–Machiavelli, Il Principe
As we follow George Bush along the George Washington Parkway as he drives away from his Langley office in January, 1977, we enter an especially shadowy and inscrutable interlude in his career. During their superficial and dilatory 1988 inquiry into Bush’s career, Bob Woodward and Walter Pincus did establish one typical phenomenon of Bush’s activity between January, 1977 and his emergence as a presidential candidate: Bush kept key parts of his activity a secret from his own aides and office staff, even going so far as to manufacture alibis which would appear to have been inventions. Woodward and Pincus described a “mystery about Bush and the agency” which arose during the course of their interviews about the post-1977 period. “According to those involved in Bush’s first political action committee, there were several occasions in 1978-79, when Bush was living in Houston and travelling the country in his first run for the presidency, that he set aside periods of up to 24 hours and told aides he had to fly to Washington for a secret meeting of former CIA Directors. Bush told his aides that he could not divulge his whereabouts, and that he would not be reachable.”
The mystery described by Woodward and Pincus arose when other interviews cast grave doubt on the veracity of this cover story; “…according to former directors and other senior CIA officials, there were no meetings of former directors during that period, and Bush had no assignments of any kind from the CIA.” Stansfield Turner commented that he “never knew former directors had meetings and there were none when I was there.” Stephen Hart of Bush’s staff told Woodward and Pincus that the keepers of Bush’s schedule could “recall no CIA activity of any kind,” but explained the absences as “personal time in Washington” for “tennis, visits with friends, and dinners.” [fn 1] Such enigmas are typical of the 1977-1979 interlude in Bush’s career.
Shortly after leaving Langley, Bush asserted his birthright as an international financier in the way he had indicated to his close friend Leo Cherne, that is to say by becoming a member of the board of directors of a large bank. On February 22, 1977 Robert H. Stewart III, the chairman of the holding company for First International Bankshares of Dallas, announced that Bush would become the chairman of the executive committee of First International Bank in Houston and would simultaneously become a director of First International Bankshares Ltd. of London, a merchant bank owned by First International Bankshares, Inc. Bush also became a director of First International Bankshares Inc., which was the holding company for the entire international group. Thus, less than two years before Margaret Thatcher came to power, Bush acquired the status of investment banker in the City of London, the home of the Eurodollar market and the home of British imperial financial circles in which such figures as Lord Victor Rothschild, Tiny Rowland, the Sultan of Brunei, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, and the Emir of Kuwait were at home. An annual fee of $75,000 as a “consultant” also sweetened this pot. During the 1988 campaign, Bush gave the implacable stonewall to any questions about the services he performed for the First International Bankshares group or about any other aspects of his business activities during the pre-1980 interlude. Interfirst was then the largest bank in Texas and was reportedly running speculation all over South America, China, and Europe.
Later, after the Reagan-Bush orgy of speculation and usury had ruined the Texas economy, the Texas commercial banks began to collapse into bankruptcy. First International of Dallas (or “Interfirst”) merged with RepublicBank during 1987 to form First RepublicBank, which became the biggest commercial bank in Texas. Bankruptcy overtook the new colossus just a few months later, but federal regulators delayed their inevitable intervention until after the Texas primary in the spring of 1988 in order to avoid a potentially acute embarrassment for Bush. Once Bush had the nomination locked up, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation awarded the assets of First RepublicBank to the North Carolina National Bank in exchange for no payment whatsoever on the part of NCNC, which is reputedly a darling of the intelligence community.
During the heady days of Bush’s directorship at Interfirst, the bank retained a law firm in which one Lawrence Gibbs was a partner. Two partners of Gibbs “joined three representatives of the energy department of Interfirst Bank on a trip to Peking, where they conducted a week-long seminar on financing the production of natural resources for the Oil and Gas Ministry of the People’s Republic of China.” [fn 2] This visit was made in the context of trips to China by Bush for the purpose of setting up a lucrative oil concession for J. Hugh Lietdkte of Pennzoil, Bush’s old bunsiness partner. Gibbs, a clear Bush asset, was made Commissioner of Internal Revenue on August 4, 1986. Here he engineered the sweeheart deal for NCNB by decreeing $1.6 billion in tax breaks for this bank. This is typical of the massive favors and graft for pro-Bush financier interests at the expense of the taxpayer which are the hallmark of the Bush machine.
Bush also joined the board of Purolator Oil Company in Rahway, New Jersey where his crony, Wall Street raider Nicholas Brady (later Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury) was the chairman. Bush also joined the board of Eli Lilly & Co., a very large and very sinister pharmaceutical company. The third board Bush joined was that of Texas Gulf Inc. Bush’s total 1977 rakeoff from the four companies with which he was involved was $112,000, according to Bush’s 1977 tax return.
During this time, Bush became a director of Baylor Medical College, a trustee of Trinity Medical College in San Antonio, and a trustee of Philips Academy in Andover. He was also listed as an adjunct professor at Rice University.
Bush also found time line his pockets in a series of high-yield deals that begin to give us some flavor of what would later be described as the “financial excesses of the 1980’s” in which Bush’s circle was to play a decisive role.
A typical Bush venture of this period was Ponderosa Forest Apartments, a highly remunerative speculative play in real estate. Ponderosa bought up a 180-unit apartment complex near Houston that was in financial trouble, gentrified the interiors, and hiked the rents. Horace T. Ardinger, a Dallas real estate man who was among Bush’s partners in this deal described the transaction as “a good tax gimmick…and a typical Texas joint venture offering.” According to Bush’s tax returns from 1977 through 1985, the Ponderosa partnership accrued to Bush a paper loss of $225,160 which allowed him to avoid payment of some $100,000 in federal taxes alone, plus a direct profit of over $14,000 and a capital gain of $217,278. This type of windfall represents precisely the form of real estate swindle that contributed to the Texas real estate and banking crisis of the mid-1980’s. The deal illustrates one of the important ways in which the federal tax base has been eroded through real estate scams. We also see why it is no surprise that the one fiscal innovation which has earned Bush’s sustained attention is the idea of a reduction in the capital gains tax to allow those who engage in swindles like these to pay an even smaller federal tax bite. It is also typical of the Bush style that Fred M. Zeder, the promoter of the Ponderosa deal, was made US Ambassador to the Marshall Island in the South Pacific by the Bush Administration after he had contributed over $30,000 to Bush’s 1988 campaign.
In 1978, Bush crony and cabinet member Robert Mosbacher, a veteran of the Lietdtke-CREEP money transfers, devised a scheme to set up a partnership to buy some small barges to transport petroleum products. Bush invested $50,000 in this deal, which had netted him some $115,373 in income by 1988, when Bush’s share had increased in value to $60,000. In 1988 it was forecast that this investment would continue to pay $20,000 per year for the foreseeable future. James Baker III also sank $50,000 into this deal, and has been rewarded by similar handsome payoffs. Mosbacher commented that this barge caper had turned out to be a “very, very good investment.”
But Bush’s main preoccupation during these years was to assemble a political machine with which he could bludgeon his way to power. After his numerous frustrations of the past, Bush was resolved to organize a campaign that would go far beyond the innocuous exercise of appealing for citizens’ votes. If such a machine were actually to succeed in seizing power in Washington, tendencies towards the edification of an authoritarian police state with marked totalitarian tendencies would inevitably increase.
But first let us review some of Bush’s public activities during the pre-campaign interlude. In April, 1978 Bush appeared along with E. Henry Knoche and William Colby at Senate hearings on proposed legislation to modify the methods by which Congress exercised oversight of the intelligence agencies. The bill being discussed had a provision to outlaw assassinations of foreign officials and to punish violations with life in prison. The measure would also have prohibited covert operations involving “torture,” “the creation of epidemics of diseases,” and “the creation of food or water shortages or floods.” Bush and Knoche both objected to the ban on assassinations (which Colby accepted), and both were critical of the entire bill. Knoche said his fear was that if enacted the bill might create “a web woven so tight around the average intelligence officer that you’re going to deaden his creativity.”
Bush denounced the Senate bill for its “excessive” reporting requirements. “The Congress should be informed, fully informed, but it ought not to micro-manage the intelligence business,” protested Bush. He was especially indignant about a provision that would have required notification of the House and Senate oversight committees every time a US intelligence agency wanted to stipulate an agreement with a foreign intelligence agency, or domestic security service. “I don’t believe that kind of intimate disclosure is essential,” said Bush. Bush was convinced that “some US sources are drying up because foreign services don’t believe the US Congress can keep secrets.” This, from the man who had leaked the Team B report to the New York Times, and then had gone on television to say that he was appalled.
Bush urged the senators to drop language in the bill that would have severed the DCI post from the CIA. Bush warned vehemently that an intelligence czar sitting in the White House “and separated from his CIA troops…would be virtually isolated. He needs the CIA as his principal source of support to be most effective. And the CIA needs its head to be the chief foreign intelligence adviser to the president.” [fn 3]
A few months later he participated in a singular round table organized by the Washington Quarterly of the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies with none other than Michael Ledeen as moderator. (Ledeen, who vaunted intimate connections to Israeli intelligence, was later one of the central figures in the mid-1980’s acceleration of US arms shipments to Iran.) In this round table, Bush was joined by former DCIs Richard Helms and William Colby as well as by Ray Cline.
According to Bush there was “an underlying feeling on the part of the American people that we must have clandestine services.” Above all he regretted “that some of the thrust of the legislation before the Hill is still flogging CIA for something that was long corrected, or that never happened.” Even Hollywood was against the CIA, Bush thought, “and you get movies and television programs and it has a very sinister kind of propagandistic overtone.” Here Bush wanted to defend his own record: “I’ll give you one example that happened on my watch: One of these rather ribald magazines described a purported destabilization effort against [Prime Minister Michael] Manley in Jamiaca.” “But,” said Bush with that self-righteous whine, “it never happened. There wasn’t any truth in it.”
An important question came from Ledeen: “Is the agency penetrated?” Bush was ready to admit that it might be: “Nobody is saying that there’s nothing.” “How about double agents?” Ledeen wanted to know. “Well, obviously we’ve had double agents but that’s not officers of the agency,” was Bush’s ambiguous reply. Bush went on:
- The great Soviet agents were recruited when the Soviet represented something ideologically. When they represented antifascism. That’s when they got people like Philby. But the fact is that we’ve just went [sic] through a period in which we had hundreds of thousands of our young people out screaming against their government. Now they were totally opposed to their government, but they weren’t pro-Soviet.
Bush and Cline joined to praise the “benign covert political action” of the 1940’s and 1950’s by which the CIA sent US intellectuals to Europe to talk to the Europeans. “We essentially won that ideological battle,” said Bush.[fn 4]
When Carter and Brzezinski played their treacherous China card in December, 1978, Bush was quick, despite his own miserable record on this issue, to launch a pre-election attack on Carter with an op-ed in the Washington Post. Bush harkened back to the day in December, 1975 (although Bush wrote October) when he, Ford, and Kissinger had sat down with Chairman Mao. From Mao’s remarks that day, Bush says, it was clear that Red China was obsessed with the Soviet threat, and was willing to wait indefinitely for China to be reunited with Taiwan. Now Carter had broken diplomatic relations with Taiwan, begun the pullout of US forces, abrogated the US-Taiwan security treaty, and was winding down arms assistance to Taiwan. Bush was the man who had presided over the ejection of the Republic of China from the UN. It was a cheap shot for him to quote Peter Berger about the primaeval principle of morality that “one must not deliver one’s friends to their enemies.” After Bush’s support for Deng Xiao-ping after the 1989 Tein An Men massacre, the hypocrisy is even more obvious.
But Bush had some other points to make against Carter. One was that when “black moderates in Rhodesia arranged with Prime Minister Ian Smith for the transfer of power and free elections, we [meaning Carter] threw in our lot with Marxist radicals.”
Then there was the Middle East, where “the Israelis announced that they were prepared to accept a final plan drafted with American help. But when Egypt raised the ante, we modified our position to accept the new Egyptian proposals, and when the Israelis refused to go along, we publicly kicked them in the shins.” Even the Carter of Camp David, who split the Arab front with a separate peace between Israel and Egypt, was not Zionist enough for Bush.
Apart from these public pronouncements, Bush was at work assembling a campaign machine.
One of the central figures of the Bush effort would be James Baker III, Bush’s friend of ten years’ standing. Baker’s power base derived first of all from his family’s Houston law firm, Baker & Botts, which was founded just after the end of the Civil War by defeated partizans of the Confederate cause. Judge Peter Gray and Walter Browne Botts established a law partnership in 1866, and this became Baker & Botts during the 1870’s when James Baker (the great-grandfather of Bush’s Secretary of State) joined the firm.
Baker & Botts founder Peter Gray had been Assistant Treasurer of the Confederate States of America and financial supervisor of the CSA’s “Trans-Mississippi Department.” Gray, acting on orders of Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs, financed the subversive work of Confederate general Albert Pike among the Indian tribes of the southwest. The close of the war in 1865 had found Pike hiding in Canada, and Toombs in exile in England. Pike was excluded from the general US amnesty for rebels because he was thought to have induced Indians to commit massacres and war crimes.
Pike and Toombs re-established the “Southern Jurisdiction” of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, of which Pike had been the leader in the slave states before the war of the rebellion. Pike’s deputy, one Phillip C. Tucker, returned from Scottish Rite indoctrination in Great Britain to set up a Scottish rite lodge in Houston in the spring of 1867. Tucker designated Walter Browne Botts and his relative Benjamin Botts as the leaders of this new Scottish Rite lodge. [fn 5]
The policy of the Scottish Rite was to regroup unreconstructed Confederates to secure the disenfranchisement of black citizens and to promote Anglophile domination of finance and business. By the beginning of the twentieth century, there wre two great powers dominating Texas: on the one hand, the railroad empire of E.H. Harriman, served by the law firm of Baker & Botts; and on the other, the British-trained political operative Colonel Edward M. House, the controller of President Woodrow Wilson. The close relation between Baker & Botts and the Harriman interests has remained in place down to the present. And since the time that Captain Baker founded the Texas Commerce Bank, the Baker family has helped the London-New York axis run the Texas banking system.
In 1901, the discovery of large oil deposits in Texas offered great promise for the future economic development of the state, but also attracted the Anglo-American oil cartel. The Baker family law firm in Texas, like the Bush and Dulles families in New York, was aligned with the Harriman-Rockefeller cartel. Robert S. Lovett, a Baker & Botts partner from 1882 on, later became the chairman of Harriman’s Union Pacific Railroad and chief counsel to E.H. Harriman. The Bakers were prominent in supporting eugenics and utopian-feudalist social engineering.
Captain James A. Baker, so the story goes, the grandfather of the current boss of Foggy Bottom, solved the murder of his client William Marsh Rice and took control of Rice’s huge estate. Baker used the money to start Rice University and became the chairman of the school’s board of trustees. Baker sought to create a center of diffusion of racist eugenics, and for this purpose brought in Julian Huxley of the infamous British oligarchical family to found the biology program at Rice starting in 1912. [fn 6] Huxley was the vice president of the British Eugenics Society and actually helped to organize “race science” programs for the Nazi Interior Ministry, before becoming the founding Director General of UNESCO in 1946-48.
James A. Baker III was born April 28, 1930, in the fourth generation of his family’s wealth. Baker holdings have included Exxon, Mobil, Atlantic Richfield, Standard Oil of California, Standard Oil of Indiana, Kerr-McGee, Merck, and Freeport Minerals. Baker also held stock in some large New York banks during the time that he was negotiating the Latin American debt crisis in his capacity as Secretary of the Treasury. [fn 7]
Baker grew up in patrician surroundings. His social profile has been described as “Tex-prep.” Like his father, James III attended the Hill School near Philadelphia, and then went on to Princeton, where he was a member of Ivy Club, a traditional preserve of Eastern Anglophile Liberal Establishment oligarchs. Nancy Reagan was enchanted by Baker’s sartorial elegance and smooth savoir-faire. Nancy liked Baker far more than she ever did Bush, and this was a key advantage for Bush-Baker during the factional struggles of the Reagan years.
Baker & Botts maintains an “anti-nepotism” policy, so James III became a boss of Houston’s Andrews, Kurth, Campbell, & Jones law firm, a satellite of Baker & Botts. Baker’s relation to Bush extends across both law firms: in 1977, Baker & Botts partner Blaine Kerr became president of Pennzoil, and in 1979, Baker & Botts partner B. J. Mackin became chairman of Zapata Corporation. Baker & Botts have always represented Zapata, and are often listed as counsel for Schlumberger, the oil services firm. James Baker and his Andrews, Kurth partners were the Houston attorneys for First International Bank of Houston when George Bush was chairman of the bank’s executive committee.
During the 1980 campaign, Baker became the chairman of the Reagan-Bush campaign committee, while fellow Texan Bob Strauss was chairman of the Carter-Mondale campaign. But Baker and Strauss were at the very same time business partners in Herman Brothers, one of America’s largest beer distributors. Bush Democrat Strauss later went to Moscow as Bush’s ambassador to the USSR and later, to Russia.
In 1990, the New York Times offered a comparison of Bush and Baker, and sought to convey the impression that Baker was the far more devious of the duo:
- When you sit across from the President, it is like holding an X-ray plate up to the light. You can see if he feels defensive or annoyed or amused. He is often distracted, toying with something on his desk. His thoughts start and stop and start again, as though he had call-waiting in his brain. There is a spontaneity and warmth about him.
When you sit across from Baker, it is like looking at a length of black silk. There is a stillness, as Baker holds you locked in his gaze and Southern comfort voice, occasionally flashing a rather wintry smile…He has a compelling presence, but he is such a fox that you feel the impulse to check your wallet when you leave his office. [fn 8]
Another leading Bush supporter was Ray Cline. During 1979 it was Ray Cline who had gone virtually public with a loose and informal but highly effective campaign network mainly composed of former intelligence officers. Cline had been the CIA Station Chief in Taiwan from 1958 to 1962. He had been Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1962 to 1966, and had then gone on to direct the intelligence gathering operation at the State Department. Cline became a de facto White House official during the first Bush Administration, and wrote the White House boiler plate entitled “National Security Strategy of the United States” under which the Gulf war was carried out.
Cline later said that his approach to Bush’s 1979-80 primary campaign was to “organize something like one of my old CIA staffs.” “I found there was a tremendous constituency for the CIA when everyone in Washington was still urinating all over it,” commented Cline to the Washington Post of March 1, 1980. “It’s panned out almost too good to be true. The country is waking up just in time for George’s candidacy.”
Heading up the Bush campaign muck-raking “research” staff was Stefan Halper, Ray Cline’s son in law and a former official of the Nixon White House.
A member of Halper’s staff was a CIA veteran named Robert Gambino. Gambino had held the sensitive post of director of the CIA’s Office of Security. It will be recalled that the Office of Security constitutes the interface between Langley and state and local police departments all across the United States with whom it must cooperate to protect the security of CIA buildings and CIA personnel, as for example in cases in which these latter may run afoul of the law. The Office of Security is reputed to possess extensive files on the domestic activities of American citizens. David Aaron, Brzezinski’s deputy at the Carter National Security Council, recalled that some high Carter officials were “upset” that Gambino had gone to work for the Bush camp. According to Aaron, “several [CIA] people took early retirement and went to work for Bush’s so-called security staff. The thing that upset us, was that a guy who has been head of security for the CIA has been privy to a lot of dossiers, and the possibility of abuse was quite high, although we never heard of any occasion when Gambino called someone up and forced them to do something for the campaign.” [fn 9]
Other high-level spooks active in the Bush campaign included Lt. General Sam V. Wilson and Lt. General Harold A. Aaron, both former directors of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Another enthusiastic Bushman was retired General Richard Stillwell, formerly the CIA’s Chief of Covert Operations for the Far East. The former Deputy Director for Operations Theodore Shackley was also on board, reportedly as a speechwriter, but more likely for somewhat heavier work.
According to one estimate, at least 25 former intelligence officials worked directly for the Bush campaign. As Bill Peterson of the Washington Post wrote on March 1, 1980, “Simply put, no presidential campaign in recent memory–perhaps ever–has attracted as much support from the intelligence community as the campaign of former CIA Director George Bush.”
Further intelligence veterans among the Bushmen were Daniel C. Arnold, the former CIA Station chief in Bangkok, Thailand, who retired early to join the campaign during 1979. Harry Webster, a former clandestine agent, became a member of Bush’s paid staff for the Florida primary. CIA veteran Bruce Rounds was Bush’s “director of operations” during the key New Hampshire primary. Also on board with the Bushmen was Jon R. Thomas, a former clandestine operative who had been listed as a State Department official during a tour of duty in Spain, and who later worked on terrorism and drug trafficking at the State Departement. Andrew Falkiewicz, the former spokesman of the CIA in Langley, attended some of Bush’s pre-campaign brainstorming sessions as a consultant on foreign policy matters. According to an unnamed former CIA deputy director for intelligence who allegedly talked to Rolling Stone magazine in March, 1980, “the Bush campaign is, I think, embarrassed by all the crazy spooks running around trying to help them.” Another retired top spook told the Washington Post that “there is a very high level of support for George Bush among current and former CIA employees.”
Some worried that all this intelligence community support might have damaging by-products for Bush. “I can see the headlines [now],” said one former clandestine officer during the primaries: “BUSH SPRINKLES CAMPAIGN WITH FORMER SPOOKS.”
One leading bastion of the Bushmen was predictably David Atlee Philip’s AFIO, the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. Jack Coakley was a former director and Bush’s campaign coordinator for Virginia. He certified that at the AFIO annual meeting in the fall of 1979, he counted 190 “Bush for President” buttons among 240 delegates to the convention. [fn 10]
During the course of the 1984 Debategate investigation, a number of Bush campaign activists were depositioned about possible abuses in the course of this campaign. Most revealing was the sworn statement of Angelo Codevilla, a former naval intelligence officer who was a fixture for a number of years on the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Under questioning by John Fitzgerald, who was acting as counsel for the House subcommittee chaired by Rep. Don Albosta, Codevilla responded:
- I am aware that active duty agents of the Central Intelligence Agency worked for the George Bush primary campaign. However, I cannot now remember some of these persons and I am not at liberty to identify others by names or positions because to do so would compromise their cover. [fn 11]
But before signing this as an affidavit, Codevilla crossed out “am aware” to “have heard” in the first sentence. In the second sentence, he cancelled “identify others” and put in “discuss these rumors.” Active intelligence community officers who might have worked for the Bush campaign while still drawing their federal payroll checks were likely to have been in violation the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity.
Baker was the obvious choice to be Bush’s campaign manager. He had served Bush in this function in the failed senate campaign of 1970. During the Ford years, Baker had advanced to become Deputy Secretary of Commerce. Baker had been the manager of Ford’s failed 1976 campaign. Bringing Baker into the Bush campaign meant that he could bring with him many of the Ford political operatives and much of the Ford political apparatus and volunteers in a number of states. In the 1978, Baker had attempted to get himself elected attorney general of Texas, but had been defeated. David Keene was political advisor. As always, no Bush campaign would be complete without Robert Mosbacher heading up the national finance operation. Mosbacher’s experience, as we have seen, reached back to the Bill Lietdke conveyances to Maurice Stans of the CREEP in 1972. Teaming up with Mosbacher were Fred Bush in Houston and Jack Sloat in Washington.
With the help of Baker and Mosbacher, Bush began to set up political campaign committees that could be used to convoy quasi-legal “soft money” into his campaign coffers. This is the classic stratagem of setting up political action committees that are registered with the Federal Election Commission for the alleged purpose of channeling funds into the campaigns of deserving Republican (or Democratic) candidates. In reality, almost all of the money is used for the presidential candidate’s own staff, office, mailings, travel, and related expenses. Bush’s principal vehicle for this type of funding was called the Fund for Limited Government. During the first 6 months of 1987, this group collected $99,000 and spent $46,000, of which only $2,500 went to other candidates. The rest was in effect spent to finance Bush’s campaign preparations. Bush had a second PAC called the Congressional Leadership Committee, with Senator Howard Baker and Congressman John Rhodes on the board, which did manage to dole out the princely sum of $500 to each of 21 GOP office-seekers.
The cash for the Fund for Limited Government came from 54 fat cat contributors, half of them in Texas, including Pennzoil, Haggar Slacks, McCormick Oil and Gas, Houston Oil and Minerals, and Texas Instruments. Money also came in from Exxon, McDonnell-Douglas, and Clairol cosmetics. [fn 12]
Despite the happy facade, Bush’s campaign staff was plagued by turmoil and morale problems, leading to a high rate of turnover in key posts. One who has stayed on all along has been Jennifer Fitzgerald, a British woman born in 1932 who had been with Bush since at least Beijing. Fitzgerald later worked in Bush’s vice-presidential office, first as appointments secretary, and later as executive assistant. According to some Washington wags, she controlled access to Bush in the same way that Martin Bormann controlled access to Hitler. According to Harry Hurt, among former Bush staffers “Fitzgerald gets vituperative reviews. She has been accused of bungling the 1980 presidential campaign by cancelling Bush appearances at factory sites in favor of luncheon club speeches. Critics of her performance say she misrepresents staff scheduling requests and blocks access to her boss.” “A number of the vice president’s close friends worry that ‘the Jennifer problem’ –or the appearance of one– may inihibt Bush’s future political career. ‘There’s just something about her that makes him feel good,’ says one trusted Bush confidant. ‘I don’t think it’s sexual. I don’t know what it is. But if Bush ever runs for president again, I think he’s going to have to make a change on that score.'” [fn 13]
Bush formally announced his presidential candidacy on May 1, 1979. One of Bush’s themes was the idea of a “Union of the English-Speaking Peoples.” Bush was asked later in his campaign by a reporter to elaborate on this. Bush stated at that time that “the British are the best friend America has in the world today. I believe we can benefit greatly from much close collaboration in the economic, military, and political spheres. Sure I am an Anglophile. We should all be. Britain has never done anything bad to the United States.” [fn 14]
Jules Witcover and Jack Germond, two experienced observers of presidential campaigns, observed that Bush’s was the first campaign in history to have peaked before it ever started.
During the summer of 1979, Bush grappled with what has since been called “the Vision Thing.” What could he tell the voters when he was asked why he wanted to be president? During that summer Bush invited experts on various areas of policy to come to Kennebunkport and give him the benefit of their views. Bush met with these experts from business, academia, and government in seminars three days a week from 9 to 5 over a period of six weeks. Many were invited to the family house at Walker’s Point for lunch. In the evenings there were barbecues and cocktails on the ocean front.
It is an indication of the extraordinary intellectual aridity of George Bush that these blab sessions produced almost no identifiable policy ideas for Bush’s 1980 campaign. Bush had wanted to avoid the fate of Ted Kennedy had been widely ridiculed when he had proven unable to respond to the question of why he wanted to be president. But Bush never developed an answer to this question either.
Or, more precisely, it was the imperative to avoid any identifiable idea content that emerged as Bush’s strategy. For, just as much as Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, George Bush was one of the pioneers of the hollow, demagogic, television-based campaign style that had become dominant during the 1980’s, greasing the skids to political atrophy and national decline.
Together with James Baker III, always the idea man of the Bush-Baker combo, the Bush campaign studied Jimmy Carter’s success story of 1980. They knew they were starting with a “George Who?”, virtually unknown to most voters. First of all, Bush would ape the Carter strategy of showing up in Iowa and New Hampshire early and offer, attempting to ingratiate himself with the little people by assiduous cultivation. Bush spent 27 days in Iowa before the caucuses there, and 54 days in New Hampshire.
During this period, Bush was overheard telling a New York Times reporter that he didn’t want to “resist the Carter analogy.” Bush readily admitted that he was “an elitist candidate.” “If Carter could do it with no credentials, I can do it with fantastic credentials,” Bush blurted out. He conceded that the fact that nobody knew anything about his “fantastic credentials” was a little discouraging. “But they will! They will!”
Thanks to Mosbacher’s operation, the Bush campaign would advance on a cushion of money– he spent $1.3 million for the Illinois primary alone. The biggest item would be media buys- above all television. This time Bush brought in Baltimore media expert Robert Goodman, who designed a series of television shorts that were described as “fast-moving, newsfilmlike portraits of an eneregtic, dyanimc Bush creating excitement and moving through crowds, with an upbeat musical track behind him. Each of the advertisements used a slogan that attempted to capitalize on Bush’s experience, while hitting Carter’s wretched on-the-job performance and Ronald Reagan’s inexperience on the national scene: ‘George Bush,’ the announcer intoned, ‘a President we won’t have to train.'” [fn 15] One of these shorts showed Bush talking about inflation to a group of approving factory workers. In another, Bush climbed out of a private plane at a small airport, surrounded by supporters with straw hats and placards and yelled “We’re going all the way” to the accompaniment of applause and music Goodman hoped would sound “presidential.” The inevitable footage of Bush getting fished out of the drink off Chichi Jima shootdown was also aired.
Network camera crews were offered repeated chances to film Bush while he was jogging. This was an oblique way of pointing out that Reagan would be 70 years old by the begining of the primary season. “I’m up for the 1980’s,” was a favorite Bush quote for interviews. There were no attacks on Reagan; indeed Bush was seeking to come across as a moderate conservative, in order first to fend off the challenge of Sen. Howard Baker, who was also running, and to gain on Reagan.
In a rather slavish imitation of the Carter victory scenario, Bush also chose to imitate what had been called Carter’s “fuzziness,” or unwillingness to say anything of substance about issues. Bush was the unabashed demagogue, telling Diane Sawyer of CBS when he would finally talk about the issues: “if they can show me how it will get me more votes someplace, I’ll be glad to do it.”
Bush talked vaguely about tax cuts to spur business and investment; he was unhappy about the “decline in America’s stature overseas” due to Carter; he was against excessive government regulation. Military aggression overseas has never been far below the surface of Bush’s psyche; in 1979 he talked about the need to overcome the post-Vietnam guilt syndrome. He was, he proclaimed, “sick and tired of hearing people apologize for America.” Bush was striving to appear as similar to Reagan, but more moderate in packaging, younger and more dynamic, and above all, a Winner.
But in the midst of Bush’s summer, 1979 preparations for his presidential bid, there was one very serious moment of preparation that addressed the some real issues, albeit in a way virtually invisible from the campaign trail. This was a conference Bush attended at the Jonathan Institute in Jerusalem on July 2-5. Instead of mugging for the television cameras while eating hotdogs on the Fourth of July at a picnic in Iowa or New Hampshire, Bush journeyed to Israel for what was billed as the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism.
The Jonathan Institute had been founded earlier the same year by Benjamin Netanyahu, a young crazy of the Likud block, in memory of his brother Jonathan, who had been killed during the Israeli raid on Entebbe in 1976. The Jonathan Institute was a semi-covert propaganda operation and could only be defined as a branch of the Israeli government. The committee sponsoring this conference on terrorism was headed up by Prime Minister Menachem Begin, followed by Moshe Dayan and many other prominent Israeli politicians and generals.
The US delegation to the conference was divided according to partisan lines, but was generally united by sympathy for the ideas and outlook of the Bush-Cherne Team B. The Democratic delegation was led by the late Senator Henry Jackson of Washington. This group included civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, plus Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter of Commentary Magazine, two of the most militant and influential Zionist neoconservatives. Ben Wattenberg of the American Enterprise Institute was also on hand. Although the group that arrived with Scoop Jackson were supposedly Democrats, most of them would support Reagan-Bush in the November, 1980 election.
Then there was the GOP delegation, which was led by George Bush. Here were Bush activist Ray Cline, Major General George Keegan, a stalwart supporter of Team B, and Professor Richard Pipes of Harvard, the leader of Team B. Here were Senator John Danforth of Missouri and Brian Crozier, a “terrorism expert.” Pseudo-intellectual columnist George Will (“Will the Shill”) was also on hand, as was Rome-based journalist Claire Sterling, who had been active in covering up the role of Henry Kissinger in the 1978 assassination of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, and who would later be blind to indications of an Anglo-American role in the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.
International participation was also notable: Annie Kriegel and Jacques Soustelle of France, Lord Alun Chalfont, Paul Johnson, and Robert Moss of the United Kingdom, and many leading Israelis.
The keynote statement was made by Prime Minister Begin, who told the participants that they should spread through the world the main idea of the conference, which was that all terrorism in the world, whatever its origin, is controlled by the Soviet Union. Ray Cline made a major presentation, developing his theory that terrorism should not be seen as a spontaneous response to oppression by frustrated minorities, but rather only as the preferred tool of Soviet bloc subversion. For Cline, the great watershed was an alleged 1969 decision by the Poliburo in Moscow to use the Palestine Liberation Organization as the Kremlin’s fifth column in the Middle East, and specifically to subsidize PLO terrorist attacks with money, training, and communications provided by the KGB. For Cline, the PLO, despite the fact that it enjoyed the support of the vast majority of Palestinians, was merely a synthetic tool of Soviet intelligence. It was a very convenient argument for Zionist hardliners.
Richard Pipes then drew on Russian history to illustrate the singular thesis that terrorism was a product of Russian history, and of no other history. “The roots of Soviet terrorism, indeed of modern terrorism,” according to Pipes, “date back to 1879…It marks the beginning of that organization which is the source of all modern terrorist groups, whether they be named the Tupamaros, the Baader-Meinhof group, the Weathermen, Red Brigades or PLO. I refer you to the establishment in 1879 of a Congress in the small Russian town of Lipesk, of an organization known as Narodnaya Volya, or the People’s Will.”
There is no doubt that the KGB and its east bloc satellite agencies were massively involved in running terrorism, as former Soviet bloc archives opened after 1989 definitively show. But is it really true that terrorism was invented in Lipesk in 1879? And is terrorism really the absolute monopoly of the KGB? Did that include Menachem Begin, who blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem? Did it include other members of the Irgun and Stern gangs? Everyone present seems to have found good reasons for believing that the ludicrous thesis of the conference was true. For the Israelis, it was a new reason not to negotiate with the PLO, who could be classed as Soviet terrorist puppets. For the immediate needs of Bush’s election-year demagogy, it was an argument that could be used against Carter’s equally demagogic “human rights” sloganeering. More broadly, it could be used to allege a clear and present universal danger that made it mandatory to close the book once and for all on the old Church committee-Pike committe mentality. All the participants, from CIA, MI-6, SDECE, Mossad, and so on down the line could readily agree that only the KGB, and never they themselves ran terrorism. Hardly ever.
Begin had been a terrorist himself; Soustelle had been in the French OAS during the Algerian war where the SDECE had committed monumental crimes against humanity; Bush and Cline were godfathers of the Enterprise; the Mossad was reputed to have an agent on the Abu Nidal central committee, and also exercised influence over the Italian Red Brigades; while the chaps from MI-6 had the longest and bloodiest imperial records. But Ian Black wrote in the Jersualem Post wrote that “the conference organizers expect the event to initiate a major anti-terrorist offensive.” In Paris, the right-wing L’Aurore ran an article under the headline “Toujours le KGB,” which praised the conference for having confirmed that when it comes to international terrorism, the Soviets pull all the strings. [fn 16]
There were skeptics, even in the US intelligence community, where Ray Cline’s monomania was recognized. At the 1980 meeting of AFIO, Cline was criticized by Howard Bane, the former CIA station chief in Moscow, who suggested “We’ve got to get Cline off this Moscow control of terrorists. It’s divisive. It’s not true. There’s not one single but of truth to it.” A retired CIA officer named Harry Rostizke put in: “It’s that far-right stuff, that’s all. It’s horseshit.”
Nevertheless, the absurd thesis of the Jerusalem Conference was soon regurgitated by several new top officials of the Reagan Administration. In Alexander Haig’s first news conference as Secretary of State on January 28, 1981, Haig thundered that the Kremlin was trying to “foster, support, and expand” terrorist activity worldwide through the “training, funding, and equipping” of terrorist armies. Haig made it official that “international terrorism will take the place of human rights” as the central international concern of the Reagan Administration. And that meant the KGB.
During 1978 and 1979, the Carter Administration deliberately toppled the Shah of Iran, and deliberately replaced him with Khomeini. The US had shipped arms to the Shah, and never stopped such shipments, despite the advent of Khomeini and the taking of US hostages. The continuity of the arms deliveries, sometimes mediated through Israel, would later lead into the Iran-contra affair. In the meantime Bush and his partners in the Israeli Mossad had sealed a pact and signalled it in public with a new ideological smoke-screen that, they hoped, would cover a new world-wide upsurge in covert operations during the 1980’s.
On November 3, 1979, Bush bested Sen. Howard Baker in a “beauty contest” straw poll taken at the Maine Republican convention in Portland. Bush won by a paper-thin margin of 20 votes out of 1,336 cast, and Maine was really his home state, but the Brown Brothers, Harriman networks at the New York Times delivered a frontpage lead story with a subhead that read “Bush gaining stature as ’80 contender.”
Bush’s biggest lift of the 1980 campaign came when he won a plurality in the January 21 Iowa caucuses, narrowly besting Reagan, who had not put any effort into the state. At this point the Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones media operation went into high gear. That same night Walter Cronkite told viewers: “George Bush has apparently done what he hoped to do, coming out of the pack as the principal challenger to front-runner Ronald Reagan.”
In the interval between January 21 and the New Hampshire primary of February 26, the Eastern Liberal Establishment labored mightily to put George Bush into power as president that same year. The press hype in favor of Bush was overwhelming. Newsweek’s cover featured a happy and smiling Bush talking with his supporters: “BUSH BREAKS OUT OF THE PACK,” went the headline. Smaller picutres showed a scowling Senator Baker and a decidedly un-telegenic Reagan grimacing before a microphone. The Newsweek reporters played up Bush’s plan to redo the Carter script from 1976, and went on to assert that Bush’s triumph in Iowa “raised the serious possibility that he could accomplish on the Republican side this year what Carter did in 1976–parlay a well-tuned personal appetite for on-the-ground campaigning into a Long March to his party’s Presidential nomination.” So wrote the magazine controlled by the family money of Bush’s old business associate Eugene Meyer, and Bush was appreciative; doubly so for the reference to his old friend Mao.
Time, which had been founded by Henry Luce of Skull and Bones, showed a huge, grinning Bush and a smaller, very cross Reagan, headlined: “BUSH SOARS.” The leading polls, always doctored by the intelligence agencies and other interests, showed a Bush boom: Lou Harris found that whereas Reagan had led Bush into Iowa by 32-6 nationwide, Bush had pulled even with Reagan at 27-27 within 24 hours after the Iowa result had become known.
Savvy Republican operatives were reported to be flocking to the Bush bandwagon. Even seasoned observers stuck their necks out; Witcover and Germond wrote in their column of February 22 that “a rough consensus is taking shape among moderate Republican politicians that George Bush may achieve a commanding position within the next three weeks in the contest for the Republican nomination. And those with unresolved reservations about Bush are beginning to wonder privately if it is even possible to keep an alternative politically alive for the late primaries.”
Robert Healy of the Boston Globe stuck his neck out even further for the neo-Harrimanite cause with a forecast that “even though he is still called leading candidate in some places, Reagan does not look like he’ll be on the Presidential stage much longer.” It was even possible, Healy gushed that Bush “will go through 1980…without losing an important Presidential primary.” William Safire of the New York Times claimed that his contacts with Republican insiders across the country had yielded “a growing suspicion that Reagan may once again be bypassed for the historic role…a general feeling that he may be a man whose cause may triumph, but whose own time may never come.” [fn 17]
NBC’s Brokaw started calling Reagan the “former front-runner.” Tom Petit of the same network was more direct: “I would like to suggest that Ronald Reagan is politically dead.” Once again the choice of pictures made Bush look good, Reagan bad.
The Eastern Liberal establishment had left no doubt who its darling was: Bush, and not Reagan. In their arrogance, the Olympians had once again committed the error of confusing their collective patrician whim with real processes ongoing in the real world. The New Hampshire primary was to prove a devastating setback for Bush, in spite of all the hype the Bushman networks were able to crank out. How did it happen?
George Bush was of course a life-long member of the Skull and Bones secret society of Yale University, through which he advanced towards the freemasonic upper reaches of the Anglo-American establishment, towards those exalted circles of London, New York, and Washington in which the transatlantic destiny of the self-styled Anglo-Saxon master race is elaborated. The entrees provided by Skull and Bones membership would always be, for Bush, the most vital ones. But, in addition to such exalted feudal brotherhoods as Skull and Bones, the Anglo-American Establishment also maintains a series of broader-based elite organizations whose function is to manifest the hegemonic Anglo-American policy line to the broader layers of the establishment, including bureaucrats, businessmen, bankers, journalists, professors, and other such assorted retainers and stewards of power.
George Bush had thus found it politic over the years to become a member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations. By 1979, Bush was a member of the board of the CFR, where he sat next to his old patron Henry Kissinger. The President of the CFR during this period was Kissinger clone Winston Lord of the traditional Skull and Bones family.
George was also a member of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco, which had been founded by Ambrose Bierce after the Civil War to cater to the Stanfords, Huntingtons, Crockers, Hopkins, and the other nouveau-riche tycoons that had emerged from the gold rush. The Bohemian Club made a summer outing every year to its camp at Bohemian Grove, a secluded, 2,700 acre stand of majestic redwoods about 75 miles from San Francisco. A sign over the gate advises: “Spiders Weave Not Here.” Up to 1,600 members, with the occasional foreign guest like German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, gather in mid-summer for freemasonic ceremonies featuring the ritual interrment of “dull care”, cavort in women’s panty hose in femme impersonatuer theatricals, or better yet frolic in the nude near the banks of the Russian River. Herbert Hoover was a devoted regular, Eisenhower and Allen Dulles made cold war speeches there; Nixon and Reagan had discussed prospects for the 1968 election; Bechtel was always big; and Henry Kissinger loved to pontificate, all at the Grove.
Then there was the Trilateral Commission, founded by David Rockefeller in 1973-74. One branch from North America, one branch from Europe, one branch from Japan, with the resulting organism a kind of policy forum aiming at an international consensus among financier factions, under overall Anglo-American domination. The Trilateral Commission emerged at the same time that the Rockefeller-Kissinger interests perpetrated the first oil hoax. Some of its first studies were devoted to the mechanics of imposing authoritarian-totalitarian forms of government in the US, Europe, and Japan to manage the austerity and economic decay that would be the results of Trilateral policies. The Carter Administration was very overtly a Trilateral Administration. Popular hatred of Carter and his crew made the Trilterals an attractive target. Reagan promised that he would change all that, but his government was also dominated by the Trilateraloids.
Bush was also a member of the Alibi Club, a society of Washington insiders who gather periodically to assert the primacy of oligarchism over such partisan or other divisions that have been concocted to divert the masses. Bush had also joined another Washington association, the Alfalfa Club, with much the same ethos and a slightly differrent cast of characters. Bush was clearly a joiner. Later, in 1990, he would accept a bid to join Britain’s Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrew’s in Scotland as the ninth honorary member in the history of that august body. This was also a tribute to George Herbert Walker, a past president of the US Golf Association, and to Prescott Bush, who was also president of the USGA.
As we saw briefly during Bush’s senate campaign, the combination of bankruptcy and arrogance which was the hallmark of Eastern Liberal Establishment rule over the United States generated resentments which could make membership in such organizations a distinct political liability.
One who was caught up in the turbulence was William Loeb, the opinionated curmudgeon of Pride’s Crossing, Massachusetts who was the publisher of the Manchester Union-Leader, the most important newspaper in the state. Loeb had supported Reagan in 1976 and was for him again in 1980. Loeb might have dispersed his fire against all of Reagan’s Republican rivals, including Howard Baker, Robert Dole, Phil Crane, John Anderson, John Connally, and Bush. Loeb would launch a barrage of slashing attacks on Bush. The other GOP contenders would be virtually ignored by Loeb.
Loeb had assailed Ford as “Jerry the Jerk” in 1976; his attacks on Sen. Muskie reduced the latter to tears during the 1972 primary. Loeb began to play up the theme of Bush as a liberal, as a candidate controlled by the “internationalist” (or Kissinger) wing of the GOP and the Wall Strreet bankers, always soft on communism and always ready to undermine liberty through Big Government here at home. A February editorial by Loeb reacted to Bush’s Iowa success with these warnings of vote fraud:
- The Bush operation in Iowa had all the smell of a CIA covert operation….Strange aspects of the Iowa operation [included] a long, slow count and then the computers broke down at a very convenient point, with Bush having a six per cent bulge over Reagan…Will the elite nominate their man, or will we nominate Reagan? [fn 19]
For Loeb the most damning evidence was Bush’s membership in the Trilateral Commission, the creature of David Rockefeller and the internmational bankers. Carter and his administration had been packed with Trilateral members; there were indications that the establishment choice of Carter to be the next US president had been made at a meeting of the Trilateral Commission in Kyodo, Japan, where Carter had been introduced by Gianni Agnelli of Italy’s FIAT motor company.
Loeb simplified all that: “George Bush is a Liberal” was the title of his editorial published the day before the primary. Loeb flayed Bush as a “spoiled little rich kid who has been wet-nursed to succeed and now, packaged by David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission, thinks he is entitled to the White House as his latest toy.”
Shortly before the election Loeb ran a cartoon entitled “Silk Stocking Republicans,” which showed Bush at a cocktail party with a cigarette and glass in hand. Bush and the other participants, all male, were wearing women’s panty-hose. This was the message that Loeb had apparently gotten from Bush’s body language.
Paid political ads began to appear in the Union-Leader sponsored by groups from all over the country, some helped along by John Sears of the Reagan campaign. One showed a drawing of Bush juxtaposed with a Mr. Peanut logo: “The same people who gave you Jimmy Carter want now to give you George Bush,” read the headline. The text described a “coalition of liberals, multinational corporate executives, big-city bankers, and hungry power brokers” led by David Rockefeller whose “purpose is to control the American government, regardless of which political party–Democrat or Republican– wins the presidency this coming November!” “The Trojan horse for this scheme,” the ad went on, “is Connecticut-Yankee-turned-Texas oilman George Bush- the out-of-nowhere Republican who openly admits he is using the same “game-plan” developed for Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential nomination campaign.” The ad went on to menmtion the Council on Fopreign Relations and the “Rockefeller money” that was the lifeblood of Bush’s effort. [fn 20]
On February 24, Loeb trotted out Gen. Danny Graham, part of Bush’s Team B operation, to talk about “George Bush’s weakness as the head of the CIA and his complete failure to estimate correctly the Soviet threat.” Bush had “stacked” the Team A-Team B debate, Graham was now claiming. Brent Scowcroft, Lt. Gen. Sam Wilson and Ray Cline all rushed to Bush’s defense. “Any inference that George was too soft in his analysis of the Soviet Union was just dead wrong,” responded Cline. “George is probably more skeptical and concerned about Soviet behavior than anyone in town.” “Baloney!” was Graham’s rejoinder.
Loeb hyped a demand from the National Alliance of Senior Citizens that Bush repudiate and apologize for a remark that Social Security had “become largely a welfare program.” Here Bush was scourged for his “insensitivity to the independence of Social Security recipients.” Right underneath was another article from a Union-Leader special correspondent in New York City reporting that Bush’s delegates had been thrown off the ballot there by the Board of Elections because Bush’s petitions “were illegal.”
While all this was going on, Bush was prating about his “momentum” with campaign statements that focussed exclusively on technicalities rather than offering reasons why anybody should support Bush. Right after the Iowa victory, here was Bush: “Clearly, we’re going to come out of here with momentum…We appear to have beaten both Connally and Baker very, very badly. The numbers look substantial. And they are going to have to get some momentum going, and I’m coming out of here with momentum.” A few weeks later, Bush was still repeating the same gibberish. Bush told Bob Schieffer of CBS about his advantage for New Hampshire:
- What we’ll have, you see, is momentum. We will have forward “Big Mo” on our side, as they say in athletics.
Yeah, Bush said. “Mo,” momentum.
While campaigning, Bush was asked once again about the money he received from Nixon’s 1970 Townhouse slush fund. Bush’s stock reply was that his friend Jaworski had cleared him: “The answer came back, clean, clean, clean,” said Bush.
By now the Reagan camp had caught on that something important was happening, something which could benefit Reagan enormously. First Reagan’s crony Edwin Meese piped up in oblique reference to the Trilateral membership of some candidates, including Bush: “all these people come out of an international economic industrial organization with a pattern of thinking on world affairs” that led to a “softening on defense.” That played well, and Reagan decided he would pick up the theme. On February 7, 1980 Reagan observed in a speech that 19 key members of the Carter Administration, including Carter, were members of the Trilateral Commission. According to Reagan, this influence had indeed led to a “softening on defense” because of the Trilateraloids’ belief that business “should transcend, perhaps, the national defense.” [fn 21] This made sense: Bush would later help enact NAFTA and GATT. Voters whose fathers remembered the complaint of a beaten Bonesman, Robert Taft, in 1952– that every GOP presidential candidate since 1936 had been chosen by Chase bank and the Rockefellers– found this touched a responsive chord.
Bush realized that he was faced with an ugly problem. He summarily resigned from both the Traileral Commission and from the New York Council on Foreign Relations. But his situation in New Hampshire was desperate. His cover had been largely blown. He stopped talking about the “Big Mo” and began babbling that he was “the issues candidate.” This was an error in demagogy, also because Bush had nothing to say. When he tried to grapple with issues, he immediately came under fire from the press. Newsweek now found his solutions “vague.” The Washington Post reported that Bush “has been ill-prepared to respond to simple questions about basic issues as they arise. When he was asked about President Carter’s new budget this week, his replies were vague and contradictory.” The Wall Street Journal agreed that Bush’s positions were “short on detail. In economics his spending and tax priorities remain fuzzy. In foreign policy, he hasn’t made it at all clear how he envisions using American military power to advance economic and political interests.”
These were the press organs that had mounted the hype for Bush a few weeks before. Now the real polls, the ones that are generally not published, showed Bush collapsing, and even media that would normally have been rabidly pro-Bush were obliged to distance themselves from him in order to defend their own “credibility,” meaning their future ability to ply the citizens with lies and disorientation. Part of Reagan’s support reflected a desire by voters to stick it to the media.
Bush was now running scared, sufficiently so as to entertain the prospect of a debate among candidates. One was held in Manchester, where Bush tried to bait Reagan about an ethnic joke the latter had told. “I was stiffed,” explained Reagan, and went into his avuncular act while Bush squirmed.
John Sears of the Reagan campaign signalled to the Nashua Telegraph, a paper published in southern New Hampshire, that Reagan would accept a one-on-one debate with Bush. James Baker was gulled: he welcomed the idea because the debate format would establish Bush as the main alternative to Reagan. “We thought it was the best thing since sliced bread,” said Baker. Bob Dole complained to the Federal Elections Commission about being excluded, and the Reagan camp suggested that the debate be payed for out of campaign funds, half by Reagan and half by Bush. Bush refused to pay, but Reagan pronounced himself willing to defray the entire cost. Thus it came to pass that a bilateral Bush-Reagan debate was scheduled for February 23 at a gymanasium in Nashua.
For many, this evening would provide the epiphany of George Bush, a moment when his personal essence was made manifest.
Bush propaganda has always tried to portray the Nashua Teleghraph debate as some kind of ambush planned by Reagan’s diabolical campaign manager, John Sears. Established facts include that the Nashua Telegraph owner, blueblood J. Herman Pouliot, and Telegraph editor John Breen, were both close personal friends of former Governor Hugh Gregg, who was Bush’s campaign director in the state. Bush had met with Breen before the debate. Perhaps it was Bush who was trying to set some kind of a trap for Reagan.
On the night of February 23, the gymanasium was packed with more than 2400 people. Bush’s crony Rep. Barber Conable (or “Barbarian Cannibal,” later Bush’s man at the World Bank) was there with a group of Congressmen for Bush. Then the excluded GOP candidates, John Anderson, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and Phil Crane all arrived and asked to meet with Reagan and Bush to discuss opening the debate up to them as well. (Connally, also a candidate, was in South Carolina.) Reagan agreed to meet with them and went backstage into a small office with the other caandidates. He expressed a general willingness to let them join in. But Bush refused to talk to the other candidates, and sat on the stage waiting impatiently for the debate to begin. John Sears told Peter Teeley that Sears wanted to talk to Bush about the debate format. “It doesn’t work that way,” hissed the liberal Teeley, who sent James Baker to talk with Sears. Sears said it was time to have an open debate. Baker passed the buck to the Nashua Telegraph.
From the room behind the stage where the candidates were meeting, the Reagan people sent US Senator Gordon Humphrey out to urge Bush to come and confer with the rest of them. “If you don’t come now,” said Humprhey to Bush, “you’re doing a disservice to party unity.” Bush whined in reply: “Don’t tell me about unifying the Republican Party! I’ve done more for this party than you’ll ever do! I’ve worked too hard for this and they’re not going to take it away from me!” In the back room, there was a proposal that Reagan, Baker, Dole, Anderson, and Crane should go on stage together and announce that Reagan would refuse to debate unless the others were included.
“Everyone seemed quite irritated with Bush, whom they viewed as acting like a spoiled child,” wrote an aide to Anderson later. [fn 22] Bush refused to even ackowledge the presence of Dole, who had helped him get started as GOP chairman; of Anderson and Crane, former House colleagues; and of Howard Baker, who had helped him get confirmed at the CIA. George kept telling anybody who came close that he was sticking with the original rules.
The audience was cheering for the four excluded candidates, demanding that they be allowed to speak. Publisher Pouliot addressed the crowd. “This is getting to sound more like a boxing match. In the rear are four other candidates who have not been invited by the Nashua Telegraph,” said Pouliot. He was roundly booed. “Get them chairs,” cried a woman, and she was applauded. Bush kept staring straight ahead into space, and the hostility of the crowd was focussing more and more on him.
Reagan started to speak, motivating why the debate should be opened up. Editor Breen, a rubbery-looking hack with a bald pate and glasses, piped up: “Turn Mr. Reagn’s microphone off.” There was pandemonium. “You Hitler!” screamed a man in the front row right at Breen.
Reagan replied: “I’m paying for this microphone, Mr. Green.” The crowd broke out in wild cheers. Bush still stared straight ahead in his temper tantrum. Reagan spoke on to ask that the others be included, saying that exclusion was unfair. But he was unsure of himself, looking to Nancy Reagan for a sign as to what he should do. At the end Reagan said he would prefer an open debate, but that he would accept the bilateral format if that were the only way.
With that the other candidates left the podium in a towering rage. “There’ll be another day, George,” growled Bob Dole.
Reagan and Bush then debated, and those who were still paying attention agreed that Bush was the loser. A staff member later told Bush, “The good news is that nobody paid any attention to the debate. The bad news is you lost that, too.”
But most people’s attention, and the camera teams, had shifted to a music room where the ejected hopefuls were uniformly slamming Bush. Anderson asserted that “Clearly the responsibility for this whole travesty rests with Mr. Bush.” “He refused to even come back here and talk.” Howard Baker called Bush’s behavior “the most flagrant attempt to return to the closed door I’ve ever seen.” Baker was beside himself: “The punkest political device I ever saw!” “He wants to be king, ” raged Bob Dole. “I have never been treated this way in my life. Where do we live? Is this America? So far as George Bush is concerned he’d better find another Republican Party if he can’t talk to those of us who come up here.” “He didn’t want us to debate. He can’t provide leadership for the Republican Party with that attitude,” Dole kept repeating.
Film footage of Reagan grabbing the microphone while Bush stewed in his temper tantrum was all over local and network television for the next 48 hours. It was the epiphany of a scoundrel.
Now the Bush damage control apparatus went into that mode it finds so congenial: lying. A radio commercial was prepared under orders from James Baker for New Hampshire stations: here an announcer, not Bush, intoned that “at no time did George Bush object to a full candidate forum. This accusation by the other candidates is without foundation whatsoever.”
Walter Cronkite heard a whining voice from Houston Texas as he interviewed Bush on his new program: “I wanted to do what I agreed to do,” said the whine. “I wanted to debate with Ronald Reagan.”
Haynes Johnson of the Washington Post caught something of the moment: “It was Bush’s own personal response to the controversy that destroyed him. The self-portrait of George Bush drawn these last few days before the balloting was singularly unattractive. Bush came over as a petulant politician, lacking grace and dignity, and complaining peevishly about being ‘sandbagged’ and ‘ambushed’ by all the other nasty politicians. He resembled nothing more than a spoiled child whose toy has been taken away.” That was the talk of New Hampshire through the primary.
Bush’s handlers were resigned; some of them knew it was all over. “What can I say? He choked up,” said one. “George does not have a sense of theater,” noted another.
The New Hampshire primary was a debacle for Bush. Reagan won 50% of the votes to George’s 23%, with 13% for Baker and 10% for Anderson. Big Mo had proven to be fickle. [fn 23]
As for the old curmudgeon William Loeb, he was dead with two years.
Bush played out the string through the primaries, but he won only four states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Michigan) plus Puerto Rico. Reagan took 29. Even in Pennsylvania, where the Bushmen outspent Reagan by a colossal margin, Reagan managed to garner more delegates even though Bush got more votes.
Sometime during the spring of 1980, Bush began attacking Reagan for his “supply-side” economic policies. Bush may have thought he still had a chance to win the nomination, but in any case he coined the phrase “voodoo economics.” Bush later claimed that the idea had come from his British-born press secretary, Peter Teeley. Later, when the time came to ingratiate himself with Reagan’s following, Bush claimed that he had never used the offending term. But, in a speech made at Carnegie-Mellon University on April 10, 1980, he attacked Reagan for “a voodoo economic policy.” He compared Reagan’s approach to something which former Governor Jerry Brown of California, “Governor Moonbeam,” might have concocted.
Bush was able to keep going after New Hampshire because Mosbacher’s machinations had given him a post-New Hampshire war chest of $3 million. The Reagan camp had spent two thirds of their legal total expenditure of $18 million before the primaries had begun. This had proven effective, but it meant that in more than a dozen primaries, Reagan could afford no television purchases at all. This allowed Bush to move in and smother Reagan under a cascade of greenbacks in a few states, even though Reagan was on his way to the nomination. That was the story in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The important thing for Bush now was to outlast the other candidates and to build his credentials for the vice presidency, since that was what he was now running for.
One of Bush’s friends did not desert him. When Bush came to Houston on April 28 for a lunchhour rally, he was introduced by former Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski, a man devoted to his cause. Jaworski condemned Reagan as an “extremist whose over-the-counter simplistic remedies and shopworn platitudes of solutions trouble open-minded and informed voters.” Jaworski assailed Carter as a “Democrat in despair,” and called on the Texas voters “to pay no attention to the also-rans who marched to the altar of public opinion, wooing the voters with large campaign chests and who are now back home licking their wounds as rejected suitors.” This was a veiled attack on Connally, who had spent $12 million getting one Arkansas delegate, dropped out, and endorsed Reagan. Jaworski’s Watergate-era loyalties ran deep. [fn 24]
Bush still claimed that Texas was his home state, so he was obliged to make an effort there in advance of the May 3 primary. Here Bush spent about half a million dollars on television, while the Reaganauts were unable to buy time owing to their lack of money; Reagan had now reached his FEC spending ceiling. The secret society issue was as big in Texas as it had been in New Hampshire; during an appearance at the University of Texas Bush delivered a whining ultimatum to Reagan to order his campaign workers to “stop passing out insidious literature” questioning Bush’s patriotism because of his membership in the Trilateral Commission, which Bush characterized as a group that sought to improve US relations with our closest allies. He wanted Reagan to repudiate thie entire line of attack, which was still hurting the Bushmen badly. During a five-day plane-hopping blitz of the state, Bush came across as “cryptically hawkish”.
Despite the lack of money for television, Reagan defeated Bush by 52% to 47% of the half a million votes cast. But because of the winner-take-all rule in individual precincts, Reagan took 61 delegates to Bush’s 19. Bush’s only areas of strength were in his old Houston liberal Republican enclave and in northwest Dallas. Reagan swept the rest, especially the rural areas. [fn 25 ]
The issue became acute among the Bushmen on May 20. This was the day Bush won in Michigan, but that Bush win was irrelevant because Reagan, by winning the Nebraska primary the same day, had acquired enough pledged delegates to acquire the arithmetical certainty of being nominated on the first ballot. In the tradition of Dink Stover at Yale, which says that one must not be a quitter, Bush made some noises about going on to Ohio and to California on the outside chance that Reagan might self-destruct through some horrendous gaffe, but this was merely histrionics. Bush allowed himself to be convinced that discretion was the better part of valor by David Keene and speechwriter (and later red Studebaker biographer) Vic Gold. His campaign was now $400,000 in debt, but Mosbacher later claimed to have wiped that slate clean within two months. Bush officially capitulated on May 26, 1980, and declared that he would support Reagan all the way to November. Reagan, campaigning that day at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds, commended Bush’s campaign and thanked him for his support.
All the money and organization had not sufficed. Bush now turned his entire attention to the quest for his “birthright,” the vice presidency. This would be his fifth attempt to attain that office, and once again, despite the power of Bush’s network, success was uncertain.
Inside the Reagan camp, one of Bush’s greatest assets would be William Casey, who had been closely associated with the late Prescott Bush. Casey was to be Reagan’s campaign manager for the 1980 elections. In 1962, Prescott and Casey had co-founded a think tank called the National Strategy Information Center in New York City, a forum where Wall Street lawyers like Casey could join hands with politicians from Prescott’s wing of the Republican Party, financiers, and the intelligence community. The National Strategy Information Center provided material for a news agency called Forum World Features, a CIA proprietary that operated in London, and which was in liaison with the British Information Research Department, a cold-war propaganda unit set up by Christopher Mayhew of British intelligence with the approval of PM Clement Attlee. Forum World Features was part of the network that got into the act during the destabilization of Harold Wilson for the benefit of Margaret Thatcher. [fn 26]
This Prescott Bush-William Casey think tank promoted the creation of endowed chairs in strategic analysis, national intelligence, and the like on a number of campuses. The Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies, later the home of Kissinger, Ledeen, and a whole stable of ideologues of Anglo-American empire, was in part a result of the work of Casey and Prescott.
Casey was also an old friend of Leo Cherne. When Cherne was appointed to PFIAB in the summer of 1973, Casey, who was at that time Nixon’s Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs, sent Cherne a warm note of congratulations telling how “delighted” he had been to get the official notice of Cherne’s new post. [fn 27]
Casey was also a close associate of George Bush. During 1976, Ford appointed Casey to PFIAB, where Casey was an enthusiastic supporter of the Team B operation along with Bush and Cherne. George Bush and Casey would play decisive roles in the secret government operations of the Reagan years.
As the Republican convention gathered in Detroit in July, 1980, the problem was to convince Reagan of the inevitability of tapping Bush as his running mate. But Reagan did not want Bush. He had conceived an antipathy, even a hostility for George. One factor may have been British liberal Peter Teeley’s line about Reagan’s “voodoo economics.” But the decisive factor was what Reagan had experienced personally from Bush during the Nashua Telegraph debate, which had left a lasting and highly derogatory impression.
According to one account of this phase, “ever since the episode in Nashua in February, Reagan had come to hold the preppy Yankee transplant in, as the late Senator Robert Kerr of Oklahoma used to say, mimumum high regard. ‘Reagan is a very gracious contestant,’ one of his inner circle said, ‘and he generally views his opponents with a good deal of respect. The thing he couldn’t understand was Bush’s conduct at the Nashua Telegraph debate. It imprinted with Reagan that Bush was a wimp. He remembered that night clearly when we had our vice-presidential discussions. He couldn’t understand how a man could have sat there so passively. He felt it showed a lack of courage.” And now that it was time to think about a running mate, the prospective presidential nominee gave a sympathetic ear to those who objected to Bush for reasons that ran, one of the group said later, from his behavior at Nashua to ‘anit-Trilateralism'” According to this account, conservatives seeking to stop Bush at the convention were citing their suspicions about a “‘conspiracy’ backed by Rockefeller to gain control of the American government.” [fn 28]
Drew Lewis was a leading Bushman submarine in the Reagan camp, telling the candidate that Bush could help him in electoral college megastates like Pennsylvania and Michigan where Ted Kennedy had demonstrated that Carter was vulnerable during the primaries. Lewis badgered Reagan with the prospect that if he waited too long, he would have to accept a politically neutral running mate in the way that Ford took Dole in 1976, which might end up costing him the election. According to Lewis, Reagan needed to broaden his base, and Bush was the most palatable and practical vehicle for doing so.
Much to his credit, Reagan resisted; “he told several staff members and advisers that he still harbored ‘doubts’ about Bush, based on Nashua. “If he can’t stand up to that kind of pressure,’ Reagan told one intimate, ‘how could he stand up to the pressure of being president?’ To another, he said: “I want to be very frank with you. I have strong reservations about George Bush. I’m concerned about turning the country over to him.'”
As the convention came closer, Reagan continued to be hounded by Bushmen from inside and outside his own campaign. A few days before the convention it began to dawn on Reagan that one alternative to the unpalatable Bush might be former President Gerald Ford, assuming the latter could be convinced to make the run. Two days before Reagan left for Detroit, according to one of his strategists, Reagan “came to the conclusion that it would be Bush, but he wasn’t all that happy about it.” [fn 29] But this was not yet the last word.
Casey, Meese, and Deaver sounded out Ford, who was reluctant but did not issue a categorical rejection. Stuart Spencer, Ford’s 1976 campaign manager, reported to Reagan on his contacts with Ford. ”Ron,’ Spencer said, ‘Ford ain’t gonna do it, and you’re gonna pick Bush.’ But judging from Reagan’s reaction, Spencer recalled later, “There was no way he was going to pick Bush,’and the reason was simple: Reagan just didn’t like the guy. “It was chemistry,’ Spencer said. [fn 30]
Reagan now had to be ground down by an assortment of Eastern Liberal Establishment perception-mongers and political heavies. Much of the well-known process of negotiation between Reagan and Ford for the “Dream Ticket” of 1980 was simply a charade to disorient and demoralize Reagan while eating up the clock until the point was reached when Reagan would have no choice but to make the classic phone call to Bush. It is obvious that Reagan offered the Vice Presidency to Ford, and that the latter refused to accept it outright, but engaged in a process of negotiations ostensibly in order to establish the conditions under which he might, eventually, accept. [ fn 31] Casey called in Henry Kissinger and asked him to intercede with Ford. What then developed was a marathon of haggling in which Ford was represented by Kissinger, Alan Greenspan, Jack Marsh, and Bob Barrett. Reagan was represented by Casey, Meese, and perception-monger Richard Wirthlin. Dick Cheney, Ford’s former chief of staff and now Bush’s pro-genocide Secretary of Defense, also got into the act.
The strategy of Bush and Casey was to draw out the talks, running out the clock until Reagan would be forced to pick someone. Inside the negotiations, the Ford camp made demand after demand. Would Ford have a voice on foreign policy and defense? Would he be a member of the cabinet? Would he become the White House chief of staff? At the same time, leaks were made to the press about the negotiations and how sweeping constitutional issues were being haggled over in a classic smoke-filled room. These leaks became more and more embarrassing, making it easy to convince Reagan that his imnage was being tarnished, that he ought to call off the talks and pick Bush.
This complex strategy of intrigue culminated in Ford’s notorious interview with Walter Cronkite, in which the CBS anchor man asked Ford if “It’s got to be something like a co-presidency?” “That’s something Governor Reagan really ought to consider,” replied Ford, which was not what a serious vice presidential candidate might say, but did correspond rather well to what “Jerry the Jerk” would say if he wanted to embarass Reagan and help Bush. As for Cronkite, was it possible that his coining of the term “co-presidency” was stimulated by someone from Prescott Bush’s old circles at CBS?
Bombarded by the media now with the “co-president” thesis, Reagan began to see foreshadowings of a public relations debacle. Television reporters began to hype an imminent visit by Reagan and Ford to the convention to present the “Dream Ticket.” Meese was despatched to Kissinger to demand a straight answer from the Ford camp. “Kissinger told Meese that the Ford side might not be able to have an answer until the next morning, if then, because there were still many questions about how the arrangement might work.” Reagan called Ford and asked for a prompt decision.
Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger concluded at this point: “Hey, we don’t think this is going to work, and these guys are kind of stalling for time here.” Nofziger suspected that Ford was trying to back Reagan into a corner, going down to the wire in a way that would oblige Reagan to take Ford and accept any conditions that Ford might choose to impose. But then Ford went to Reagan’s hotel room to “give him my decision, and my decision is no.” “As Ford left, Reagan wiped his brow and said, ‘Now where the hell’s George Bush?'” [fn 32] Reagan had been so fixated on his haggling with Ford that he had not done anything to develop vice presidential alternatives to Bush, and now it was too late.
The best indication that Ford had been working all along as an agent of Bush was provided by Ford himself to Germond and Witcover: “Ford, incidentially, told us after the election that one of his prime objectives at the convention had been ‘to subtly help George Bush get the [vice-presidential] nomination.'” [fn 33]
Drew Lewis helped Reagan make the call that he found so distasteful. Reagan came on the line: “Hello, George, this is Ron Reagan. I’d like to go over to the convention and announce that you’re my choice for vice preident…if that’s all right with you.”
“I’d be honored, Governor.”
Reagan was still reluctant. “George, is there anything at all …about the platform or anything else…anything that might make you uncomfortable down the road?”
“Why, yes, sir,” said Bush “I think you can say I support the platform –wholeheartedly.”
Reagan now proceeded to the convention floor, where he would announce this choice of Bush. Knowing that this decision would alienate many of Reagan’s ideological backers, the Reagan campaign leaked the news that Bush had been chosen to the media, so that it would quickly spread to the convention floor. They were seeking to cushion the blow, to avoid mass expressions of disgust when Bush’s name was announced. Even as it was, there was much groaning and booing among the Reagan faithful.
In retrospect, the sucess of Bush’s machinations at the 1980 convention can be seen to have had a very sinister precedent at the GOP convention held in Philadelphia just eighty years earlier. At that convention, William McKinley, one of the last of the Lincoln Republicans, was nominated for a second term.
The New York bankers, especially the House of Morgan, wanted Theodore Roosevelt for vice president, but McKinley and his chief political ally, Senator Marc Hanna, were adamant that they wanted no part of the infantile and megalomaniac New York governor. At one point Hanna exclaimed to a group of southern delegates, “Don’t any of you realize that there’s only one life between this madman and the White House!” Eventually McKinley’s hand was forced by a group of New York delegates who were motivated primarily by their desire to get the unpopular and erratic Roosevelt out of the state at any cost. They told Hanna that unless Roosevelt were on the ticket, McKinley might loose the vital New York electoral votes. McKinley and Hanna capitulated, and Theodore Roosevelt joined the ticket. [fn 34]
Within one year, President McKinley was assassinated at Buffalo, and Theodore Roosevelt assumed power in the name of the fanatical and imbecilic Anglo-Saxon imperial strategy of world domination which helped to precipitate the First World War.
Did Bush’s professed admiration for Theodore Roosevelt include a desire to seize the presidency via a similar path? The events of March, 1981 will give us cause to ponder.
As the Detroit convention cam to a close, the Reagan and Bush campaign staffs were merged, with James Baker assuming a prominent position in the Casey-run Reagan campaign. The Ray Cline, Halper, and Gambino operations were all continued. From this point on, Reagan’s entourage would be heavily infiltrated by Bushmen.
The Reagan-Bush campaign, now chock full of Bush’s Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones assets, now announced a campaign of espionage. This campaign told reporters that it was going to spy on the Carter regime.
Back in April, Carter had taken to live television at 7 AM one morning to announce some ephemeral progress in his efforts to secure the release of State Department officials and others from the US Embassy in Teheran that were being held as hostages by the Khomeini forces in Iran. This announcement was timed to coincide with Democratic primaries in Kansas and Wisconsin, in which Carter was able to overwhelm challenges from Teddy Kennedy and Jerry Brown. A memo from Richard Wirthlin to Casey and Reagan initiated a discussion of how the Carter gang might exploit the advantages of incumbency in order to influence the outcome of the election, perhaps by attempting to stampede the public by some dramatic event at the last minute, such as the freeing of the hostages in Teheran. Casey began to institute counter-measures even before the Detroit GOP convention.
During the convention, at a July 14 press conference, Casey told reporters of his concern that Carter might spring an “October surprise” in foreign or domestic policy on the eve of the November elections. He announced that he had set up what he called an “incumbency watch” to monitor Carter’s activities and decisions. Casey explained that an “intelligence operation” directed against the Carter White House was functioning “already in germinal form.” Ed Meese, who was with Casey at this press conference, added that the October surprise “could be anything from a summit conference on energy” or development in Latin America, or perhaps the imposition of “wage and price controls” on the domestic economy.
“We’ve talked about the October surprise and what the October surprise will be,” said Casey. “I think it’s immoral and improper.”
The previous evening, in a televison appearance, Reagan had suggested that “the Soviet Union is going to throw a few bones to Mr. Carter during this coming campaign to help him continue as president.” [fn 35]
Although Casey and Meese had defined a broad range of possibilities for the October surprise, the most prominent of these was certainly the liberation of the American hostages in Iran. A poll showed that if the hostages were to be released during the period between October 18 and October 25, Carter could receive a 10% increase in popular vote on election day.
The “incumbency watch” set up by Casey, would go beyond surveillance and become a dirty tricks operation against Carter, including by attempting to block the liberation of the hostages before the November, 1980 election.
What follows was in essence a pitched battle between two fascist gangs, the Carter White House and the Bush-Casey forces. Out of this 1980 gang warfare, the post-1981 United States regime would emerge. In the event the temple of Apollo in New Haven defeated the temple of Dionysios in Plains, Georgia.
Carter and Brzezinski had deliberately toppled the Shah, deliberately installed Khomeini in power. This was an integral part of Brzezinski’s “arc of crisis” geopolitical lunacy, another made-in-London artefact which called for the US to support the rise of Khomeini, and his personal brand of fanaticism, a militant heresy within Islam. US arms deliveries were made to Iran during the time of the Shah; during the short-lived Baktiar government at the end of the Shah’s reign; and continuously after the advent of Khomeini. There are indications that the Carter regime connived with Khomeini to get the hostages taken in the first place; the existence of the hostages would allow Carter to continue arms deliveries and other vital forms of support for Khomeini under the pretext that he was doing it out of love for Khomeini, but in order to free the hostages. It was, in short, the same charade that was later acted out under Reagan.
A little-noted aspect of the Carter arms negotiations with Khomeini during the hostage crisis is the possible involvement of networks friendly to Bush. On December 7, 1979, less than two months after the hostages were seized, Assistant Secretary of State Harold Saunders was contacted by a certain Cyrus Hashemi, an Iranian arms dealer and agent of the Iranian SAVAK secret police. Hashemi proposed a deal to free the hostages, and submitted a memorandum calling for the removal of the ailing expatriate Shah from US territory; an apology by the US to the people of Iran for past US interference; the creation of a United Nations Commission; and the unfreezing of the Iranian financial assets seized by Carter and arms and spare parts deliveries by the US to Iran. All of this was summed up in a memorandum submitted to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. [fn 36]
The remarkable aspect of this encounter was that Cyrus Hashemi was accompanied by his lawyer, John Stanley Pottinger. The account of the 1976 Letelier case provided above has established that Pottinger was a close Bush collaborator. Pottinger, it will be recalled, had served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Nixon and Ford administrations between 1973 and 1977 after having directed the US Office of Civil Rights in the Justice Department between 1970 and 1973. Pottinger had also stayed on into the early Carter administration, serving as special assistant to the Attorney General from February to April, 1977. Pottinger had then joined the law firm of Tracy, Malin, and Pottinger of Washington, London, and Paris.
This same Pottinger was now the lawyer for gun-runner Cyrus Hashemi. Given Pottinger’s proven relation to Bush, we may wonder whether Bush may have been informed of Hashemi’s proposal and of the possible responses of the Carter administration. Bush may have known, for example, that during the Christmas season of 1979 one Captain Siavash Setoudeh, an Iranian naval officer and the former Iranian military attache before the breaking of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran, was arranging arms deliveries to Khomeini out of a premises of the US Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia. If Bush had been in contact with Pottinger, he might have known something about the Carter offers for arms deliveries.
Relevant evidence that might help us to determine what Bush knew and when he knew it is still being withheld by the Bush regime . The FBI bugged Cyrus Hashemi’s phone between October 1980 and January 1981, and many of the conversations that were recorded were between Hashemi and Bush’s friend Pottinger. The FBI first claimed that these tapes were “lost,” but now admits that it knows the location of some of them. Are they being withheld to protect Pottinger? Are they being withheld to protect Bush?
Other information on the intentions of the Khomeini regime may have reached Bush from his old friend and associate, Mitchell Rogovin, the former CIA General Counsel. During 1976, Rogovin had accompanied Bush on many trips to the Capitol to testify before Congressional committees; the two were known to be close. In the spring of 1980, Rogovin told the Carter administration that he had been approached by the Iranian-American arms dealer Houshang Lavi with an offer to start negotiations for the release of the hostages. Lavi claimed to be an emissary of Iranian president Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr; Rogovin at this time was working as the lawyer for the John Anderson GOP presidential campaign.
Bush’s family friend Casey had also been in touch with Iranian representatives. Jamshid Hashemi, the brother of Cyrus Hashemi (who died under suspicious circumstances during 1986), has told Gary Sick that he met with William Casey at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC in March of 1980 to talk about the hostages. According to Jamshid Hashemi, “Casey quickly made clear that he wanted to prevent Jimmy Carter from gaining any political advantage from the hostage crisis. The Hashemis agreed to cooperate with Casey without the knowledge of the Carter Administration.” [fn 37]
Casey’s “intelligence operation” included the spying on the opposing candidate that has been routine in US political campaigns for decades, but went far beyond it. As journalists like Witcover and Germond knew during the course of the campaign, and as the 1984 Albosta committee “Debategate” investigation showed, Casey set up at least two October Surprise espionage groups.
The first of these watched the Carter White House, the Washington bureaucracy, and diplomatic and intelligence posts overseas. This group was headed by Reagan’s principal foreign policy advisor and later NSC chairman Richard Allen. Allen was assisted by Fred Ickle and John Lehman, who later got top jobs in the Pentagon, and by Admiral Thomas Moorer. This group also included Robert McFarlane. Allen was in touch with some 120 foreign policy and national security experts sympathetic to the Reagan campaign. Casey helped Allen to interface with the Bush campaign network of retired and active duty assets in the intelligence community. This network reached into the Carter NSC, where Bush crony Don Gregg worked as the CIA liaison man, and into Carter’s top-secret White House situation room.
During these very months there was a further influx of retired intelligence officers into the Reagan-Bush machine. According to Colonel Charlie Beckwith, who had led the abortive “Desert One” attempt to rescue the hostages during the spring of 1980, “The Carter Administration made a serious mistake. A lot of the old whores–guys with lots of street smarts and experience–left the agency.” According to another CIA man, “Stan Turner fired the best CIA operatives over the hostage crisis. The firees agreed among themselves that they would remain in touch with one another and with their contacts and continue to operate more or less as independents.” [fn 38]
Another October Surprise monitoring group was headed by Admiral Robert Garrick, who was assisted by Stephan Halper, Ray Cline’s son in law. The task of this group was the physical surveillance of US military bases by on-the-ground observers, often retired and sometimes active duty military officers. Lookouts were posted to watch Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey (where weapons already bought and paid for by the Shah were stockpiled), and Norton and March Air Force bases in California.
Garrick, Casey, Meese, Wirthlin and other campaign offocials met each morning in Falls Church. Virginia, just outside of Washington, to review intelligence gathered. Bush was certainly informed of these meetings. Did he also attend them?
This group soon became operational. It was clear that Khomeini was keeping the hostages to sell them to the highest bidder. Bush and Casey were not reticent about putting their own offer on the table.
Shortly after the GOP convention, Casey appears to have travelled to Europe for a meeting in Madrid in late July with Mehdi Karrubi, a leading Khomeini supporter, now the speaker of the Iranan Parliament. Jamshid Hashemi said that he and his late brother Cyrus were present at this meeting and at another one in Madrid during August which they say Casey also attended. The present government of Iran has declined to confirm, or deny this contact, saying that “the Islamic Government of Iran sees no benefit to involve itself in the matter.”
Casey’s whereabouts are officially unknown between July 26-27 and July 30. What is known is that as soon as Casey surfaced again in Washington on July 30, he reported back to vice presidential candidate George Bush in a dinner meeting held at the Alibi Club. It is certain from the evidence that there were negotiations with the Mullahs by the Reagan-Bush camp, and that Bush was heavily involved at every stage.
In early September, Bush’s brother Prescott Bush became involved with a letter to James Baker in which he described his contacts with a certain Herbert Cohen, a consultant to the Carter Administration on Middle East matters. Cohen had promised to abort any possible Carter moves to “politicize” the hostage issue by openly denouncing any machinations that Carter might attempt. Prescott offered Baker a meeting with Cohen. Were it not fot the power of the Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones networks, George’s brother Prescott Bush might have become something likt the Billy Carter of the 1980’s.
In September-October 1980 there was a meeting at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington among Richard Allen, Bud McFarlane, Laurence Silberman of the Reagan-Bush campaign and a mysterious Iranian representative, thought to be an emissary of Iranian asset Hashemi Rafsanjani, an asset of US intelligence who was becoming one of the most powerful mullahs in Khomeini’s entourage. The Iranian representative offered a deal whereby “he could get the hostages released directly to our campaign before the election,” Silberman recalls. Allen has claimed that he cut this meeting short after twenty minutes. Allen, McFarlane, and Silberman (later named a federal judge) all failed to report this approach to the White House, the State Department, or other authorities.
On September 22, Iraq invaded Iran, starting a war that would last until the middle of 1988 and which would claim more than a million lives. The US intelligence estimate had been that Khomeini and the mullahs were in danger of losing power by the end of 1980 because of their incompetence, corruption, and benighted stupidity. US and other western intelligence agencies, especially the French, thereupon encouraged Iraq to attack Iran, offering the prospect of an easy victory. The easy victory” analysis was incorporated into a “secret” CIA report which was delivered to the Saudi Arabian government with the suggestion that it be leaked to Iraq. The real US estimate was that a war with Iraq would strengthen Khomeini against reformers who looked to President Bani-Sadr, and that the war emergency would assist in the imposition of a “new dark ages” regime in Iran. An added benefit was that Iran and Iraq as warring states would be forced vastly to increase their oil production, forcing down the oil price on the world market and thus providing the bankrupt US dollar with an important subsidy in terms of the dollar’s ability to command basic commodities in the real world. Bani-Sadr spoke in this connection of “an oil crisis in reverse” as a result of the Iran-Iraq war.
President Bani-Sadr, who was later deposed in a coup d’etat by Khomeini, Rafsanjani, and Beheshti, has recalled that during this period Khomeini decided to bet on Reagan-Bush. “So what if Reagan wins,” said Khomeini. “Nothing will really change since he and Carter are both enemies of Islam.” [fn 39]
This was the time of the Reagan-Carter presidential debates, and Casey’s operation had also yielded booty in this regard. Bush ally and then Congressman David Stockman boasted in Indiana in late October that he had used a “pilfered copy” of Carter’s personal briefing book to coach Reagan prior to a debate.
Many sources agree that a conclusive series of meetings between Reagan-Bush and the Khomeini forces took place in Paris during the October 15-20 period, and there is little doubt that William Casey was present for these meetings. According to the account furnished by Richard Brenneke, there was a meeting at the Hotel Raphael in Paris at about noon on October 19, attended by George Bush, William Casey, Don Gregg, Manucher Gorbanifar and two unnamed Iranian officials. Brenneke says that there was a second meeting the same afternoon, with the same cast of characters, minus George Bush. Then there was a third meeting at the Hotel Florida the next day, October 20, this time attended by Casey, Gregg, Hashemi, Manucher Gorbanifar, Major Robert Benes of the French intelligence services, and one or two other persons.
According to Bani-Sadr, his reports show that the meetings took polace, and were attended by Reagan-Bush representatives, Iranians loyal to Behesthi and Rafsanjani, and arms merchants like Cyrus Hashemi, Manucher Ghorbanifar, and Albert Hakim. Bani-Sadr’s first reports from military officials in Iran specified that “Bush had met with a representative of Beheshti.” Bani-Sadr later elaborated that his sources in Iran “inform me that Bush was in the discussions in Paris…that his name had been on the document. I have it in writing.” [fn 40]
According to Gary Sick’s collation of fifteen sources claiming knowledge of the Paris meeting, the Iranian side agreed not to release the hostages before the November 4 US election, and the Reagan-Bush side promised to deliver spare parts for military equipment through Israel.
Heinrich Rupp, a pilot who often worked for Casey, says that he flew a BAC-1-11 private jet from Washington National Airport via Gander, Newfoundland, to Le Bourget airport in Paris during the night of october 18-19, 1980, arriving in Paris at 10 AM in the morning of October 19, local time. He may also have stopped in one of the New York airports. Rupp has told journalists that although he is not sure exactly who flew in his plane, he ‘s “100% certain” that he saw William Casey on the tarmac of Le Bourget after his arrival. Rupp is also “98% certain” that he also saw George Bush at the same time and place. At other times Rupp has been “99.9%” certain that he saw Bush at Le Bourget that day.
According to Gary Sick, “at least five of the sources who say they were in Paris in connection with these meetings insist that George Bush was present for at least one meeting. Three of the sources say that they saw him there.” [fn 41]
Bush has heatedly denied that he was in Paris at this time, and has said that he personally did not negotiate with Khomeini envoys. But he has generally avoided a blanket denial that the campaign of which he was a principal engaged in surreptitious dealings with the Khomeini mullahs.
Bush’s alibi for October 18-October 19, 1980 has always appeared dubious. There is in fact a period of 21 or 22 hours in which his whereabouts cannot be conclusively proven. According to Bush’s campaign records, he was in Philadelphia on October 18, and his last event of the day was a speech at Widener University in Delaware County that began at about 8:40 PM. After the speech, he was scheduled to fly to Washington; the next event on his schedule was an address to the Zionist Organization of America at the Capital Hilton Hotel in downtown Washington at 7 PM on October 19. In the meantime he would rest at his campaign residence at 4429 Lowell Street in Washington.
Bush staffer Peter Hart has claimed that Bush arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in the Maryland suburbs of Washington on the night of October 19 and then proceeded to his campaign residence. Secret Service records say that Bush landed at Washington National Airport in northern Virginia at 9:25 PM. The Secret Service records are themselves suspect in that they were filed 12 days later. (One thinks of the undated combat report of Bush’s mission from the San Jacinto.) This is the same airport and about the same time mentioned by Rupp in his account of his departure for Paris.
There is some indication that a Bush double may have made an appearance at the Howard Johnson Motel in Cheshire, Pennsylvania where Bush was staying. According to the motel manager, Bush did not check out of his establishment until after 11 PM that night, which cointradicts both Hart and the Secret Service records.
There are some Secret Service logs that indicate something about Bush visiting Chevy Chase Country Club in suburban Maryland between 10:30 AM and 11:56 AM on the morning of October 19, but this evidence is highly suspect. The records in question appear to have been filled out by an advance man from Bush’s political staff, not a Secret Service agent. The documents are dated one week after the events in question. Parts of the documentation have been heavily censored and “redacted.” An investigative journalist was unable to find anyone among the personnel of the country club who could confirm that Bush had been there, and there appear to be no files or records at the country club that could prove his presence.
Don Gregg has also attempted to provide his own alibi for October 18-19. This came in a trial in Portland, Orgeon in April-May, 1990 in which the Bush regime had indicted Richard Brenneke for perjury allegedly committed in telling the story of the Paris meeting and Bush’s presence to a federal judge in a Colorado trial in which Heinrich Rupp had been convicted for bank fraud in September, 1988. Gregg’s story was that he had been at the beach in Delaware with his family during the period in question, and he produced some photographs he said were made during those days. Expert witness Bob Lynott, an experienced weatherman, refuted Gregg’s testimony by showing that the weather conditions in Delaware that day did not match those shown by meteorological records. Gregg was discredited, and Brenneke was acquitted on the charge of perjury.
The Bushmen have also brought forward Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal with a log of Bush’s activities on October 19 that includes a luncheon with former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart of Skull and Bones. But Potter Stewart died in 1985.
Finally Secret Service logs show that Bush arrived at the Capitol Hilton to speak before the Zionist Association of America at either 7 PM or 8:12 PM, depending on which Secret Service records are consulted. [fn 42]
If Bush had flown to Paris by private or military jet and returned the same way, or if he had returned by the Concorde or some other type of commercial jetliner, there would have been ample time for him to proceed to Paris and participate in the consultations described. There is another intriguing possibility: during this same period of 24 hours, Iranian Prime Minister Ali Rajai, an adversary of Bani-Sadr and puppet of Khomeini, was in New York preparing to depart for Algiers after consultations at the United Nations. Rajai had refused all contact with the Carter, Muskie and other US officials, but he may have been more interested in meeting Bush or one of his representatives.
Between October 21 and October 23, Israel despatched a planeload of much-needed F-4 Phantom jet spare parts it Iran in violation of the US arms boycott. Who in Washington had sanctioned these shipments? In Teheran, the US hostages were reportedly dispersed into a multitude of locations on October 22. Also on October 22, Prime Minister Rajai, back from New York and Algiers, announced that Iran wanted neither American spare parts nor American arms. The Iranian approach to the ongoing contacts with the Carter Administration now began to favor evasive delaying tactics. There were multiple indications that Khomeini had decided that Reagan-Bush was a better bet than Carter, and that Reagan-Bush had made the more generous offer.
Barbara Honegger, then an official of the Reagan-Bush campaign recalls that “on October 24th or 25th, an assistant to Stephan Halper’s ‘October Surprise’ intelligence operation echoed William Casey’s newfound confidence, boasting to the author in the operations center where [Reagan-Bush Iran watcher Michel] Smith worked that the campaign no longer needed to worry about an ‘October surprise’ because ‘Dick [Allen] cut a deal.” [fn 43]
On October 27, Bush campaigned in Pittsburgh, where he addressed a gathering of labor leaders. His theme that day was Iranian attempt to “manipulate” the outcome of the US election through the exertion of “last-minute leverage” involving the hostages. “It’s no secret that the Iranians do not want to see Ronald Reagan elected President,” Bush lied. “They want to play a hand in the election– with our 52 hostages as the 52 cards in their negotiating deck.” It was a “cool, cynical, unconscionable ploy” by the Khomeini regime. Bush asserted that it was “fair to ask how come right now there’s talk of releasing them [the hostages] after nearly a year.” His implication was that Carter was the one with the dirty deal. Bush concluded that he wanted the hostages “out as soon as possible…We want them home and we’ll worry about who to blame later.” [fn 44]
During the first week of December, Executive Intelligence Review reported that Henry Kissinger “held a series of meetings during the week of November 12 in Paris with representatives of Ayatollah Beheshti, leader of the fundamentlist clergy in Iran.” “Top level intelligence sources in Reagan’s inner circle confirmed Kissinger’s unreported talks with the Iranian mullahs, but stressed that the Kissinger initiative was totally unauthorized by the president-elect.” According to EIR, “it appears that the pattern of cooperation between the Khomeini people and circles nominally in Reagan’s camp began approximately six to eight weeks ago, at the height of President Carter’s efforts to secure an arms-for-hostages deal with Teheran. Carter’s failure to secure the deal, which a number of observers believe cost him the November 4 election, apparently resulted from an intervention in Teheran by pro-Reagan British circles and the Kissinger faction.” [fn 45] These revelations from EIR are the first mention in the public record of the scandal which has come over the years to be known as the October surprise.
The hostages were not released before the November election, which Reagan won convincingly. That night, according to Roland Perry, Bush said to Reagan, “You’re in like a burglar.” Khomeini kept the hostages emprisoned until January 20, the day of the Reagan-Bush inauguration, and let the hostage plane take off just as Reagan and Bush were taking their oaths of office.
Whether George Bush was personally present in Paris, or at other meetings with Iranian representatives where the hostage and arms questions were on the agenda, has yet to be conclusively proven. Here a thorough and intrusive Congressional investigation of the Carter and Reagan machinations in this regard is long overdue. Such a probe might also shed light on the origins of the Iran-Iraq war, which set the stage for the more recent Gulf crisis. But, quite apart from questions regarding George Bush’s presence at this or that meeting, there can be no doubt that both the Carter regime and the Reagan-Bush campaign were actively involved in dealings with the Khomeini regime concerning the hostages and concerning the timing of their possible release. In the case of the Reagan-Bush Iran connection, there is reason to believe that federal crimes under the Logan Act and other applicable laws may have taken place.
George Bush had now grasped the interim prize that had eluded him since 1968: after more than a dozen years of effort, he had now become the Vice President of the United States.
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1. Bob Woodward and Walter Pincus, “At CIA, a Rebuilder ‘Goes With the Flow,'” Washington Post, August 10, 1988.
2. For Bush’s business dealings of 1977-79, see Bob Woodward and Walter Pincus, “Doing Well With Help From Family, Friends,” Washington Post, August 11, 1988.
3. Washington Post, April 6, 1978.
4. Washington Post, November 12, 1978.
5. Albert Pike to Robert Toombs, May 20, 1861 in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1881), Series I, Volume III, pp. 580-1. See also James David Carter, History of the Supreme Council, 330 (Mother Council of the World), Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1861-1891 (Washington: The Supreme Council, 330, 1967), pp. 5-24, and James David Carter (editor), The First Century of Scottish Rite Masonry in Texas: 1867-1967 (Texas Scottish Rite Bodies, 1967), pp. 32-33, 42.
6. Fredericka Meiners, (Houston: Rice University, 1982).
7. Ronald Brownstein and Nina Easton, Reagan’s Ruling Class (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983), p. 650.
8. New York Times Magazine, May 6, 1990, pp. 34-37.
9. Joe Conason, “Company Man,” Village Voice, October , 1988.
10. Bob Callahan, “Agents for Bush,” Covert Action Information Bulletin, Number 33 (Winter, 1990), p. 5 ff.
11. Joe Conason, “Company Man,” Village Voice, October , 1988.
12. Harris Worcester, “Travels with Bush and Connally,” Texas Observer, September 22, 1978.
13. Harry Hurt III, “George Bush, Plucky Lad,” Texas Monthly, June 1983, p. 206.
14. L. Wolfe, “King George VII Campaigns in New Hampshire, New Solidarity, January 8, 1980.
15. Jeff Greenfield, The Real Campaign (New York, 1982), pp. 36-37.
16. For the Jerusalem Conference, see: Edward S. Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan, The Terrorism Industry (New York, Pantheon), passim; Jonathan Marshall et al., The Iran Contra Connection (Boston, 1987); Bob Callahan, “Agents for Bush,” Covert Action Information Bulletin, Number 33 (Winter, 1990), p. 6; Edward S. Herman and Frank Brodhead, The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection, pp. 68-69.
17. See Greenfield, The Real Campaign, pp. 40-41.
19. Quoted in Greenfield, p. 44.
20. Manchester Union Leader, February 24, 1980.
21. Sidney Blumenthal, The Rise of the Counter-establishment (New York, 1988), pp. 82-83.
22. Mark Bisnow, Diary of a Dark Horse: The 1980 Anderson Presidential Campaign (Southern Illinois University Press, 1983), p. 136.
23. For the Nashua Telegraph Debate, see: Greenfield, The Real Campaign, p. 44 ff.; Mark Bisnow, Diary of a Dark Horse, p. 134 ff.; Jules Witcover and Jack Germond, Blue Smoke and Mirrors (New York, 1981), p. 116 ff.
24. Washington Post, April 29, 1980.
25. Texas Observer, May 23, 1980.
26. David Leigh, The Wilson Plot, passim.
27. Letter from Casey to Cherne, July 10, 1973, Ford Library, Leo Cherne Papers, Box 1.
28. Germond and Witcover, Blue Smoke and Mirrors, p. 169.
29. Germond and Witcover, p. 170.
30. Germond and Witcover, p. 171.
31. The best testimony on this is Reagan’s own response to a question from Witcover and Germond. Asked if “it was true that he was trying to get President Ford to run with him,” Reagan promptly responded, “Oh, sure. That would be the best.” See Germond and Witcover, p. 178.
32. Germond and Witcover, p. 187.
33. Germond and Witcover, p. 188.
34. See Henry Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt, A Biography (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1931), p. 223.
35. Washington Star, July 15, 1980.
36. See Executive Intelligence Review, Project Democracy: The “Parallel Government” Behind the Iran-contra affair (Washington, 1987), pp. 88-101.
37. Gary Sick, “The Election Story of the Decade,” New York Times, April 15, 1991.
38. Abbie Hoffman and Jonathan Silvers, “An Election Held Hostage” Playboy, October 1988.
39. Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr, My Turn to Speak (New York, 1991), p. 33.
40. Barbara Honegger, October Surprise , p. 59.
41. Gary Sick, New York Times, April 15, 1991.
42. For an exhaustive analysis of Bush’s alibi, see Barbara Honegger, October Surprise (New York, 1989), p. 98 ff.
43. Barbara Honegger, October Surprise, p. 58.
44. Washington Post, October 28, 1980.
45. Executive Intelligence Review, December 2, 1980.