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

For The Record  

FTR #730 Interview with Russ Baker (Author of “Family of Secrets”)

MP3 Side 1 | Side 2

NB: Lis­ten­ers should be sure to ref­er­ence FTRs 711 through 716 (inclu­sive), ana­lyz­ing Fam­i­ly of Secrets in depth.

Intro­duc­tion: Sup­ple­ment­ing ear­li­er inter­views with Russ Bak­er, the author of the con­sum­mate­ly impor­tant Fam­i­ly of Secrets, this pro­gram ana­lyzes, among oth­er things, the phe­nom­e­non of the book itself.

Gar­ner­ing strong endorse­ments from pro­gres­sive lumi­nar­ies such as Bill Moy­ers, Gore Vidal and Dan Rather, the book could be con­sid­ered fun­da­men­tal­ly trans­gres­sive. Not only does Fam­i­ly of Secrets treat the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy in the fac­tu­al his­tor­i­cal con­text in which it actu­al­ly occurred, Bak­er’s inves­ti­ga­tion impli­cates George H.W. Bush in the event, pos­si­bly as a prin­ci­pal.

It is high­ly unusu­al for a book that vio­lates taboos to gain the rel­a­tive accep­tance that this book has received.

Bak­er’s analy­sis of the Bush/JFK assas­si­na­tion link is, in turn, deriv­a­tive of one of the book’s strongest features–analysis of the Bush fam­i­ly’s inex­tri­ca­ble con­nec­tion to the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. That link in an expres­sion of the intel­li­gence agen­cies’ role as vehi­cles for fur­ther­ing the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic goals of the cor­po­rate elite.

Through­out the course of their polit­i­cal his­to­ry, the Bush fam­i­ly has advanced its inter­ests through the appli­ca­tion of the method­ol­o­gy of covert action to both busi­ness and elec­toral pol­i­tics.

When look­ing at a Bush busi­ness operation–Zapata Off­shore Petro­le­um and Harken Ener­gy are two examples–it is appar­ent that the enti­ties are actu­al­ly fronts for the illic­it mov­ing of mon­ey. Many of them, such as Zap­a­ta, were prob­a­bly intel­li­gence fronts in and of them­selves.

Begin­ning with the role of Prescott Bush and his asso­ciate (and pro­fes­sion­al bene­fac­tor of “Pop­py” Bush) Robert Lovett in cre­at­ing the CIA, the clan­des­tine pedi­gree of Amer­i­can transna­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions and their allied inter­ests is evi­dent through­out the Bush nar­ra­tive.

Lovett abet­ted Pop­py’s rise through the ranks of Dress­er Indus­tries and lat­er assist­ed in the launch­ing of Zap­a­ta. Robert Gow, a Zap­a­ta employ­ee, helped groom Dubya, even as his father was cement­ing his deci­sive role in GOP and U.S. pol­i­tics.

The impact of Bak­er’s book and a sig­nif­i­cant cog­ni­tive divide on the sub­ject of “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry” turns on the inabil­i­ty of many polit­i­cal ana­lysts to make the con­nec­tion between the doc­u­ment­ed fact that Amer­i­can cor­po­rate inter­ests rou­tine­ly engage in clan­des­tine oper­a­tions to influ­ence their for­tunes in for­eign coun­tries, and the fact that there is more wealth at stake in this coun­try.

It stands to rea­son, there­fore, that the use of covert action and dead­ly force used abroad would be applied at home.

It has been, and is being, used and the rise of the Bush fam­i­ly attests to that fact.

Polit­i­cal and insti­tu­tion­al iner­tia, par­tic­u­lar­ly with regard to our media estab­lish­ment, have min­i­mized the main­stream medi­a’s cov­er­age of Fam­i­ly of Secrets, while Dubya’s Deci­sion Points–a tis­sue of self-serv­ing dis­tor­tions and out­right invention–receives char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly soft cov­er­age.

Indeed, this “fact-free” polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment (as for­mer Pres­i­dent Clin­ton char­ac­ter­ized the present polit­i­cal sci­en­tif­ic land­scape) has had much to do with the ascent of Dubya, as well as Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Review of the decades-long pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ship between the Bush fam­i­ly and the Gammells–a pow­er­ful Scot­tish bank­ing and fos­sil fuels clan; review of the Gam­mells’ rela­tion­ship to Tony Blair; review of the Gam­mells’ rela­tion­ship to BP; review of the evo­lu­tion of KBR from polit­i­cal financiers of LBJ, through its pur­chase of Dress­er Indus­tries and its sub­se­quent acqui­si­tion by the Dick Cheney-con­trolled Hal­libur­ton (like BP, impli­cat­ed in the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon deba­cle in the Gulf of Mex­i­co); review of jour­nal­ist Mick­ey Her­shkow­itz’s dis­clo­sure that Dubya was think­ing of invad­ing Iraq in the late 1990’s; review of the close rela­tion­ship between Pop­py Bush and LBJ; review of the close rela­tion­ship between Nixon and the Bush­es.


6 comments for “FTR #730 Interview with Russ Baker (Author of “Family of Secrets”)”

  1. If Hol­ly­wood actors can get Oscars after Oscars for the stu­pid movies in which they play, how many prices would you deserve, you, Dave Emory, and oth­ers like the afore­men­tioned Russ Bak­er, and John Lof­tus, Daniel Hop­sick­er, Lucy Komis­ar, Mae Brus­sel? Decid­ed­ly, there are things one can­not com­pre­hend in this world.

    Fam­i­ly of Secrets is a must-read. Russ Bak­er does what the vast major­i­ty of his col­legues don­t’t: he actu­al­ly DO the job of a jour­nal­ist. He research­es, puts into ques­tion the offi­cial facts, dou­ble-checks every­thing, does­n’t take any­body’s word at face val­ue, and takes the TIME to do it cor­rect­ly. In oth­er terms, he is not lazy and he is not a cow­ard. He is a real Amer­i­can. I hope every­one in this world will take these exem­ples of brav­ery before it is too late.

    Read the book folks and don’t com­plain it is too long or too com­plex.

    Posted by Claude | December 29, 2010, 10:20 am
  2. A quick adden­dum Dave,

    I have pro­duced a book review of Fam­i­ly of Secrets on my blog. You can fin it at this longer URL:


    Would you rock and slam the audi­ence for us at Dem Pass­ports tonight? We all need to wake up a lit­tle more, day by day.

    Have a great day.

    Posted by Claude | February 19, 2011, 8:05 am
  3. Side com­ment on sto­ry below: Russ needs to start lis­ten­ing to For The Record.

    Is the Sau­di Roy­al Fam­i­ly Con­nect­ed to 9/11 Hijack­ers?
    By Russ Bak­er, WhoWhatWhy.com

    Post­ed on Sep­tem­ber 22, 2011


    WhoWhat­Why has found evi­dence link­ing the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly to Saud­is in South Flori­da who report­ed­ly had direct con­tact with the 9/11 hijack­ers before flee­ing the Unit­ed States just pri­or to the attacks. Our report con­nects some of the dots first laid out by inves­tiga­tive author Antho­ny Sum­mers and Flori­da-based jour­nal­ist Dan Chris­tensen in arti­cles joint­ly pub­lished in the Mia­mi Her­ald and on the non­prof­it news site BrowardBulldog.org.

    In ear­ly Sep­tem­ber of this year, Sum­mers and Chris­tensen report­ed that a secret FBI probe, nev­er shared with Con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tors or the pres­i­den­tial 9/11 com­mis­sion, had uncov­ered infor­ma­tion indi­cat­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of sup­port for the hijack­ers from pre­vi­ous­ly unknown con­fed­er­ates in the Unit­ed States dur­ing 2001.

    Now WhoWhat­Why reveals that those alleged con­fed­er­ates were close­ly tied to influ­en­tial mem­bers of the Sau­di rul­ing elite.

    As report­ed in the Her­ald, phone records doc­u­ment­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tion, dat­ing back more than a year, that con­nect­ed a Sau­di fam­i­ly then liv­ing in a house near Sara­so­ta, Flori­da, with the alleged plot leader, Mohammed Atta, and his hijack pilots—as well as to eleven of the oth­er hijack­ers. In addi­tion, records from the guard house at the gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty tied Atta’s vehi­cle and his accom­plice Ziad Jar­rah to actu­al vis­its to the house. Although requir­ing fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion, this infor­ma­tion sug­gests that the house may have func­tioned as an oper­a­tional base for the hijack­ers.

    Accord­ing to inter­views and records exam­ined by The Her­ald, Anoud and Abdu­lazzi al-Hiijjii and their young twins abrupt­ly depart­ed their home in Sara­so­ta only days before Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 and trav­eled to Arling­ton, Vir­ginia, where they stayed briefly at anoth­er house owned by Anoud’s father, Esam Ghaz­za­wi.

    Then, still well before 9/11, the entire group, now includ­ing the father, flew to Lon­don and on to Riyadh, Sau­di Ara­bia. The Sara­so­ta house was sold in 2003, as was apent­house apart­ment in anoth­er DC, sub­urb, Ross­lyn, Vir­ginia. The Ghaz­za­w­is do not seem to have set foot again in the Unit­ed States.

    New Rev­e­la­tions

    Build­ing on these rev­e­la­tions, WhoWhat­Why has found doc­u­ments lay­ing out the Ghaz­za­w­is’ roy­al con­nec­tions through a nest of Sau­di cor­po­ra­tions that share the name EIRAD. Esam Ghaz­za­wi is direc­tor of EIRAD Man­age­ment Com­pa­ny, the UK divi­sion of EIRAD Trad­ing and Con­tract­ing Co. Ltd., which among oth­er things holds the Sau­di fran­chise for many multi­na­tion­al brands, includ­ing UPS. Esam’s broth­er Mam­douh, whose name shows up on pub­lic records asso­ci­at­ed with fam­i­ly prop­er­ties in the U.S., is the Exec­u­tive Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of the par­ent firm, EIRAD Hold­ing Co. Ltd. EIRAD has con­nec­tions to the US gov­ern­ment via con­tracts. In 2008, records show, the State Depart­ment paid EIRAD $11,733 for rental of facil­i­ties, pre­sum­ably in Sau­di Ara­bia.

    There is no indi­ca­tion that the com­pa­ny itself, or any of its offi­cers or employ­ees, have any con­nec­tion to the 9/11 inci­dent, or knowl­edge of any­thing regard­ing Mr. Ghazzawi’s activ­i­ties in the Unit­ed States. Calls for com­ment to the company’s main switch­board went unan­swered dur­ing nor­mal busi­ness hours; its web­site was not func­tion­ing prop­er­ly and Sau­di trade offi­cials in the Unit­ed States had not fur­nished alter­na­tive con­tact infor­ma­tion at pub­li­ca­tion time.

    But the now-revealed link between the Ghaz­za­w­is and the high­est ranks of the Sau­di estab­lish­ment reopens ques­tions about the White House’s con­tro­ver­sial approval for mul­ti­ple char­ter flights allow­ing Sau­di nation­als to depart the U.S., begin­ning about 48 hours after the attacks, with­out the pas­sen­gers being inter­viewed by law enforcement—despite the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the major­i­ty of the hijack­ers as Saud­is.

    In addi­tion, the new rev­e­la­tions draw fur­ther atten­tion to a web of rela­tion­ships that include the long and close busi­ness, per­son­al and polit­i­cal ties between the Bush fam­i­ly and the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly.

    Sau­di mon­ey is woven through­out busi­ness ven­tures con­nect­ed to the Bush­es. Sau­di funds even helped bail out George W. Bush’s fail­ing oil com­pa­ny ear­ly in his life. Jim Bath, a close friend of Bush in the Texas Air Nation­al Guard, went on to start a busi­ness in con­junc­tion with two sons of pow­er­ful Sau­di families—Khalid bin Mah­fouz, whose the fam­i­ly pro­vides bank­ing ser­vices to the Sau­di roy­als, and Salem bin Laden, heir to the bin Laden family’s glob­al con­struc­tion empire and a half broth­er to Osama bin Laden. (For a detailed probe of the Bush family’s deal­ings with the Saud­is, includ­ing sub­stan­tial pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed mate­r­i­al, see my book, Fam­i­ly of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invis­i­ble Gov­ern­ment and the Hid­den His­to­ry of the Last Fifty Years.)

    Details of The Herald’s Rev­e­la­tions

    The Ghaz­za­wi pres­ence in the Sun­shine State pre­dat­ed 9/11 by at least six years. In 1995 a young Sau­di woman named Anoud Ghaz­za­wi liv­ing in South Flori­da mar­ried a fel­low Sau­di native, Abdu­lazzi al-Hiijjii (Eng­lish spellings of his first name and sur­name vary, as is typ­i­cal of Ara­bic names.) Anoud’s father, Esam, and his Amer­i­can-born wife Deb­o­rah bought the cou­ple a styl­ish, three-bed­room house in a gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty in Sara­so­ta. The house remained in the elder Ghaz­za­w­is’ names while the young cou­ple lived there and began a fam­i­ly.

    Six years lat­er, less than two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, Anoud, Abdu­lazzi and their chil­dren left their home on or about August 30, 2001 in great haste, tak­ing off in a white van. This was about the same time that the hijack­ers were pur­chas­ing their tick­ets for the tar­get­ed flights.

    The fam­i­ly appar­ent­ly left with no advance plan­ning, leav­ing behind almost all their pos­ses­sions, aban­don­ing three recent­ly reg­is­tered vehi­cles, includ­ing a brand-new Chrysler PT Cruis­er, in the garage and dri­ve­way. As the Her­ald arti­cle explained:

    “there was mail on the table, dirty dia­pers in one of the bath­rooms … all the toi­letries still in place … all their clothes hang­ing in the clos­et … opu­lent fur­ni­ture, equal or greater in val­ue than the house … the pool run­ning, with toys in it….The beds were made … fruit on the counter … the refrig­er­a­tor full of food. … It was like they went gro­cery shop­ping. Like they went out to a movie … [But] the safe was open in the mas­ter bed­room, with noth­ing in it, not a paper clip. … A com­put­er was still there. A com­put­er plug in anoth­er room, and the line still there. Looked like they’d tak­en [anoth­er] com­put­er and left the cord.”

    After pub­lic dis­clo­sure of Sau­di involve­ment in the 9/11 attacks, peo­ple in the gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty took note of the rushed depar­ture and dis­ap­pear­ance of the Ghaz­za­wi-al-Hiijji­is. After all, the attack­ers were not just over­whelm­ing­ly of Sau­di nation­al­i­ty, but three out of four of the future hijack­ers had lived and trained to fly in Venice, Flori­da, just 10 miles away from the house.

    The complex’s secu­ri­ty offi­cer alert­ed the FBI, which began an inves­ti­ga­tion into the house at 4224 Escon­di­to Cir­cle. (In addi­tion, a sus­pi­cious neigh­bor alert­ed the FBI by email on the day of the attacks.)

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment declined to give the Her­ald a state­ment, but, accord­ing to an unnamed senior coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cer who was one of two peo­ple who got into the house first and served as a key source for the paper, the inves­ti­ga­tion bore stun­ning fruit.

    Phone records showed com­mu­ni­ca­tion, dat­ing back more than a year, that con­nect­ed those in the house with the alleged plot leader, Mohammed Atta and his accom­plices, includ­ing eleven of the oth­er hijack­ers. Oth­er records, kept by guards at the gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty, doc­u­ment­ed numer­ousvis­its to the house by a vehi­cle known to have been used by Atta, and indi­cat­ed the phys­i­cal pres­ence in the car of Atta’s pur­port­ed accom­plice Ziad Jar­rah. It appeared as if the Ghaz­za­wi house was some kind of nerve cen­ter for the entire oper­a­tion.

    Accord­ing to the senior coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cer, both Esam Ghaz­za­wi and his son-in-law al-Hiijjii had been on a watch list at the FBI pre­dat­ing 9/11. An unnamed U.S. agency track­ing ter­ror funds had also tak­en an inter­est in them. “464 was Ghazzawi’s num­ber,” the offi­cer said. “I don’t remem­ber the oth­er man’s num­ber.”

    Secre­cy Reveals Lit­tle Offi­cial Curiosity—or Coverup?

    These stun­ning revelations—said to be based on the work of the swarm of FBI agents who descend­ed on the gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty in the fall of 2001—would sure­ly have gen­er­at­ed head­lines world­wide if they had become known after 9/11. But the FBI, for rea­sons unknown, failed to pro­vide the infor­ma­tion to Con­gres­sion­al 9/11 inves­ti­ga­tors or to the pres­i­den­tial 9/11 com­mis­sion, and thus it has remained a secret for the past decade.

    In response to the Her­ald arti­cle, the FBI has issued a state­ment say­ing that the occu­pants of the house had been tracked down and inter­ro­gat­ed, and were found to have no con­nec­tions to the hijack­ers. It is not clear when these inter­ro­ga­tions are sup­posed to have tak­en place, or whether they were con­duct­ed by the FBI or by Sau­di intel­li­gence. But giv­en the FBI’s poor track record for can­dor in the mat­ter, the state­ment is being viewed with some skep­ti­cism.

    Adding to these doubts is an inef­fec­tive effort by the Bureau to woo the house own­ers back to Flori­da. Accord­ing to Scott McK­ay, a lawyer for home­own­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion of the gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty, known as Prestancia, the FBI attempt­ed to con­vince the Ghaz­za­w­is they need­ed to come back in per­son to sign doc­u­ments relat­ed to unpaid back dues to the asso­ci­a­tion. This attempt proved unsuc­cess­ful when the Ghaz­za­w­is sim­ply arranged to sign the doc­u­ments else­where. These facts, report­ed by The Her­ald, raise ques­tions about the U.S. government’s deter­mi­na­tion to inter­view the cou­ple: Esam Ghazzawi’s sig­na­ture was nota­rized in Lebanon—by a U.S. offi­cial no less—the vice con­sul at the US embassy in Beirut. His wife’s sig­na­ture was also notarized—elsewhere in the Unit­ed States, in River­side Coun­ty, Cal­i­for­nia.

    The emer­gence of this infor­ma­tion cha­grined Bob Gra­ham, the for­mer Flori­da U.S. Sen­a­tor. Gra­ham was Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee chair (and a 2004 can­di­date for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion) and served as co-chair of the con­gres­sion­al joint inquiry into 9/11. “At the begin­ning of the inves­ti­ga­tion,” he told The Her­ald, “each of the intel­li­gence agen­cies, includ­ing the FBI, was asked to pro­vide all infor­ma­tion that agency pos­sessed in rela­tion to 9/11.” Gra­ham not­ed that the Bureau also failed to turn over infor­ma­tion con­nect­ing the hijack­ers to oth­er Saud­is liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, which his own inves­ti­ga­tors lat­er dis­cov­ered on their own.

    Just as strange, when Graham’s con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tors turned over a large body of infor­ma­tion on the hijack­ers they had assem­bled to the pres­i­den­tial 9/11 Com­mis­sion, it seemed unin­ter­est­ed. “They did very lit­tle with it,” Gra­ham said, “and their ref­er­ence to Sau­di Ara­bia is almost cryp­tic some­times. … I nev­er got a good answer as to why they did not pur­sue that.”

    About the new dis­cov­ery in Sara­so­ta, Gra­ham said it “opens the door to a new chap­ter of inves­ti­ga­tion as to the depth of the Sau­di role in 9/11.”

    All Eyes on Prince Sul­tan

    Of spe­cial inter­est is the Ghaz­za­w­is’ boss, the chair­man of EIRAD Hold­ing Co. Ltd.,Prince Sul­tan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. He is a promi­nent and pow­er­ful mem­ber of the rul­ing Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly who is expect­ed to become crown prince, and there­by in line to become king. Born in 1956, which makes him approx­i­mate­ly the same age as the Ghaz­za­wi broth­ers, Prince Sul­tan bin Salman is a grand­son of King Abdul Aziz (com­mon­ly referred to as Ibn Saud), founder of mod­ern Sau­di Arabia.[1]

    Prince Sultan’s fam­i­ly is of enor­mous impor­tance in today’s Sau­di Ara­bia. His father, Prince Salman, has been the gov­er­nor of the province of Riyadh (the city of Riyadh is the Sau­di cap­i­tal) since 1962, and is con­sid­ered an arbi­tra­tor among the fre­quent­ly war­ring mem­bers of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly, with its 4000 princes. Salman is the sec­ond youngest of the so-called Sudairi Sev­en, an extreme­ly pow­er­ful alliance of full broth­ers jock­ey­ing for pow­er in the coun­try.

    A lead­ing advo­cate of teach­ing Saud­is to fly, Prince Sul­tan is the founder and Chair­man of the Board of the Sau­di Avi­a­tion Club, and Chair­man of the King Khaled Inter­na­tion­al Air­port (KKIA) Super­vi­so­ry Com­mit­tee. Since 2000, he has also head­ed Sau­di Arabia’s tourism com­mis­sion, plac­ing him among a hand­ful of the King’s grand­sons to hold min­is­te­r­i­al rank. One of his mis­sions as head of the tourism com­mis­sion is to repair the dam­age to Sau­di Arabia’s image caused by the 9/11 attacks.

    In a doc­u­ment released by Wik­ileaks, the U.S. Ambas­sador to Sau­di Ara­bia, James B. Smith, char­ac­ter­izes Prince Sul­tan this way: “With a pow­er­ful father who is the Gov­er­nor of Riyadh and a strong can­di­date to be the next crown-prince, Sul­tan is well posi­tioned to move up the Sau­di gov­ern­ment ranks… Sul­tan has vis­it­ed almost every state [in the U.S.]. He joked with the Ambas­sador that ‘per­haps the only states he has not yet vis­it­ed are the Dako­tas.’ ” (He is extra well con­nect­ed, with one broth­er serv­ing as the deputy oil min­is­ter)

    Prince Sul­tan is close­ly allied with Prince Ban­dar bin Sul­tan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, the for­mer long­time ambas­sador to the Unit­ed States, who is often called “Ban­dar Bush” for his friend­ly rela­tion­ship with the Bush fam­i­ly. Sul­tan and Ban­dar have worked togeth­er for years to pro­mote Sau­di inter­est in avi­a­tion.

    The Bush­es and the Roy­als

    The Bush fam­i­ly have long been regard­ed as friend­ly with the prince’s fam­i­ly and their asso­ciates. Prince Sultan’s NASA mis­sion is per­ceived as hav­ing been orches­trat­ed by George HW Bush as a favor to the Saud­is. Asso­ciates of the Bush fam­i­ly have many con­nec­tions with the Prince’s fam­i­ly. Prince Sultan’s father’s legal coun­sel is William Jef­fress Jr, of Hous­ton-based Bak­er Botts LLP, where James A. Bak­er III, long­stand­ing advi­sor to the Bush fam­i­ly, includ­ing both Pres­i­dents Bush, is a senior part­ner. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, Bak­er held the post of Senior Coun­selor for the Car­lyle Group, aglob­al asset man­age­ment firm which is heav­i­ly invest­ed in mil­i­tary con­tract­ing stocks; among Carlyle’s large investors were the bin Ladens. (In a curi­ous coin­ci­dence, Bak­er watched the live tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of the attacks from the Ritz-Carl­ton Hotel in Wash­ing­ton, where he and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Osama bin Laden‘s extend­ed fam­i­ly were attend­ing the Car­lyle Group’s annu­al con­fer­ence. In anoth­er odd coin­ci­dence, Pres­i­dent George W. Bush him­self was in Sara­so­ta, read­ing to school­child­ren, at the very time the Sara­so­ta-area-based ter­ror­ists were hijack­ing the planes. Indeed, he was a short dis­tance from the home the Ghaz­za­w­is had recent­ly aban­doned.)

    Pres­i­dent Bush’s actions in the after­math of the World Trade Cen­ter and Pen­ta­gon assaults with regard to the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly have long been known but have yet to be ful­ly explored. Short­ly after the attacks, Pres­i­dent Bush per­mit­ted an excep­tion to the ban on air traf­fic so that planes could take promi­nent Saud­is out of the coun­try. One of those leav­ing on the flights was the late Prince Ahmed bin Salman, broth­er of Prince Sul­tan.

    In a 2004 let­ter to the New York Times, Prince Sul­tan respond­ed to alle­ga­tions sur­round­ing those flights, and point­ed to a con­clu­sion in the 9/11 com­mis­sion report: ”Our own inde­pen­dent review of the Sau­di nation­als involved con­firms that no one with known links to ter­ror­ism depart­ed on these flights.” (Anoth­er Sau­di who left the US after 9/11 was the archi­tect Abdel Wahed El-Wak­il, who had a base in Mia­mi and serves as an advi­sor to Prince Sul­tan.)

    Alle­ga­tions of Sau­di Roy­al Com­plic­i­ty

    Sultan’s broth­er Prince Ahmed was the most west­ern­ized of the Sau­di set. He raised race­hors­es in Ken­tucky and was the own­er of the 2001 Ken­tucky Der­by win­ner, with the per­haps unfor­tu­nate name “War Emblem.” Alle­ga­tions con­cern­ing Prince Ahmed emerged in the 2003 book, Why Amer­i­ca Slept, by the best­selling author Ger­ald Pos­ner. Pos­ner says that intel­li­gence sources told him how in March, 2002, under inter­ro­ga­tion (but before he was water­board­ed 83 times in August), Al Qaeda’s pur­port­ed chief of oper­a­tions, Abu Zubay­dah, relaxed and began coop­er­at­ing. Tricked into think­ing he was in Sau­di cus­tody, Zubay­dah asked his inter­roga­tors to call a senior mem­ber of the Sau­di Roy­al fam­i­ly, who he said was his con­tact. He pro­vid­ed, from mem­o­ry, the man’s pri­vate home and cell phones. This con­tact, accord­ing to Pos­ner, was Prince Ahmed.

    Zubay­dah is alleged to have said that Osama bin Laden had cut a deal with a top Pak­istani mil­i­tary offi­cial, Air Mar­shal Mushaf Ali Mir, who was close to Islamist ele­ments in Pak­istani intel­li­gence. Accord­ing to this account, the Sau­di intel­li­gence chief, Prince Tur­ki, signed off on this, and agreed to pro­vide aid to the Tal­iban in Afghanistan and not to go after Al Qae­da so long as the ter­ror­ist group kept its gun sights trained away from the Sau­di roy­als.

    In this ver­sion of events, Zubay­dah is said to have also impli­cat­ed Prince Sul­tan, along with anoth­er cousin, Prince Fahd bin Tur­ki bin Saud al-Kabir, as Al Qae­da back­ers, and to have claimed that the Pak­istani Air Mar­shal Mushaf Ali Mir and Sau­di Prince Ahmed knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks.

    Though the inter­roga­tors were skep­ti­cal of these claims, Zubay­dah often proved cred­i­ble. Infor­ma­tion he pro­vid­ed led to the cap­ture of a senior al-Qae­da oper­a­tive in South­east Asia. Zubay­dah would only talk when he thought he was in Sau­di hands. When U.S. per­son­nel, no longer pos­ing as Saud­is, con­front­ed him, Zubay­dah said he had made up his ear­li­er state­ments. But inves­ti­ga­tors found no basis for believ­ing the infor­ma­tion to be false—and even found mate­r­i­al that cor­rob­o­rat­ed his claimed ties to high lev­el Saud­is. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the Sau­di and Pak­istani gov­ern­ments insist­ed his claims were false in all respects.

    One of the key fig­ures named by Zubay­dah, Prince Tur­ki, had been removed from his posi­tion as Sau­di intel­li­gence chief on Sep­tem­ber 1, 2001, ten days before the attacks. Thus, he was appar­ent­ly not in that post on the crit­i­cal day. Yet, his removal was a tem­po­rary absence from the high­est lev­els of Sau­di lead­er­ship, and not nec­es­sar­i­ly an indi­ca­tion that he had fall­en into seri­ous dis­fa­vor. The next year, he was named Sau­di ambas­sador to Great Britain, just as a shift in focus from Al Qae­da to Iraq was being pitched to the British. If Zubaydah’s claims are at all cred­i­ble, the removal of Tur­ki from an offi­cial posi­tion short­ly before the attacks sure­ly war­rants addi­tion­al analy­sis— as does the Ghaz­za­w­is’ hasty flight from the U.S. right in the same time frame.

    Accord­ing to the book The Eleventh Day, by Sum­mers and his co-author Rob­byn Swan, Zubay­dah is not alone in assert­ing a Sau­di-Al Qae­da deal:

    In sworn state­ments after 9/11, for­mer Tal­iban intel­li­gence chief Mohammed Khak­sar said that in 1998 Prince Tur­ki, chief of Sau­di Arabia’s Gen­er­al Intel­li­gence Depart­ment (G.I.D.), sealed a deal under which bin Laden agreed not to attack Sau­di tar­gets. In return, Sau­di Ara­bia would pro­vide funds and mate­r­i­al assis­tance to the Tal­iban, not demand bin Laden’s extra­di­tion, and not bring pres­sure to close down al-Qae­da train­ing camps. Sau­di busi­ness­es, mean­while, would ensure that mon­ey also flowed direct­ly to bin Laden.


    Prince Ahmed and anoth­er roy­al, Prince Sul­tan bin Fahd bin Salman bin Abdu­lazz­iz, were among the fif­teen Saud­is spir­it­ed out of the US, with Pres­i­dent Bush’s approval, on Sep­tem­ber 16, 2001, via Lex­ing­ton, Kentucky—i.e., out of Prince Ahmed’s U.S. back­yard. Prince Sul­tan bin Fahd is the nephew of Prince Ahmed and Prince Sul­tan, and the son of Prince Fahd bin Salman (see below) who died unex­pect­ed­ly short­ly before the 9/11 attacks.

    “It appears as if they didn’t want to be around to be ques­tioned as to what role they had played and the best way to avoid that was to get out of the coun­try,” for­mer Sen­a­tor Bob Gra­ham told the Sara­so­ta Her­ald-Tri­bune.

    As author Craig Unger notes in his book, House of Bush, House of Saud, FBI agents were sta­tioned at all points of depar­ture for the group of Saud­is who massed in Lex­ing­ton before depart­ing the coun­try, yet there’s no evi­dence they were asked any ques­tions at all.

    Iron­i­cal­ly, Pos­ner, who is reg­u­lar­ly cit­ed by the cor­po­rate media for his views on the JFK assas­si­na­tion (he is a lead­ing defend­er of the con­clu­sion that Oswald was the lone gun­man), is large­ly ignored for his work on the Saudi‑9/11 con­nec­tion, where he doe­s­posit high-lev­el involve­ment. Pos­ner is a high­ly con­tro­ver­sial and at times per­plex­ing fig­ure, but he insists he has sol­id intel­li­gence sources, and the thrust of his claims have meshed with those of The New York Times intel­li­gence reporter and best-sell­ing author James Risen. As Risen wrote in his book State of War,

    Ever since the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks, the trail back from al Qae­da to Sau­di Ara­bia has been an intrigu­ing path, but one that very few Amer­i­can inves­ti­ga­tors have been will­ing to fol­low. . . . [B]oth before and after 9/11, Pres­i­dent Bush and his admin­is­tra­tion have dis­played a remark­able lack of inter­est in aggres­sive­ly exam­in­ing the con­nec­tions between Osama bin Laden, al Qae­da, and the Sau­di pow­er elite. Even as the Bush admin­is­tra­tion spent enor­mous time and ener­gy try­ing in vain to prove con­nec­tions between Sad­dam Hus­sein and Osama bin Laden in order to help jus­ti­fy the war in Iraq, the admin­is­tra­tion was ignor­ing far more con­clu­sive ties with Sau­di Ara­bia. Those links are much stronger and far more trou­bling than has ever been pre­vi­ous­ly dis­closed, and until they are thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed, the roots of Al Qaeda’s pow­er, and the full sto­ry of 9/11, will nev­er be known.”

    Sev­er­al of those alleged to have had knowl­edge of this puta­tive scheme and its enor­mous impli­ca­tions met with untime­ly ends short­ly after Zubaydah’s inter­ro­ga­tion. In June, 2002, three months after Zubaydah’s cap­ture, the man he iden­ti­fied as his con­troller, Prince Ahmed, died of what offi­cials said was a heart attack while asleep. Anoth­er broth­er of Ahmed’s and Sultan’s, Prince Fahd bin Salman bin Abdu­lazz­iz, died of a heart attack on July 25, 2001, about six weeks before the 9/11 attacks. The death of Fahd, who pre­ced­ed his broth­er as head of EIRAD, is described in a Riyadh-date­lined arti­cle by Mid­dle East News­file, as fol­lows:

    Prince Fahd died sud­den­ly. Prince Fahd did not show any symp­toms of any ail­ment. He had, how­ev­er, made an appoint­ment with a den­tist at King Faisal Spe­cial­ist Hos­pi­tal in Riyadh to check a toothache.

    A cousin, Prince Sul­tan bin Faisal bin Tur­ki al-Saud, died when his car crashed en route to Salman’s funer­al. Zubay­dah had sup­pos­ed­ly impli­cat­ed Prince Sul­tan bin Faisal, and anoth­er roy­al, Prince Fahd bin Tur­ki bin Saud al-Kabir. as Al-Qae­da sup­port­ers. All these men were in their for­ties. Still anoth­er key fig­ure in Zubaydah’s mon­strous sce­nario met an untime­ly death. On Feb­ru­ary 20, 2003, Mushaf Ali Mir, the Pak­istani air force chief, his wife and fif­teen oth­ers, were killed in a plane crash.

    Not a hint of the above infor­ma­tion appeared in the released por­tion of the pres­i­den­tial 9/11 com­mis­sion report. It is not known whether any of it was in the 28 pages of mate­r­i­al about Sau­di con­nec­tions that the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion cen­sored on nation­al secu­ri­ty grounds.

    A Long-Stand­ing Rela­tion­ship

    The Ghaz­za­w­is’ rela­tion­ship with the Unit­ed States seems to date back to the 1950’s, when U.S. immi­gra­tion records show that Abbas Ghaz­za­wi vis­it­ed New York. Abbas Ghaz­za­wi was a promi­nent Sau­di attor­ney. Esam, whose full name is Esam Abbas Ghaz­za­wi, appears to be his son. (WhoWhat­Why was unable to reach Ghaz­za­wi for com­ment on any of the mat­ters in this arti­cle.)

    Abbas Ghaz­za­wi, arriv­ing on a first class tick­et on a con­nect­ing flight that orig­i­nat­ed in Sau­di Ara­bia, was trav­el­ing in an elite entourage. One com­pan­ion, Rasem al-Kha­li­di, wasa high-rank­ing Sau­di mon­e­tary offi­cial. Anoth­er, Faisal al-Hege­lan, would years lat­er serve in the all-impor­tant posi­tion of Sau­di ambas­sador to Wash­ing­ton. He held that post dur­ing 1979–1983, a peri­od that part­ly coin­cid­ed with the Rea­gan-Bush Admin­is­tra­tion. His replace­ment was Prince Ban­dar, the Bush fam­i­ly friend jok­ing­ly called “Ban­dar Bush.”

    The focus of Sau­di roy­als in their deal­ings with the Unit­ed States can be seen in the con­duct of al-Hege­lan. As ambas­sador, al-Hege­lan was prin­ci­pal­ly con­cerned with prop­ping up the Sau­di regime. He had sev­en­teen mil­i­tary attachés assigned full­time to lob­by for the sale of the advanced com­mand-and-con­trol air­craft known as AWACS to the Sau­di air force. (see P. 17 of the book Arab Reach, by Hoag Levins.) Over­com­ing heavy pres­sure on Wash­ing­ton from the Israelis, the Saud­is suc­ceed­ed in get­ting Con­gress to approve the AWACS sale. Al-Hege­lan also led a lob­by­ing cam­paign against Sec­re­tary of State Alexan­der Haig’s pub­lic sup­port of Israel’s inva­sion of Lebanon. Pres­i­dent Rea­gan, with strong input from his vice pres­i­dent, George H.W. Bush, removed Haig and replaced him with George Schultz, who sided with the Saud­is; Schultz had been pres­i­dent of Bech­tel, one of the largest con­struc­tion con­trac­tors in Sau­di Ara­bia, whose projects includ­ed the orig­i­nal Trans-Ara­bi­an Pipeline.

    We find the Ghaz­za­wi clan again in the Unit­ed States in 1970, when the young Esam mar­ried the Amer­i­can Deb­o­rah G. Brown­ing. The mar­riage didn’t last long—in July, 1971 they obtained a divorce in Orange Coun­ty, Cal­i­for­nia.

    The first sign of the Ghaz­za­wi clan on the east coast of the Unit­ed States was in 1992, when Esam bought a pent­house apart­ment in the D.C. sub­urb of Ross­lyn, Vir­ginia. In var­i­ous accounts, Esam is described as a banker or financier, who also works as an inte­ri­or design­er. He accrued addi­tion­al prop­er­ty in Arling­ton, Vir­ginia and Long­boat Key, Flori­da, and his name turns up in con­nec­tion with a fan­cy office build­ing in the K Street lob­by­ing cor­ri­dor.

    In this peri­od, Esam’s name sur­faced when inves­ti­ga­tors prob­ing the mon­u­men­tal­ly cor­rupt Bank of Cred­it and Com­merce Inter­na­tion­al (BCCI) sought to recov­er assets from Sau­di Prince Fahd bin Salman—brother of Prince Sul­tan bin Salman. The prince argued that his assets were being held in anoth­er account under Esam Ghazzawi’s name. Only low-lev­el BCCI offi­cials went to jail in the sprawl­ing scan­dal, which involved banks and gov­ern­ments all over the world. Prince Fahd bin Salman is one of the rel­a­tives who died unex­pect­ed­ly in the year of the 9/11 attacks. (The Rea­gan and George H.W. Bush admin­is­tra­tions were repeat­ed­ly accused by inves­ti­ga­tors into the BCCI mess of obstruct­ing their inquiries; it is worth not­ing that the Trea­sury Depart­ment offi­cial respon­si­ble for scru­ti­niz­ing BCCI’s affairs in the Rea­gan-Bush admin­is­tra­tion was assis­tant sec­re­tary for enforce­ment John M. Walk­er Jr.—who hap­pened to be George H.W. Bush’s cousin.)

    In 1995, Ghazzawi’s daugh­ter Anoud, liv­ing in South Flori­da, mar­ried Abdu­lazzi al-Hiijii, who was a uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent in the area. Esam and Deb­o­rah Ghaz­za­wi, appar­ent­ly reunit­ed some­time after their 1971 divorce, pur­chased the Sara­so­ta home into which the cou­ple moved. Abdu­lazzi appears to have received a B.S. and Mas­ters of Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems from the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da. His Master’s should be not­ed in the con­text of only one of two items removed from the Sara­so­ta house before the cou­ple fled—a com­put­er.

    Today, the fam­i­ly seems com­fort­ably ensconced back in Sau­di Ara­bia. In August, 2003, Abdu­lazzi al-Hiijjii became a career coun­selor at the gov­ern­ment oil company—Saudi Aramco—a posi­tion he retains to this day. He served on the com­mit­tee hold­ing asym­po­sium about elec­tron­ic ser­vices in the east­ern (oil-pro­duc­ing) province of Sau­di Ara­bia, held in Kho­bar in 2008.

    We found the Amer­i­can-born Deb­o­rah Ghaz­za­wi, post­ing online just three years ago for help on find­ing her username/password for a Sau­di Black­ber­ry sim card.


    The seem­ing reluc­tance of the US gov­ern­ment to pur­sue hints of pos­si­ble Sau­di com­plic­i­ty in the 9/11 attacks, wher­ev­er they might lead, is hard­ly an iso­lat­ed fail­ure. Richard Clarke, the chief coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cial in both the Clin­ton and Bush admin­is­tra­tions, has recent­ly stat­ed his view that the CIA made an unsuc­cess­ful attempt to recruit two of the hijack­ers as dou­ble agents before the 9/11 attacks, then scur­ried to cov­er up this bun­gled effort. Clarke thinks evi­dence points to the spy agency itself allow­ing the hijack­ers into the U.S. as part of this scheme. If Clarke is cor­rect, this would be anoth­er case of inter­est­ed par­ties in the gov­ern­ment keep­ing the truth bot­tled up for their own pur­pos­es.

    Even more dis­turb­ing, the final sec­tion of the Con­gres­sion­al inquiry’s report, on “sources of for­eign sup­port for some of the Sept. 11 hijack­ers,” was total­ly redact­ed. It is still unavail­able to the pub­lic on the 10th anniver­sary of the attacks. Both Gra­ham and his GOP coun­ter­part, Sen. Richard Shel­by of Alaba­ma, deter­mined that nation­al secu­ri­ty would not be harmed by releas­ing those pages. Yet they were withheld—on the orders of George W. Bush.

    Gra­ham told the reporters he thinks sup­pres­sion of the mate­r­i­al pro­vid­ed “pro­tec­tion of the Saud­is from embar­rass­ment, pro­tec­tion of the admin­is­tra­tion from polit­i­cal embar­rass­ment … some of the unknowns, some of the secrets of 9/11.”

    Telling­ly, the ven­er­a­ble British insur­ance com­pa­ny Lloyd’s of Lon­don active­ly inves­ti­gat­ed Sau­di com­plic­i­ty in 9/11. As report­ed by the U.K. paper The Inde­pen­dent, a Lloyd’s unit has launched what is described as “a land­mark legal case” again Sau­di Ara­bia, claim­ing that the king­dom is indi­rect­ly respon­si­ble for the 9/11 attacks. Lloyd’s asserts that Sau­di banks and char­i­ties act­ing as sur­ro­gates for the roy­al fam­i­ly gave the ter­ror­ist group the sus­te­nance it need­ed to car­ry out the 2001 assault. (Lloyd’s is seek­ing to recov­er sums it paid to firms and indi­vid­u­als affect­ed by the event.) Reports The Inde­pen­dent:

    The legal claim states: “Absent the spon­sor­ship of al-Qa’ida’s mate­r­i­al spon­sors and sup­port­ers, includ­ing the defen­dants named there­in, al-Qa’ida would not have pos­sessed the capac­i­ty to con­ceive, plan and exe­cute the 11 Sep­tem­ber attacks. The suc­cess of al-Qa’ida’s agen­da, includ­ing the 11 Sep­tem­ber attacks them­selves, has been made pos­si­ble by the lav­ish spon­sor­ship al-Qa’ida has received from its mate­r­i­al spon­sors and sup­port­ers over more than a decade lead­ing up to 11 Sep­tem­ber 2001.”

    Bizarrely, sev­er­al days ago, Lloyd’s qui­et­ly with­drew its suit, declin­ing to explain why. But the move was con­duct­ed in such a way to sug­gest a pos­si­ble set­tle­ment, there­by rais­ing still more ques­tions for inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Mean­while, in the Unit­ed States, a grow­ing cho­rus of voices—some very estab­lish­ment voices—are demand­ing account­abil­i­ty and can­dor. Gra­ham and Clarke have now been joined by retired CIA offi­cer Bob Baer, by sev­er­al for­mer FBI agents and by Tom Kean, chair­man of pres­i­den­tial 9/11 com­mis­sion, all of whom express con­cern that the full sto­ry has not been per­mit­ted to emerge.

    “No evi­dence,” But None Sought

    The 9/11 Com­mis­sion report “found no evi­dence that the Sau­di gov­ern­ment as an insti­tu­tion or senior Sau­di offi­cials” financed Al Qae­da. But this care­ful­ly word­ed state­ment does not fore­close the pos­si­bil­i­ty that mem­bers of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly per­son­al­ly pro­vid­ed financ­ing, or that senior offi­cials fund­ed com­pa­nies or out­siders that in turn pro­vid­ed financ­ing.

    Many ques­tions remain to be answered. For exam­ple, why did the Ghaz­za­wi clan flee in such a hasty man­ner, paus­ing only to emp­ty their safe but leav­ing food on the kitchen counter and their pool pump run­ning? Was it because they had received some unex­pect­ed news, news so urgent and alarm­ing that nor­mal prepa­ra­tions for an order­ly depar­ture gave way to what appears to be a pan­icky exit?

    If this ques­tion seems incon­se­quen­tial, think about what kind of news, in the days just before 9/11, could have prompt­ed such intem­per­ate flight from the Unit­ed States by a well-con­nect­ed clan of Saud­is? The pos­si­ble answers to this ques­tion could prove world-chang­ing. The most impor­tant Mideast nation so far untouched by the dis­lo­ca­tions of the Arab Spring is Sau­di Ara­bia, the sin­gle largest sup­pli­er of petro­le­um to the west­ern world. If major play­ers in that country’s rul­ing fam­i­ly are shown to have had a hand in the 9/11 attacks, it would be the equiv­a­lent of a geopo­lit­i­cal tsunami—upsetting pow­er­ful elites around the world. Is it any won­der that efforts have been made to pre­vent a no-holds-barred inves­ti­ga­tion of this con­nec­tion? And isn’t it time, ten years lat­er, to end this coverup — in the name of the com­mon good?

    For­mer Sen­a­tor Gra­ham, for one, is increas­ing­ly adamant. As he told the St. Peters­burg Times: “These 19 peo­ple did not play out this plot as lone wolves. The chances that 19 peo­ple, most of whom had nev­er been in the U.S., who did not speak Eng­lish, and most of whom did not know each oth­er, could have com­plet­ed train­ing, prac­ticed and exe­cut­ed such a com­pli­cat­ed plot defies com­mon sense.”

    1. Sau­di lin­eages are com­pli­cat­ed due to men being named for their ances­tors. For exam­ple, Prince Sul­tan (Prince Sul­tan bin Salman) should not be con­fused with his uncle, also known as Prince Sul­tan (Prince Sul­tan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud), who is Defense Min­is­ter and Crown Prince, or his late cousin Prince Sul­tan bin Faisal.

    Posted by R. Wilson | September 23, 2011, 6:51 pm
  4. I agree with you, R. Wil­son. Russ Bak­er, of whom I appre­ci­ate great­ly the jour­nal­is­tic works, wrote this very good arti­cle appar­ent­ly as if both Dave and Daniel Hop­sick­er would not have researched and pre­sent­ed this top­ic before. That’s curi­ous, ungrate­ful and a lit­tle rude in fact, frankly. There is prob­a­bly, I hope, a good expla­na­tion for that. And by the way, what about the six hours of air time that Dave offered Bak­er to present the con­tent of his book at great length? I don’t know what to think.

    Posted by Claude | September 27, 2011, 7:47 am
  5. @Claude: Look­ing back at your Decem­ber com­ment, I can agree with this: Dave, Russ, John, and Lucy deserve a LOT more recog­ni­tion and praise than what they’re receiv­ing now. And Mae most of all: she prac­ti­cal­ly birthed what we might call, if Dave does­n’t mind, the mod­ern truth seek­er move­ment. (She’s the one who real­ly start­ed wak­ing me up first, tbh.) =)

    Posted by Steven | October 23, 2011, 3:59 am
  6. Oh dear: George P. Bush is mak­ing his move into pol­i­tics by dis­tanc­ing him­self from the fam­i­ly name via an embrace of the Tea Par­ty:

    In His First Cam­paign, George P. Bush Is Dis­tanc­ing Him­self From His Fam­i­ly
    Will Weis­sert, Asso­ci­at­ed Press
    Dec. 15, 2013, 12:35 PM

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The lat­est scion of one of Amer­i­ca’s most pow­er­ful polit­i­cal dynas­ties is try­ing to con­vince vot­ers he’s some­thing oth­er than what his famous sur­name sug­gests.

    George P. Bush, the 37-year-old grand­son of one for­mer pres­i­dent and nephew of anoth­er, is launch­ing his polit­i­cal career by run­ning for Texas’ lit­tle-known but pow­er­ful land com­mis­sion­er post.

    But rather than cam­paign­ing on the main­stream Repub­li­can­ism embod­ied by the fam­i­ly name, Bush says he’s “a move­ment con­ser­v­a­tive” more in line with the tea par­ty.

    As if to under­score the point, he says he draws the most inspi­ra­tion not from the admin­is­tra­tions of his grand­fa­ther, George H. W. Bush, or his uncle, George W. Bush, but from for­mer House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich, who engi­neered the 1994 Repub­li­can takeover of that cham­ber.

    “On social ques­tions, nation­al defense, eco­nom­ic issues, I’m a strong con­ser­v­a­tive,” Bush told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press.

    That kind of state­ment helps make him the lat­est — and per­haps one of the more unlike­ly — faces in the parade of Repub­li­cans march­ing even far­ther to the right in already fierce­ly con­ser­v­a­tive Texas.

    As he takes baby steps away from the Bush lega­cy, George P. could strug­gle to con­vince the par­ty’s far right that he’s real­ly more con­ser­v­a­tive than either of his elders who have occu­pied the Oval Office.

    “A Bush can’t be a true con­ser­v­a­tive,” said Mor­gan McComb, a North Texas tea par­ty activist and orga­niz­er.

    Bush insists that he’s up to the chal­lenge, not­ing that he was an ear­ly sup­port­er of tea par­ty hero Sen. Ted Cruz, who after less than a year in the Sen­ate has rock­et­ed from rel­a­tive polit­i­cal unknown to ruler of the Texas GOP.

    “That’s some­thing that we bring to the table that’s dif­fer­ent,” Bush said. “We’re a main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive that appeals to all Repub­li­cans.”

    James Bernsen, Cruz’s for­mer cam­paign spokesman, said the Bush­es “walk in cer­tain cir­cles, and some of those peo­ple might put their nose up at Ted some­times, but George P. tries to cross that divide.”

    “George rec­og­nizes that it’s a bless­ing and a curse to have that last name,” Bernsen said. “There’s a rea­son he’s not real­ly being chal­lenged on the bal­lot. But he also real­izes there’s a lot of peo­ple who will be very skep­ti­cal of him.”

    The Texas land com­mis­sion­er admin­is­ters state-owned lands and min­er­al resources that help pay for pub­lic edu­ca­tion statewide. The posi­tion can be a spring­board to high­er office. The incum­bent com­mis­sion­er, Jer­ry Pat­ter­son, is run­ning for lieu­tenant gov­er­nor. And the incum­bent lieu­tenant gov­er­nor he’s chal­leng­ing, David Dewhurst, served as land com­mis­sion­er before win­ning his cur­rent job.

    Squar­ing off against Bush are for­mer El Paso Demo­c­ra­t­ic May­or John Cook and Repub­li­can East Texas busi­ness­man David Watts. But Bush has raked in more than $3.3 mil­lion and is expect­ed to cruise to vic­to­ry both in the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry in March and the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion.

    Repub­li­cans have not lost a statewide race in Texas since 1994.


    Will anoth­er Bush win over anoth­er gen­er­a­tion of con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers with a “Hey, I’m just like you guys and total­ly share your val­ues!” schtick? Maybe. It’s worked before:

    1988: the mak­ing of George W. Bush

    By Janet Hook
    Mon­day, July 12, 2004 — Page updat­ed at 12:00 AM

    Los Ange­les Times
    WASHINGTON — Dozens of skep­ti­cal con­ser­v­a­tive activists flocked to a con­fer­ence room on Capi­tol Hill to hear from George W. Bush, eldest son of the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent. It was 1988, and many of these activists — abor­tion oppo­nents, evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians and the like — showed up with low expec­ta­tions because his father, Vice Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush, was known for his occa­sion­al depar­tures from con­ser­v­a­tive ortho­doxy.

    Could the son be any dif­fer­ent? As it turned out, the con­ser­v­a­tives were in for a sur­prise, recalled Paul Weyrich, the activist who orga­nized the meet­ing. The young Bush won the room over with crisp reas­sur­ances that his father was with them on abor­tion, judi­cial nom­i­nees and oth­er divi­sive social issues. Then, he offered a per­son­al rev­e­la­tion.

    “Jesus Christ is my per­son­al sav­ior,” Bush said when asked about his faith. By the end, the mes­sage was clear to the con­ser­v­a­tives: George W. Bush was one of them.

    With that encounter, Bush was show­ing the kind of ide­o­log­i­cal clar­i­ty, per­son­al pas­sion and sense of mis­sion that his father often lacked — and that even­tu­al­ly would become the hall­mark of his own pres­i­den­cy 12 years lat­er.

    The episode was one small part of a rich polit­i­cal edu­ca­tion that Bush gained from work­ing on his father’s 1988 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. That expe­ri­ence exposed “Junior,” as he was then known, to two forces that would prove enor­mous­ly impor­tant to his own polit­i­cal rise: the evan­gel­i­cal move­ment, which has become a core part of his polit­i­cal base, and an emerg­ing style of hard­ball cam­paign­ing, which he used to beat Sen. John McCain, R‑Ariz., in the 2000 Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry and has unfurled against his 2004 Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent, Sen. John Ker­ry.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 7, 2014, 1:27 pm

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