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For The Record  

FTR #716 Interview (#6) 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. This sixth and concluding interview in the series highlights the political ascendancy and reign of Dubya.

Essential to Bush’s political career was his stint as an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, a position that gave him name recognition and popularity. In FTR #715, we examined Harken Energy, one of Bush’s many mysterious business ventures and a company that appears to have been largely a money-laundering front. Bush’s Harken stock was parlayed into his part-ownership of the Rangers.

Following his ascension, Dubya presided over the events of 9/11. (Given the voluminous discussion of 9/11 in the For The Record archives, that subject is not discussed at great length here.) Suffice it to say that Bush repaid the powerful Saudi investors, who had underwritten his business activities (including members of the Bin Laden family) by flying them out of the country before the FBI could interview them. Contrary to press reports at the time, some Bin Laden family members were involved with terrorist activities, including Al Qaeda.)

Characteristically, the phenomenon of “networking” is central to the Bush/Rangers story. An investor in Spectrum 7 (which became Harken), Mr. DeWitt was instrumental in helping Dubya acquire part of the Rangers. (DeWitt was also part owner of the Cincinnatti Reds baseball team. The DeWitts were also seen as having done much to carry the state of Ohio for Bush in 2004.)

In addition to Bush’s sporting career, the program touches on a couple of other Bush ventures–Lucky Chance Mining and Silver Screen Management. A “penny stock” company that experienced irregularities, Lucky Chance was abandoned by Bush when he discerned that the firm’s difficulties might draw damaging press scrutiny.

Once again manifesting the “networking” that is the core and essence of the Bush family’s political operations, Silver Screen Management drew heavily on the largess of the powerful Bass brothers of Texas and Bush family associate Ken Betts. Bush’s position with Silver Screen Management in turn, put Bush in the sphere of influence of the Disney operations. After becoming President, Bush’s Disney connections served him well when Disney attenuated the distribution of Michael Moore’s film “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Turning to the subject of Dubya’s religious orientation, Baker notes that Bush’s political gravitas gained significantly from his becoming “Born Again”–a cynical political ploy that helped Dubya in several ways. Baker observes that Bush’s Christian rebirth not only placed him in resonance with the powerful Evangelical base of the GOP, but his discovery of Jesus also helped to cover the hints of scandal and wrongdoing in his past. In addition, Baker feels that the Bush conversion also gave the future President a degree of political resonance with “Good Ole Boys,” who would be able to identify with Bush’s pre-conversion fondness for alcohol.

Before discussing the George W. Bush presidency, Baker sets forth information about his time as Governor of Texas. While sounding certain superficial populist themes, Bush catered to his wealthy, right-wing base by concentrating on issues like tort reform, and the gutting of environmental and consumer protection regulations. In many ways, Bush’s governorship anticipated his terms as President, projecting a populist, Good Ole Boy image while enacting an elite, corporatist political agenda.

While Governor, Bush conversed regularly with a Bush-friendly journalist named Mickey Herskowitz, who had been recruited to do a puff-piece biography of Dubya as part of his run-up to the Presidency. In his discussion with Herskowitz, Bush revealed that he felt it essential for a President to prosecute a victorious war in order to be popular. In that context, he disclosed that he intended to invade Iraq and topple Sadaam Hussein, if given the opportunity.

In the same interview in which he voiced his intentions vis a vis Iraq, Bush told Herskowitz that he “had been excused” from his National Guard Duty–a blatant lie given all the more significance by the fact that Dubya, as Commander in Chief, sent many troops (including poorly trained and equipped Guard units) into harm’s way.

Ascending to the White House with assistance from the same powerful forces that had advanced Bush family fortunes over the decades, Dubya benefitted from gentle handling from a media establishment more obsessed with Al Gore’s lack of grace than with the issues. The GOP-appointee-dominated Supreme Court provided Bush with a satisfactory outcome to the struggle over th Florida vote. Aided in the street and media agitation by the same Bay of Pigs-connected intelligence elements that figure so prominently in Family of Secrets, the Bush campaign drew on the legal and financial abilities of Poppy Bush’s formidable connections during the struggle over the Florida vote.

After his ascent, Bush repaid the powerful Saudi investors who had underwritten some of his past business ventures, including members of the Bin Laden family, by flying them out of the country before the FBI could interview them. (Contrary to press reports at the time, some members of the Bin Laden family had been involved with terrorist activities, including Al Qaeda.)

Of course, the Bush/Saudi connection evolved from the family of secrets’ involvement with the petroleum business. The Bush/oil connections loom large in the background of the environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the involvement of Halliburton in the Deepwater Horizon platform that resulted in the disaster, BP is very close to the milieu of the Gammells, a consummately powerful Scottish banking family. The Gammells, in turn, are very close to the Bush family and wielded profound influence in the administration of Tony Blair in the United Kingdom.

Halliburton, of course, was formerly headed by Dick Cheney, the Imperial Vice-President and an individual who used his profound government connections to direct lucrative business contracts to Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root.

It was another debacle in the Gulf of Mexico–Hurricane Katrina–that proved to be the undoing of the Bush regime. Viewing FEMA as a vestigial organ of government to be milked for the purposes of cronyism and personal profit, Bush assigned the agency to Joe Albaugh, a long-time Texas crony who had served as his “enforcer” when he was Governor. Albaugh, in turn, appointed Michael Brown–“Heckuva Job, Brownie”–to a position within the agency. Brown–like Albaugh totally unqualified to effectively oversee such an agency–presided over Katrina and the ruin of New Orleans.

Much of the program features analysis of the cynical, Machiavellian destruction of the reputations of Senator John Kerry and journalist Dan Rather during the 2004 election campaign. Utilizing distorted information, both of these campaigns embodied Karl Rove’s primary campaign method of using “psy-ops” to defeat an enemy on the electoral battlefield.

Program Highlights Include: the staffing of Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board with professional cronies; Texas High-Roller Ray Hunt’s participation on the FIAB; Hunt Oil’s securing of a lucrative oil contract in Iraq following the war; BP’s securing of a lucrative contract in Iraq after the war; the large number of Texas Rangers ballplayers accused of using steroids while Bush was an owner of the team; Joe AlBaugh’s Great American Resources and its business conducted solely in cash; suspicions that Albaugh may have worked for CIA; the history and lineage of the association between the Bush and Gammell families; apparent intelligence connections of the Gammell family.

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #716 Interview (#6) with Russ Baker, Author of “Family of Secrets””

  1. What’s in 43’s heart? Care for poor people, that’s what:

    The Seattle Weekly
    Elder Bush’s Book Reveals the Anger He Felt For His Son’s Critics
    By Ellis E. Conklin Wed., Mar. 6 2013 at 7:00 AM

    We’ve often wondered what it would be like to be the father of man who fell so hard and fast from grace. Funny, how both of them — George H.W. Bush and Dubya — squandered such grand opportunities, the former after America’s triumph in the first Gulf War, and the latter, for how he could have brought the nation and world together following the September 11 attacks, but instead chose an ill-fated invasion of Baghdad.

    Now, Old George is out with a new book, released yesterday, that offers a number of poignant and painful ruminations about the low points of his son’s presidency.

    Here’s a looks at some of the more memorable ones from
    All the Best, George Bush; My Life in Letters and Other Writings:

    Recounting his feelings about the savage criticism directed at young Bush for the manner in which he handled Hurricane Katrina in 2005, No. 41 wrote:

    “My heart went out to him. Here is a guy who cares deeply. Who wants every possible resource of the federal government brought in to bear to help people, yet he is being roundly accused of not giving a damn … the critics do not know what is in 43’s heart, how deeply he feels about the hurt, the anguish, the losses affecting so many people, most of them poor.”

    The elder Bush remains bitter over the level of fury No. 43 withstood for slow execution of recovery efforts in Louisiana, which came to a head in Sept. 2005, when Kanye West blasted Bush during a nationally broadcast relief telethon, claiming he “didn’t care about black people.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 6, 2013, 8:18 am

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