERAL DEMEANOR AS THE CURRENT PRESIDENT. PART OF IT IS BECAUSE HE MANAGED TO FOOL MOST IN THE USA AS TO WHO HE WAS, WHO HIS FAMILY WAS, WHAT HIS CONNECTIONS WERE, WHAT HIS AGENDA WAS AND WHO IT WAS FOR. HE BROUGHT US MANY WARS AND COVERT OPERATIONS. HE ONLY PASSED A FEW GOOD DOMESTIC LAWS, WHILE HAVING MANY DEAD ON HIS HANDS FOR NOTHING. HE IN MANY WAYS PAVED THE WAY FOR SOMEONE LIKE THE CURRENT PRESIDENT. I FIND NOTHING TO PRAISE THE MAN FOR AND MUCH TO HOLD HIM ACCOUNT ABOUT - MOST NOT KNOWN TO THE PUBLIC....HERE ARE SOME BITS AND PIECES....

    DECEMBER 3, 2018 | RUSS BAKER


    GEORGE H.W. BUSH SHAPED HISTORY — BUT NOT THE WAY WE’RE TOLD

    CIA Director George H.W. Bush listening intently during a meeting following the assassinations of Ambassador to Lebanon Francis E. Meloy, Jr. and Economic Counselor Robert O. Waring in Beirut, Lebanon on June 17, 1976. Photo credit: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library / Wikimedia

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    In the coming days, the media will be filled with reminiscences and reviews of former President George H.W. Bush’s storied life and political career. But most won’t report — and few actually know — the backstory of Bush’s role in building an interlocking family, business, and intelligence network that charted the nation’s course for decades. That work was secret, and predated his known (and very brief) intelligence career by decades.
    Bush, who died November 30 at age 94, is being remembered with nostalgia as emblematic of a supposedly more civil and genteel era, when US leaders put country first. But George H.W. Bush and his associates had a profound effect in shaping a power equation — mostly in ways they sought to obscure — that protected and advanced their interests.
    With days of Bush tributes and retrospectives ahead, we think it’s a good time to offer a more complete picture. To provide readers with that missing historical background, we present a revealing excerpt from WhoWhatWhy Founder and Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker’s book, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years. More excerpts will follow.

    CIA Director George H.W. Bush in the lobby of the CIA building. Photo credit: Unknown

    Poppy’s Secret

    .

    When Joseph McBride came upon the document about George H. W. Bush’s double life, he was not looking for it. It was 1985, and McBride, a former Daily Variety writer, was in the library of California State University San Bernardino, researching a book about the movie director Frank Capra. Like many good reporters, McBride took off on a “slight,” if time-consuming, tangent — spending day after day poring over reels of microfilmed documents related to the FBI and the JFK assassination. McBride had been a volunteer on Kennedy’s campaign, and since 1963 had been intrigued by the unanswered questions surrounding that most singular of American tragedies.
    A particular memo caught his eye, and he leaned in for a closer look. Practically jumping off the screen was a memorandum from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, dated November 29, 1963. Under the subject heading “Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” Hoover reported that, on the day after JFK’s murder, the bureau had provided two individuals with briefings. One was “Captain William Edwards of the Defense Intelligence Agency.” The other: “Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
    To:
    Director
    Bureau of Intelligence and Research
    Department of State

    [We have been] advised that the Department of State feels some misguided anti-Castro group might capitalize on the present situation and undertake an unauthorized raid against Cuba, believing that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy might herald a change in U.S. policy… [Our] sources know of no [such] plans… The substance of the foregoing information was orally furnished to Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency and Captain William Edwards of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
    McBride shook his head. George H. W. Bush? In the CIA in 1963? Dealing with Cubans and the JFK assassination? Could this be the same man who was now vice president of the United States? Even when Bush was named CIA director in 1976 amid much agency-bashing, his primary asset had been the fact that he was not a part of the agency during the coups, attempted coups, and murder plots in Iran, Cuba, Chile, and other hot spots about which embarrassing information was being disclosed every day in Senate hearings.

    For CIA director Bush, there had been much damage to control. The decade from 1963 to 1973 had seen one confidence-shaking crisis after another. There was the Kennedy assassination and the dubious accounting of it by the Warren Commission. Then came the revelations of how the CIA had used private foundations to channel funds to organizations inside the United States, such as the National Student Association. Then came Watergate, with its penumbra of CIA operatives such as E. Howard Hunt and their shadowy misdoings. Americans were getting the sense of a kind of sanctioned underground organization, operating outside the law and yet protected by it. Then President Gerald Ford, who had ascended to that office when Richard Nixon resigned, fired William Colby, the director of the CIA, who was perceived by hard-liners as too accommodating to congressional investigators and would-be intelligence reformers.
    Now Ford had named George H. W. Bush to take over the CIA. But Bush seemed wholly unqualified for such a position — especially at a time when the agency was under maximum scrutiny. He had been UN ambassador, Republican National Committee chairman, and the US envoy to Beijing, where both Nixon and Henry Kissinger had regarded him as a lightweight and worked around him. What experience did he have in the world of intelligence and spying? How would he restore public confidence in a tarnished spy agency? No one seemed to know. Or did Gerald Ford realize something most others didn’t?
    Bush served at the CIA for one year, from early 1976 to early 1977. He worked quietly to reverse the Watergate-era reforms of CIA practices, moving as many operations as possible offshore and beyond accountability. Although a short stint, it nevertheless created an image problem in 1980 when Bush ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination against former California governor Ronald Reagan. Some critics warned of the dangerous precedent in elevating someone who had led the CIA, with its legacy of dark secrets and covert plots, blackmail and murder, to preside over the United States government.
    ‘Must be another George Bush’

    .

    In 1985, when McBride found the FBI memo apparently relating to Bush’s past, the reporter did not immediately follow up this curious lead. Bush was now a recently reelected vice president (a famously powerless position), and McBride himself was busy with other things. By 1988, however, the true identity of “Mr. George Bush of the CIA” took on new meaning, as George H. W. Bush prepared to assume his role as Reagan’s heir to the presidency. Joe McBride decided to make the leap from entertainment reportage to politics. He picked up the phone and called the White House.
    “May I speak with the vice president?” he asked
    McBride had to settle for Stephen Hart, a vice presidential spokesman. Hart denied that his boss had been the man mentioned in the memo, quoting Bush directly. “I was in Houston, Texas, at the time and involved in the independent oil drilling business. And I was running for the Senate in late ’63. I don’t have any idea of what he’s talking about.” Hart concluded with this suggestion: “Must be another George Bush.”
    McBride found the response troubling — rather detailed for a ritual non-denial. It almost felt like a cover story that Bush was a bit too eager to trot out. He returned to Hart with more questions for Bush:

    • Did you do any work with or for the CIA prior to the time you became its director?
    • If so, what was the nature of your relationship with the agency, and how long did it last?
    • Did you receive a briefing by a member of the FBI on anti-Castro Cuban activities in the aftermath [of] the assassination of President Kennedy?

    Within half an hour, Hart called him back. The spokesman now declared that, though he had not spoken with Bush, he would nevertheless answer the questions himself. Hart said that the answer to the first question was no, and, therefore, the other two were moot.
    Undeterred, McBride called the CIA. A spokesman for the agency, Bill Devine, responded: “This is the first time I’ve ever heard this . . . I’ll see what I can find out and call you back.”
    The following day, the PR man was tersely formal and opaque: “I can neither confirm nor deny.” It was the standard response the agency gave when it dealt with its sources and methods. Could the agency reveal whether there had been another George Bush in the CIA? Devine replied: “Twenty-seven years ago? I doubt that very much. In any event, we have a standard policy of not confirming that anyone is involved in the CIA.”
    ‘Apparently’ George William Bush

    .

    But it appears this standard policy was made to be broken. McBride’s revelations appeared in the July 16, 1988, issue of the liberal magazine the Nation, under the headline “The Man Who Wasn’t There, ‘George Bush,’ C.I.A. Operative.” Shortly thereafter, CIA spokeswoman Sharron Basso told the Associated Press that the CIA believed that “the record should be clarified.” She said that the FBI document “apparently” referred to a George William Bush who had worked in 1963 on the night shift at the Langley, Virginia, headquarters, and that “would have been the appropriate place to have received such an FBI report.” George William Bush, she said, had left the CIA in 1964 to join the Defense Intelligence Agency.
    Certainly, the article caused George H. W. Bush no major headaches. By the following month, he was triumphantly accepting the GOP’s presidential nomination at its New Orleans convention, unencumbered by tough questions about his past.
    CIA Can’t Find ‘Other’ George Bush?

    .

    Meanwhile, the CIA’s Basso told reporters that the agency had been unable to locate the “other” George Bush. The assertion was reported by several news outlets, with no comment about the irony of a vaunted intelligence agency — with a staff of thousands and a budget of billions — being unable to locate a former employee within American borders.
    Perhaps what the CIA really needed was someone like Joseph McBride. Though not an investigative journalist, McBride had no trouble finding George William Bush. Not only was the man findable; he was still on the US government payroll. By 1988 this George Bush was working as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration. He explained to McBride that he had worked only briefly at the CIA, as a GS-5 probationary civil servant, analyzing documents and photos during the night shift. Moreover, he said, he had never received interagency briefings.
    Several years later, in 1991, former Texas Observer editor David Armstrong would track down the other person listed on the Hoover memo, Captain William Edwards. Edwards could confirm that he had been on duty at the Defense Intelligence Agency the day in question. He said he did not remember this briefing, but that he found the memo plausible in reference to a briefing he might have received over the phone while at his desk. While he said he had no idea who the George Bush was who also was briefed, Edward’s rank and experience was certainly far above that of the night clerk George William Bush.
    Shortly after McBride’s article appeared in the Nation, the magazine ran a follow-up op-ed, in which the author provided evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency had foisted a lie on the American people. The piece appeared while everyone else was focusing on Bush’s coronation at the Louisiana Superdome. As with McBride’s previous story, this disclosure was greeted with the equivalent of a collective media yawn. An opportunity was bungled, not only to learn about the true history of the man who would be president, but also to recognize the “George William Bush” diversion for what it was: one in a long series of calculated distractions and disinformation episodes that run through the Bush family history.
    George William Bush Deposes

    .

    With the election only two months away, and a growing sense of urgency in some quarters, George William Bush acknowledged under oath — as part of a deposition in a lawsuit brought by a nonprofit group seeking records on Bush’s past — that he was the junior officer on a three- to four-man watch shift at CIA headquarters between September 1963 and February 1964, which was on duty when Kennedy was shot. “I do not recognize the contents of the memorandum as information furnished to me orally or otherwise during the time I was at the CIA,” he said. “In fact, during my time at the CIA, I did not receive any oral communications from any government agency of any nature whatsoever. I did not receive any information relating to the Kennedy assassination during my time at the CIA from the FBI. Based on the above, it is my conclusion that I am not the Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency referred to in the memorandum.” . . .
    George H.W. Bush: Spy From the Age of 18

    .

    Almost a decade would pass between Bush’s election in 1988 and the declassification and release in 1996 of another government document that shed further light on the matter. This declassified document would help to answer some of the questions raised by the ’63 Hoover memo — questions such as, “If George Herbert Walker Bush was already connected with the CIA in 1963, how far back did the relationship go?”
    But yet another decade would pass before this second document would be found, read, and revealed to the public. Fast-forward to December 2006, on a day when JFK researcher Jerry Shinley sat, as he did on so many days, glued to his computer, browsing through the digitized database of documents on the Web site of the Mary Ferrell Foundation.
    On that December day, Shinley came upon an internal CIA memo that mentioned George H. W. Bush [the Bush designated Director of Central Intelligence (DCI)]. Dated November 29, 1975, it reported, in typically spare terms, the revelation that the man who was about to become the head of the CIA actually had prior ties to the agency. And the connection discussed here, unlike that unearthed by McBride, went back not to 1963, but to 1953 — a full decade earlier. Writing to the chief of the spy section of the analysis and espionage agency, the chief of the “cover and commercial staff” noted:
    Through Mr. Gale Allen . . . I learned that Mr. George Bush, DCI designate has prior knowledge of the now terminated project WUBRINY/LPDICTUM which was involved in proprietary commercial operations in Europe. He became aware of this project through Mr. Thomas J. Devine, a former CIA Staff Employee and later, oil-wildcatting associate with Mr. Bush. Their joint activities culminated in the establishment of Zapata Oil [sic] [in 1953] which they eventually sold. After the sale of Zapata Oil, Mr. Bush went into politics, and Mr. Devine became a member of the investment firm of Train, Cabot and Associates, New York . . . The attached memorandum describes the close relationship between Messrs. Devine and Bush in 1967-1968 which, according to Mr. Allen, continued while Mr. Bush was our ambassador to the United Nations.
    In typical fashion for the highly compartmentalized and secretive intelligence organization, the memo did not make clear how Bush knew Devine, or whether Devine was simply dropping out of the spy business to become a true entrepreneur. For Devine, who would have been about twenty-seven years old at the time, to “resign” at such a young age, so soon after the CIA had spent a great deal of time and money training him was, at minimum, highly unusual. It would turn out, however, that Devine had a special relationship allowing him to come and go from the agency, enabling him to do other things without really leaving its employ. In fact, CIA history is littered with instances where CIA officers have tendered their “resignation” as a means of creating deniability while continuing to work closely with the agency . . .

    Devine’s role in setting up Zapata would remain hidden for more than a decade — until 1965. At that point, as Bush was extricating himself from business to devote his energies to pursuing a congressional seat, Devine’s name suddenly surfaced as a member of the board of Bush’s spin-off company, Zapata Offshore — almost as if it was his function to keep the operation running. To be sure, he and Bush remained joined at the hip . . .
    Devine, like the senior George Bush, is now in his eighties and still active in business in New York. When I reached him in the winter of 2007 and told him about recently uncovered CIA memos that related both his agency connections and his longtime ties to Bush, he uttered a dry chuckle, then continued cautiously.
    “Tell me who you are working with in the family,” he asked when I informed him I was working on a book about the Bushes. I explained that the book was not exactly an “authorized” biography, and therefore I was not “working” with someone in the family. Moreover, I noted, the Bushes were not known for their responsiveness to journalistic inquiries. “The family policy has been as long as George has been in office, they don’t talk to media,” Devine replied. But he agreed to contact the Bush family seeking clearance. “Well, the answer is, I will inquire. I have your telephone number, and I’ll call you back when I’ve enquired.”
    Surprisingly enough, he did call again, two weeks later, having checked in with his old friend in Houston. He explained that he had been told by former president George H.W. Bush not to cooperate. When I spoke to him several months later, he still would not talk about anything — though he did complain that, thanks to an article I had written about him for the Real News Project (www.realnews.org), he was now listed in Wikipedia. And then he did offer a few words:
    Thomas Devine: I just broke one of the first rules in this game.
    Russ Baker: And what is that?
    Thomas Devine: Do not complain.
    In fact, Devine had little to complain about. At the time, although I was aware that he seemed to be confirming that he himself had been in the “game,” I did not understand the full extent of his activities in conjunction with Bush. Nor did I understand the heightened significance of their relationship during the tumultuous event of 1963, to be discussed in subsequent chapters.
    No Business Like the Spy Business

    .

    Before there was an Office of Strategic Services (July 1942-October 1945) or a Central Intelligence Agency (founded in 1947), corporations and attorneys who represented international businesses often employed associates in their firms as private agents to gather data on competitors and business opportunities abroad. So it was only to be expected that many of the first OSS recruits were taken from the ranks of oil companies, Wall Street banking firms, and Ivy League universities and often equated the interests of their high-powered business partners with the national interest. Such relationships like the one between George H. W. Bush and Thomas Devine thus made perfect sense to the CIA . . .
    By the time George H. W. Bush founded his own company, Zapata Petroleum, it was not difficult to line up backers with long-standing ties to industrial espionage activities. The setup with Devine in the oil business provided Bush with a perfect cover to travel abroad and . . . identify potential CIA recruits among foreign nationals . . .
    “Poppy” Bush’s own role with intelligence appears to date back as early as the Second World War, when he joined the Navy at age eighteen. On arrival at his training base in Norfolk, Virginia, in the fall of 1942, Bush was trained not only as a pilot of a torpedo bomber but also as a photographic officer, responsible for crucial, highly sensitive aerial surveillance . . .
    After mastering the technique of operating the handheld K-20 aerial camera and film processing, Bush recruited and trained other pilots and crewmen. His own flight team became part bomber unit, part spy unit. The information they obtained about the Japanese navy, as well as crucial intelligence on Japanese land-based defenses, was forwarded to the US Navy’s intelligence center at Pearl Harbor and to the Marine Corps for use in planning amphibious landings in order to reduce casualties.
    The so-called Operation Snapshot was so hush-hush that, under naval regulations in effect at the time, even revealing its name would lead to court-martial. According to a book by Robert Stinnett, a fellow flier, Admiral Marc Mitscher hit the “bulkhead” when he saw that Bush’s team had filed a report in which they actually referred by name to their top-secret project. The three people above Bush in his command chain were made to take razor blades to the pages of the report and remove the forbidden language.
    The lesson was apparently not lost on Bush. From that moment forward, as every Bush researcher has learned, Bush’s life would honor the principle: no names, no paper trail, no fingerprints. If you wanted to know what Bush had done, you had to have the patience of a sleuth yourself.
    Next: Part 2. Skull and Bones Forever
    For Part 1, please go here; Part 2, here; Part 3, here; Part 4, here; Part 5, here; Part 6, here;Part 7, here; Part 8, here; Part 9, here; Part 10, here.
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 12-05-2018 at 02:13 PM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #2

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    George HW Bush thought the world belonged to his family. How wrong he was

    Ariel Dorfman

    My close encounter with Bush at a Sydney hotel revealed a patrician arrogance whose days were numbered

    Sun 2 Dec 2018 13.37 GMTLast modified on Mon 3 Dec 2018 10.45 GMT





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    George HW Bush during a news conference at the White House in 1989. Photograph: Marcy Nighswander/APAs the world says goodbye to George HW Bush, I am tempted to add my own personal memories to the mix, and illuminate perhaps his legacy by recounting the two intense nights that my wife and I spent in close proximity to the former president at the end of October 2001.
    It was at the Park Hyatt hotel in Sydney, where I had been invited to deliver the Centennial Lecture celebrating the Federation of Australia. The day after our arrival, the hotel manager – a corpulent, affable man of Spanish extraction – asked us if we wouldn’t mind exchanging our suite, only for the next two days, he said, for another one, just as nice, he promised, elsewhere on the premises.
    Having already unpacked, and enjoying the most spectacular view of the bay and the Opera House, it wasn’t hard to respond that we had no intention of moving. Was there any reason for such an unexpected request?
    The manager could not elaborate further, “due to reasons of security”. Though he would honor our wishes, he regretted that our dinner reservation for that evening had been cancelled, as the dining room would be closed for a restricted event.

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    It was only that evening, when our centennial hosts had rescued us for a meal at another location, that their head of protocol mentioned, in passing, that we were sharing the Hyatt with none other than Bush the elder, who was in Sydney, with a large entourage, to attend a meeting of the Carlyle Group, the gigantic global asset management firm that he had been advising for the last three years (months later we realized that this was the summit where the Bin Laden family was “disinvested” from the firm).
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    George HW Bush, 41st US president, dies aged 94 – video obituaryOn our way back to the hotel, Angélica and I could not contain our insane glee at depriving Bush of our room. For once, we chortled, we had bested one of the big fish who are used to seeing their every wish granted. Our antipathy towards this particular big fish ran deep: those deplorable years as Reagan’s vice-president, his racist campaign against Michael Dukakis, his invasion of Panama, his appointment of Clarence Thomas to the supreme court, his sabotage of global initiatives to reverse catastrophic climate change, the disastrous Nafta treaty, the vetoing of civil rights legislation, the presidential pardon of the neo-con Elliott Abrams, and, of course, Bush’s mawkish “thousand points of light”.

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    But our aversion had more personal roots: Bush had operated as head of the CIA from 30 January 1976 until 20 January 1977. As such, he was undoubtedly privy to exhaustive information about the devastation being inflicted by the US-supported Pinochet regime in Chile, at a time when opponents were being disappeared, concentration camps were still open and torture was rampant. During his tenure, the American government facilitated the infamous Operation Condor, run by the intelligence services of six Latin American dictatorships to coordinate their repression of dissidents. Perhaps most inexcusable was that Bush remained unrepentant of his country’s involvement in so much suffering. Had he not stated – when an American missile had blown up an Iranian aircraft with 290 innocent civilians aboard in 1988 – that he would “never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.”




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    George HW Bush with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1999. Photograph: Andreas Altwein/AFP/Getty ImagesWell, here was a fact that the man who had helped to steal our country from us could not ignore: no way was he stealing our room!
    We entered our quarters – after passing two brawny security guards in the corridor outside the room next to ours – and gleefully imagined him stewing on his mattress, foiled, frustrated, sleeplessly stymied by a couple of Chilean revolutionaries whose existence he could not even divine. Our mirth soon subsided, replaced by an ominous thought from my wife: “What if something happens to him tonight or tomorrow?”
    The 9/11 attacks had occurred barely six weeks earlier, and what juicier target for terrorists than the father of the current US president, that other George Bush? We looked at each other in consternation: if, by some demented coincidence, there was an assault right now on Bush senior, who would be the first suspects, which guests had both motive and opportunity?
    The two Chileans next door, that’s who.
    Had the security team used our absence that evening to check our room and bug it? If so, they had heard us laughing and referring to Bush in decidedly uncomplimentary terms. It didn’t take long for us to dispel our absurd paranoia, and yet, as I fell asleep, I couldn’t help but note that the post-9/11 world was strangely reminiscent, with its pervasive fear and burgeoning surveillance society, to the Chile we had left for exile many decades ago. We could banish Bush from the accommodation of his choice, but the world still belonged to him, to his son, to their acolytes and accomplices.
    Early the next morning, I had a chance to recognize, first hand, how irrefutable this dominion was.
    I was on our private terrace, overlooking Sydney Bay, doing some warm-up yoga exercises, so close to the water I could almost touch it, when who should pop into view, two or three yards away, just below me on the esplanade separating the hotel from the sea, but Poppy himself, walking briskly towards the city skyline. He was casually dressed, as if about to play golf, and surrounded by a sizeable entourage – some muscled security heavies, some suited confederates, perhaps a secretary or two, all of them quietly obsequious, all of them situated at a prudent distance, respectful of an invisible protective boundary that isolated the politician who had once been the most powerful person on Earth. Closest to Bush, half a step behind him, was a bulky, crew-cut military man, with so many medals on his uniform that it was a miracle he wasn’t sagging from the burden. A general, at least, I thought.
    Suddenly, the former president lifted his right arm into the air, his fingers extended backward, snapping them without, however, deigning to look at the man behind him. The officer reacted with celerity, producing, seemingly out of nowhere, a tube that he deposited in his master’s hand. It turned out to be a sun tan lotion, as George Senior, without losing his stride and definitely without thanking the aide, began to lavishly apply it to his exposed forearms and neck.




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    Photograph: MPI/Getty ImagesThat night, pondering the experience, I was the one who tossed and turned, slumberless, a few feet from the man who once held the fate of humanity in his hands. I was disturbed by the unintentional message he had sent me. Without the slightest notion that I was witnessing his cavalcade from my smug and far too self-satisfied position on a beautiful balcony, he had given me the finger, offered a lesson about what matters in the grand scheme of history. Our puny possession of his favored room and view, our sweet vicarious victory, was insignificant when weighed against that gesture of his. Nothing we did to him could alter its meaning or implications, change his patrician certainty that he had been born to rule and could do no wrong. A certainty transmitted to his son, who ended up being the living incarnation of his father’s finger-snapping imperium, who believed he owned the world as if it were a tube of sun lotion to be squeezed dry.
    Paradoxically, it was that swaggering son who has helped me, over time, to soften my appraisal of Bush father’s place in history. It’s enough to remember the younger Bush’s demolition of Iraq and Afghanistan and, for good measure, his wrecking of the US economy, to look upon the elder’s presidency as almost respectable, to feel an almost doleful nostalgia for the Republican party of those years that was not entirely poisoned with hatred and blind greed – and I haven’t even started on Donald Trump.
    Bush Senior might have been complicit for the thousands of corpses rotting on the Highway of Death in Iraq in 1991, but he did not forge ahead to Baghdad; indeed, that mayhem in the desert apparently made this veteran of the second world war, where he had served honorably, decide to stop the advance. And then there’s the American Disabilities Act, his relatively benign policies on immigration, his split with the National Rifle Association, the meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev that ended the cold war. And the considerable humanitarian works he did after leaving office. Not to mention his stark opinions about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, that dynamic duo of destruction, and his stubborn and principled refusal to endorse Trump, calling him, at one point, “a blowhard”.

    George HW Bush - a life in pictures







    And yet, now that death has come for George HW Bush and he holds no sway in this world, now that the snap of his fingers cannot protect him from the fate suffered by every mortal or from the black sun of infinity, it is those fingers in that remote Australian morning that I cannot shake from my mind.
    Partly this is because I ruefully understand that, for all the elder Bush’s shortcomings, I would rather have a finger like his on the nuclear trigger than that of an ignorant bully and self-aggrandizing, insecure liar who can extinguish all of humanity with a simple command (and who also ominously brays that “we are not going to apologize for America … No more apologies”). But time has also given me a different perspective on that incident in Sydney.
    Today that arrogant wave of the elder Bush’s hand appears more forlorn, almost delusional in its certainty that his blue-blooded dynasty would endure and prevail. Jeb’s ignominious defeat – the favorite son who was supposed to be the anointed winner of the primaries and the election itself – forewarned of a pseudo-populist rebellion against privilege and prerogative; an anti-elite, anti-corporatist surge from vast swaths of the country that rode the boorish and unenlightened Trump into a White House where his presence would have seemed, to the Bushes as to most of humanity, as inconceivable as it was offensive. The world did not belong to George Herbert Walker Bush and his children after all, at least not in the way he dreamed it.
    Even less does it belong to me or my children or the children of most of those living on this planet today, so many of us farther than ever from affecting our own destiny.
    Because what cannot be denied is how that imperial gesture of his that morning in Australia continues to exemplify all that is wrong with the patriarchal world the elder Bush reigned over, and that was complicit in creating the America that ultimately led, despite his own wishes, to Trump taking power, the unfortunate America we are doomed to share.
    George Herbert Walker Bush does not rest in peace.
    Nor do we.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  3. #3

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    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Greg Grandin, I’m wondering your assessment of the impact of the Panama invasion on the Bush presidency, because he was always battling criticism that he was a wimp, that he was not fit to be president, and how this affected him?
    GREG GRANDIN: Well, he was. He was constantly fighting the image of being a wimp and ineffectual, living in the shadow of Ronald Reagan. He was called Reagan’s lapdog. He had a long history of violence in the Third World, starting back from his days in West Texas with the Zapata Oil Company. He was involved with the CIA, which they helped run logistics in the Bay of Pigs. As head of the CIA, he presided over—the head of CIA in 1976 during the height of Operation Condor, which kind of organized national death squads in Latin America into—and coordinated their activity. The single largest run of bombings and executions carried out by Condor happened while Bush was the head of the CIA. Iran-Contra as vice president. And so, Panama—
    AMY GOODMAN: And when you say Iran-Contra, just if you could expand on that, especially for young people who don’t understand what this was?
    GREG GRANDIN: Well, Iran-Contra was a many—a hydra-headed scandal that involved selling high-tech weaponry to Iran, diverting the profits to support the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua. In Central America—
    AMY GOODMAN: In violation of U.S. law.
    GREG GRANDIN: In violation of U.S. law, but also it meant—my gesture to it meant that it supported the worst kind of death squaders and assassins and fascists in Central America throughout the 1980s. And Bush was deeply involved in that as vice president and coming out of his work with the CIA. So, my point—
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what’s—yeah.
    GREG GRANDIN: —to the bleeding of Panama is that Bush had a long history of violence in the Third World as a way of establishing himself, which obviously continued with the first Gulf War.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And a key part of that Iran-Contra is that once Bush becomes president, he pardons all the people who were involved with it.
    GREG GRANDIN: No, not once he becomes president. When he’s leaving.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’m sorry, when he’s leaving, when he’s leaving.
    GREG GRANDIN: After he’s defeated, yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: When he’s leaving as president.
    GREG GRANDIN: After he’s defeated by Clinton in the—Christmas Eve 1992, he pardons six of them. And Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor, says that this completes the cover-up of Iran-Contra. So, in some ways, it’s a precedent for current politics in terms of the limits and limitlessness of presidential power to sweep scandals that they’re involved in under the rug.
    AMY GOODMAN: Now, President Bush defended his decision to issue the pardons. He issued a statement saying in part, “First, the common denominator for their motivation—whether their actions were right or wrong—was patriotism. Second, they did not profit or seek to profit from their conduct. Third, each has a record of long and distinguished service to this country.” This is Caspar Weinberger, former secretary of defense for the Reagan administration, speaking shortly after he was pardoned by George H.W. Bush.
    CASPAR WEINBERGER: I am completely confident that I would have been acquitted in a real trial, when I and my real attorneys, Bob Bennett and Carl Rauh, who are, I think, the finest in the country, would be participants, and they would present real evidence to a real jury. I am very pleased, however, and very relieved that my family and I have been spared this terrible ordeal of a very long and unjustified trial.
    AMY GOODMAN: Now, Lawrence Walsh, who was so utterly frustrated by this, said this was the decapitation of the investigation. He had come out of the Eisenhower administration, actually. Talk about—this was Caspar Weinberger and the other defendants who had their records wiped clean.
    GREG GRANDIN: They had their records wiped clean—
    AMY GOODMAN: A lesson for President Trump.
    GREG GRANDIN: —and the scandal went down the memory hole. Iran-Contra was consequential in the sense that it brought together a lot of the different coalitions that made up the Reagan administration—the evangelical right, the neoconservatives, the militarists and anti-communists. And they gave them Central America to run wild with, basically funding the Contras, which were the anti-communist insurgencies seeking to overthrow the Sandinistas.
    AMY GOODMAN: Michael Isikoff wrote in 1991, “The Medellin cartel, once branded by U.S. officials as the world’s most violent and powerful drug-trafficking organization, made a $10 million contribution to the U.S.-backed contra guerrillas fighting during the 1980s to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, a former cartel leader testified today.”
    GREG GRANDIN: Yeah. I might be wrong, but I think they routed that through Manuel Noriega. That’s how it got to the Contras. So it brought together all of the worst elements. But the larger point, it’s all part of overcoming the Vietnam syndrome. It’s all about the executive branch figuring out how it can reassert and project military power, free from all of this democratic oversight. The Congress had prohibited aid to the Contras, and that was the main kind of prompt that forced the Reagan administration to figure out all of—
    AMY GOODMAN: And the main operation run through Vice President George H.W. Bush’s office?
    GREG GRANDIN: And Oliver North and an interwar party. Oliver North was the point person. He was—you know, so, there was—and so, that’s Bush’s legacy. But it’s a continuation, because if you look at his work in the 1960s with Zapata Oil Company, it’s all the same dense—and the point isn’t to establish conspiracy theory; it’s to show the sociological overlap between these different sections.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: If you could expand on that, because, clearly, even though people say he was the director of the CIA for only about a year—
    GREG GRANDIN: Yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —but he had a long-running relationship with the CIA here?
    GREG GRANDIN: His father was OSS, which was the CIA precursor, during World War II. His—
    AMY GOODMAN: Prescott Bush, before he was senator.
    GREG GRANDIN: Prescott Bush. I mean, he went to Yale, Skull and Bones. Every major player in the Bay of Pigs operation came out of Skull and Bones. I mean, there was no daylight.
    AMY GOODMAN: The secret society at Yale University.
    GREG GRANDIN: The secret society at Yale. The CIA was like Skull and Bones writ large, with a lot—with, you know, millions of dollars’ budget. And so, again, it’s not conspiracy. Because conspiracy theorists are obsessed with the Bush family, and they might and might not have done this or that. But the point is that there was a close relationship between the kind of WASP, pure-blood, East Coast establishment that the Bush family represented and the intelligence community. And Bush represented, in some ways, its radicalization in the—after the Cuban revolution, in Texas, and then Iran-Contra. So, there’s a through line through Bush’s life, which is being completely ignored in all of the obituaries and remembrances of Bush. And that through line is the easy resort to violence in the Third World.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you note in your piece for The Nation that it wasn’t just Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, who was a senator, but even his grandparents.
    GREG GRANDIN: Oh, his grandparents. He comes—
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Talk about his grandparents. And—
    GREG GRANDIN: Comes from the bluest blood—Samuel Bush, Prescott Bush, his uncles. He comes from a family that occupied the highest echelons of Episcopalian capitalism, and in its most expansive period, when finance, industry and energy extraction and militarism were interlocking and fusing together. And Bush was born into that in 1924 in Connecticut. He was sheltered during the Great Depression. He went to Greenwich Day School. He went to Phillips Academy and Yale. And then, what’s interesting, sociologically interesting, about Bush is his move to West Texas. So, that move represents the broader shift of American capitalism from the East Coast to this new center of gravity, more ideological, hostile, which becomes the basis of the new right, which becomes the basis of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and even a lot of the forces that back Trump. So…
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show by continuing to look back at the legacy of George H.W. Bush, the nation’s 41st president, who died on Friday at the age of 94. His body is now lying in rest at the Capitol. A funeral service will be held at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday. Former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Bush’s son, George W. Bush, will attend, as will President Trump—who was not invited to speak. A second funeral will be held Thursday in Houston, where George H.W. Bush will be buried.
    AMY GOODMAN: While President Bush’s death has dominated the news for days, little attention has been paid to the defining event of Bush’s first year in office: the invasion of Panama. On December 19, 1989, President Bush sent tens of thousands of troops into Panama, ostensibly to execute an arrest warrant against its leader, Manuel Noriega, on charges of drug trafficking. General Noriega was once a close ally of Washington and on the CIA payroll. In a nationally televised address, Bush claimed the invasion was needed to defend democracy in Panama.
    PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Last night I ordered U.S. military forces to Panama. No president takes such action lightly. This morning, I want to tell you what I did and why I did it. For nearly two years, the United States and nations of Latin America and the Caribbean have worked together to resolve the crisis in Panama. The goals of the United States have been to safeguard the lives of Americans, to defend democracy in Panama, to combat drug trafficking and to protect the integrity of the Panama Canal Treaty.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: During the attack, the U.S. unleashed a force of 24,000 troops equipped with highly sophisticated weaponry and aircraft against a country with an army smaller than the New York City Police Department. An estimated 3,000 Panamanians died in the attack. But the war was highly sanitized in the U.S. media. This is part of the trailer for the Oscar-winning documentary Panama Deception.
    PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: One year ago, the people of Panama lived in fear under the thumb of a dictator. Today, democracy is restored. Panama is free.
    JOSÉ DE JESÚS MARTÍNEZ: We are to say we invaded Panama because Noriega. I don’t know how Americans can be so stupid to believe this. I mean, how can you be so stupid?
    MICHAEL PARENTI: The performance of the mainstream news media in the coverage of Panama has been just about total collaboration with the administration. Not a critical perspective. Not a second thought.
    PETE WILLIAMS: Our regret is that we were not able to use the media pool more effectively.
    REP. CHARLES RANGEL: You would think, from the video clips that we had seen, that this whole thing was just a Mardi Gras, that the people in Panama were just jumping up and down with glee.
    VALERIE VAN ISLER: They focused on Noriega, to the exclusion of what was happening to the Panamanian people, to the exclusion of the bodies in the street, to the exclusion of the number dead.
    REP. CHARLES RANGEL: The truth of the matter is that we don’t even know how many Panamanians we have killed.
    PETER KORNBLUH: Panama is another example of destroying a country to save it. And the United States has exercised a might-makes-right doctrine among smaller countries of the Third World, to invade these countries, get what we want, and leave the people that live there to kind of rot.
    ROBERT KNIGHT: The invasion sets the stage for the wars of the 21st century.
    AMY GOODMAN: That, the trailer for The Panama Deception, directed by Barbara Trent, which won the Oscar.
    Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on Washington to pay reparations to Panama over what was widely seen as an illegal invasion.
    For more on George H.W. Bush’s legacy and the lasting impact of the Panama invasion, we’re joined here in New York by Greg Grandin, prize-winning author, professor of Latin American history at New York University, his forthcoming book titled The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America. His previous books include Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman and Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism. His latest piece for The Nation headlined “George H.W. Bush: Icon of the WASP Establishment—and of Brutal US Repression in the Third World.”
    Professor Grandin, welcome back to Democracy Now! Tell us about the Panama invasion.
    GREG GRANDIN: Well, it was consequential in that it was the major deployment of U.S. troops since Vietnam War and it was done in a spectacular fashion. It was calculated to overturn what Bush said, clearly, was the Vietnam syndrome. It was a turning point in international law, in the sense that it overthrew the doctrine of sovereignty, which had been the bedrock of the international system since at least the 1930s, 1940s, the idea that countries can’t invade or intervene in another country’s politics without multilateral consent. The OAS condemned the invasion. The U.N. didn’t support the invasion.
    It was carried out, as George H.W. Bush said, in the name of democracy, which is another important significant motive. It came just a couple of weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. And U.S.—the United States had justified its previous interventions either in the name of anti-communism or national security or hemispheric security. This was a return to a certain kind of moralism to justify U.S. militarism.
    And in all of those ways, it set the stage for the wars to come—the legal doctrine, the way it was executed, the spectacular nature of shock and awe, the sending 30,000 troops into Panama, and being covered. Just think of it. Just compare it to maybe Kissinger’s secret bombing of Cambodia for years. That had to be done off the books because the U.S. public was opposed to—opposed to war, for the most part. And so, this was a real turning point in the public’s acceptance of war, in the executive branch’s ability to justify and wage war. It was consequential in numerous ways, that led directly to the catastrophe that we’re in today.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Greg, in terms of the historical significance, there had been a prior, even smaller invasion, when Bush was vice president and Reagan was president, of Grenada—
    GREG GRANDIN: Yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —a country of less than 100,000 people.
    GREG GRANDIN: Right.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But this was actually a more substantial nation. Panama at that time had about 2.4 million people. And it also, I think, set a lot of the direction in terms of how media covered the war, because I remember there was a big uproar among the press in the United States because initially the government wasn’t allowing any press to cover the war.
    GREG GRANDIN: Yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Then, after much protest, they agreed to send one plane of reporters on the second day. And I was reporting for the Daily News back then and participated in that plane flight. We were held. The press was actually held by the military on one of the military bases, until several of us protested and were able to actually break free. We had to escape the American military base to actually be able to go out and cover the war. But most of the press treated this, as you say, illegal invasion as a liberation effort.
    GREG GRANDIN: Yeah. Well, part of the remedy to overcome the Vietnam syndrome was figuring out how to control the press. There was an analysis that the press had gone off reservation in Vietnam, that they had developed their independent sources, that they weren’t listening to the Pentagon, that they were critically analyzing the war, that a whole generation, a whole cohort, of investigative journalists—Sy Hersh, Michael Herr—cut their teeth in Vietnam and were critical of U.S. foreign policy. That was a problem that needed to be solved. And Panama allowed them to try out different ways. And you experienced it directly when you covered Panama. And they just got better at it, until they got to—until they got to the first Gulf War and the second Gulf War, where the press were kept in embedded coverage and all of that.
    AMY GOODMAN: Juan, explain what it was like to be on that plane. And who was holding you on the military base?
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, it was actually the—because, you have to understand, Panama was already occupied by the United States. There were several military bases in the Canal Zone, because the Canal Zone had not yet been returned to Panama. So the U.S. military was already there. But then, once the plane of the press landed on the second day, December 20th, we were basically held on the base. And they would bring out prisoners for press to interview, that they had captured—detainees, they called them, that they had captured—but they were not allowing the press to go out and actually cover the attacks on Panama City. And there was almost a near-rebellion of the reporters saying, “No, we’ve got to go out and see what’s going on.” So they finally allowed some people to go out in buses, all with—driven by the military, with military escorts. And then a handful of us managed to actually escape the buses. We demanded that we be let out and let out into the city, so that we could go out and actually cover what was going on.
    GREG GRANDIN: Yeah, I mean, in Panama, in 1989, and through the early 1980s, the U.S. was watching a generation of reporters that had honed their skills and critical thinking in Vietnam applied to Central America—Ray Bonner’s coverage of El Mozote. And so, all of that—
    AMY GOODMAN: Ray Bonner who was writing for The New York Times.
    GREG GRANDIN: Right, who was writing for—and lost his—and was reassigned because he was too close to the story.
    AMY GOODMAN: El Mozote being a massacre in El Salvador.
    GREG GRANDIN: Massacre in 1981 in El Salvador. And there was also ways in which reporters were just developing their own independent sources. They were too autonomous. They were too critical. And all of that had to be controlled, and they had to be brought back in and re-established as a pillar of the national security state, whether as cheerleaders or as just uncritical commentators and catalogers of what was happening.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the issue of Noriega’s prior relationship to the CIA, and George Bush, having been a CIA director at one time, was well aware of Noriega’s role?
    GREG GRANDIN: Yeah, he was our man in Panama. He was a key asset in Iran-Contra, and Iran-Contra being not just one scandal but a broad policy of cultivating anti-communist allies within the region, whether they be drug runners, whether they be dictators, anybody who they can use to create this logistic network to support the Contras and anti-communist force. And Noriega was a key ally.
    That changes in 1986, ironically. Sy Hersh publishes a story in The New York Times that details all of his connections with drug running and his deep involvement in narcotrafficking, and so he became too much of a liability. But he wasn’t high on the agenda of removal in the last years of the Reagan administration, or even in the first years of the Bush administration. The Bush administration kind of fell into the invasion of Panama—
    AMY GOODMAN: How?
    GREG GRANDIN: —in some ways. Well, pushed domestically. There were social movements in Panama for democracy that had been repressed. And domestic politics within the United States was pressing the White House to do something, do whatever. And Dick Cheney appeared on MacNeil/Lehrer and said, “We’re not in the business of democracy promotion.” Dick Cheney being—I can’t remember What was he in Bush? He was the secretary of defense under Bush, right?
    AMY GOODMAN: Yes.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Secretary of defense, right.
    GREG GRANDIN: And he said, “We’re not in the business of democracy promotion. We’re going to let this play out.” And he got criticized. So, the Bush administration saw an opportunity to—and so it immediately escalates. And then it moves quickly from an effort to stop drug trafficking to—the democracy promotion justification moves high up on the justification within a couple of days, until Bush appears on TV and says that’s the reason why we’re invading Panama.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    DECEMBER 4, 2018 | RUSS BAKER


    ELITE SECRET SOCIETY TIED BUSH TO CIRCLES OF POWER

    Skull and Bones Forever

    President-Elect George H.W. Bush holds press conference in room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on December 7, 1988. Photo credit: © Mark Reinstein/ZUMA Wire

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    The media are now saturated with obituaries and glowing reviews of former President George H.W. Bush’s life. If you’re like us you can’t help but notice that all of the retrospectives are flowery and lack any sense of balance.
    Apart from describing his military service, these encomiums tend to focus on his later years, after he had been elected to high office. But there is a hidden backstory to Bush’s rise to power — and it has everything to do with coming from privilege, and working to maintain that privilege for his own family and those in the same circles.
    To get the full picture, here is another excerpt from WhoWhatWhy founder and Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker’s book, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years.
    In Part 2 of this series, we take a close look at Bush’s membership, while he was a college student at Yale, in America’s oldest and perhaps most elite secret society, Skull and Bones. The friends and connections he made during this time would serve him well for the rest of his life — including his early start in the oil business.

    Skull and Bones emblem. Photo credit: Unknown / Wikimedia

    Skull and Bones

    .

    In 1945, with the end of the war, George H. W. “Poppy” Bush entered Yale University. The CIA recruited heavily at all of the Ivy League schools in those days, with the New Haven campus the standout. “Yale has always been the agency’s biggest feeder,” recalled CIA officer Osborne Day (class of’43), “In my Yale class alone there were thirty-five guys in the agency.” Bush’s father, Prescott, was on the university’s board, and the school was crawling with faculty serving as recruiters for the intelligence services . . . Yale’s society’s boys were the cream of the crop, and could keep secrets to boot. And no secret society was more suited to the spy establishment than Skull and Bones, for which Poppy Bush, like his father, was tapped in his junior year. Established in 1832, Skull and Bones is the oldest secret society at Yale, and thus at least theoretically entrusted its membership with a more comprehensive body of secrets than any other campus group. Bones alumni would appear throughout the public and private history of both wartime and peacetime intelligence . . .
    When Bush entered Yale, the university was welcoming back countless veterans of the OSS to its faculty. Bush, with naval intelligence work already under his belt by the time he arrived at Yale, would have been seen as a particularly prime candidate for recruitment.
    Bonesmen Have All the Muscle

    .

    Out of Yale, Bush went directly into the employ of Dresser Industries, a peculiar, family-connected firm providing essential services to the oil industry. Dresser has never received the scrutiny it deserves. Between the lines of its official story can be discerned an alternate version that could suggest a corporate double life . . .
    The S. R. Dresser Manufacturing Company had been a small, solid, unexceptional outfit, . . . [when it found] eager buyers in Prescott Bush’s Yale friends Roland and W. Averell Harriman — the sons of railroad tycoon E. H. Harriman — who had only recently set up a merchant bank to assist wealthy families in such endeavors. At the time, Dresser’s principal assets consisted of two very valuable patents in the rapidly expanding oil industry. One was for a packer that made it much easier to remove oil from the ground; the other was for a coupler that made long-range natural gas pipelines feasible. Instead of controlling the oil, Dresser’s strategy was to control the technology that made drilling possible. W.A. Harriman and Company, which had brought Prescott Bush aboard two years earlier, purchased Dresser in 1928.
    Prescott Bush and his partners installed an old friend, H. Neil Mallon, at the helm. Mallon’s primary credential was that he was “one of them.” Like Prescott Bush, Mallon was from Ohio, and his family seems both to have known the Bushes and to have had its own set of powerful connections. He was Yale, and he was Skull and Bones, so he could be trusted . . .
    Hiring decisions by the Bonesmen at the Harriman firm were presented as jolly and distinctly informal, with club and family being prime qualifications . . . Under Mallon, the company underwent an astonishing transformation. As World War II approached, Dresser began expanding, gobbling up one militarily strategic manufacturer after another. While Dresser was still engaged in the mundane manufacture of drill bits, drilling mud, and other products useful to the oil industry, it was also moving closer to the heart of the rapidly growing military-industrial sector as a defense contractor and subcontractor. It also assembled a board that would epitomize the cozy relationships between titans of industry, finance, media, government, military, and intelligence — and the revolving door between those sectors . . .
    Poppy Gets his Hands Oily

    .

    After graduating from Yale in 1948, Poppy headed out to visit “Uncle Neil” at Dresser headquarters, which were then in Cleveland. Mallon dispatched the inexperienced Yale grad and Navy vet, with his wife Barbara and firstborn George W. in tow, to Odessa, the remote West Texas boomtown that, with neighboring Midland, was rapidly becoming the center of the oil extraction business.
    Oil was certainly a strategic business. A resource required in abundance to fuel the modern navy, army, and air force, oil had driven the engine of World War II. With the end of hostilities, America still had plenty of petroleum, but the demands of the war had exhausted many oil fields. As President Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior and later his petroleum administrator for war, Harold Ickes had warned in 1943, “If there should be a World War III it would have to be fought with someone else’s petroleum, because the United States wouldn’t have it.” . . . Ickes’s eye was then on Saudi Arabia.
    If the young George H.W. Bush understood anything about the larger game and his expected role in it, he and his wife Barbara certainly did not let on to the neighbors in those early days in dusty West Texas . . . Poppy’s initial jobs included sweeping out warehouses and painting machinery used for oil drilling, but he was soon asked to handle more challenging tasks . . .
    Dresser was well-known in the right circles as providing handy cover to CIA operatives . . . Continuing his whirlwind “training,” Dresser transferred Bush to California, where the company had begun acquiring subsidiaries in 1940. Poppy has never written or spoken publicly in any depth about the California period of his career. He has made only brief references to work on the assembly line at Dresser’s Pacific Pump Works in the Los Angeles suburb of Huntington Park and sales chores for other companies owned by Dresser. In later years, when criticized for his anti-union stands, he would pull out a union card which he claimed came from his membership in the United Steelworkers Union. Why Bush joined the Steelworkers (and attended their meetings) is something of a mystery, since that union was not operating inside Pacific Pump Works.
    To be sure, the company was not just pumping water out of the ground anymore. During World War II, Pacific Pump became, like Dresser, an important cog in the war machine. The firm supplied hydraulic-actuating assemblies for airplane landing gear, wing flaps, and bomb doors, and even provided crucial parts for the top-secret process that produced the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    While in California training for Dresser, Poppy, the pregnant Barbara, and little George W. were constantly on the go, with at least five residences in a period of nine months — Huntington Park, Bakersfield, Whittier, Ventura, and Compton. Poppy was often absent, according to Barbara, even from their brief-tenure outposts. Was he truly a Willy Loman, peddling drill bits, dragging a pregnant wife and a one-year-old child with him? Or was he doing something else? Although “ordinary” scions often toil briefly at the bottom, Bush was no ordinary scion.
    Bush would so effectively obscure his life that even some of his best friends seemed to know little about what he was actually doing — though they may have intuited it. A longtime friend of Bush’s said that Bush probably would have been happiest as a career intelligence officer. Another longtime Bush associate told a reporter anonymously that Poppy’s own accounts of various periods in his life “are often off 10 to 30 percent … there is a certain reserve, even secretiveness.”
    From Dallas, With Love

    .

    In 1950, during the time Poppy Bush squired a Yugoslav Communist around the oil fields for Dresser Industries, the cold war got hot in an unexpected quarter when North Korean Communist forces launched an invasion of the south. Their attack had not been even vaguely anticipated in the National Intelligence Estimate — from the fledgling CIA — which had arrived on the president’s desk just six days before. Heads rolled, and in the ensuing shake-up, Allen Dulles became deputy director in charge of clandestine operations, which included both spying and proactive covert operations. For the Bushes, who had a decades-long personal and business relationship to the Dulles family, this was certainly an interesting development.
    The Dulles and Bush clans had long mixed over business, politics, and friendship, and the corollary to all three — intelligence. Even as far back as World War I, while Dulles’s uncle served as secretary of state, Prescott’s father, Samuel Bush, oversaw small arms manufacturing for the War Industries Board, and young Allen played a crucial role in the fledgling intelligence services operations in Europe. Later, the families interacted regularly as the Bush clan plied their trade in investment banking and the Dulleses in the law.
    In 1950, Dresser was completing a corporate relocation to Dallas which, besides being an oil capital, was rapidly becoming a center of the defense industry and its military-industrial-energy elite. Though a virtual unknown on his arrival, Neil Mallon quickly set about bringing the conservative titans of Dallas society together in a new local chapter of the non-profit Council on World Affairs, in whose Cleveland branch he had been active. Started in 1918, the World Affairs Councils of America were a localized equivalent of the Rockefeller-backed Council on Foreign Relations, the presidency of which Allen Dulles had just resigned to take his post at the CIA.
    A September 1951 organizing meeting at Mallon’s home featured a group with suggestive connections and affiliations. It included Fred Florence, the founder of the Republic National Bank, whose Dallas office tower was a covert repository for CIA-connected ventures; T. E. Braniff, a pioneer of the airline industry and member of the Knights of Malta, an exclusive, conservative, Vatican-connected order with longtime intelligence ties; Fred Wooten, an official of the First National Bank of Dallas, which would employ Poppy Bush in the years between his tenure as CIA director and vice president; and Colonel Robert G. Storey, later named as liaison between Texas law enforcement and the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy . . .
    Soon the group moved even closer to the center of power. General Dwight Eisenhower . . . had responded to entreaties from a GOP group that included the Rockefellers and Prescott Bush, as well as Allen and John Foster Dulles….With Ike the Republican nominee, they all scrambled for seats on his train. The Dulleses were key advisers. Prescott Bush was backing Ike and mounting what would be a successful race for a Senate seat from Connecticut. Prescott’s son George H. W. Bush was not left out. He became the Midland County chairman of the Eisenhower-Nixon campaigns in both 1952 and 1956. With the West Texas city at the center of the oil boom, young George functioned as a crucial link between the Eastern Establishment, the next Republican administration, and Midland’s oil-based new wealth.
    Following Ike’s decisive victory, the Dulles brothers obtained effective control of foreign policy: John Foster became Ike’s secretary of state, and Allen the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The rest of the administration was filled with Bush allies, including national security adviser Gordon Gray, a close friend of Prescott’s, and Treasury Secretary Robert B. Anderson, a sometime member of the Dresser Industries board.
    Eisenhower, with no track record in civilian government and little enthusiasm for the daily grind, was only too happy to leave many of the operational decisions to these others . . . Some of those businessmen taking it upon themselves to help chart the course were from the Dallas group. Shortly after Ike took office, Mallon’s Council of World Affairs announced its intention to send fifteen members on a three-month world tour, for meetings with what the group characterized as “responsible” political and business leaders. Shortly after the group returned, Dulles came to visit with the Dallas council chapter . . .
    At the time, the CIA was in the process of creating plausible deniability as it began what would be a series of efforts to topple “unfriendly” regimes around the world, including those in Guatemala and Iran. Since the CIA’s charter severely constrained the domestic side of covert operations, agents created a host of entities to serve as middlemen to support rebels in countries targeted for regime change. During the early days of Dresser in Dallas — and of Zapata Petroleum — Dulles was just beginning to experiment with “off the books” operations. Eventually, by the seventies and eighties, when Poppy Bush ran the CIA and coordinated covert operations as vice president, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such entities had been created . . .
    The Bones of Zapata Petroleum

    .

    In 1953, as Dulles was building his global machine, Poppy Bush launched his own enterprise, with help from Dulles, Mallon, and Poppy’s maternal uncle Herbert Walker….
    Bush got money from Uncle Herbie (George Herbert Walker Jr., Skull and Bones, 1927), an investment banker. Uncle Herbie also was instrumental in bringing in others, including Eugene Meyer, a Yale graduate and owner of the influential Washington Post. Meyer was one of many media titans, such as Prescott’s good friend and fellow Bonesman Henry Luce, founder of Time magazine, and William Paley of CBS (on whose board Prescott sat), who shared an interest in intelligence. In a 1977 Rolling Stone article, Carl Bernstein, famed for breaking the Watergate story in the Washington Post, states that both Luce and Paley cooperated regularly with the CIA, and even mentions his own paper’s history with the agency, though he does not fully probe the Post’s intelligence connections . . .
    The news business, the policy business, and the intelligence business had a lot in common: they were all about whom you knew and what you knew. In fact, so was the oil business. The Bushes’ skill at cultivating connections was evident in 1953, when Poppy joined forces with a couple of brothers, Hugh and Bill Liedtke, to form Zapata Petroleum. Based on a “hunch” of Hugh Liedtke’s, the company drilled 127 consecutive “wet” holes, and the firm’s stock exploded from seven cents a share to twenty-three dollars a share . . .
    Mural by Jose Clemente Orozco

    Pirates of the Caribbean

    .

    . . . Mallon would play a crucial role for Dulles by introducing him to the powerful new-moneyed oil elites in Dallas that would, along with a separate group in Houston, become the leading funders of off-the-books covert operations in Latin America. They would commence with efforts to overthrow Latin American and Caribbean leaders in the 1950s. The efforts would continue, under Poppy Bush, with Iran-contra in the 1980s.
    Zapata Offshore . . . [was] launched by Poppy in 1954, just as the U.S. government, under an administration dominated by the Dulles-Bush circles, began auctioning offshore mineral rights . . .
    In 1958, Zapata Offshore’s drilling rig Scorpion was moved from the Gulf of Mexico to Cay Sal Bank, the most remote group of islands in the Bahamas and just fifty-four miles north of Isabela, Cuba. The [Cay Sal] island had been recently leased to oilman Howard Hughes, who had his own long-standing CIA ties, as well as his own “private CIA.”
    By most appearances, a number of CIA-connected entities were involved in the operation. Zapata leased the Scorpion to Standard Oil of California and to Gulf Oil. CIA director Dulles had previously served as Gulf’s counsel for Latin America. The same year that Gulf leased Bush’s platform, CIA veteran Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt joined Gulf’s board. This was the same Kermit Roosevelt who had overseen the CIA’s successful 1953 coup against the democratically elected Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, after Mossadegh began nationalizing Anglo-American oil concessions. It looked like the Bush-CIA group was preparing for operations in the Caribbean basin.
    The offshore platforms had a specific purpose. “George Bush would be given a list of names of Cuban oil workers we would want placed in jobs,” said one official connected to Operation Mongoose, the program to overthrow Castro. “The oil platforms he dealt in were perfect for training the Cubans in raids on their homeland.”
    The importance of this early Bush connection with Cuba should not be ignored in assessing his connections to contemporaneous events. For example, it sheds light on the 1963 memo from J. Edgar Hoover discovered by reporter Joseph McBride. The memo, which mentioned a briefing about Cuban activity in the wake of the JFK assassination, had been given to “George Bush of the CIA.” Years later, many figures from the Bay of Pigs operation would resurface in key positions in administrations in which Poppy Bush held high posts, and during his presidency. Others would show up in off-the-books operations run by Poppy’s friends and associates.
    George H. W. Bush did not, however, limit himself to the Caribbean. This period of his life was characterized by frenetic travel to all corners of the world, though Zapata had only a handful of rigs. The pattern would continue through his entire career. He set up operations for Zapata Offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, the Persian Gulf, Trinidad, Borneo, and Medellín, Colombia. Clients included the Kuwait Shell Petroleum Development Company, which began his close association with the Kuwaiti elite.
    Facing Fidel

    .

    That a lot of what was labeled “national security” work was largely about money — making it, protecting it — was fairly transparent. Through the story of the Bushes and their circle runs a thread of entitlement to resources in other countries, and anger and disbelief when others challenged that claim.
    Upon coming to power in 1959, Fidel Castro began to expropriate the massive properties of large foreign (chiefly American) companies. The impact fell heavily on American corporations that had massive agricultural and mineral operations on the fertile island, including Brown Brothers Harriman, whose extensive holdings included the two-hundred-thousand-acre Punta Alegre beet sugar plantation. After Castro took power, the Eisenhower administration began a boycott of Cuban sugar, which is a crucial component of the island’s economy. The Cubans in turn became increasingly dependent on the USSR as supplier of goods and protector.
    Poppy swung into gear the same year that Castro began nationalizing [American] properties. He severed his ties to the Liedtkes by buying out their stake in Zapata Offshore, and then moved its operations to Houston — which, unlike the remote Midland-Odessa area, had access to the Caribbean through the Houston Ship Channel. Meanwhile, back in Washington, after extensive planning, the Bay of Pigs project began with Eisenhower’s approval on March 17, 1960 . . .
    Beyond providing a staging area for Cuban rebels, Zapata Offshore appears to have served as a paymaster. “We had to pay off politicians in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and elsewhere,” said John Sherwood, chief of CIA anti-Castro operations in the early 1960s. “Bush’s company was used as a conduit for these funds under the guise of oil business contracts . . . The major breakthrough was when we were able, through Bush, to place people in PEMEX — the big Mexican national oil operation.”
    Zapata Filings “Inadvertently Destroyed”

    .

    The complicated PEMEX affair began in 1960, when Zapata Offshore offered a lucrative secret partnership to a competing Mexican drilling equipment company, Perforaciones Marinas del Golfe, or Permargo. George H. W. Bush did not want this relationship exposed, even decades later. When investigative reporter Jonathan Kwitny tried to document Bush’s precise involvement with Permargo for a 1988 article, he was told by an SEC spokeswoman that Zapata filings from 1960 to 1966 had been “inadvertently destroyed” several months after Bush became vice president . . .
    Evidence that Zapata Offshore was more than just Poppy Bush’s oil company surfaced in the years that followed. Bush increasingly spent his time on politics, and others were brought in to transform the company into a larger entity that could more credibly run global operations . . . Bush’s reward for all his troubles may have come in 1965, when one of the company’s rigs was ostensibly lost in Hurricane Betsy. For the first time in its history, the insurance giant Lloyds of London paid out an oil-platform disaster claim without physical evidence. Zapata received eight million dollars for a rig that had cost only three million. The fate of the rig remains a mystery. Poppy’s brother Bucky recalled the fears expressed by Zapata offshore staff that it would be impossible for an insurance claim to be paid because of the absence of any wreckage. But Poppy himself was calm, reassuring his people that “everything was going to be all right.” . . .
    The financials of Zapata, like those of latter-day Enron, were almost impossible to understand. This appears to have been by design. A bit of this can be gleaned from the words of the company’s former executive Bob Gow, another in a small army of Bush loyalists who show up repeatedly in the family story — and by extension the nation’s.
    What Was Zapata?

    .

    Bob Gow may be the only person in American history to be employed by one future president (Poppy Bush — at Zapata) and to later employ another (George W. — at Gow’s post-Zapata agricultural mini-conglomerate Stratford of Texas)….
    In 2006, I traveled to Mexico, to the western Yucatan, and met with Gow… I also obtained Gow’s self-published memoirs, the five hundred pages of which include much about Zapata, bamboo, beeswax, and catfish, but manage to say little about the Bushes and their doings. Gow did, however admit that he did some spying for the CIA…
    Gow was a member of the country’s mostly invisible elites…
    Bob Gow and Ray Walker [cousin of George H.W. Bush] would room together again at Yale, and both would be inducted into the 1955 class of Skull and Bones…
    Gow’s recruitment by the Bushes illustrates the kind of opportunities that come to those of the “right sort” and possessed of the appropriate discretion…
    Gow portrays Bush as traveling constantly when he was Zapata chief, and far from connected when on premises . . . Though Gow has little to say in his book about the company’s underlying operations or Poppy’s role in them, he proudly notes Zapata’s complex web of foreign ventures. In all probability, the foreign operations had dual functions. Since Zapata was set up with guidance from Neil Mallon, it is likely that the overseas undertakings were modeled in part on Dresser’s. According to the in-house history of Dresser, one of the company’s bolder moves was a then-innovative tax strategy that involved a separate company in the tiny European principality of Liechtenstein. “A considerable [benefit] was the fact that no American taxes had to be paid on international earnings until the money was returned to the United States.” That is, if the money was ever returned to the United States. And there was another characteristic of funds that were not repatriated: they were out of sight of federal authorities. There was no effective way to know where they went ultimately, or for what purposes.
    That was Dresser. Now, Zapata, according to Gow: “Zapata, at that time, consisted of a number of foreign corporations incorporated in each county where our rigs operated . . . It was largely the brainchild of the tax department at Arthur Andersen and the tax lawyers at Baker and Botts . . . Until the profits were brought back to the United States, it was not necessary at that time to pay U.S. taxes on them. Because of the way Zapata operated around the world, it seemed as though it never would be necessary to pay taxes . . . As time passed and Zapata worked in many other countries, Zapata’s cash . . . was in the accounts of a large number (dozens and dozens) of companies located in almost all the countries around the world where Zapata had ever drilled.”
    Whether Zapata was partially designed for laundering money for covert or clandestine operations may never be known. But one thing is certain: spy work depends, as much as anything, on a large flow of funds for keeping foreign palms greased. It is an enormously expensive business, and it requires layers and layers of ostensibly unconnected cutouts for the millions to flow properly and without detection.
    So what, exactly, was Zapata? Was it CIA? Gow won’t say. Although in his memoirs he freely admits that he served the CIA later on, he strives mightily to avoid extensive discussion of the Bush clan . . .
    Then I asked Gow about allegations that Zapata Offshore had played a role in the Bay of Pigs invasion: “Any comments on those?”
    Gow hesitated a moment, smiled just a bit, and then replied, “No.”
    Next: Part 3. Where was Poppy on November 22, 1963?
    For Part 1, please go here; Part 2, here; Part 3, here; Part 4, here; Part 5, here; Part 6, here;Part 7, here; Part 8, here; Part 9, here; Part 10, here.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  6. #6

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    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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