The Family That Preys Together
the Bush Family
by Jack Colhoun
CovertAction Quarterly, 1992
excerpted from the book
edited by Ellen Ray and William
George Jr.'s BCCI Connection
"This is an incredible deal, unbelievable
for this small company," analyst Charles Strain told Forbes
magazine, describing the oil production sharing agreement the
Harken Energy Corporation signed in January 1990 with Bahrain.
Under the terms of the deal, Harken was
given the exclusive right to explore for gas and oil off the shores
of the Gulf island nation. If gas or oil were found in waters
near two of the world's largest gas and oil fields Harken would
have exclusive marketing and transportation rights for the energy
resources. Truly an "incredible deal" for a company
that had never drilled an offshore well.
Strain failed to point out, however, the
one fact that puts the Harken deal in focus: George W. Bush, the
eldest son of George and Barbara Bush of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
Washington, D.C., is a member of Harken's board of directors,
a consultant and a stockholder in the Texas-based company. In
light of this connection, the deal makes more sense.
The involvement of Junior - George Walker
Bush's childhood nickname-with Harken is a walking conflict of
interest. His relationship to President Bush, rather than any
business acumen, made him a valuable asset for Harken, the Republican
Party benefactors, Middle East oil sheikhs and covert operators
who played a part in Harken's Bahrain deal. In fact Junior's track
record as an oilman is pretty dismal. He began his career in Midland,
Texas, in the mid-1970s when he founded Arbusto Energy, Inc. When
oil prices dropped in the early 1980s, Arbusto fell upon hard
times. Junior was only rescued from business failure when his
purchased by Spectrum 7 Energy Corporation,
a small oil firm owned by William DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds.
As part of the September 1984 deal, Bush became Spectrum 7's president
and was given a 13.6 percent share in the company's stock. Oil
prices stayed low and within two years, Spectrum 7 was in trouble.
In the six months before Spectrum 7 was
acquired by Harken in 1986, it had lost $400,000. In the buy out
deal, George "Jr." and his partners were given more
than $2 million worth of Harken stock for the 180-well operation.
Made a director and hired as a "consultant" to Harken,
Junior received another $600,000 of Harken stock and has been
paid between $42,000 and $120,000 a year since 1986.
Junior's value to Harken soon became apparent
when the company needed an infusion of cash in the spring of 1987.
Junior and other Harken officials met with Jackson Stephens, head
of Stephens, Inc., a large investment bank in Little Rock, Arkansas
(Stephens made a $100,000 contribution to the Reagan-Bush campaign
in 1980 and gave another $100,000 to the Bush dinner committee
In 1987, Stephens made arrangements with
Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) to provide $25 million to Harken
in return for a stock interest in Harken. As part of the Stephens-brokered
deal, Sheikh Abdullah Bakhsh, a Saudi real estate tycoon and financier,
joined Harken's board as a major investor. Stephens, UBS and Bakhsh
each have ties to the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce
It was Stephens who suggested in the late
1970s that BCCI purchase what became First American Bankshares
in Washington, D.C. BCCI later acquired First American's predecessor,
Financial General Bankshares. At the time of the Harken investment,
UBS was a joint-venture partner with BCCI in a bank in Geneva,
Switzerland. Bakhsh has been an investment partner in Saudi Arabia
with Gaith Pharoan, identified by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board
as a "front man" for BCCI's secret acquisitions of U.S.
Stephens, Inc. played a role in the Harken
deal with Bahrain as well. Former Stephens bankers David and Mike
Edwards contacted Michael Ameen, the former chief of Mobil Oil's
Middle East operations, when Bahrain broke off 1989 talks with
Amoco for a gas and oil exploration contract. The Edwardses recommended
Harken for the job and urged Ameen to get in touch with Bahrain,
which he did.
"In the midst of Harken's talks with
Bahrain, Ameen-simultaneously working as a State Department consultant-briefed
the incoming U.S. ambassador in Bahrain, Charles Hostler,"
the Wall Street Journal noted, adding that Hostler, a San Diego
real estate investor, was a $100,000 contributor to the Republican
Party. Hostler claimed he never discussed Harken with the Bahrainis.
Harken lacked sufficient financing to
explore off the coast of Bahrain so it brought in Bass Enterprises
Production Company of Fort Worth, Texas, as a partner. The Bass
family contributed more than $200,000 to the Republican Party
in the late 1980s and early l990s.
On June 22, 1990, George Jr. sold two-thirds
of his Harken stock for $848,560-a cool 200 percent profit. The
move was well timed. One week after Junior sold his stock, Harken
announced a $23.2 million loss in quarterly earnings and Harken
stock dropped sharply, losing 60 percent of its value over the
next six months. On August 2,1990, Iraqi troops moved into Kuwait
and 541,000 U.S. forces were deployed to the Gulf.
"There is substantial evidence to
suggest that Bush knew Harken was in dire straits in the weeks
before he sold the $848,560 of Harken stock," asserted U.S.
News ~ World Report. The magazine noted Harken appointed Junior
to a "fairness committee" to study possible economic
restructuring of the company. Junior worked closely with financial
advisers from Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Company, who concluded
"only drastic action could save Harken."
George Jr. also violated Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations which require "insider"
stock deals to be reported promptly in Bush's case by July 10,
1990. He didn't file the stock sale with the SEC until the first
week of March 1991.
Meanwhile, a cloak-and-dagger aura surrounds
Junior's business dealings. James Bath, a Texas entrepreneur who
invested $50,000 in Arbusto Energy, may be a business cutout for
the CIA. Bath also acted as an investment "adviser"
to Saudi Arabian oil sheikhs, linked to the outlaw BCCI, which
also has ties to the CIA.
Bill White, a former Bath partner, claims
that Bath has "national security" connections. White,
a United States Naval Academy graduate and former fighter pilot,
charges that Bath developed a network of offshore companies to
camouflage the movement of money and aircraft between Texas and
the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.
Alan Ouasha, a Harken director and former
chair of the company, is the son of attorney William Ouasha, who
defended figures in the Nugan Hand Bank scandal in Australia.
Closed in 1980, Nugan Hand was not only tied to drug-money laundering
and U.S. intelligence and military circles, but also to the CIA's
covert backing for a "constitutional coup" in Australia
that caused the fall of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
The Harken deal with Bahrain raises another
troubling question: Did the Bahrainis and the BCCI-linked Saudi
oil sheikhs use the production sharing agreement with Harken to
curry favor with the Bush Administration and influence U.S. policy
in the Middle East?
Talat Othman's sudden rise to prominence
in Bush Administration foreign policy circles is a case in point.
Othman, who sits on the Harken board as Sheikh Bakhsh's representative,
didn't have access to President Bush before Harken's Bahrain agreement.
"But since August 1990, the Palestinian-born
Chicago investor has attended three White House meetings with
President Bush to discuss Middle East policy," the Wall Street
Journal pointed out. "His name was added by the White House
to a select list of 15 Arab-Americans chosen to meet with President
Bush, [then White House Chief of Staff John] Sununu and National
Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft in the White House two days after
Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Prescott's Big Asian Adventure
Prescott Bush, Jr., the president's older
brother, also has a knack for nailing down "incredible deal[s]."
Prescott took advantage of his brother's first presidential visit
abroad in February 1989 to schedule a business trip to the same
countries-China, Japan and South Korea.
Prescott arrived in Tokyo on February
14,1989,10 days before President Bush's stop in Japan, to drum
up business for Prescott Bush Resources Ltd., a real estate and
development consulting company. Prescott said he was dealing with
four Japanese companies wanting to do business in the United States.
From Japan, Prescott went to China, where
he had a joint partnership with Akoi Corporation to develop an
$18 million golf course and resort near Shanghai. Prescott had
introduced the Tokyo-based Akoi to Chinese officials in 1988.
With a 30 percent stake in the project, Prescott used his China
connections to pave the way for capital-rich Akoi. Akoi had run
into business obstacles in China because of lingering Chinese
resentment over Japan's brutal occupation of China in the 1930s
Some of Prescott's most controversial
business deals have been with Asset Management International Financing
& Settlement Ltd., a Wall Street investment firm which has
been in bankruptcy proceedings since fall 1991. Prescott was hired
by Asset Management, which paid him a $250,000 fee for consulting
in its joint venture with China to set up its internal communications
network. Asset Management enlisted Prescott's services soon after
President Bush imposed economic sanctions in June 1989 in response
to Beijing's brutal crackdown on antigovernment demonstrators
in Tiananmen Square.
Under the sanctions, United States export
licenses were suspended for $300 million worth of Hughes Aircraft
satellites, a key component of Asset Management's joint venture
with the Chinese Government. The satellites would beam television
programming to broadcasters in China and provide telecommunications
links for the country's far-flung provinces. In November 1989,
Congress passed additional sanctions specifically barring the
export of U.S. satellites to China unless the president found
the sale "in the national interest."
On December 19,1989, President Bush lifted
the sanctions that blocked the satellite deal, citing "the
national interest." Two months earlier, the Bush Administration
had granted Hughes Aircraft "preliminary licenses" to
exchange data with Chinese officials to ensure that the satellites
met the technical specifications of the Long March rockets which
would launch them into space.
Meanwhile, Prescott was hard at work in
the summer of 1989 as middleman in the takeover of Asset Management
by West Tsusho, a Tokyo-based investment firm linked to one of
Japan's biggest mob syndicates. Prescott, as head of Prescott
Bush & Co., received a $250,000 "finder's fee" from
West Tsusho when the deal was closed and was promised an annual
retainer of $250,000 over the next three years as a "consultant."
Asset Management, however, went bankrupt in March 1991. In May
1992 West Tsusho filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against Prescott
claiming that he reneged on his promise to protect the mob-linked
firm's $5 million investment in Asset Management.
According to Japanese police, West Tsusho
is controlled by the Inagawakai branch of the Yakuza, the Japanese
equivalent of the Mafia crime syndicate. By the mid-1980s, the
Yakuza were buying up real estate and investments in Japan and
overseas to launder their ill-gotten profits from drug sales,
prostitution, gambling and extortion. Yakuza's annual income is
estimated at $10 billion.
Like George Jr., Prescott combined business
with secret operations. He offered his services to the covert
operations of the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980 and later to the
A September 3, 1980, letter from Prescott
to James Baker indicates Prescott was part of the Reagan-Bush
campaign's secret surveillance of the Carter Administration's
efforts to obtain release of U.S. hostages held in Iran. Prior
to inauguration, the Reagan-Bush campaign recruited retired military
and intelligence officers to monitor activities of the CIA, the
Defense Department, the National Security Council, the State Department
and the White House. This operation later became known as the
"Herb Cohen-the guy that offered
help on the Iranian hostage situation-called me yesterday afternoon,"
Prescott wrote in a letter designated "PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL."
"Herb has a couple of reliable sources on the National Security
Council, about whom the [Carter] Administration does not know,
who can keep him posted on developments."
Prescott continued, "He cannot come
out now and say that Carter is going to do something on Iran in
October because he said everything is a contingency plan that
is loose and fluid from day to day... Herb says, however, that
if he and others in the administration who really care about the
country and cannot stand to see Carter playing politics with the
hostages, see Carter making a move to politicize the release of
the hostages, he and they will come out at that time and expose
Prescott's covert associations continued
while his younger brother was vice-president. He appears to have
aided the Reagan Administration's clandestine support of the Nicaraguan
Contras. In the 1980s, he served on the advisory board of Americares;
the U.S.-based relief organization with ties to prominent right-wing
Republicans and the intelligence community. Bush's other son,
Marvin, also helped the family's pet charity and accompanied a
flight of medical supplies to Nicaragua three days after Chamorro's
An undisclosed amount of the $680,000
in Americares aid to Honduras was delivered to Nicaraguan Miskito
Indian guerrillas. Based in Honduras, they were aligned with the
CIA-funded Contras, according to Roberto Alejos, a Guatemalan
sugar and coffee grower who coordinated the Americares project
in Honduras. In 1960, Alejos had permitted the CIA to use his
plantations to train right-wing Cubans in preparation for the
Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
In 1985 and 1986, after Congress cut off
U.S. aid to the Contras, Americares donated more than $100,000
worth of newsprint to the pro-Contra newspaper La Prensa in Managua.
Americares supplied $291,383 in food and medicine and $5,750 in
cash to Mario Calero, New Orleans-based quartermaster and arms
purchaser for the Contras and brother of Contra leader Adolfo
Calero. In this same period, groups associated with Lt. Col. Oliver
North's off-the-shelf Contra arms network provided covert support
for La Prensa.
Jeb: Liaison to Anti-Castro Right
George Herbert Walker Bush's second eldest
son, John Ellis or Jeb, was also linked to clandestine schemes
in support of the Contras. Soon after congressional prohibition
in late 1984, Jeb helped put a right-wing Guatemalan politician,
Dr. Mario Castejon, in touch with Oliver North. Jeb acted as the
Reagan Administration's unofficial link with the Contras and Nicaraguan
exiles in Miami.
Jeb was contacted in February 1985 by
a friend of Castejon, who gave him a letter from Castejon to be
passed on to then Vice-President Bush. In his letter, Castejon,
a pediatrician and later an unsuccessful National Conservative
Party presidential candidate, requested a meeting with George
Bush to discuss a proposed medical aid project for the Contras.
Jeb forwarded the letter to his father. In a March 3, 1985, letter,
VicePresident Bush expressed interest in Castejon's proposal to
create an international medical brigade.
"I might suggest, if you are willing,
that you consider meeting with Lt. Colonel Oliver North of the
President's National Security Council Staff at a time that would
be convenient for you," Bush wrote. "My staff has been
in contact with Lt. Col. North concerning your projects and I
know that he would be most happy to see you. You may feel free
to make arrangements to see Lt. Colonel North, if you wish, by
corresponding directly with him at the White House or by contacting
Philip Hughes of my staff."
Castejon later met with North in the White
House, where he also saw President Ronald Reagan. When Castejon
returned to Washington for a second visit, he was introduced to
members of North's secret Contra support network, including retired
Maj. Gen. John Singlaub and Contra leader Adolfo Calero. Castejon
also met with a group of doctors working with Rob Owen, North's
liaison with the Contras.
"He [Castejon] was offering us a
pipeline into Guatemala," said Henry Whaley, a former arms
dealer who said he was asked by his intelligence community connections
to help Castejon. Whaley was optimistic about opening a new shipping
route to the Contras through Guatemala. "If you can move
Band-Aids," he reportedly said, "you can move bullets."
With Castejon, Whaley prepared a proposal
to the State Department for the purchase of medical supplies for
the contras from the Department's newly established Nicaraguan
Humanitarian Assistance Office. The document included requests
for mobile field hospitals and light aircraft to evacuate wounded
Contra guerrillas. Congress approved $27 million in "humanitarian"
aid to the contras in 1985.
The Castejon proposal was hand-delivered
to TGS International Limited in the Virginia suburbs of Washington.
Whaley said he sent the report to TGS so it would be "quietly"
forwarded to the CIA. TGS International is owned by Ted Shackley,
who was CIA Associate Deputy Director of Operations when Bush
Sr. headed the Agency in 1976-77.
Jeb had another Contra connection in his
involvement with Miguel Recarey, Jr., a right-wing Cuban who headed
the International Medical Centers (IMC) in Miami. In 1985 and
1986, Recarey and his associates gave more than $25,000 in contributions
to political action committees controlled by then Vice-President
In 1986, Recarey hired Jeb, a real estate
developer, to find a new headquarters for IMC. Jeb was paid a
$75,000 fee, even though he never located a new building.
In September 1984, two months after IMC's
$2,000 contribution to the Dade County Republican Party, which
was headed by Jeb, the vicepresident's son contacted several top
HHS (Department of Health and HumanServices) officials on behalf
of IMC. "Contrary to rumors, [Recarey] was a good community
citizen and a good supporter of the Republican Party," one
official of the HHS remembered Jeb telling him in late 1984. Jeb
successfully sought an HHS waiver of a rule so that IMC could
receive more than 50 percent of its income from Medicare.
Leon Weinstein, an HHS Medicare fraud
inspector, worked on an audit of IMC in 1986; he has charged that
IMC used Medicare funds to treat wounded Contras at its hospital.
The transaction was arranged by IMC official Jose Basulto, a right-wing
Cuban trained by the CIA, who arranged for Contras to receive
treatment in Miami.
Basulto was praised for his commitment
by Felix Rodriguez: "He has been active for a decade in supporting
the Nicaraguan freedom fighters ever since the Sandinistas took
power and is constantly organizing Contra support among Miami's
Cuban community. He has even been to Contra camps in Central America,
helping to dispense humanitarian aid."
At the same time as Recarey was providing
medical assistance to the Contras, he was embezzling Medicare
funds. IMC, one of the largest health maintenance organizations
in the United States, received $30 million a month for its Medicare
patients, clearing $1 billion in federal monies from 1981 to 1987.
While he headed IMC, Recarey's personal wealth jumped from $1
million to $100 million, U.S. investigators believe.
"IMC is the classic case of embezzlement
of government funds," according to Robert Teich, the head
of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Office on Labor Racketeering
in Miami. Teich described PAC's skimming Medicare funds as a "bust-out"
where money was "drained out the back door." A Florida
state investigator concluded in a 1982 report that some federal
funds IMC received "are being put in banks outside the country."
Recarey's links to the Mafia also raised
eyebrows in Washington. "As far back as the 1960s, he had
ties with reputed racketeers who had operated out of pre-Castro
Cuba and who later forged an anti-Castro alliance with the CIA,"
the Wall Street Journal reported. The Journal added that the late
Santos Trafficante, Jr., the Mafia boss of Florida, "helped
out when Recarey needed business financing." Trafficante,
a major drug trafficker, joined a failed CIA effort to assassinate
Cuban President Fidel Castro in the early 1960s.
Recarey's access to Republican circles
was probably one reason he was able to rip off U.S. tax dollars
for so long. He hired former Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger, the public
relations firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, which was close
to the Reagan White House and attorney John Sears, a former Reagan
campaign manager, to look out for his interests in Washington.
Recarey fled the United States in 1987
to avoid a federal indictment for racketeering and defrauding
the U.S. Government. The Bush Administration has made no effort
to extradite him from Venezuela where he is currently living.
Jeb Linked to Smugglers and Thieves
Jeb Bush has also been linked to Leonel
Martinez, a Miami-based rightwing Cuban-American drug trafficker
Martinez, who was linked to Contra dissident Eden Pastora, was
involved in efforts to smuggle more than 3,000 pounds of cocaine
into Miami in 1985-86. He was arrested in 1989 and later convicted
for bringing 300 kilos of cocaine into the United States. He also
reportedly arranged for the delivery of two helicopters, arms,
ammunition and clothing to Pastora's Costa Rica-based Contras.
Federal prosecutors in Miami have a photograph
of Jeb and Martinez shaking hands but won't release the photo
to the public. Whether Jeb was aware of Martinez's drug trafficking
activities is not known, but it is known that Leonel and his wife
Margarita made a $2,200 contribution to the Dade County Republican
Party four months after Jeb became the chair of the local GOP.
It is also known that Martinez wrote $5,000
checks to then Vice President Bush's Fund for America's Future
in both December 1985 and July 1986 and made a $2,000 contribution
to the Bush for President campaign in October 1987.
Martinez's construction company gave $6,000
in October 1986 to Bob Martinez (no relation), the GOP candidate
for governor in Florida; he was governor from 1987 to 1991. At
that time, Vice-President Bush was serving as head of the South
Florida Drug Task Force and later as chair of the National Narcotics
Interdiction System, both set up to stem the flow of drugs into
the United States. While Bush was drug czar, the volume of cocaine
smuggled into the United States tripled.
President Bush later appointed Bob Martinez
in 1991 head of the U.S Office of National Drug Control Policy-the
drug czar to succeed the controversial William Bennett.
Jeb Gets in on the BCCI Action
In 1988, Jeb was mentioned in a deposition
taken by a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, chaired by Sen.
John Kerry (D-Mass.), which was investigating drug-money laundering
operations in the United States.
"I saw Jeb Bush two or three times
over there with [Abdur] Sakhia," stated Aziz Rehman, a junior
BCCI Miami official in the 1980s. "This was all part of the
bank's trying to cultivate public officials and prominent individuals."
Rehman said BCCI's practice was to "bribe" government
officials in the United States.
"Jeb Bush, V.P. George Bush's son,"
Sakhia noted in a 1986 BCCI document, was a "name... to be
Jeb's name also shows up in a September
1987 BCCI document written by Amjad Awan, then a senior BCCI-Miami
official. The memorandum planned a BCCI breakfast meeting with
a senior level delegation from the People's Republic of China
and high Florida state government officials, including Secretary
of Commerce Jeb Bush. Among the Chinese delegation was Ge Zhong
Xue, Deputy Division Chief of the Ministry of Public Security,
a top police official.
Meanwhile, Jeb and his business partner
Armando Codina profited handsomely when the Bush Administration
bailed out Broward Federal Savings and Loan in Sunrise, Florida,
which went belly up in 1988. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
(FDIC) absorbed $285 million in bad loans, including a $4.6 million
loan by the Bush-Codina partnership. According to the deal struck
by federal regulators, the Bush-Codina partnership wrote a check
for $505,000 to the FDIC and the government paid off the remaining
$4.1 million of the loan for an office building on which Jeb and
Codina defaulted. As a result of the bailout, the Bush-Codina
partnership retained possession of its office building at 1390
Brickell Avenue in Miami's posh financial district.
Currently, Jeb is involved in a number
of joint ventures with Codina, a Miami real estate developer who
is also a leader of the right-wing Cuban American National Foundation
(CANF). The Brickell Avenue office building is owned by IntrAmerica
Investments. Jeb was listed in business documents in 1985 and
in 1986 as the president of IntrAmerica Investments and the building
is managed by one of Jeb's real estate companies. Codina owns
80 percent of the building, while Jeb owns the remaining 20 percent.
Jeb has acted as the Reagan and Bush administration's liaison
with the politically influential Cuban exile community in South
Florida. Jorge Mas Canosa, president of CANF, succinctly described
Jeb's role as the ultraright Cuban-American community's liaison
with the White House: "He is one of us."
Jeb Asks Dad To Free Terrorist As a link
to that powerful and wealthy South Florida community, Jeb has
been a tireless supporter of some of the most reactionary Cuban-American
political causes-from promoting CANF projects like Radio and TV
Marh to lobbying for the release of anti-Castro terrorist Orlando
Bosch from a Miami jail TV propaganda broadcasts into Cuba, considered
by legal experts a violation of the International Telecommunications
Convention, are fully subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.
Anti-Castro terrorist Orlando Bosch was
paroled in 1990 after Jeb lobbied the Bush Administration for
his release from prison in Miami Bosch had been jailed in 1988
for jumping bail on a 1968 conviction for shooting a bazooka at
a Polish freighter in the Miami harbor. He is better known as
the mastermind of the explosion of a Cuban commercial airliner
over Barbados on October 5,1976, in which 73 passengers were killed.
A U.S. District Court judge revealed in 1988 that secret U.S.
documents concluded Bosch was a leader of the Coordination of
United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU), which was responsible
for more than 50 anti-Castro bombings m Cuba and elsewhere in
the Western Hemisphere. The Cuban Government filed an order for
his extradition in May 1992.
"Tell Him... The Vice-President's
"There was no conflict of interest,"
third Bush son Neil told reporters after the Office of Thrift
Supervision (OTS) in Washington issued a notice of intent in January
1990 to hold a hearing on the failure of Silverado Banking Savings
and Loan. Neil had been a member of Silverado's board of directors
from 1985 to 1988.44 Federal regulators shut down Silverado shortly
after George Bush was elected president in 1988. The federal bailout
cost U.S taxpayers $1 billion.
Neil was responding to charges made in
an OTS report that he had breached his fiduciary duty" to
Silverado by engaging in unethical business deals while a board
member of the Denver Savings and Loan. The report documented that
Neil personally profited from questionable Silverado loans to
his business partners, Ken Good and Bill Walters. Good and Walters
later defaulted on $132 million in loans to Silverado, leaving
the taxpayers to pick up the tab.
The OTS report alleged that Neil failed
to disclose his business connections to Good and Walters when
he voted to approve a $900,000 line of credit to Good International,
Inc. Neil got Silverado to write a letter of recommendation to
authorities in Argentina, where Good International m partnership
with Neil's JNB Exploration Company, was exploring for gas and
oil. Good also gave the President's third son a $100,000 loan
to invest in the commodities market, which Bush was never required
Neil failed to inform Silverado that Walters
had contributed $150,000 to the initial capitalization of JNB
Exploration, or that Walters' Cherry Creek National Bank in Denver
extended a $1.5 million line of credit to JNB Exploration. Neil
put up a paltry $100 in start-up funds in 1983 when he founded
JNB Exploration, but over the next five years was paid $550,000
in salary drawn from the Cherry Creek National Bank line of credit.
Neil brought few business skills to his
job at JNB Exploration but he was adept at cashing in on his family
name. "Tell him Neil Bush called," Neil once told the
secretary of a wealthy Denver oil entrepreneur. "You know,
the vice-president's son."
"Neil knew people because of his
name," acknowledged Evans Nash, one of Neil's partners at
JNB Exploration. "He's the one that got us going. He's the
one that made it happen for us."
When Neil left JNB Exploration in 1989,
the company had yet to discover a profitable gas or oil well.
Neil: The Sensitive One
Neil's business partners also included
shady characters with ties to the world of covert operations.
In 1985, Good received an $86 million loan from the Dallas Western
Savings Association, which was tied to Robert Corson, a Texas
developer and reputed CIA operative and Herman Beebe, Sr., a convicted
Mafia associate of Louisiana mob boss Carlos Marcello.
Neil profited from the Western Savings
loan to Good, because the loan helped Good buy Gulfstream Land
and Development, a Florida real estate company. Good made Neil
a board member of one of Gulfstream's subsidiaries in 1988. Bush
was paid $100,000 a year to attend occasional Gulfstream board
meetings before it went out of business in 1990.
Investigative reporter Pete Brewton identified
Corson as a CIA operative in a long Houston Post series on CIA
links to organized crime and failed savings and loans. "One
former CIA operative told the Post that Corson frequently acted
as 'a mule' for the Agency, meaning he would carry large sums
of money from country to country," Brewton wrote.
Corson's Vision Banc Savings in Kingsville,
Texas, loaned millions to Mike Atkinson, a Corson associate, for
a Florida land deal put together by Lawrence Freeman. Freeman,
who laundered money for Santos Trafficante, Jr., was also tied
to veteran CIA operative Paul Helliwell. In the Bahamas, Helliwell
set up Castle Bank and Trust Ltd., which was the CIA's primary
financial front in Latin America and the Caribbean during the
1960s and 1970s. Castle laundered funds for the Agency's covert
operations against Cuba. Walters had ties to Richard Rossmiller,
a Beebe associate. In the mid-1970s, Walters was a part owner
with Rossmiller, of Peoples State Bank m Marshall, Texas, at the
same time as Rossmiller was doing business with Beebe.
Wayne Reeder, another Beebe associate,
a big borrower from Silverado, defaulted on a $14 million loan.
Reeder was involved in an unsuccessful arms deal with the Contras.
Reeder accompanied his partner, John Nichols, in 1981 to a weapons
demonstration attended by Contra leaders Eden Pastora and Raul
Arana, both of whom were interested in buying military equipment
"Among the equipment were night vision
goggles... and light machine guns," according to the book,
Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans. "Nichols...
had a plan in the early 1980s to build a munitions plant on the
Cabezon Indian Reservation near Palm Springs, California, in partnership
with Wackenhut, the Florida security firm. [But] the plan fell
There was another Silverado-contra connection,
however, that didn't fall through. E. Trine Starnes, Jr., the
third largest Silverado borrower, was a major donor to the National
Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty (NEPL), directed by
Carl "Spitz" Channell, which was a part of Oliver North's
Contra funding and arms support network. A NEPL document, "Top
25 Contributors as of October 3, 1986," showed Starnes contributed
$30,000 to NEPL's Central America Freedom Program. Starnes closed
a deal with Silverado on September 30, 1986, for three business
loans totaling $77.5 million, on which Starnes later defaulted.
The Central America Freedom Program was
a propaganda effort in conjunction with the Reagan Administration's
campaign in 1986 to win congressional support for resuming arms
aid to the Contras. When the administration wooed potential NEPL
donors, Starnes was invited to a January 30, 1986, White House
briefing, which included Reagan, National Security Adviser John
Poindexter, White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan and Assistant
Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. Congress resumed U.S. arms
aid to the Contras in mid-1986.
George Herbert Walker Bush is the first
former CIA director to serve as president. The implications for
U.S. politics of Bush's move from CIA headquarters to the White
House are profound and chilling, but seldom the subject of mainstream
political discussion. The corruption of the Bush family, however,
is a good introduction.
The Bushes' shadowy business partners
come straight out of the world in which the CIA thrives-the netherworld
of secret wars and covert operators, drug runners, mafiosi and
crooked entrepreneurs out to make a fast buck. What Bush family
members lack in business acumen, they make up for by cashing in
on their blood ties to the former Director of Central Intelligence
who became president. In return for throwing business their way,
the Bushes give their partners political access, legitimacy and
perhaps protection. The big loser in the deal is the democratic