Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #713 Interview (#3) with Russ Baker, Author of “Family of Secrets”

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Introduction: Journalist Russ Baker has authored Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last 50 Years–a potentially decisive, multi-generational political history and analysis of the Bush family. Sadly–as Russ discusses in the interview–he has not been able to get on more mainstream talk shows to promote his landmark text; they are fodder for the puff piece memoirs of Laura and George W. Bush, Karl Rove and their ilk. For The Record gives the book its due.

In this third of six interviews, Baker highlights the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination, in which Poppy Bush appears to have been involved, as well as detailing the political acceleration of his career in the mid-1960’s.

JFK angered the petroleum industry and associated Texans by attempting to remove the oil depletion allowance, a major tax windfall for the oil companies. With Kennedy out of the way, it was business as usual for the elders of oil. Poppy Bush was elected to the House of Representatives, where, thanks to the influence of his father Prescott (Senior), he obtained a key position on the House Ways and Means Committee–highly unusual for a freshman congressman. In that capacity, he was ideally positioned to safeguard the oil depletion allowance and to run interference for the interests of the petroleum industry.

With JFK dead and people like Poppy Bush in place, the interests of the “Texas Raj” were preserved, and the threat Kennedy posed to petroleum and defense interests were eliminated.

While in Congress, Poppy Bush remained close to then President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Although a Democrat, LBJ was conservative and politically beholden unto many of the same petroleum and defense industry related interests that backed Bush, and on whose behalf Poppy acted. Such was the closeness between the two that, during the inaugural events surrounding Richard Nixon’s election, Poppy took time off from the festivities to bid LBJ farewell from Washington.

Poppy’s relationship with the then-incoming President was even closer (a subject that will be covered at greater length in FTR #714.) Baker relates how Prescott Bush appears to have launched Nixon’s political career with a visit to Los Angeles. Prescott appears to have traveled to LA in order to recruit a GOP candidate to defeat Representative Jerry Voorhees, who was pushing to regulate Wall Street. (At the time, Brown Brothers, Harriman–Prescott’s employer–was heavily involved with the purchase of defense industries in the L.A. area. Dresser Industries, also close to the Harriman/Bush axis, was active in the petroleum business in Southern California. These relationships were the foundation of Prescott’s political connections to the powerful, reactionary Chandler family [publishers of The Los Angeles Times]. The Chandlers, in turn, were decisive supporters of Nixon’s campaign to defeat Voorhees.)

This debt of Nixon’s to the Bush family may well explain why, despite his antipathy toward the Eastern Establishment, Nixon appointed Poppy to positions that burnished his professional resume for future consideration. Nixon named Poppy Ambassador to the United Nations and, later, chairman of the Republican National Committee. Bush would later play a fundamental role in the removal of Richard Nixon from power, after he began to turn away from the interests who had promoted him to the White House in the first place.

(Like Poppy, Nixon was in Dallas, Texas on 11/22/1963 and had difficulty recalling just what he was doing, despite the fact that he called a press conference in his hotel room the day before Kennedy was killed.)

In December of 1967, Poppy made a trip to Vietnam, accompanied by his old partner from Zapata Petroleum, Thomas J. Devine (widely believed to have been a career CIA officer.) Baker speculates that Bush’s trip may well have been connected to the Phoenix Program, an assassination program that the Agency carried out in what was then South Vietnam that resulted in the liquidation of tens of thousands.

Recorded on Memorial Day of 2010, the program focuses on George W. Bush’s military service in the 1960’s. While George H.W. Bush was going to Vietnam, his son George W. was pointedly avoiding going there. With the war developing into what Baker describes as “a charnel house,” the sons of the GOP and Texas elite (many of whom supported the war politically) were looking for ways to avoid combat.

Apparently utilizing the family’s powerful connections, George W. Bush got into a Texas Air National Guard fighter squadron. Its ranks including sons of privilege (including members of the Dallas Cowboys NFL franchise), the unit was known as “the Champagne Unit.” It appears that the younger George Bush didn’t even fulfill his National Guard responsibility.

Analyzing records and interviewing people associated with Bush in this period, Baker presents a compelling case that the future Commander-in-Chief went AWOL from the Guard, generating a reputation as immature and something of a party animal. Just as his entry into the guard appears to have been effected courtesy of his father’s connections, so, too, the eclipsing of the records of Dubya’s dereliction of duty appears to have stemmed from Poppy’s “pull.” Ostensibly in Alabama to work on a political campaign, Dubya actually appears to have been sequestered there by his father, in order to elude the consequences of scandal or wrongdoing.

Dubya appears to have successfully avoided the consequences of his actions in this period (in part) because his father had assigned him a “handler” –James R. Bath, who was setting up apparent intelligence proprietaries while serving as the business representative of the powerful Saudi Bin Laden and Bin Mahfouz families. (Bath will be discussed at greater length in future interviews.)

Program Highlights Include: Jack Ruby’s remarks to the press that his motives for slaying Oswald would never become public, due to the influence of “people in high places”; the influence of Brown and Root on LBJ’s political career; the company’s eventual incorporation into Halliburton, headed for years by Dick Cheney; Brown and Root’s lucrative federal contracts for construction projects in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War; reiew of Poppy’s appointment of LBJ crony Judge Manuel Bravo to head up Zapata’s [landlocked] Medellin, Columbia branch; the CIA’s use of anti-Castro Cubans in the Phoenix program; Nixon’s unsuccessful attempt to get the CIA to give the White House its file on the JFK assassination; the poor training and equipment given to National Guard Personnel who had to serve in Iraq.

Discussion

5 comments for “FTR #713 Interview (#3) with Russ Baker, Author of “Family of Secrets””

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    Posted by Spitfire List | FTR #713 Interview (#3) with Russ Baker, Author of … -Political Fund USA | July 6, 2010, 3:59 am
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    Posted by Spitfire List | FTR #713 Interview (#3) with Russ Baker, Author of … « Politics And Funds | July 6, 2010, 4:02 am
  3. Between Richard Nixon, George Bush, and Barry Seal it’s hard to tell who has had a greater influence on the decline of ethical values in this country.

    Posted by Bruce Allen | July 10, 2010, 2:41 pm
  4. These interviews with Russ Baker are very informative, even if they are a little repetitive.

    I bought the Kindle version of this book, which does not have a table of contents or an index … which makes it very hard to get the big picture of what the book is trying to say.

    I hope this lack can be brought to Mr. Baker’s attention and fixed, and that Mr. Baker can do more interviews and be more forthcoming without fear of spoiling or giving away what is in his book.

    I am sure he wants to sell books, and I’m sure he will and is selling books, but there is something to making this information very accessible in radio and media interviews, and able to back it up with research and in the mainstream media … ie. KGO where I first heard of him and this book.

    Also, the last time someone tried to take on the Bush’s that I can think of was Dan Rather, who, if he has a story about what happened to him in that smack-down sting, has never told the story of it.

    Posted by Brux | July 10, 2010, 3:54 pm
  5. and so ‘the magic bullet’ man himself, arlen specter has died. what ugly secrets he must have taken with him to the grave. does that leave only ‘poppy’ bush as the last man standing of that group connected to those most tragic events of 11-22-63 ?

    Posted by dsekou | October 15, 2012, 10:06 pm

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