RIP George H.W. Bush: The Prudent Statesman as Ruthless Spy

Among his many accomplishments in life, the late George H. W. Bush was a secret intelligence professional.  The statesman, who will lie in state in the Capitol through Wednesday, was a covert operator par excellence.  As the first and only  CIA director to ever occupy the White House, Bush could be called America’s most successful spy.

The late president is now memorialized as a “genial” and “prudent” statesman, and he certainly displayed all of those qualities at times. His temperament and intellect compare favorably to President Trump’s. But the record shows Bush was also ruthless and deceptive. In the long view of history, a few continuities of Bush and Trump may become more apparent than they are now.

Like Trump, Bush was a politician who knew how to play the race card. In his first campaign for U.S. Senate, Bush opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He gained an undeserved reputation as a moderate on civil rights issues.  In 1988, he won the presidency on the strength of a TV ad about a black rapist.  Bush pioneered the exploitation of racist currents in the American electorate.  Trump perfected it.

Unlike Trump, he was a capable commander in chief. Two of Bush’s wisest decisions as president concerned policies he chose not to pursue. He did not gloat over the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet empire 1989-91.  That was prudent, as was his decision in January 1991, after U.S. armed forces drove  Saddam Hussein’s army out of Kuwait, not to invade and occupy Iraq. Twelve years later, his son arrogantly reversed father’s caution, and the results were catastrophic.  When Bush spoke in public about George W.’s Iraq fiasco, he wept, which showed he had a heart.

George Bush, CIA
George Bush, CIA director 1975-76 (Credit: CIA)

Front Man

Bush’s connection to the Central Intelligence Agency is perhaps the most distinctive and overlooked feature of his political career. His work in the intelligence milieu at the height of the Cold War proved formative, in the same way that Vladimir Putin’s was shaped by his time as a KGB intelligence officer. Like Putin, Bush’s rise to power was propelled by his knack for secret operations.

As young Texas businessman in the 1950 and 1960s, Bush put his oil drilling company at the disposal of the CIA, where it was known by the code name WU-SALINE. 

As CIA director in 1975-76, Bush sought to deflect  congressional investigators looking into allegations of CIA malfeasance, while not disclosing his own role as a CIA asset.

During his tenure, the agency shielded its agent, Luis Posada Carriles, code name AMCLEVE-15, and other agents who bombed a Cuban airliner and killed 73 people. Bush only served as director for a year but the agency would name its headquarter building after him, a measure of his institutional standing.

As Vice President in the 1980s,, Bush played a leading role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh found that Bush had conspired with CIA and Pentagon officials to bypass a Congressional ban on aid to Central American counterrevolutionaries.

The resulting machinations, involving illegal arms sales to Iran and secret funding of human rights abusers in Nicaragua, was a maelstrom of malfeasance. More than 50 people were indicted for illegal activities. In the past 50 years of Washington scandals, the Iran-Contra affair is rivaled only by Watergate and the Trump-Russia investigation. Bush was at the heart of it.

Before Walsh could complete his investigation and prosecutions, President Bush pardoned the four top CIA officials involved (Dewey Clarridge, Alan Fiers, and Joseph Fernandez). In effect, these four helped the Reagan White House run a covert operation against the U.S. Congress–a violation of the agency’s charter.

Bush said he acted out of “mercy.” Walsh said “President Bush cannot escape the appearance that he wished to avoid the public airing of facts about Iran/Contra that would have come out at trial.”  If Trump pardons his entourage now facing criminal charges for colluding with the Russians, he can credibly cite the precedent of Bush’s leniency to the CIA.

At a time when the  abuse of presidential power and the specter of a “deep state” are central issues in American politics,  George H.W. Bush’s legacy is worth recalling without tears. His mantle as a statesman does not entirely hide the cloak of a spook.

First of Six Part Series.

  • Prudent Statesman as Ruthless Spy
  • Zapata Off-Shore: A CIA Front
  • Bush’s JFK Connection
  • Bush as CIA Director
  • The October Surprise
  • The Iran-Contra Conspiracy


19 Replies to “RIP George H.W. Bush: The Prudent Statesman as Ruthless Spy”

  1. Thank God for Spooks!!! Men, Real Men!! Not some faculty lounge bullshiter!! (I suspect you’ll never let this by your sensor)

  2. Bush was in the mold of the “Georgetown Set,” the group of elitist private industry/government officials that informally met in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., where they discussed how to control US foreign policy. Through overlapping personal, business, and government agencies, these elitist managed to insert themselves into positions of influence and power within each succeeding Administration. thereby advancing their Cold War anti-communist perspectives. What lay at the heart of their view, was the advancement of their corporate benefactor’s goals and profits – the security and expansion of capitalism. Political systems except for Communism or Socialism, or the choice of authoritarian personalities, were acceptable; the goals were short term (in hindsight), but the endgame was always profits. If Trump is emulating G.H.W.Bush, then we also need to add “self-interest and profiteering” into the mix.

  3. Congratulations on your blog Jeff! Looking forward to seeing the subsequent parts of the series. After decades of research and study on the JFK assassination and the other machinations of the Deep State post-WWII, I’m convinced that JFK, Nixon and now Trump have all been victims of the secret government’s efforts to limit presidential power when it interferes with the policy interests of the Deep State. Trump, whether he is loved or hated, was not supposed to win the election. The Clintons have been in the pocket of the CIA since Bill was governor and permitted Arkansas to be a supply depot for illegal agency operations in the 1980s. That also may help explain Bill’s close friendship with GHWB after he left office in 2001. Trump,as the ultimate “outsider” has aroused the wrath of the puppet masters of the massive national security state that has manipulated policy for decades. I believe the hoax that is the Mueller Investigation is only the most visible element of their efforts. JFK was murdered, Nixon driven from office (the public Watergate fable was really not about a burglary and its aftermath), and now Trump is being sabotaged at every turn. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the CIA) presidents no longer ride in open limousines anymore.

  4. The irrefutable fact that the U.S.Secret Service failed to provide JFK complete protection around Dealey Plaza as in providing the necessary security personnel manned in every window of every building located within it and undercover manned personnel dispersed among the crowds on the adjoining streets surrounding it, is indicative of a conspiracy, not to mention that most of the Secret Service agents on his Dallas trip detail frequented Dallas nightclub bars the night before the assassination and did not return to their hotel until 5 a.m. the morning of his assassination. They completely violated Secret Service safety protection protocol in protecting the President by transporting him into such an unsafe area as Dealey Plaza. The ultimate proof of the conspiracy is the President’s fatal headshot. The bullet that struck his head was a frangible bullet that was made of soft lead traveling at a much higher muzzle velocity that causes the bullet to become superheated so that as it penetrates upon impact, it explodes as you witness a portion of the President’s skull cap and part of his brain matter explode outwardly. Oswald’s alleged rifle fired a heavier bullet made of hard lead that traveled at a slower muzzle velocity. This bullet would have fired a 6.5mm bullet. The fatal headshot bullet was a possible 5.56mm bullet fired from either a AR-15 rifle or a M-16 rifle. As a Marine Corps expert in small arms fire, our Government has continued to lose their transparency and credibility with the American public since 11/22/1963.

    1. Apparently you haven’t read Don Delillo’s Libra or been to the 6Th floor, precious few theorist have. People who claim the shot from the front are the worst. I’ve never heard anyone say what a truely great scout the assasin was.

  5. Happy New Year, Jeff! Congratulations on launching this new blog. I look forward to the next installment on GHW Bush. To paraphrase Nixon, thanks you for “open[ing]that scab…”

  6. To include the moronic Trump-Russia garbage witch hunt in the same realm as Watergate shows either extreme bias or extreme stupidity on your behalf..

  7. Given GHW’s early involvement with CIA and others who were then with CIA, information widely available to anyone, it is clear he was a CIA insider. CIA use of his off shore oil rigs is fact. As is the case with his association with Mr. Thomas J Devine.

    Mr. Bush was very active in republican politics starting in Feb. of 1963. He was elected served congress 1967-1971, he lost in 1971 and Nixon appointed him US Ambassador to the UN 1971 -1973. 1973-1974 he was head of the Republican national committee after Bob Dole resigned in 1972.

    These moves prove to be significant. Bush as RNC head formally requested Nixon resign for the good of the party.

    1974-5 Ford appoints him Chief of Liaison Office to China. Ford passed over Bush for his choice of VP, twice! We will likely never know but this seems likes well executed plan.

    1975-76 Ford appoints Bush to direct CIA. All this in full view of anyone interested. A politician nominated to direct CIA.

    GHW then becomes director of the Council On Foreign Relations. Runs for POTUS 1980 and Reagan beat him out of the primaries. Very conveniently at the last minute selects Ronnie picks 41 as his choice for VP 1981-89. GHWB finally becomes POTUS, 1989-93

    In 1976 Paul Manafort was a delegate hunter in 8 states for the Pres. Ford Committee. 1978-80 he was southern coordinator for Reagan’s campaign and deputy director of the RNC. Let us remember that 73-74 41 was Head of RNC.

    Manafort was mentioned in the John Kerry report, “DRUGS LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FOREIGN POLICY” — A Report Prepared By The SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, NARCOTICS AND INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS of the COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS UNITED STATES SENATE, first printed in 1989. The investigation started in 1986 and went back to the late 70’s.

    Bush was head of the RNC. Manafort became Associate Director of the Presidential Personnel Office in Nov 1980 after the Reagan win. !981 Manafort is nominated to the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. He was also an advisor to the Presidential campaign of GWH Bush.

    Bush knew Manafort very well.

    William Pelham Barr received his M.A in Chinese Studies, Columbia U.with high honors and his J.D. in 77 from Georg Washington U. He worked for CIA from 1973-77.

    He worked as a law clerk for the u.s. Court of Appeals for the D.C circuit 77-78. he served the Reagan White House May third 82 To Sept 83 with his official title being Assistant Director for Legal Policy.

    1989 at the beginning of the administration 41 appointed Barr US DOJ, Assistant A G for the office of legal council, the legal advisor for the President and the executive agencies.

    1991 November Barr is sworn in as the US AG. By now we all should know about Mr. Barr’s allowing pardons in Dec of 93, He seems to possess high level of tolerance for presidential activities that are suspect at the very least and possibly very illegal if all the documents, files and records requested by congress and other were ever released.

    And let us not forget Barr was involved with BCCI investigations and the Bill Hamilton PROMIS / Inslaw scandals also.

    GHW Bush knew William Pelham Barr very well also. Maybe it was Barr working and CIA while engaged in his studies for his M.A. in Chinese studies.

    BCCI, the Safari Club and the Saudis, GHW Bush knew Mr Barr very well indeed.

    It’s just a thought!

    Be advised this is all in plain sight at the Wiki. Which was my source for all this material most of it word for word.

    If anyone has questions google the positions-datea/titles-dates and locations-dates of the individual named here. Lets hope none of them can actually be in two places at once!

    Too much contact, too much in common interests, too many co-incidences. Way too much related criminal activity. This looks much more as if someone was interested trying to making their own luck.


    Thanks Jeff!

  8. Speaking of Presidents and secrecy and ducking Congress and the law in general, what’s the Deep State role of The (not so) Secret Service, past and present? Just curious. Seems ripe for moles and conspiracy theorists.

  9. This is an interesting document which was accidently declassified and discovered in 1988. As you can see it is titled “Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” and written by FBI director Hoover, 7 days after the murder. It discusses the reaction of the “misguided” Cuban exiles, who, as we now know, resorted under Bush’s guidance. And thus in the last paragraph it is stated that the information was shared with “George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency”.

  10. Scott Kaiser in his book, Edwin Kaisers Covert Life interviewed Posada, Felx Rodriquez and many of the CIA Cuban exile CIA assets. Posada after being filmed and nervous told Scott Off Camera that he was in Dallas and Scott asked him because Posada’s name and number were in Scott’s Dad’s Address book with “Dallas” under it. His dad gave him a rifle on his 13th birthday and said this was Frank Sturgis’s rifle that shot JFK and told him to never talk about it.
    Frank was Ed Kaisers best Friend and Scott called him Uncle Frank. Also Felix Rodrequez contradicts Hoover’s famous memo that was orally delivered to George Bush of the CIA by writing in his book Shadow Warrior that he was on his way to Central America to prepare for another attack on Cuba around the time of the JFK Assassination. Lots of dots to connect and we need a new congressional investigation.

  11. GHW Bush is/was part of the eastern Establishment as was his father and grandfather. His first loyalty rested with these crony capitalist elites and their interests, NOT those of the American people. To these people, it’s all about power, money and control for themselves, and they’ll do whatever to achieve those ends, as in f**k us unruly peasants. Sadly, the US is not a democracy, it’s a plutocratic fascist dictatorship.

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