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For The Record  

FTR #715 Interview (#5) 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 fifth of six inter­views with Mr. Bak­er focus­es large­ly on events occur­ring in the after­math of the Water­gate scan­dal, set­ting the stage and the drama­tis per­son­ae for much of what hap­pened in suc­ceed­ing decades.

Even before Nixon’s res­ig­na­tion, Pop­py Bush ele­vat­ed a young GOP oper­a­tive named Karl Rove to a posi­tion of influ­ence that “Bush’s Brain” par­layed into Machi­avel­lian largess dur­ing the admin­is­tra­tions of the younger George Bush. Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, Rove came to Pop­py’s atten­tion because of appar­ent dirty tricks that he had engaged in–those dirty tricks are why the elder Bush found him intrigu­ing and poten­tial­ly use­ful. Rove was not the only GOP heavy hit­ter mint­ed in the 1970’s.

After suc­ceed­ing Richard Nixon as Pres­i­dent, for­mer War­ren Com­mis­sion mem­ber Ger­ald Ford exe­cut­ed what became known as the “Hal­loween Mas­sacre,” so-named because it took place on Novem­ber 1, 1975. Ford appoint­ed Pop­py Bush to be head of the CIA–this at a time when sev­er­al inves­ti­ga­tions into intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty abus­es were under­way simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. The most impor­tant inves­ti­ga­tion under­way in this time peri­od was the House Select Com­mit­tee on Assas­si­na­tions, inves­ti­gat­ing the assas­si­na­tions of Pres­i­dent Kennedy and Mar­tin Luther King. As dis­cussed in the first three of the inter­views, evi­dence sug­gests very strong­ly that Pop­py Bush was deeply involved with the JFK killing. It was thus essen­tial to have an inside play­er in charge at CIA with those inves­ti­ga­tions under­way.

On that same day, Ford appoint­ed sev­er­al oth­er key play­ers to posi­tions of pow­er. Replac­ing Hen­ry Kissinger with Brent Scow­croft, Ford found a hard-lin­er to replace Kissinger, who favored detente with the Sovi­et Union. Scow­croft went on to fill the same role in the admin­is­tra­tion of the elder George Bush when he became Pres­i­dent.

In addi­tion, the Hal­loween Mas­sacre also brought to pow­er two indi­vid­u­als who were to play major roles in suc­ceed­ing years–Dick Cheney and Don­ald Rums­feld. Cheney became Ford’s White House Chief of Staff, replac­ing Rums­feld, who became Sec­re­tary of Defense. In lat­er years, of course, Cheney was to become Sec­re­tary of Defense under Pop­py Bush, and then the “Impe­r­i­al Vice-Pres­i­dent” under Dubya. Rums­feld would go on to posi­tions with the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion and, ulti­mate­ly, Sec­re­tary of Defense under George W. Bush.

Most sig­nif­i­cant­ly, Pop­py’s brief tenure as head of the CIA saw the anoint­ing of “Team B.” Reject­ing pre­vi­ous, mod­er­ate Agency esti­mates of the Sovi­et Union (upon which the pol­i­cy of detente was pred­i­cat­ed), Bush hear­kened to the war cries of the far right and brought in a team of out­side ana­lysts who pre­sent­ed an alarm­ing, great­ly exag­ger­at­ed view of the USSR. It was this new, alarmist analy­sis of the Sovi­et Union that served as the ide­o­log­i­cal pre­text for the enor­mous mil­i­tary buildup of the Rea­gan years. (That buildup, in com­bi­na­tion with the Rea­gan tax cuts, more than tripled the nation­al debt in eight years.) Pop­py’s “Team B” also ele­vat­ed yet anoth­er major play­er in sub­se­quent years–Paul Wol­fowitz.

One of the best known “neo-Cons,” Wol­fowitz flour­ished first under Pop­py’s Team B, then the Rea­gan years and, final­ly, became Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary under George W. Bush.

The younger George Bush’s pro­fes­sion­al inter­ests were gain­ing steam dur­ing this same peri­od, fea­tur­ing employ­ment stints with com­pa­nies con­nect­ed to the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, CIA in par­tic­u­lar. An employ­ee of Pop­py’s Zap­a­ta Off­shore Petroleum–an appar­ent intel­li­gence front–Robert Gow went on to found Strat­ford of Texas, his own com­pa­ny. It, too, did intel­li­gence work for CIA and it was an ear­ly employ­er of Dubya.

Anoth­er of George W. Bush’s ear­ly employ­ers was Alas­ka Inter­na­tion­al Indus­tries’ air sub­sidiary. Com­pa­ny head Neil Bergt has been quite open about the fir­m’s dou­bling as a intel­li­gence front, pri­mar­i­ly CIA. Bergt has also been quite open about his com­pa­ny’s efforts on behalf of the Con­tra sup­port effort.

Bak­er devotes a sec­tion of his book to Pop­py Bush’s activ­i­ties while head­ing CIA, which he titled “Pop­py’s Web.” Among the crea­tures thriv­ing in that web were James R. Bath. An expert pilot, Bath appears to have been req­ui­si­tioned by the elder Bush to keep an eye on W while he was in the Texas Air Nation­al Guard. Bath’s pres­ence afford­ed Dubya cred­i­bil­i­ty sup­port against the com­pelling charges that the future com­man­der in chief went AWOL from his guard duties.

Lat­er, Bath–apparently still work­ing for Pop­py and CIA–became involved with Sau­di Ara­bi­an lumi­nar­ies, includ­ing Salem bin Laden (Osama’s broth­er) and Khalid bin Mah­fouz, key king­dom banker and an ear­ly sup­port­er of Osama bin Laden. Enter­ing into the air­craft busi­ness as head of a com­pa­ny called Sky­way, Bath appears to have been cap­i­tal­ized by his Sau­di asso­ciates. Sky­way, in turn, appears to have been yet anoth­er intel­li­gence front, doing work for the play­ers in the Iran/Contra scan­dal.

As dis­cussed in numer­ous pro­grams, Bath was also an ear­ly investor in George W. Bush’s Arbus­to Ener­gy. Since Bath appar­ent­ly had lit­tle mon­ey of his own at the time, this indi­cates that the Bin Laden fam­i­ly were among the ear­ly investors–albeit by proxy–in Dubya’s busi­ness career.

Among George W. Bush’s busi­ness ven­tures, Harken Ener­gy stands out as among the most mys­te­ri­ous and cor­rupt. Grow­ing out of Spec­trum 7 Ener­gy, Harken owes much of its suc­cess to an attor­ney named Allen Quasha. Son of William Quasha, a [Phillip­pine dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand] Mar­cos attor­ney who worked for the Manil­la branch of the Nugan Hand Bank, Alan Quasha was deeply involved with gold traf­fick­ing. (The Nugan Hand Bank–a U.S. intel­li­gence-con­nect­ed drug bank– is dis­cussed at length in AFA #25. Bak­er spec­u­lates that Harken Ener­gy may well have been used to laun­der some of the Gold­en Lily loot recov­ered in the Phillip­pines.)

The avail­able evi­dence sug­gests that Harken was essen­tial­ly a mon­ey-laun­der­ing front. Even­tu­al­ly, the firm got the rights to drill for oil off Bahrain. The process by which Harken got the contract–which inflat­ed its stock–is curi­ous. Harken was select­ed because of its lack of expe­ri­ence with this type of operation–something that was viewed as an advan­tage!

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Pop­py Bush’s work for Texas bank First Inter­na­tion­al Banc­shares after offi­cial­ly “leav­ing” the CIA; W’s work for the same insti­tu­tion in 1967; over­lap between First Inter­na­tion­al and Repub­lic Nation­al Bank, anoth­er finan­cial insti­tu­tion that financed the Texas pow­er elite; First Inter­na­tion­al’s close con­nec­tions to mem­bers of the Sau­di elite; indi­ca­tions that First Inter­na­tion­al was involved in mon­ey laun­der­ing for the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty; the fail­ure and pub­lic bailout of First Inter­na­tion­al after in merged with Repub­lic; Pop­py’s eulo­gy for Ger­ald Ford, in which he lauds him for help­ing to iden­ti­fy Oswald as the lone assas­sin of Pres­i­dent Kennedy; Pop­py’s rebuff of a plea for help by his for­mer asso­ciate and Oswald “han­dler” George De Mohren­schildt, short­ly before his time­ly “sui­cide;” Harken’s appar­ent role as a mon­ey-laun­der­ing vehi­cle for ele­ments of the South African apartheid elite; the sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal invest­ment of Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty in Harken; the intel­li­gence and pow­er elite con­nec­tions of Robert Stone, who over­saw Har­vard’s invest­ments dur­ing this peri­od; the links between the Bush fam­i­ly milieu and that of Gen­er­al Dou­glas MacArthur; George Soros’s invest­ments in Harken Ener­gy.


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