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For The Record  

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

MP3 Side 1 | Side 2

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.


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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