GRANDFATHER AND FATHER BUSH
PRESCOTT SHELDON BUSH
PRESCOTT SHELDON BUSH
Prescott Sheldon Bush, son of the manufacturer Samuel Prescott and Flora (Sheldon) Bush, and father of George Herbert Bush, was born in Ohio in 1885. While studying at Yale, Samuel joined the neo-spartan Skull and Bones fraternity in 1916. During World War II, Samuel was employed by Remington Arms Company and was appointed chief of the Ordinance, Small Arms and Ammunition Section of the War Industries Board. He was responsible for directing government assistance to and maintaining relations with a number of weapons manufacturers which included Remington.
During World War I, Prescott Bush served as a captain in the Army. A hometown newspaper wrote that he was awarded three distinguished medals for valor. But in 1919, his mother revealed that it was a hoax. Because of the humiliation, Bush left town and went to work for Simmons Company which was a supplier of railroad equipment. Two years later, he married Dorothy Walker, the daughter of a Missouri stockbroker. In 1924, George Herbert Walker Bush was born.Bush had close connections to both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. He became vice president of W.A. Harriman Company and director of Union Banking Company of Manhatten, New York. W.A. Harriman and Company had ties to the Soviet Union’s Georgian Manganese Concession in the 1920s. From its home base in Berlin, Harriman and George Herbert Walker gave loans to the Soviet Union which was rebuilding its oil fields that had been devastated during World War I.
Bush continued to work for W.A. Harriman and Company until it merged with Brown Brothers, a British-American banking firm, in 1931. As managing partner with Brown Brothers, Bush underwrote a Standard Oil agreement in cooperation with General Motors to supply ethyl lead to Nazi Germany. Just before the outbreak of World War II, the Ethyl Export Corporation loaned 500 tons of tetraethyl lead to Germany. The security was arranged by Brown Brothers. Bush left the corporate world in 1952 when he was elected to the United States Senate from Connecticut. (Russell Bowen, The Immaculate Deception)
Union Banking Company helped build the Nazi war machine. Both Union Banking and W.A. Harriman & Company sold over $50 million in German bonds in the United States starting in 1924. That was one year after the Munich Beer Hall Putsch when the Nazi Party showed their willingness to employ violent tactics. George Walker helped to facilitate the take-over of Hamburg-American Line which allegedly was a cover for I.G. Farben’s Nazi espionage unit in the United States. The Bushes were a distant kin to the queen of England. Barbara Pierce Bush shared bloodlines with President Franklin Pierce, the fourteenth man to run the country. (Russell Bowen, The Immaculate Deception)
Bush lost a fortune after the 1929 stock market crash. But the Harrimans compensated him for his entire losses. W.A. Harriman and Company merged with Morton and Company, a private bank that was interlocked to Guaranty Trust Company. Bush went on to build up a personal fortune as a partner in Union Banking in the late 1930s and the 1940s, according to John Loftus, president of the Florida Holocaust Museum. (Newscoast, November 16, 2000)
In 1934, the Polish government was attempting to take over Consolidated Silesian Steel Corporation and Upper Silesian Coal and Steel Company from “German and American interests” because of “mismanagement, excessive borrowing, fictitious bookkeeping and gambling in securities.” (Toby Rogers, Clamor Magazine)
Consolidated Silesian Steel Corporation was located in one of Poland’s richest mineral regions. It was located near the Auschwitz concentration camp so its prisoners -- Jews, communists, gypsies, and other minorities -- could be used for labor. The company’s coal deposits were processed into either coal or additives for aviation gasoline. (Toby Rogers, Clamor Magazine)
The Polish government required the owners of the company, which accounted for over 45 percent of Poland’s steel production, to pay at least its full share of back taxes. A portion of the slave labor force in Poland was “managed by Prescott Bush,” according to a Dutch intelligence agent. Bush and Harriman hired attorney John Foster Dulles to help cover up any improprieties that might arise under investigative scrutiny. (Toby Rogers, Clamor Magazine)
Six days after Pearl Harbor, the Trading With the Enemy Act banned any business interests with United States enemies of war. Bush continued with business as usual, aiding the Nazi invasion of Europe and supplying resources for weaponry that would eventually be turned on American solders in combat against Germany. (Toby Rogers, Clamor Magazine)
In the summer of 1942, the New York Tribune exposed Bush, calling him “Hitler’s Angel.” In 1943, while still owning his stock, Bush resigned from Union Banking Corporation. Bush hired Allen Dulles, who later headed the CIA, to hide the millions that they were generating from investments in Nazi Germany. When the government seized their Union Banking Company under the Trading with the Enemy Act in 1942, the Bushes terminated their financial transactions with Nazi companies. (Toby Rogers, Clamor Magazine)
Union Banking was liquidated in 1951. Prescott Bush and George Herbert Bush received $1.5 million from the bank as part of that dissolution. “That’s where the Bush family fortune came from: It came from the Third Reich,” Loftus said. The money enabled George Herbert Walker Bush to set up his first royalty firm, Overby Development Company, that same year. It also helped Prescott Bush campaign successfully for senator in Connecticut. (Newscoast, November 16, 2000; Toby Rogers, Clamor Magazine)
When George Herbert Bush was elected vice president in 1980, he chose William Stamps Farish III to manage his personal wealth in a blind trust. In 1933, Farish’s New Jersey Standard Oil Company began operations in Nazi Germany. As CEO and president of Standard Oil, Farish controlled his corporation as well as Germany’s I.G. Farben. A joint venture by these two corporations paved the way for the opening of the Auschwitz slave labor camp in June 1940. Artificial rubber and gasoline were produced at the concentration camp. Standard Oil continued to do business with the Hitler regime right up to the end of World War II. (Russell Bowen, The Immaculate Deception; Village Voice, November 1, 1988)
GEORGE H. WALKER
GEORGE H. WALKER
The Bush family’s connection to Saudi oil began in the 1920s. George H. Walker, father of Barbara Bush, was president of Wall Street-based W.A. Harriman & Co. He participated in rebuilding the Baku oil fields only a few hundred miles north of current-day Iraq. As a senior director of Dresser Industries (which later became Halliburton), Walker’s son-in-law, Prescott Bush, became involved with the Middle East in the years after World War II. (Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush)
GEORGE HERBERT BUSH
GEORGE HERBERT BUSH
FROM OIL TO POLITICS. FROM OIL TO POLITICS. George Herbert Bush married Barbara Pierce, daughter of the publisher of McCalls magazine. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Bush started his career in Odessa, Texas in the oil industry. He was hired by Dresser Industries which had close ties to the Soviet Union. After less than a year, Bush sold drilling bits for Ideco, a subsidiary of Dresser Industries.
In the 1950s, Bush and John Overby teamed up to form the Bush-Overby development Company based in Midland which later merged with Walker-Bush Corporation. In 1953, Bush co-founded, along with Hugh and Bill Liedtke, the Zapata Petroleum Corporation of Houston. Each partner put up $500,000. Bush traveled throughout the world selling Zapata’s oil drilling services. Zapata expanded its business to Australia, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Japan, and Europe. But the oil firmed focused on the Caribbean, including Bastrista’s right-wing regime in Cuba. Bush served as president of Zapata from 1954 to 1964 and then as chairman of the Board of Zapata Off-Shore from 1964 to 1966.
In 1960, Bush started a Mexican oil venture, this time with Diaz Serrano, forming Permargo. Permargo had several contracts with Pemex, one of Mexico’s largest oil monopolies. Eventually, Serrano moved up to run Pemax from 1975 to 1980 when reports circulated that billions of dollars had been embezzled. Later, reports surfaced that Pemax was a CIA front for covert operations in Mexico. In 1983, Serrano was convicted of defrauding the government. After the Reagan-Bush ticket won in 1980, it was discovered that records of Bush’s relationship with Serrano had been destroyed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. (Russell Bowen, The Immaculate Deception)
Zapata was a key supplier of oil to Cuba’s right-wing Batista regime. After the Castro revolution in 1959, Bush began coordinating an effort to invade Cuba. Members of his team included Frank Sturgis, E. Howard Hunt, Bernard Barker, and Rafael “Chi Chi” Quintero, all of whom were involved in the Watergate break-in a decade later. Quintero worked with CIA operant William Buckley in an assassination unit run under the cover of Permex. (Russell Bowen, The Immaculate Deception)
Bush’s ties to the Middle East became further strengthened in 1964. Running for the United States Senate from Texas, he was labeled by incumbent Democrat Ralph Yarborough as a hireling of the sheik of Kuwait, for whom Bush’s company drilled offshore oil wells. (Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush)
As a candidate for the Senate, Bush campaigned against the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Medicare, and China’s entrance into the United Nations. Two years later, Bush quit the oil business and ran for the House of Representatives. He won easily in an affluent, conservative Houston district. With the urging of President Nixon, Bush made a second attempt for a Senate slot in 1970, but he lost to a more experienced Lloyd Bentsen. In 1971, Nixon appointed Bush ambassador to the United Nations where he was fixated in keeping China out of the United Nations. At the same time, however, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was conducting secret negotiations with Beijing to improve relations. In 1973, Bush was named chair of the Republican National Committee, a position which he held for 18 months. Then Nixon named him ambassador to China.
The Bush family became the first United States clan to thoroughly entangle itself with Middle Eastern royal families and oil money. The family even had links to the Bin Ladens going back to the 1970s. Bush also had ties to rogue banks such as Abu Dhabi-based Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). In each of the government offices he held, Bush encouraged CIA involvement in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern countries, and he pursued policies that helped make the Middle East into the world’s primary destination for arms shipments. (Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush)
THE CIA. In 1976, President Ford chose Bush to head the CIA. Bush’s primary objective was to pressure Congress to stop investigating the agency. He appeared several times before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration in March 1976. His strategy was to turn the tables on congressional committees, attacking them and not the CIA for being responsible for security leaks. Bush said that eight congressional committees and 11 subcommittees were responsible in overseeing the CIA, and he proposed that that power be consolidated in one joint committee overlook the agency.
His proposal was successful. Congress reduced the number of committees overseeing the CIA to two: the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. Subsequently, Ford issued executive orders which gave Bush the authority to spread secrecy contracts throughout the executive branch and increased his control over all intelligence budgets.
Bush also testified before the House Subcommittee on Information and Individual Rights in 1976. Democratic chairman Bella Abzug focused on MHCHAOS, the CIA’s surveillance policy of anti-war activists, as well as the FBI’s counterpart called COINTELPRO. Bush naturally defended the tactics employed by MHCHAOS, but he did acknowledge that its operations resulted in some improper accumulation of documents. He maintained that the program was not designed to identify anti-war dissidents but that it was intended to identify foreigners who were infiltrating the movement. But it would be extremely unusual for the CIA to operate undercover without piecing together the names of activists. Bush proposed giving more autonomy to the CIA, allowing the agency to destroy information which MHCHAOS accumulated.
Bush finally agreed to allow individuals request their CIA files under the Freedom of Information Act. But as time elapsed, it became evident that the CIA worked to conceal individual records, fighting their civil liberties the entire way.
In 1976, Panama dictator Manuel Noriega met with CIA Director Bush for the first time in Washington D.C. Bush increased Noriega’s pay to $110,000 annually. In 1977, after Bush was replaced by a new CIA director, Noriega was dropped from the CIA payroll by President Carter. In the 1980s President Reagan unleashed the CIA and placed Noriega back on the agency’s payroll.
Allegations that George Bush was aware of illicit drug trafficking began during the Vietnam war. Bush was director of the CIA when agency operatives were involved in trafficking heroin in Southeast Asia. Bush was the agency’s chief when the CIA funneled cash to drug traffickers such as Noriega in Panama, and he was vice-president when CIA operants returned from Central America with plane loads of cocaine and marijuana. Nazi Klaus Barbie’s “cocaine coup” in Bolivia was financed in part by drug money After the coup a large flux of Moonies, followers of Rev. Moon’s Unification Church, settled in Bolivia. Moon had invested $4 million in the coup, and the cult leader funded Bush’s campaign for the presidency eight years later.
Bush claimed that he had never worked for the CIA. But he had been a CIA agent prior to the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Records in the file of Felix Rodriquez and others involved in the Bay of Pigs fiasco exposed Bush’s role in the CIA. Additionally, Nixon and Bush had discussed killing President Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs invasion.
As CIA director in 1976, Bush improved relations with the intelligence services of both Saudi Arabia and the shah of Iran. He worked closely with Kamal Adham, the head of Saudi intelligence, brother-in-law of King Faisal and an early BCCI insider. (Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush)
After leaving the CIA in January 1977, Bush became chairman of the executive committee of First International Bancshares and its British subsidiary. Bush traveled on the bank’s behalf and sometimes marketed to international banks in London, including several Middle Eastern institutions. (Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush)
Over his 12-year span as vice president and president, Bush was linked to at least two Middle East-centered scandals. Although he claimed he was “out of the loop,” allegations surfaced that he had ties to the Iran-Contra affair, in which clandestine arms shipments to Iran, some BCCI-financed, helped illegally fund the operations of the Contra in Nicaragua. But in 1992, special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh concluded that Bush had indeed been “in the loop” on multiple illegal acts. (Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush)
NAZI CONNECTIONS. When he was elected vice president in 1980, Bush chose William Stamps Farish III to manage his personal wealth in a blind trust. In 1933, Farish’s New Jersey Standard Oil Company began operations in Nazi Germany. As CEO and president of Standard Oil, Farish controlled his corporation as well as Germany’s I.G. Farben. A joint venture by these two corporations paved the way for the opening of the Auschwitz slave labor camp in June 1940. Artificial rubber and gasoline were produced at the concentration camp. Standard Oil continued to do business with the Hitler regime right up to the end of World War II. (Russell Bowen, The Immaculate Deception; Village Voice, November 1, 1988)
After World War II, Harry Truman led a Senate committee in investigating the two companies’ collaboration with the Nazi German government. Farish was subpoenaed before the committee which questioned him about his role in supporting the Nazi government. Farish pleaded “no contest” of criminal conspiracy with the Nazis.
In 1971, the Washington Post exposed President Nixon’s Heritage Groups of which Bush denied knowledge. But five years later, Colonel Jay Niemczyk, the Heritage Groups director, praised Bush for his recruitment efforts, saying that he “added needed strength and impetus” to the Republicans’ exploitation of Nazi collaborators and criminals who had been resettled after World War II. A 1976 Republican National Committee memo stated that a basic goal of the Heritage Groups Council was to maintain anti-Soviet, anti-communist zeal of Eastern European immigrants. (Russell Bowen, The Immaculate Deception)
Bush’s role with the neo-Nazi element continued when he announced that he was seeking the GOP nomination. In September 1988, seven members of his presidential campaign were fired because of their links with the Heritage Groups Foundation. The anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi members were involved in the recruitment of extreme right-wing elements in the Eastern European ethnic communities in the United States. One of the group’s members had been a member of an Italian fascist group, and the other had been a member of the Hungarian Fascist Party.
When the elder Bush served as vice president, George Junior became vice president of Zapata Off-Shore. In 1986, the father flew to the Middle East to persuade the OPEC nations to raise the price of crude oil which had fallen to under $1.00 a gallon. Vice President Bush argued that American security depended on the price of crude oil that was $12 a barrel. The Middle East oil producers agreed and promptly raised the price of a barrel by $2 which led to higher profits for companies such as Zapata. (Russell Bowen, The Immaculate Deception)
BUSH’S PHONEY WAR ON DRUGS. Bush’s first prime-time television address was devoted to announcing his plans for measures to combat illegal drugs. He pointed to his record as Reagan’s appointee in the administration’s war on drugs. In 1982, Reagan created the South Florida Task Force under Bush’s leadership. The following year Bush was placed in charge of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System, and in 1986, he was placed in charge of Operation Alliance was formed to stop the flow of drugs into southwestern states from Mexico.
Bush’s war on drugs was nothing more than rhetoric. In February 1982, he promised to use specially equipped military aircraft to track airplanes used by smugglers. But within two months, two of the four E2C aircraft used in Florida were transferred out of the state. The other two planes were used only 40 hours per month and not the 360 hours as Bush had promised. In October the Government Accounting Office stated that Bush’s task force did not have an impact on drug trafficking.
In Bush’s acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention in 1988, he said, “I want a drug-free America. Tonight, I challenge the young people of our country to shut down the drug dealers around the world. ...My administration will be telling the dealers, ‘Whatever we have to do, we’ll do, but your day is over. You’re history.’ ” It was quite ironic that Bush spoke of squashing the drug war in the United States when earlier in the decade he had promoted the flow of narcotics into the country during the Contra war.
VICE PRESIDENT BUSH. Bush always claimed that he was "out of the loop" in the Iran-Contra scandal as well as the CIA's involvement in drug trafficking while he was vice president. Plans to fund the Contras originally emanated from the office of the vice president. In the summer of 1982 Bush and Casey launched the Black Eagle Operation, a plan to ship weapons to the Contras through San Antonio, Texas and then on to El Salvador and Panama. According to a CIA operative, Bush agreed to use his office as a cover after Donald Gregg became the NSC adviser and coordinated the logistics of the operation.
In December 1983, Bush flew to Panama to ask Noriega for use of its territory to train and arm the Contras. Jose Blandon was the top political aide to Noriega. When subpoenaed before the Senate investigating committee in 1988, Blandon testified that Bush asked for and received a commitment from Noriega to help secretly arm, train, and finance the Contras. In North's 1989 trial, more evidence surfaced about the Bush-Noriega Contra connection. A Costa Rican-based Contra leader testified that he received $100,000 from Noriega in July 1984. Bush continued to plead ignorance about Noriega's drug dealing activities. Blandon confirmed that the CIA used Noriega to funnel guns and money to the Contras and that Panama was used as a training base.
After the Boland Amendment outlawed further shipments of weapons to the Contras, the "Supermarket" began to covertly fly in weapons which were purchased with private funds. Bush always pleaded innocence, maintaining that he was never aware that funds were solicited from private individuals to purchase weapons for the Contras. However, a large amount of evidence indicated that Bush knew the precise details of how the "Supermarket" raised money and bought arms.
NSC adviser Gregg served in Vietnam with Felix Rodriquez, and later both worked in American intelligence. Rodriquez was recruited by Gregg to help supply the Contras with weapons. On September 18, 1984, Gregg claimed that he sent a memo to Bush, explaining the military and political aspects of the war. Gregg said that he told the vice president that the "Supermarket" was providing the Contras with about $1.5 million from private sources.
Telephone records proved that Gregg made a number of telephone calls from his home to the White House on December 15. Bush's office officially acknowledged that Gregg and Rodriquez discussed Contra aid. The statement said that Gregg communicated with Rodriquez, but that they were never involved in directing, coordinating, or approving military aid to the Contras. Bush insisted that these contacts concerned weapons to El Salvador and not to the Contras.
On February 25, 1985, Poindexter wrote to Bush: "We want the VP (Bush) to discuss the matters with (Honduras President Roberto) Suazo." On March 16, Bush flew to Tegucigalpa and met with the president and promised him that the United States would increase military aid to Honduras in return for helping support the Contras. Suazo was close to telling the White House that he would soon evict the Contras from Honduras. Bush assured the president that he would be rewarded if he would permit Contra camps in his country and if he would help to supply them with weapons.
White House aid to Honduras began almost immediately after Bush's visit. Yet Bush categorically denied that he cut a deal with Suazo. The vice president said, "No implication, no quid pro quo, direct or indirect, from me to the president of Honduras."
As vice president, Bush was a member of the NSC. He attended at least six documented meetings between May and October of 1986 and a total of at least 24 meetings in the 1980s. The arms-for-hostages plan was undoubtedly the primary agenda item at these meetings. One of the first meetings to discuss the plan to sell arms to Iran in exchange for American hostages held by the Hezbollah was on August 6, 1985. Bush was present when National Security adviser McFarlane outlined a scheme to attempt to retrieve the hostages.
Weinberger contended that Bush supported the arms-for-hostages, while he and Secretary of State George Shultz opposed the idea. Weinberger stated: "President Reagan decided to go with Israeli-Iranian offer to release our 5 hostages in return for the sale of 4,000 TOWs (anti-tank missiles) to Iran by Israel." Weinberger's notes read: "George Shultz + 1 opposed - Bill Casey Ed Meese (Attorney General) + VP favored." Weinberger's notes told of a straightforward swap of weapons for hostages: "Our 5 hostages in return for sale of 4,000 TOWs."
Bush conceded that he supported the sale of arms but did not realize that it concerned the release of American hostages. Bush consistently said that he was "out of the loop." In addition, he stated that Israel was not a third party in sending some arms to Iran.
After Reagan authorized the sale of arms to Iran on January 6, 1986, Shultz and Weinberger expressed their opposition. Weinberger confirmed that Bush was present at a White House meeting on the following day. The two cabinet members later testified to the Tower Commission that they disagreed with both Reagan and Bush on the arm' sales. A few weeks later John Poindexter, the successor to McFarlane as National Security adviser, sent a memo to North acknowledging the high level opposition to the arms-for-hostages: "President and V.P. are solid in taking the position that we have to try."
More evidence implicated Bush with the illicit funding of the Contra war after the Boland Amendment terminated congressional dollars. Ramon Milian Rodriguez, who served as the chief financial officer of the Medellin cartel, stated that Bush had connections with the Colombia cartels. Rodriguez informed Gregg in April 1986 that North was skimming profits from the arms sales. This directly implied that Gregg was aware of the efforts of North to arm the Contras. Yet Gregg maintained that he never informed Bush about the operation. The next month, Colonel Samuel Watson, an assistant in the NSC, met with Bush and Gregg to discuss the status of the Contras. The vice president was briefed on the status of the war, including the resupply network for the Contras.
On July 29, 1986, Bush met with Amiram Nir, Israel's adviser on terrorism, at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. Bush's aide, Craig Fuller, took notes that explained that Nir hoped to gain the release of the hostages. According to Fuller, they discussed whether the arms destined for Iran would be delivered in separate shipments for each hostage as they are released. Bush later said that he could not recall much about the briefing and that he did not fully understand what Nir was referring to when he was talking about Iranian radicals. Bush said that he merely listened to Nir and that he did not know any details of the arms-for-hostages swap..
At his deposition during the Iran-Contra hearings, Contra leader Pastora testified that Bush was in the Contra resupply chain of command. Furthermore, records showed that after CIA operant Eugene Hasenfus' was shot down over Nicaragua in October 1986, his first telephone call was made to the vice president's office.
Despite the overwhelming evidence indicating that Bush was at several meetings where there were conversations concerning the arms-hostages swap, Bush continued to say that he was unaware of what transpired Even after the media broke the story, the vice president continued to maintain that he had been oblivious to the fact that illegal funds were being diverted to the Contras. Bush claimed that was not informed by the Senate Intelligence Committee until a month later. The vice president contended that the entire operation to resupply the Contras was carried out privately and that no one in the White House was privy to process.
At the end of the Reagan administration, the Sandinista government still survived. Two years after Bush was elected president, Nicaragua was readying itself for the another election. The Bush administration pumped in $9 million to the 1990 election campaign of Violetta Chamorro. This is the equivalent of an enemy country spending $2 billion on an American election. It took Chamorro and 14 other parties to form the UNO coalition, and they barely defeated Daniel Ortega's Sandinista Party. This brought to a close the 11 year war which cost the lives of more than 30,000 Nicaraguans. Most of the war's casualties were civilians, since the goal of the Contras was to break the morale of those people. The United States government spent $300 million on the Contras, and private contributions never were totally accounted for. And the United States was able to sustain $15 billion in damage to Nicaragua's infrastructure.
In late 1992 -- with only a month remaining in Bush's presidency -- Iran-Contra once again resurfaced. Bill Clinton had just defeated him in November in his bid for a second term. Reagan's secretary of defense, Casper Weinberger, was soon to be indicted for his part in Iran-Contra. Bush only had two months remaining before he would leave office. And Walsh was in his fifth year of investigating the players involved in Iran-Contra. Bush himself was well aware that there was a chance that he, too, could be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury and perhaps be indicted.
C. Gordon Gray Reagan's White House counsel for eight years, also served as Bush's personal lawyer in those same years when he was vice president. In December 1992 Gray recommended that Bush pardon Weinberger as well as other Iran-Contra figures. If Bush pardoned only Weinberger, Gray believed, that would make it suspicious that the president would be covering himself. After all, Weinberger's diary was in the hands of the independent counsel, and it contained evidence which could have implicated Bush.
Additionally, possible personal testimony could also damage Bush's credibility, since he had vehemently denied any role in Iran-Contra. Gray believed that all the high level Iran-Contra players should be pardoned. He believed that this would shield Bush from the charge that he was attempting to bring Iran-Contra to a swift conclusion so that he himself could never be implicated. The president had been convinced to go ahead and pardon Weinberger and other Iran-Contra figures who earlier had been convicted.
Gray contacted six high level officials who had been convicted of Iran-Contra crimes in order to see if they would accept a presidential pardon. Two CIA officials as well as former NSC adviser Robert McFarlane and former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams agreed to a pardon. Gray helped Bush write a three page memo explaining the purpose of the pardons. Bush said that "the five have already paid the price -- in depleted savings, lost careers, anguished families -- grossly disproportionate to any misdeeds or errors of judgment they may have committed."
As President Clinton was leaving office on January 20, 2001, he issued pardons to 176 people. Earlier, he had pardoned 102 others. The most controversial involved Marc Rich who had been charged in 1983 with conducting the largest tax evasion scheme in American history. He fought extradition from Switzerland, and never returned to the United States to face trial. He continued to make millions -- and give millions to charity -- but dared not returning to the United States to for a trial. The United States Attorney's office in New York investigated Rich, Green and Marc Rich & Company, for illegally buying more than $200 million worth of oil from Iran. That came after President Jimmy Carter banned trade with that nation when the new Ayatollah Khomeini took 52 Americans hostage at the American embassy in Teheran. Prosecutors charged that Rich's companies claimed to be paying higher prices than they actually did for oil. Then they secretly kicked back the profits to co- conspirators and hid money in foreign accounts, routinely reported phony losses to reduce their taxes. Rich and his partners were accused of evading $49 million in taxes on $106 million in illicit oil profits. Furthermore, they violated federal law by trading with the enemy during the Iran hostage crisis.
But the Christmas Eve pardons by Bush in December 1993, less than a month before the end of his presidency, received relatively little controversy. Yet those involved had been indicted for illegally selling weapons to Iran in violation of several congressional laws. In pardoning Secretary of Defense Weinberger, Bush stated that his decision was "not just out of passion or to spare the 75 year old patriot the torment of a lengthy and costly legal proceeding, but to make it possible for him to receive the honor he deserves."
Bush then hired Griffin Bell's law firm of King & Spaulding to investigate himself. After only three weeks, King & Spaulding issued its findings: Bush was not implicated in any illegalities in Iran- Contra. King & Spaulding did in three weeks what Walsh had begun seven years before. Even though Walsh was not finished with his probe, the Christmas Eve pardons brought the Iran-Contra investigation to a conclusion. Walsh was angry.
Another Bush pardon was given to Orlando Bosch, a relatively unknown fugitive who was pardoned by Bush in 1993. Bosch fled Cuba in 1959, the year after Castro took power. He immediately began violent actions with the terrorist organization "MIRV" (Insurrectional Movement of Revolutionary Recuperation) and with the "Movimiento Nacionalista Cubano" (Cuban Nationalist Movement). In 1968, Bosch was arrested by American authorities, tried and sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 1972, he was released, and made his way without permission and against the provisions of his American parole to Venezuela where he was arrested for the bombing of the Cubana airliner in which 73 people were killed, including the entire Cuban fencing team.
Bosch remained in prison Venezuela, while still directing terrorist actions detailed above. He eventually was freed on humanitarian grounds after a long hunger strike, and in 1988 returned to the U.S. without papers, where he was arrested for parole violation and then eventually remanded to the custody of INS. Cuba asked for the return of Bosch so that he could be tried for terrorist actions, but Bosch petitioned for asylum in the U.S., stating that he would not receive a fair trial in Cuba.
There were claims that Bosch was a CIA operative. He had a connection to Frank Sturgis who some thought was involved in a conspiracy to kill President John Kennedy. Bosch was one of the Cuban nationals known to be traveling from Miami to Dallas with weapons on November 1963 ((http://www.aristotle.net/~mstandridge/knollmen.htm). Bosch's name appeared in the report of the Warren Commission as one of those investigated in the Kennedy assassination.
In The Nation magazine in 1990, author David Corn wrote: "In yet another parole violation Bosch is now, according to the Miami Herald, organizing a group to raise money to buy and ship arms to Castro's adversaries in Cuba.
In January 1989, the request for asylum was denied. An acting deputy attorney general wrote: "or 30 years Bosch has been resolute and unwavering in his advocacy of terrorist violence. ... He has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated a willingness to cause indiscriminate injury and death." More than 30 countries refused to allow Bosch entry. The INS District Director in Miami excluded Bosch from remaining in the U.S. on the following grounds:
There was reason to believe he would seek to enter the U.S. solely, principally, or incidentally to engage in activities prejudicial to the public interest. (8 U.S.C. 1182 (a) (27).
That he is or has been an alien who advocates or teaches or has been a member of an organization that advocates or teaches the duty, necessity, or propriety of assaulting or killing officers of any organized government. (8 U.S.C. 1182 (a) (28) (F) (ii)).
That he is or has been an alien who advocates or teaches or has been a member of an organization that advocates or teaches the unlawful damage, injury or destruction of property. (8 U.S.C. 1182 (a) (28) (F) (iii)).
That he is or has been an alien who advocates or teaches or has been a member of an organization that advocates or teaches sabotage. (8 U.S.C. 1182 (a) (28) (F)(iv)).
That there are reasonable grounds to believe that he probably would, after entry, engage in activities which would be prohibited by the laws of the United States relating to espionage, sabotage, public disorder, or in other activity subversive to the national interest. (8 U.S.C. 1182 (a) (29)).
Bosch also was excludable on the grounds that he has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense), 8 U.S.C. 1182 (a) (9), and that he did not possess valid entry documents. 8U.S.C. 1182 (a) (20).
Then began the campaign to use political pressure to free Bosch and allow him to reside in America. Jeb Bush, who had ingratiated himself with the highest orders of power in the anti-Castro communities of Florida, was the campaign manager for right-wing Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Jeb arranged a meeting for her with his uncle, President Bush to "negotiate" the release. (New York Times August 17, 1989) In the same article the Times wrote "Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican who seeks the seat of the late Representative Claude Pepper and is the candidate for whom the president campaigned, wants the president to overrule the Justice Department's deportation order."
On July 18, 1990, Bosch was granted parole on the recommendation or order of Bush, he was allowed to live under some temporary supervisory restrictions in Miami, although being allowed to walk the streets there and mingle with members of the community. The circumstances of the parole did not exactly pass the smell test. According to the Washington Post of August 18, 1990: "In June, U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler asked government attorneys why nothing had yet happened on Bosch's case. He gave them another month to find a suitable home country for Bosch, and on the eve of that court date, Bosch received the three-page offer for release into house arrest. Justice Department spokesman Dan Eramian said the decision to release Bosch was made for ‘humanitarian reasons,' but that the government will continue to try to deport him."PRESIDENT BUSH. George Herbert Bush rode into the White House on the coat-tails of President Reagan. The November election witnessed the lowest voter turnout in any presidential election since 1924. Bush harked on the Willie Horton case in his negative ads, illustrating that Michael Dukakis was soft on crime. Yet Bush himself had no basic policy proposals and made no promises except: "Read my lips; no new taxes." This promise was to cost him reelection four years later.
When Bush was inaugurated, he immediately was faced with a national debt of $2.86 trillion. He continued on a spending spree to rank alongside Reagan as one of the two biggest spenders in American history. Four years later the debt had risen to $4.1 trillion, an average increase of $410 billion per year.
Bush's first embarrassment involved a scandal which involved vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle just prior to the November 1988 election. However, nothing surfaced until after the election. A federal prisoner, Brett Kimberlin incarcerated at an Illinois penitentiary, was silenced by the Bureau of Prisons for political purposes. The article reported that Kimberlin made allegations that he had sold marijuana to then vice presidential candidate, Dan Quayle, just prior to the 1988 election. When the press began to pay attention to those allegations, the Bureau of Prisons took a number of actions to sequester him.
Approximately one month before the 1988 presidential election Brett Kimberlin, who was incarcerated in federal prison since 1979, talked to National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg about his allegations of selling marijuana to vice president Dan Quayle in the 1970s. Shortly thereafter, Totenberg, without disclosing Kimberlin as the source, asked the deputy press secretary of the Bush-Quayle campaign, Mark Goodin, to comment on the allegations. When Goodin declined to comment without more information on who was making the allegations, Totenberg provided a signed affidavit from Kimberlin.
On November 3, 1988, five days before the presidential election, NBC News asked the prison warden at El Reno, Oklahoma, where Kimberlin was incarcerated, for an on-camera interview with Kimberlin. Prison authorities offered to schedule the interview on Wednesday of the following week, its regular scheduling day for media interviews. Because that day would be after the election, NBC asked that the interview take place before the election.
Kimberlin was released from detention the following day. He later attempted to give an interview to a group of reporters by telephone. He was then seized in his cell by six guards, handcuffed, marched to the detention unit in the cold, strip-searched and placed in a small cell. Prison officials issued the order, "No more calls for this inmate." This order was described by El Reno officials as unusual. Kimberlin remained in administrative detention for a week until well after the election. A month later, when the press again began to pay attention to Kimberlin's allegations, the bureau again returned him to administrative detention. The Bureau of Prisons violated prison rules in its effort to silence Kimberlin.
The Bush team's goal was to keep Kimberlin's allegations out of the 1988 campaign, since it obviously would have serious consequences. The most senior officials in the Bush-Quayle campaign --Jim Baker, Lee Atwater, Fred Fielding, Stu Spencer and Joe Canzeri, as well as Quayle himself -- knew about Kimberlin's allegations and his efforts to publicize them. The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management attempted to investigate these allegations. The Justice Department denied them the right to interview key people under oath as to the facts pertaining to the cancellation of Kimberlin's press conference and his detentions by the Bureau of Prisons.
Once inaugurated, Bush rewarded top fund-raisers with White House positions. His choices included Secretary of State James Baker, Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady, Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher, and White House counsel and top political adviser, C. Boyden Gray, all of whom had been big fund-raisers for Bush in 1988.
Bush also looked to officers of Kissinger Associates, the international consulting firm run by Henry Kissinger, when he made other appointments. General Brent Scowcroft, the former chief of Kissinger's Washington D.C. office and a Freemason, was appointed to the National Security Council, and Lawrence Eagleburger were named to Undersecretary of State. Several Kissinger Associate cronies were awarded positions as consulors and ambassadors. Bush named John Negroponte as ambassador to Mexico. Most of the other appointments to ambassadorships were based on their contributions to the Republican Party.
Bush's inner circle also consisted of some leftovers from the Ford administration. Eventually, Dick Cheney became Secretary of Defense. Carla Hills became Bush's Trade Representative, and William Seidman and James Baker were given high level positions. Bush also picked Governor John Sununu of New Hampshire as chief of staff, since he had helped him during the 1988 campaign.
Bush even reached down to those who had participated in Iran-Contra. Members of the Tower Board, who had exonerated him, included Senator John Tower of Texas, former Senator Edmund Muskie, and Scowcroft. However, Tower's nomination to become secretary of defense was rejected by the Senate because of allegations of drunkenness and womanizing. One Iran-Contra figure was Don Gregg who eventually was designated to be Bush's national security adviser. Another key figure in Iran-Contra, Robert Gates, was given the directorship of the CIA. The State Department, too, had its Iran-Contra line-up. Thomas Pickering, ambassador to El Salvador during the Contra war, was appointed ambassador to the United Nations. Reginald Bartholomew, Bush's choice as Undersecretary of State for security affairs, science, and technology, was the American ambassador in Beirut in September and November 1985 when an Israeli shipment of 508 American-made TOW antitank missiles was delivered to Iran in exchange for the release of Reverend Benjamin Weir. Bartholomew worked closely with Oliver North on a scheme to use Delta Force commandoes to free any hostages not spontaneously released by Islamic Jihad.
Other top appointments went to Bush's friends. Manuel Lujan became Secretary of Interior, and Ed Derwinski was given the Veterans' Administration which soon was upgraded to a cabinet post. William Reilly was picked as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Bush believed that it was crucial to patronize the GOP right. He chose Jack Kemp, a 1988 presidential candidate, for Housing and Urban Development. William Bennett was named to the Department of Education and later became Drug Czar but he soon resigned after declaring that he had won the war on drugs. The selection of Elizabeth Dole to be Secretary of Labor was dictated by similar intra-GOP considerations, namely the need to placate Republican Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas.
Other appointments were based on one's contributions to the Republican Party. Calvin Howard Wilkins had donated over $178,000 to the GOP over a number of years, including $92,000 to the Kansas Republican National State Election Committee in September 1988, and he was awarded with the position of ambassador to the Netherlands. Penny Percy Korth, another big party fund-raiser, was named ambassador to Mauritius. Bush's choice for Switzerland was Joseph Gilderhorn who had contributed $180,000 to the party. Joseph Zappala, who had donated $100,000, was tabbed ambassador to Spain.
In his first 100 days, Bush made it clear that he wanted to be seen as the "education president." Yet he refused to submit even a billion dollar increase to do so. He also hoped to be looked up to a the "environmental president." At a National Geographic Society conference Bush promised that there was "one issue my administration is going to address, and I'm talking about the environment." Bush's first hundred days coincided with the notable phenomenon of the "greening" of Margaret Thatcher who had previously denounced environmentalists as enemies. He called for the elimination of all chlorofluorocarbons by the end of the century in conjunction with the 1987 Montreal treaty, but he changed his mind and said that his goal was to reduce CFCs by 50 percent.
Bush and the Democratic leadership worked their way around the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Law. To work towards a balanced budget, they funneled over $100 billion from Social Security, highway, and other special trust funds. Advisers also painted a better future of the economy, predicting higher economic growth and lower interest rates. The national debt totaled $2.8 billion, but this estimate included commitments to such agencies as the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. Bush failed to achieve a fiscal austerity program, as the national debt continued to skyrocket.
GOING TO WAR -- OPERATION "UNJUST CAUSE" IN PANAMA. As CIA director, Bush increased not only kept Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega on the CIA payroll, but he increased his annual take to $110,000. However, Bush was replaced by Stansfield Turner in 1977. Subsequently, Noriega was dropped from the CIA payroll by incoming President Carter. In order to push for the Panama Canal Treaty, Carter chose to ignore Noriega's involvement in drug trafficking. In 1981, President Reagan was quick to place Noriega back into the hands of the CIA with a higher per annum salary of $185,000. At one point Noriega collected $200,000. The CIA first deposited Noriega's salary in the Bank for Credit and Commerce International. In later years, this same bank pled guilty to money laundering in regards to drug trafficking.
During the Reagan-Bush administration, the White House ignored charges that the Noriega regime acted as a conduit for smuggling drugs into the United States. Instead the principle issue revolved around using Panama as a staging area for Contras. In 1985 CIA director Casey asked Noriega for the use of Panamanian military bases for the training of Contra troops but Noriega declined the offer and subsequently found himself betrayed by the CIA.
While Noriega worked for the CIA in the 1980s, he supplied pilots to smuggle drugs to the Contras in Costa Rica under the command of Eden Pastora. He even contributed $100,000 to the Contras on the southern front. Noriega charged $100,000 per plane to use Panama as a conduit in running drugs from Colombia to the United States. Within years, his fee was doubled to $200,000. One pilot, Floyd Carlton, was paid $400 per kilogram to fly drugs from Colombia, stopping in Panama, and continuing to the United States. Then the drug business went sour for Carlton when a $3 million shipment of cocaine disappeared.
However, the Reagan administration ignored charges that the Noriega regime acted as a conduit for smuggling drugs into the United States. Instead the principle issue revolved around using Panama as a staging area for Contras. In 1985, CIA director William Casey asked Noriega for the use of Panamanian military bases for the training of Contra troops. When Noriega declined, National Security Council official Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North met with him in London and further tried to convince him to aid the Contras. North asked Noriega for logistical support in striking Nicaraguan economic targets such as oil refineries and communication systems. In addition North again requested that Panamanian training facilities be used in order to train commandos in hit-and-run tactics. North also offered to use a dummy company, Amalgamated Commercial Enterprises, to store Contra weapons. This was the same front which was used by Syrian arms and drug dealer Manzer al-Kasser who was working with the Medellin cartel in Colombia. However, Noriega still refused to allow Panama to become a staging ground for Contra activities.
As a result, the Bush administration in the late 1980s began drumming up anti-Noriega sentiment by intentionally leaking information that the Panama autocrat was heavily involved in drug trafficking. In 1990, Bush looked around for other excuses which he could use as a pretext to invade Panama. He claimed that the United States was in danger of losing the canal. In December 1990, it was revealed that four United States Army soldiers, known as the "Hard Chargers," drove through a Panama City roadblock controlled by Panamanian soldiers. The Hard Chargers were a group of American soldiers who would frequently hassle Panama's forces at roadblocks. On one occasion, Panamanian soldiers opened fire on United States soldiers who refused to stop, and an American lieutenant was killed. Immediately, the Pentagon denied this occurred. However, the other three American soldiers confirmed independently of one another that the Americans were not lost, as they had claimed, and that they deliberately went to various checkpoints to hassle troops, swearing and making obscene gestures, and then would speeding off.
Four days later Bush called for the American invasion and stated that the killing was the "trigger to the decision." Along with this as justification for the American invasion, Bush stated that the United States must protect the canal. However, it was never in danger, since part of the provisions of the 1977 treaty was for the United States to turn over 414 bases to Panama by the year 2000. Furthermore, Bush claimed for the first time that Noriega was a dictator and that his aim was to overthrow "21 years of dictatorship," going back to 1968 when General Torillos overthrew the government in a military coup.
Since the media were locked out of Operation Just Cause, Americans had to rely on military information. Obviously, there were discrepancies, and the differences were staggering. In the invasion the United States landed 24,000 troops landed and dropped 422 bombs. Up to 4,000 were killed, mainly a result of American bombings. Two 1,000 pound bombs were dropped in the El Chorillo neighborhood, and new weapons such as the F-17 stealth fighter were experimentally used for the first time. Hundreds were maimed and killed, as their homes were set on fire, and 20,000 to 50,000 civilians were left homeless. Among the 7,000 people arrested were university professors, labor leaders, government officials, political organizers, journalists, and military personnel. 15,000 boxes of Panamanian government documents were stolen. On April 15, 1990, General Maxwell Thurman stated, "There's an enormous quantity of documents. We have them under our custodianship, and I'm satisfied with our custodianship."
The statistics released by the Panamanian government stated there was proof that only 68 Panamanian military died and 27 were wounded. The United States government sources stated originally that the total death toll was 84, as stated by General Stiner on January 24, 1990. Subsequently, this was revised to 516 of whom 314 were soldiers and 202 were civilians. Many of the dead civilians were Dignity Battalion members who were killed in the looting that followed the invasion.
For the first 72 hours after the invasion, the neighborhood of El Chorillo around Noriega headquarters was closed to Red Cross workers. The Central American Human Rights Commission in Costa Rica reported that the United States military piled up 30 bodies, soaked them in gasoline, and set fire. A Spanish priest admitted burning six bodies so they could be eaten by dogs. Soldiers were seen placing bodies and explosives in plastic bags and were taken to sea.
Many Panamanians continued to believe that the official death count was up to 4,000. Members of the 193rd Infantry Brigade told that they were hired to load body bags, "hundreds and hundreds of them" onto cargo planes bound for a secret burial at the large American air base in Honduras. A mass grave was at the Jardin de Paz cemetery where the bodies of hundreds of "liberated" Panamanians were tossed into a pit and covered up. A woman mourning her husband stated that he was buried there somewhere and, thrown into the pit "like a dog." Survivors could only guess where their loved ones lay beneath the 100 by 18-foot rectangle of bare earth. Panamanians claimed that American officers at military headquarters, killed a soldier and two civilians which included a one-year-old girl. Other soldiers, unknown to one another, confirmed that these allegations were true. Roberto Troncoso, president of the Panamanian Committee for Human Rights, said: "There are no mass graves, no hidden cemeteries. Yet the photograph accompanying your article depicts just such a mass grave." Fourteen mass graves were uncovered. In late April and early May, one such grave was exhumed at Jardin de Paz in Panama, and 124 bodies were removed.
The Independent Commission of Inquiry on the United States Invasion of Panama was headed by Attorney General Ramsey Clark. After months of on-site investigations with civilians, medical personnel, political and union leaders, United States military leaders, several human rights organizations, religious leaders and others, it was determined that up to 4,000 Panamanians were killed.
The Linking Committee was established by the United States government. This was the official arm for inquiries into missing or killed Panamanians. This committee merely told citizens whether or not they had relatives on the "official list" of dead or detained persons. The Red Cross was not allowed into the devastated El Chorrillo area nor was it allowed to investigate. Nevertheless, 1,500 to 1,600 names of missing people were on their lists.
Two television stations were taken over by United States troops, two radio stations were destroyed, and all opposition newspapers were shut down. Nearly every American television and radio station justified the American invasion and covered up what really took place. On September 30, 1990, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a program which acknowledged that there was a widespread loss of life. This was the first time that the American public was made aware of the fact that the government's statistics were highly exaggerated.
There was an estimated $2 billion in physical damage afflicted by the American military. The United States government allocated a mere $420 million in aid to "rebuild Panama's infrastructure." However, $108 million or 25 percent went to "reactivate the banking system and increase credit." Fifty-eight percent or $244 million went to reduce Panama's foreign debt -- principally foreign banks and almost all to American banks. Seventeen percent went for administration of justice, natural resources, conservation, private sector training, public administration, police training ($12 million alone), restructuring the nation's judiciary ($17 million alone) -- and improving the canal ($10 million alone). Only $3 million of the $420 million went for housing.
In the May 1990 elections, the United States poured in $10 million to get Guillermo Endara elected. This amount would be equivalent to that of a foreign country funneling $1 billion to an American candidate to get him or her elected president of the United States. Endara was the incorporating attorney and treasurer of several companies which were linked to laundering drug money. These fronts included Enterprises Ramadan, Pilea, and Hassid Enterprises which purchased Miami houses, condominiums, and housing tracts. Motores Marinos de Panama was the parent company of KS and W Offshore Drilling whose officials were convicted of money laundering and racketeering in 1990. Its property, valued at $20 million in Florida, was seized by the government. Southern Farms in Florida received drug shipments from Colombia. Finally Copan Marine Services helped launder Falcon-Magluta drug money, and in 1989 its president's $340,000 condominium was seized. Needless to say, Endara claimed ignorance to any of his six companies dealing in the laundering of drug money. Endara continued to rule Panama with an iron-fist.
A Panamanian professor of international law stated that under the Endara regime: "All the colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors came from Noriega years. The present chief of bodyguards to Ricardo Arias Calderon, a vice-president and the minister of Government Justice, is Major Clarence Green, one of Noriega's infamous ‘dobermans.' " Drug trafficking after Noriega not only continued, but it continued to rise in America's "new democracy." A year after the American invasion, 13,000 pounds of cocaine with a wholesale value of $153 million, were seized. The White House estimated that drug trafficking and money laundering doubled between 1990 and 1991 under Endara.
In the ensuing Endara regime, 250,000 Panamanians of the country's two million people lost their jobs by 1993. Unemployment was 11 percent before the invasion and increased by 35 percent one year after Endara was placed in power. In the city of Colon itself, unemployment climbed to 55 percent. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs reported that the number of poor rose from 40 percent before the invasion to 54 percent by 1991.
Noriega was kidnapped by the American military and imprisoned in Miami. Federal prosecutors worked quickly for his trial. Noriega's case finally reached court in late 1991 and was billed "the drug trial of the century." There was unsurmountable evidence which linked Noriega to the CIA and to drug trafficking. This became a very delicate issue to the prosecution, since the Department of Justice had to take care not to link Noriega to the covert and illegal activities carried out by the CIA. Prosecutors could not allow the cooperation between Noriega and the CIA concerning drug trafficking in the 1970s and 1980s to surface in court. However, the fact that Noriega was on the CIA payroll -- that he received between $10 million and $15 million while president of Panama -- could not be refuted. This was a harmless piece of evidence since it did not link the CIA directly to drug trafficking.
After the American invasion, it was reported that the Army seized a 50 pound stash of cocaine in one of Noriega's offices. On closer examination, this turned out to be a flour-like substance used in cooking. Furthermore, none of the documents, which were seized in Noriega's headquarters, contained any evidence to link Noriega to drug trafficking. It soon became clear to the federal prosecutors that they would have to rely on oral testimony, and the only witnesses were the ones who had been convicted of drug trafficking. Obviously, their credibility created a gigantic problem for the prosecution. The FBI combed through federal penitentiaries and came up with more than 60 witnesses. In the mean time the American government froze Noriega's assets which were valued at over $20 million. This made it difficult for him to obtain any high level attorneys. In addition the government taped all his telephone conversations as well as obtaining a secret list of the defense witnesses.
The prosecution witnesses consisted of convicted felons who were promised reduced sentences and money in return for their testimony. Carlos Lehder, a follower of Adolph Hitler and convicted of running cocaine from Latin America to Florida, had his sentence of life-plus-130-years reduced and was moved to Marion penitentiary where he was provided a third floor room with a view and a television.
A key prosecution witness was Jose Blandon who had been a former aide to Noriega. A few days before Noriega's indictment in February 1989, Blandon testified before a grand jury that Cuba's Fidel Castro and Noriega had met in regard to Panama's connection with the Medellin cartel. Blandon stated that Noriega had cooperated with the DEA in Panama's province of Damien. According to Damien they successfully raided a cocaine laboratory, seized the narcotics, and took several dozen prisoners. Blandon went on to testify that Noriega gave the Medellin cartel $4 million in return for allowing its members to fly cocaine through Panama into the United States and to allow cocaine laboratories to continue operations in Panama. If this is true, it obviously would have linked Noriega directly to drug trafficking, and it was this piece of evidence which was the prosecution's most potent weapon in convicting him. There were many inconsistencies in Blandon's sworn testimony.
First, there was a handwritten letter from Noriega indicating that Castro had absolutely no knowledge of a possible Medellin-Noriega conspiracy. The letter was discovered in his family safe which was seized after the American invasion. Consequently, it would have been impossible for Noriega to "plant" the letter, since he had no access to his safe after the American invasion began. Second, those who were captured at the Medellin laboratory in Damien were taken into custody six weeks before Noriega's meeting with Castro. Third, Blandon's credibility was very questionable, since he was under investigation by the FBI for allegedly copying and distributing conversations between Noriega and his attorneys after he was abducted by the American government. Fourth, even DEA officials claimed that no cocaine was found at the Damien site.
Another prosecution witness was Steven Kalish who testified that he had paid Noriega $300,000 in bribes. Since he was a convicted drug trafficker himself and had earlier perjured himself in court, his credibility was also in question. There was ample evidence linking the Medellin payoff to Panamanian Colonel Julian Melo and not to Noriega. Medellin cartel representative Jorge Ochoa wanted Melo to use his influence to use Panama as a conduit in shipping narcotics northward to the United States. Kalish claimed that he met with Ochoa and worked out cartel operations in Panama. He stated that the cartel would "correct the wrong information they have received about you (Noriega) ever having complicity in this affair." That meant no cocaine manufacturing and shipping would occur in Panama, so that the country's banks could continue to act as safe havens for the Medellin cartel's money. Kalish's testimony pointed out the contradictions made by Blandon who had claimed that Castro acted as a mediator, and it also pointed out that Noriega knew nothing about cocaine laboratories in Panama.
More testimony came from Gabriel Taboada, a Colombian drug dealer who was serving a 21- year sentence for cocaine smuggling. He testified how he was paid to export luxury cars to the United States despite the fact that there was a legal ban to do so. He was paid $50,000 to ship 47 luxury cars into the United States illegally with diplomatic plates. Taboada stated that Medellin cartel officials had brought a suitcase filled with $500,000 in 100-dollar bills into Noriega's office. He also claimed that Noriega promised to find a way to smuggle in luxury car. However, there were many lapses and inconsistencies in Taboada's testimony.
Dates did not make sense and key details were often missing. Luis del Cid was an officer in the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) and was considered one of Noriega's "errand boys." He testified that he gave numerous envelopes and suitcases filled with cartel money to Noriega. When cross-examined, del Cid admitted that he never looked to see what was inside. Another questionable prosecution witness was Floyd Carlton, a convicted cartel pilot. He testified that the Medellin cartel paid Noriega $600,000 for permission to fly three plane loads of cocaine through Panama.
Despite the testimony from convicted felons, much of which was vague and inconclusive as well as being filled with inconsistencies, Noriega was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, while his successor continued to rule over a repressive and oppressive regime in Panama.
IRAQGATE. During the early Reagan years Iraq was one of the largest buyers of American farm products, and by the end of Reagan's administration Baghdad was purchasing 40 percent of their food from the United States. Iraq also defaulting on American loans and was still given a $270 million credit to buy more products. Not only was the United States helping to subsidize Saddam Hussein in agricultural products but also sold military equipment and technology directly to Baghdad as well as to other countries which in turn peddled them on to Iraq. As vice president, Bush's first involvement with Hussein occurred in 1986, when he sent strategic military advice to the Saddam during a critical point of the Iran-Iraq War.
After an Iraqi Exorcet missile killing 38 Americans aboard the USS Stark, the United States still continued its support of Hussein. The Reagan-Bush administration sold military trucks to Iraq, only when the military reference was deleted when the information was provided to Congress. In addition, the Reagan White House sold civilian helicopters to Hussein, and subsequently they were transferred to the military in violation of promises. And Reagan and Bush secretly allowed Saudi Arabia to provide American-made weapons to the Iraqi regime over a period of nearly ten years.
Eighteen American corporations provided Saudi Arabia with military hardware which included TOW missiles. The Saudis delivered MK-84 2,000 pound bombs to Iraq in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. Also, $5.5 billion in loans to Iraq from American banks were ignored by the American government. Iraq received $5 billion in loans guaranteed by the Agricultural Department to promote American farm exports. The food was replaced by weapons. Even Bush admitted that American materials had been sold to Iraq for commercial purposes and then illegally switched for military uses.
The Reagan-Bush administration secretly allowed Saudi Arabia to provide American-made weapons to the Iraqi regime over a period of nearly ten years. Eighteen American corporations provided Hussein with military hardware. According to the General Accounting Office in 1986 the United States sold an undisclosed number of TOW anti-tank missiles. In return the Saudis sold 1,500 bombs to Iraq. These included 300 MK-84 2,000 pound bombs. This was directly in violation of the Arms Export Control Act which prohibited the transfer of American weapons to other nations without the written approval of Washington.
Billions of dollars in fraudulent loans were made by the Atlanta branch of an Italian bank to help provide Iraq with weapons for the Gulf War. As much as $5.5 billion in loans were ignored by the American government. Italian Bank (Banca Nazionale del Lavoro) in Atlanta illegally sent these funds to Iraq for the purchase of military weapons. In October 1989 FBI agents raided the Atlanta bank and found evidence of over $5 billion in loans guaranteed by the Agricultural department through its Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to promote American farm exports. Investigators found that food was being replaced for weapons. Even Bush admitted that American materials had been sold to Iraq for commercial purposes and then illegally switched for military uses.
Shortly after the Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988, Vice President Bush met several times with Iraqi officials to continue to play up to Hussein's government. Bush sought to influence the Exchange- Import Bank to provide loans to Iraq. Two months after Bush moved into the White House, he continued to patronize Hussein's government. The newly inaugurated president attempted to influence the Exchange-Import Bank to provide loans to Iraq.
However, in the summer of 1989, American attitude towards Iraq began to shift. Secretary of State James Baker informed Bush that Iraq was procuring nuclear weapons technology. Yet Bush pushed forward with his own agenda to provide more weapons and agricultural credits to Iraq. Only two days after American intelligence warned Bush of the Hussein's buildup, the United States granted Iraq $1 billion in agricultural credits. Bush insisted that he never knowingly helped Hussein develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
In June, the Defense Intelligence Agency warned of high level administration officials in the White House that Iraq had developed a major European procurement network in defense industries. On September 3, Secretary of State Baker issued a top secret warning to Bush. He stated that Iraq was procuring nuclear weapons technology to counter perceived military threats from Israel and Iran. Baker's report included such items as sophisticated computers and X-ray machines.
The next day, the CIA issued a report that Iraq was serious in its bid to build nuclear weapons. Despite these repeated warnings about Iraq's arms build-up, Bush pushed forward with his own agenda to provide more weapons and credits to Iraq. Despite these warnings to Bush by American intelligence groups, just two days later Bush granted Iraq $1 billion in agricultural credits.
,On September 2, Bush issued National Security Directive 26. This stated that "the United States government should propose economic and political incentives for Iraq to moderate its behavior and to increase our influence with Iraq." Among the incentives for expanded trade with Iraq included non-lethal military assistance. Bush insisted that he never "knowingly" helped Hussein develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. However, both Baker and National Security adviser Brent Scowcraft admitted that they had seen several memorandums which warned the administration of Hussein's bid to proliferate its military arsenal. Nevertheless, NSD 26 was Bush's official stamp of approval on his Iraq policy. Four days later, Baker met with Foreign Minister Aziz and, according to the minutes, informed him that the White House would not restrict the sale of high technology equipment to Iraq.
The State Department disclosed that between 1986 and 1989, 73 transactions took place with Iraq. Items included bacteria cultures, advanced computers, and equipment to repair jet engines and rockets. Even after the Gulf War erupted, American corporations illegally sold technology to Iraq. For example Delft Instruments in New York sold night-vision equipment to both Iraq and Jordan four months after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in December 1991. It was disclosed in 1989 that XYZ Options, an Alabama firm which manufactured carbide tools, was part of Iraq's nuclear capability market. They furnished valves for nuclear weapons. In addition a $40 million brass-casting factory and a $26 million ductile-pipe plant sold materials to Iraq.
Bush attempted to use the CIA to squelch an investigation of Iraqgate in the House of Representatives by Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas. In a series of speeches, Gonzalez documented how American policy helped Iraq develop weapons of mass destruction before the Gulf War. Gonzalez believed Bush is using the CIA to taint the Iraqgate investigation. Bush asked the CIA to investigate Gonzalez for revealing allegedly secret intelligence information which it claimed harmed American national security interests.
The House Judiciary Committee, after several hearings, considered the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate Iraqgate. However, the investigation merely revolved around the fact that the Commerce Department allegedly altered information on 66 export licenses for Iraq which were turned over to congressional investigators. The export licenses were simply changed from "Vehicles designed for military use" to "Commercial utility cargo trucks." The House Judiciary Committee ultimately agreed that it was too "vague" to justify an independent counsel. As a result, no further investigations into Iraqgate were conducted.
THE 1991 GULF WAR. A number of issues leading up to the Gulf War indicated that the American invasion was unwarranted. On July 25 just one week prior to the American deployment of troops to Kuwait, the American ambassador, April Glaspie, was summoned to meet Hussein in Baghdad. When Hussein asked her about the America's position on the unsettled Iraq-Kuwait border dispute, she replied that it was an "Arab-to-Arab problem." Glaspie told Hussein that Bush desired friendship with Iraq and hoped that the dispute with Kuwait could be settled peacefully.
On the same day, Secretary of State James Baker stated, "While we take no position on the border delineation issue raised by Iraq with respect to Kuwait ... Iraqi statements suggest an intention to resolve outstanding disagreements by the use of force, an approach which is contrary to United Nations Charter principles." Three days later Bush himself conveyed the same sentiment in a message to Hussein.
Nearly a year later in March 1991, Glaspie stated that the Iraqi transcripts of the meeting did not accurately reflect her warning that the United States would not tolerate an Iraqi invasion. Did the State department refuse to publicly release a summary of the July 1990 meeting, since diplomatic confidentiality could not have been a reason after Hussein entered Kuwait? Additionally, did the State Department not bother to deny the validity of Iraq's transcripts of the Hussein-Glaspie meeting when the American ambassador denied that the border dispute was an issue?
Other top level administration leaders also stated that the United States had no interest in the border dispute. These statements were made by White House spokesperson Margaret Tutwider at a press conference; by Undersecretary of State John Kelly; and by Senator Robert Dole when he visited Baghdad on April 12, 1990.
The Arab League was split over the condemnation of Iraq. On August 10, 1990, 12 of the 21 dissented and did not vote against Hussein. Those who did not vote stated that they opposed the presence of the United States in the Middle East and that they supported Hussein's desire to link the Gulf crisis to the Palestinian question. Furthermore, they supported Hussein's grievances and opposed Kuwait's insensitivity. In addition, the majority of Arab League nations opposed the socio- economic disparity between the wealthy and the poor in Kuwaiti society.
In September 1990, Bush invited the Soviet Union to provide land troops as part of multi-national forces in Saudi Arabia. Then in October, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution providing for a land trade embargo. The vote was 13-0 with Yemen and Cuba abstaining. The United States and Saudis agreed that there would be joint control of a ground invasion of Kuwait and Iraq and that the American military would command the air strikes. With China and Cuba abstaining, the Security Council voted 12-2 to condone a military invasion after January 15, 1991.
However, Bush flip-flopped on the issue of economic sanctions, predetermined to go to war no matter how successful they may have been. On August 10 he stated, "I'd love to see economic sanctioned to be so successful that the (American) forces could be withdrawn." Five days later he said, "Sanctions are working." Then on September 11 the president said: "Sanctions will take time to have their full intended effect." Bush reversed himself on December 3: "There is no guarantee that sanctions will force him out of Kuwait." The next day he said, "I've not been one who is convinced that sanctions alone will bring him to his senses." And the following day Bush stated, "Nobody can tell you that sanctions alone will ever be able to get him to withdraw."
Bush not only refused to consider or to even acknowledge Hussein's claims to Kuwait, but he stated that Iraq showed no interest in a negotiated settlement. This was a lie since the total reverse was true. It was Bush who refused to negotiate with Hussein and who demanded an unconditional surrender of Iraq. Bush gave several reasons for the American invasion of Iraq.
Bush contended that human rights in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Middle East had to be insured. Yet, other Arab neighbors were just as guilty. For example the Saudis stoned to death women on charges of adultery. In Kuwait itself democratic councils were frequently scrapped and dissident officials imprisoned.
Bush maintained that another reason for the American invasion was to uphold the United Nations commitment to defend member states against aggression. Yet both Syria and Israel invaded Lebanon and never returned territory. Turkey took half of Cyprus; Morocco waged war against Western Sahara; and Indonesia annexed East Timor at a cost of nearly a million lives.
After helping Iraq build its war machine, Bush decided to deploy troops to Kuwait in August 1990. Bush gave a wide variety of reasons for sending Americans to Kuwait. He claimed that troops were sent to free American hostages held in Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. In addition Bush stated that America's mission was to liberate Kuwait, but nothing was said about its deplorable human rights record.
Bush also stated that the United States was preventing Iraq from monopolizing all the world's great oil reserves. Yet it is impossible for any single producer to control the oil market, let alone the 13- member OPEC. Bush also claimed that Iraq was posing a nuclear threat. Still he denied any responsibility in Iraqgate, failing to mention that the United States helped to build up Hussein's war machine.
In November 1990, Baker stated that intervention would safeguard American jobs at home. Yet this was the first time that the Republican administration showed concerned for the nation's work force, particularly at the expense of massacring thousands of Middle Easterners.
Then Bush over committed himself by making a January 15 ultimatum, preventing any room for negotiating or maneuvering for a peaceful settlement. He lost all bargaining power by making this unilateral demand instead of exploring peace.
At the onset of the war, Bush stated that the goal was to remove Iraqi soldiers and to prevent Hussein from using his air force as well as chemical weapons against rebel forces. Again, Bush vacillated on his justification for the war and chose to land American troops in northern Iraq to give support to the Kurds.
Bush continued to deny that oil was the reason for American intervention. Numerous times he stated that troops were deployed because the United States would not tolerate "naked aggressiveness" and that Hussein was "another Hitler." Yet Bush warned that the world could not allow Hussein to control oil. Bush also spoke of restoring stability to the Middle East. However, he did not mention the fact that Kuwait was a despotic corporate state. Presumably, Bush hoped to restore the Middle East to the pre-1979 Shah era when the United States could control the key nations with its CIA payments and military hardware.
The American military goal was to block an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia. Yet nothing was said about an American invasion of Iraq. Hussein did not have the industrial capacity to launch an offensive because of both Israel and Saudi Arabia's military superiority, as well as Iraq's failure to defeat Iran.
The sanctions against 20 million people of Iraq were justified with the claim that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Yet, in 1991, Iraq had not one weapon in its entire arsenal capable of hitting an American aircraft carrier. The weapons of mass destruction were one-sided against Iraq. In 1991, the United States fired 57 missiles over 42 days from its bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait;. The United States flew 110,000 sorties, dropping 88,500 tons of chemical, biological and nuclear, destroying water purification plants, food-processing plants, electric power stations, hospitals, schools, telephone exchanges, bridges and roads in the country along with the entire life-support systems and economic infrastructure.
Bush remained silent on Syria which was Hussein's primary enemy. The Hussein feud over control of the Ba'athist Party and the issue of pan-Arabism continued since Saddam gained power were paramount issues. Syria's Assad built a powerful military machine which was far superior to that of the Iraqis. Finally, neighboring Iran continued to menace Hussein since the termination of their eight-year war.
As a result of Bush's decision to go to war, the American government took a loss of over $2 billion in loans, money which Iraq was loaned to purchase American grain. Among the hardest hit were American rice growers who had exported 25 percent of their 1989 harvest to Iraq for $143 million. Before the invasion Iraq was buying $350 million worth of wheat, corn, barley, and soybeans from American farmers. In addition, Japan took a loss of $5 billion in unpaid Iraqi bills.
To gather support for the American invasion, Bush bought the support of several Middle Eastern nations. Egypt sent to troops in exchange for $64 billion in foreign debts which were nullified. Turkey was promised nearly $9 billion in American weapons, support for joining the Common Market and an increase in its quota of textile exports to the United States. China was given a $114.3 million loan from the World Bank. Saudi Arabia had boosted its oil output by six million barrels per day, so they could help finance the war effort. The Saudis earned an additional $43 billion per year as a result of increasing oil production by about one million barrels per month. They were able to increase oil prices from about $20 to $30 per barrel, allowing for this enormous windfall.
Since the early 1980s, the State Department branded Syria a terrorist nation. Nevertheless, the Bush administration chose to ignore its dismal human rights record and the fact that Assad aspired to expand his influence in the Middle East and control the Arab world. In December 1990, Syria had accumulated $2 billion in aid, primarily from Saudi Arabia but also from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
In February 1991, at the height of the Gulf War, Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter approved $650,000 in U.S. aid to Turkey's tobacco monopoly. In return Turkey gave the United States access to an air base from which American planes could be launched against Iraq.
THE SAVINGS AND LOAN BAILOUT. Corruption spilled over into the savings and loan institution. In the 1988 campaign hundreds of savings and loans donated $800,000 in soft money to the Bush campaign as well as giving $11 million to congressional candidates and party committees throughout the 1980s. Eight financial institution officials donated more money to the Bush campaign, and five of these were involved in high-risk junk bond investments with Michael Milken. One of these was convicted felon Charles Keating of Lincoln Savings and Loan. The White House reciprocated by deregulating the savings and loan industry. This became a potential for a tremendous windfall for the institution's corporate officials, since they no longer were accountable to the government and free to speculate in high risk junk bonds.
PASSPORTGATE. On September 16, 1992, chief of staff James Baker met with top campaign members. They discussed the possibility that Clinton had written a letter renouncing his American itizenship while protesting the Vietnam War. They hoped that the Freedom of Information Act would provide them with this information which ould be used to discredit Clinton in the last days before the November election. Baker and his aides hoped to expedite the request for the information. This came to be known as Passportgate.
After Bush was defeated for a second term, a story broke that Elizabeth Tamposi, an assistant secretary of state, had led this pre-election search of Clinton's passport files. Tamposi had contacted Janet Mullins, a high level Bush aide, as well as Baker.
Attorney General William Barr and other high level attorneys in the Justice Department believed that some of Bush's aides had conducted an improper search into the files of Clinton and his mother. Barr asked Mullins to cooperate with the DOJ, but she refused to cooperate with an investigation. Barr knew that the Independent Counsel Act was to expire a few days later on December 15. He also did not believe that their was enough information to damage the credibility of any of Bush's top aides. But to ignore the accusations, he thought, would further damage Bush's presidency. Already, Bush was under heavy fire because the Weinberger prosecution in the Iran-Contra scandal was about to commence. So Barr thought that the best scenario was to move ahead with an investigation. On December 11, Barr filed a secret request to the three panel judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeals to appoint an independent counsel.
On December 14, the panel, headed by David Sentelle, appointed Joseph diGenova who was a life- long Republican who had served as a counsel on the Senate's Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Additionally, diGenova had investigated Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and had videotaped him smoking crack cocaine.
DiGenova spent three years probing into Passportgate. In December 1995, he issued his report, deciding not to prosecute anyone. He had interviewed 147 witnesses, examined 60,000 pages of documents, and analyzed the hard drives of 200 White House computers. The cost of the investigation was $2.2 million. DiGenova did say that Bush administration officials "were stupid, dumb, and partisan."
BUSH’S PARDONS. The most widely criticized pardons by Bush were that of Caspar Weinberger and other Iran-Contra defendant on Christmas Eve just three weeks before he left office. But one of Bush’s first pardons went to Armand Hammer, the legendary oilman best known for his relationships with Soviet leaders dating back to Lenin.
In an investigation that grew out of Watergate, Hammer had pleaded guilty in 1975 to laundering $54,000 in illicit contributions to Nixon's reelection war chest. By the summer of 1989, when Bush gave Hammer what he wanted, the aging chief of Occidental Petroleum had been pestering government officials on his own behalf for several years.
Before his pardon, Hammer had poured in $100,000 into Republican Party coffers, and another $100,000 into the accounts of the Bush-Quayle Inaugural committee. At the time, Hammer’s pardon made news, partly because his request had been turned down by President Reagan several months earlier. But few noticed the connection between the oil man’s generosity to Bush and the new president’s mercy upon Hammer.
The only hint of Hammer’s influence-buying came from former Watergate prosecutor Henry Ruth, who was not consulted by the White House before Hammer's pardon was granted. Ruth told the Los Angeles Times, “My view of the pardon process is that it should be given only in extraordinary circumstances, and I haven’t heard of any” in Hammer’s case. Ruth thought the Bush pardon had been given only because Hammer was “rich” and “powerful.”
Another fact went almost unnoticed. Hammer’s team of attorneys included not only a close friend of Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, but also a very close friend of Bush’s new White House counsel C. Boyden Gray, whose job included passing on pardon requests to the president. The Gray friend who was hired to help Hammer was a former Reagan Justice Department official named Theodore Olson. (Salon.com, February 27, 2001)
Years later, the junior Bush nominated Gray to serve as the solicitor general in the Justice Department.
"NO NEW TAXES" PLEDGE COSTS BUSH REELECTION. In early 1991, Bush was riding high on the heels of his Gulf War victory. His popularity rating flirted with the 90 percent mark. His number one agenda item was foreign policy. That same year the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War dissipated. However, the termination of the Cold War hindered Bush. The collapse of communism removed a reality which had been part of the world as it lingered on for 50 years. As the defense industry began to downsize -- laying off thousands of workers -- the future began to appear more bleak.
As the Gulf War was winding down, the United States was hit with a minor recession. The American economy began to slip into a downward slide, and still both Bush and Chief of Staff John Sununu admitted that domestic policy was not a priority. The president failed to put forth an economic growth package. There was no budget for fiscal year 1991, and months continued to fly by with no substantive White House plan. Bush made no effort to connect to priority of the American people.
Bush decided to abandon his "no new taxes" pledge and acquiesced to high taxes. The president frequently ignored most upper level officials in the White House. He himself could change his mind, and his staff was expected to faithfully follow behind him. The Bush White House was running in one direction only. Additionally, the American people believed that he was running in the wrong direction. Eighty percent of those surveyed believed that the country was headed into bad economic times.
Bush's decision to raise taxes signaled that he had no political principles. Throughout his administration Bush failed to advance a consistent or credible domestic agenda. This was compounded by the fact that a degree of cynicism was developing across the country.
Bush again had no message in 1992. He had no public policy recommendations. All he had to do was to lay out for the American people what he opposed -- taxes, federal spending, and government regulation -- as well as what he favored and contrast those with that of Democrats. He needed to be actively engaged in promoting economic recovery rather than bouncing around from issue or message to another. Democratic challenger Bill Clinton began to move ahead by constantly emphasizing his themes. Had Bush simply redefined his positions as well, the electorate would have had a clear-cut choice between him and Clinton.
Beginning with the February New Hampshire primary, Patrick Buchanan made a favorable showing and proved that he would be a serious contender in 1992. This became a two-edged sword for the Bush campaign. It benefitted the Bush campaign since it awakened other Republicans to focus on what was needed to revive and revitalize the party. On the other hand, Buchanan drove a wedge into the GOP as he relentlessly bashed Bush in the areas of taxes and affirmative action. When Buchanan's campaign eventually waned, most of his supporters switched to Ross Perot instead of moving over to Bush's camp.
By the end of March, Bush's job approval rating slid to a dismal 39 percent. By the time the Democratic convention in New York convened in July, Bush's popularity dropped another ten points. With the election of Clinton in November, Bush's name was added to a list of William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, and Jimmy Carter -- the only twentieth century presidents who failed to be reelected.
RAKING IN $4 MILLION AFTER LEAVING OFFICE. Since leaving the White House in 1993, Bush returned to Houston and gave the impression that he was leaving the political limelight. He decided that he would neither serve as a corporate director nor advocate specific positions for any interest group.
However, the ex-president's persona was quite different within the global community. Upon leaving the White House, he commanded six figure speaking fees from private companies throughout the world. He soon began to cozy up to corporations across the globe, becoming the first ex-president to create international controversy. He was also the first ex-president to rake in over $4 million on the global lecture circuit in such a short time. For a single engagement, he received stock that rose in value to more than $13 million at one point.
In Japan, Bush spoke to 50,000 disciples of the Women's Federation for World Peace in 1996. It is led by the wife of Reverend Sun Myung Moon. This led to protests from Christian leaders and other critics of Moon's Unification Church. Bush's speech on family values was followed by Moon's wife praising her husband and his church. Reverend Moon spent a year in an American federal prison in 1982 for tax evasion and publicly described America as "Satan's harvest." Bush tried to justify his appearance by saying that the Women's Federation was headed by Moon's wife and that it was separate from the church.
In 1994, Bush traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina where he delivered paid speeches to banker and pharmaceutical groups. Bush's friend, Argentine President Carlos Menem, was scheduled to attend the dinner but backed out after his secretary for religious affairs called the Unification Church "blasphemous and anti-Christian." Bush was paid by Moon's Washington Times Foundation. First elected in 1989, Menem was accused of corruption against members of his inner circle and former Cabinet aides. Since leaving the White House, Bush met with Menem during five trips to Argentina and three Menem visits to the United States.
In 1994, Bush returned to Buenos Aires to deliver paid speeches to banking and pharmaceutical groups. That April, Bush also wrote President Menem on behalf of Las Vegas casino multi- millionaire Steve Wynn. Menem issued a decree allowing construction of a casino in Buenos Aires. Wynn's Mirage Resorts Company wanted to build it. At Wynn's request, Bush wrote Menem that Wynn was favorably known to him while stating that he had no financial interest in the deal. That touched off a parliamentary inquiry about Bush's possible influence in the country's internal affairs. After local officials objected to the Argentine federal government's making such decisions, Menem withdrew his approval and Wynn's casino project died. Nevertheless, after Argentine news accounts of Bush's visits and alleged Bush family meddling in government decisions, seven members of the country's Chamber of Deputies sent extensive written questions to Menem about his relationship with the Bush family. The lawmakers asked whether Bush had lobbied Mirage. They also inquired about Neil Bush, whose company was awarded oil exploitation rights by the Argentine government in 1987. They never got a reply.
In a 1998 speech in Tokyo, Bush accepted stock in Global Crossing Limited, a technology. His holdings were worth about $13.4 million in November when he filed papers to sell some shares.
In Kuwait, he interceded with the emir's government on behalf of Chevron Corporation in 1998. He sent a letter to the Kuwaiti oil minister at the request of Chevron which was competing for business there. He acted because Chevron was the only American company bidding for a job.
He advised the Carlyle Group which is a Washington-based investment company that acquires and manages defense, aerospace, and other corporations worldwide. Frank Carlucci, Reagan's Defense secretary, is Carlyle's chairman, and James Baker, Bush's secretary of State, is a senior counselor. In 1999 Bush visited South Korea with Carlyle associates who were seeking to purchase three South Korean firms. Bush met with government officials, including then-Prime Minister Kim Jong Pil, and he joined Carlyle members in visiting the South Korean companies. Bush was paid to give talks to company advisory boards, clients, and prospective clients.
In 1998, the Carlyle Group co-sponsored a Bush mission to China, one of his numerous trips to that country. The ex-president expressed his views on sensitive policy issues, advocating permanent normal trade with Beijing and recognition for China's progress on human rights.
In 1995, Bush was recruited by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to become a senior advisor to the International Advisory Board of Barrick Gold Company, a Toronto- based mining firm. The ex-president was paid about $15,000 a year plus travel expenses to provide advice. Bush helped to gain approval to mine gold in Indonesia from what was believed to be the world's largest deposit. Finding himself in the center of a dispute over gold mining rights, he contacted then-President Suharto in 1996 to praise the Canadian company. At the time, Bre-X Minerals Limited of Calgary had exploration rights. But after Bush's letter reached Suharto, the Indonesian government mandated that Bre-X make Barrick a partner. Shortly thereafter, the gold deposit was exposed as a huge fraud, and Bush resigned from Barrick in 1999.
THE CARLYLE GROUP. The Carlyle Group’s ties to the Bush family dated back more than a decade. In 1990, Carlyle placed George W. Bush on the board of directors of one of its subsidiaries, Caterair, an airline catering company. Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, commented, “George Bush is getting money from private interests that have business before the government, while his son is president. And, in a really peculiar way, George W. Bush could, some day, benefit financially from his own administration’s decisions, through his father’s investments.”
Carlyle had ownership stakes in 164 companies which employed more than 70,000 people and generated $16 billion in revenues in 2000. About 450 institutions -- mainly large pension funds and banks -- were Carlyle investors. The California state pension fund invested $305 million with Carlyle, and the Texas teachers pension fund -- whose board was appointed when George W. Bush was governor -- gave Carlyle $100 million to invest in November.” (New York Times, March 5, 2001)
Carlyle was the eleventh largest defense contractor in the United States because of its ownership of companies making tanks, aircraft wings, and other equipment. It was also heavily invested in telecommunications, another field that was strongly affected by government policy.
Carlyle’s advisory board listed such international figures as former President Fidel Ramos of the Philippines and the former prime minister of Thailand. Karl Otto Pohl, former president of Germany’s Bundesbank, was also an advisor. And former British Prime Minister John Major was a member of the group.
In the fall of 2000, Bush met with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. The former president also met with the prime minister of South Korea and other government officials, paving the way for Carlyle to acquire KorAm Bank, considered an important prize because of its relatively strong financial position. Bush raked in $80,000 to $100,000 for each speech he delivered on behalf of Carlyle. (World Socialist Web Site, May 16, 2001)
According to Judicial Watch (March 5, 2001), Bush’s association with the Carlyle Group, a leading private equity firm, was a “conflict of interest (which) could cause problems for America’s foreign policy in Middle East and Asia.”
Frank Carlucci, a former defense secretary under President Reagan, who was Carlyle’s chairman, met with his former college classmate Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s secretary of defense, in February 2001. The two reportedly spoke about “military matters” at a time when Carlyle had billions of dollars worth of defense projects under consideration by the government. In addition, Carlyle employed former Secretary of State James Baker.
In 2001, Carlyle lobbied for funding of the Crusader heavy-duty tank, which was built by one of the companies it owns. Also in 2001, Carlyle lodged a complaint with the government after another one of its companies lost a $4 billion contract to make a lightweight combat vehicle.
In its March 5, 2001 publication, Judicial Watch called for the senior Bush to resign from the firm when it became known that Bin Laden was a major investor in the firm. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman said, “This conflict of interest has now turned into a scandal. The idea of the President’s father, an ex-president himself, doing business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror attacks of September 11 is horrible. President Bush should not ask, but demand, that his father pull out of the Carlyle Group.” (Judicial Watch, September 28, 2001)
The Wall Street Journal (September 27, 2001) also reported that former President George H. W. Bush worked for the Bin Laden family business in Saudi Arabia through the Carlyle Group, an international consulting firm. The senior Bush had met with the Bin Laden family at least twice.
GLOBAL CROSSING. In 1998, Bush took at least $80,000 in stock from Global Crossing in return for speaking for the company in Tokyo. Global Crossings finally went bankrupt in February 2002. Bush’s gift of $80,000 came at a time when the company was about to go public and the stock’s value quickly multiplied 175-fold to $14 million.
Since 1999, Global Crossing made campaign contributions totaling $3.5 million, about a fifth more than Enron. Global Crossing paid for a speech given by the elder President Bush with stocks that later attained a value of about $14 million. Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe got an opportunity to buy Global Crossing shares before they became publicly available on the stock market and made a profit of $18 million. Anne Bingaman, an ex-Clinton administration official and wife of New Mexico Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman, netted a reported $2.5 million for a year’s consulting work.
According to the Global Crossing stock began collapsing in late 2001, after two top executives -- much Gary Winnick, the company’s founder, and Steven Green, the Clinton-appointed ambassador to Singapore -- organized a deal with a Singapore investment firm without formally telling their fellow board members. It was not clear how Winnick and Green profited from this deal. But it was clear that shareholders were not informed that the same Singapore firm made an offer for Global Crossing’s assets. (Washington Post, February 24, 2002)
Prescott Bush aided the Reagan administration's clandestine support of the Contras. In the 1980s he served on the advisory board of Americares, the United States-based relief organization with ties to some right wing Republicans and the intelligence community. After Congress cut off American aid to the Contras, Americares donated more than $100,000 worth of newsprint to the pro-Contra newspaper La Prensa in Managua. An undisclosed amount of $680,000 in Americares aid to Honduras was delivered to Nicaraguan Miskito Indian guerrillas who were aligned with the Contras in Honduras.
After Congress cut off American aid to the Contras in 1985, Americares donated more than $100,000 worth of newsprint to the pro-Contra newspaper La Prensa in Nicaragua. Americares supplied $291,383 in food and medicine and $5,750 in cash to Mario Calero, who purchased weapons for the Contras, and his brother of Contra leader Adolfo Calero.
According to Colhoun, Bush visited the Far East at the same time that his father, soon after being elected president, scheduled a diplomatic trip. Bush arrived in Tokyo on February 14, 1989, ten days before President Bush's stop in Japan in order to promote Prescott Bush Resources Limited which was a real estate and development consulting company. He hoped to encourage Japanese business people to purchase property in the United States.
Colhoun reported that Bush flew to China where he had a joint partnership with Akoi Corporation to develop an $18 million Shanghai golf course of which he owned 30 percent. Bush also conducted business in China as a representative for Asset Management International Financing & Settlement Ltd., a Wall Street investment firm which has been in bankruptcy proceedings since the fall of 1991. The firm paid him a $250,000 fee to set up its internal communications network.
Bush was hired shortly after President Bush imposed economic sanctions on China in June 1989. Under the sanctions, United States export licenses were suspended for $300 million worth of Hughes Aircraft satellites which beamed television programs into to Chinese broadcasting stations and provided telecommunications links for China's provinces. In November 1989, Congress passed additional sanctions which barred the export of American satellites to China unless the president found the sale "in the national interest."
In October 1989, Bush granted Hughes Aircraft preliminary licenses to exchange satellite data with Chinese officials in order to insure that Chinese rockets were capable of launching the American satellites into space. Two months later he lifted the sanctions which had prevented the satellite deal.
As president of his firm, Bush helped negotiate the purchase of Asset Management by West Tsusho, a Tokyo-based investment firm which was linked to the Inagawakai branch of the Yakuza, a Japanese mob syndicate which laundered money from drug sales, prostitution, gambling, and extortion. In 1989, Bush received a $250,000 fee from West Tsusho and was promised an annual retainer of $250,000 over the next three years as a consultant. But the deal was never consummated since Asset Management went bankrupt in March 1991. So West Tsusho filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against Bush claiming that he did not protect the firm's $5 million investment in Asset Management.
THE BUSH-SAUDI RELATIONSHIP. The hidden relationship between the Bush family and the house of Saud began in the mid-1970s, when the oil-rich House of Saud struck out for America during the OPEC oil embargo and soaring oil prices. Saudi Arabia needed American military protection, access to American political power, and a place to invest its staggering cash flow, which within 5 years reached $16 million an hour. (Craig Unger, House of Bush; House of Saud)
The Saudis began looking for investments in the United States. High-level Saudi officials cozied up to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Bush, and George W. Bush, as well as to Secretary of State James Baker, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the entire United States intelligence apparatus. (Craig Unger, House of Bush; House of Saud)
Since the 1980s, the Bushes and Saudis conferred on war, oil, funding for Bin Laden’s Afghan Arabs supporting the Mujahideen in the Afghanistan War, illegal arms deals, banking, and private matters. By the time George W. Bush was elected, the House of Saud transferred large amounts of money to the House of Bush in deals involving dozens of companies. At least $1.4 billion in investments and contracts went to companies in which the Bushes and their allies held prominent positions. (Craig Unger, House of Bush; House of Saud)
This all came at a time when Saudi Arabia played a key role in sponsoring the rise of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism that threatens America. (Craig Unger, House of Bush; House of Saud)
As the George W. Bush administration lobbied extensively to bring the Saudi regime into its coalition since 2001, stories emerged that perhaps Saudi Arabia -- not Iraq -- was the country whom the Bush administration should attack. After all, 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11 held Saudi citizenship papers. And like Osama Bin Laden, those terrorists came from wealthy Saudi families.
The day after the 9/11 attacks, 140 Saudi citizens, many immediate relatives of Bin Laden, were permitted to return to their country, while all other airplanes were grounded in the United States. (Craig Unger, House of Bush; House of Saud)